A police officer sees a suspect at 3:00 o’clock in the business district, looking furtively up and down the street. The area is deserted and the suspect appears to be the only person there. The police officer has not received reports of any criminal activity in the area. Can the police officer approach this person and question him— and if so, what can the officer ask.
The police officer can approach the person, in this context the suspect, and question him. Through the U.S. Constitution, all U.S citizens are guaranteed the right of being free from insensible search or questioning. However, there is an exception. There can be a cause to approach him if, he seems not to fit the times and location; based on the justification that he’s behaving furtively— both justifications are justified by the screening conditions (Wayne, Karen & Christine, 2006). Since the person is suspicious, the policeman can approach that person; ask for his name, where he lives, what he is doing all alone in the business district, and/or why he’s looking up and down the street. This is what is commonly known as a “Terry Stop” which gives the policeman the authority to stop a suspicious person and question them about a suspicious behavior.
Can he, during the this questioning, stop and frisk this person for his own protection? Yes. If the policeman is not satisfied by the reply of the suspect, he can stop and frisk him for his own protection. The policeman has the authority to stop and frisk based on he Terry v. Ohio case (1968) (Smith & Patricia, 2011). This case involved a detective on patrol who observed two suspects looking furtively at a store window for twenty-four times and then were joined by a third suspect. The detective approached them, introduced himself and questioned their names. Unconvinced, he frisked them and found two of them having a pistol, and a revolver. They were arraigned in court. Despite the suspects arguing that their rights were abused as directed by the Forth Amendment, the jury ruled out that stops and frisks do not much violate their rights compared to actual arrests and searches (Rolando, 2009). The court pointed out that it is the duty of the police to suppress a criminal act before it happens. Based on this Terry v. Ohio (1968) case ruling, the police have a reason to ensure their safety and of those adjacent in a possibly dangerous situation; therefore the “sole justification” of a risk is “to discover guns, knives, clubs, or other hidden instruments for the assault of the police officer.” Thereby, on the above case, the policeman can stop and frisk the suspect for his own protection.
If prior to the police officer approaching the individual runs away after looking at the police officer, what can the police officer do, if anything, to stop the individual. If the suspect has ran away, the police officer should not fire because he may be innocent and running away due to panic. The police officer should inform his colleagues, other police units who may be patrolling the area and describe the suspect such as how he is dressed and possible route he has taken. Then, there should be a police dragnet. The above situation can be likened to Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) case (Rolando & Jeffery, 2011). In the case, Garner, a suspected thief, defied police orders to stop and was killed as he tried to fled. When the father of the suspect sued the officers and despite the fact that the Tennessee statute authorized the officers to do so; the Forth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution were violated. For instance, the Forth Amendment recognizes the killing of an escaping suspect as constitutional if its “reasonable.” In the context above, should the police shoot, he may be courting a possibility of being sued. Therefore, it is more witty and foresighted for the police officer to radio fellow officers and give try to capture the suspect.
A police officer gets a radio report of a robbery in progress. The officer proceeds to the location and sees a suspect approximately five hundred feet away. The suspect matches the description of the perpetrator that the officer received over his radio. The officer draws his gun, and yells for the suspect to freeze and lay on the ground. The officer then approaches and asks the suspect where the gun is and the suspect tells where it is.
The police officer should first identify himself, and then read the Miranda Rights to the suspect: right to remain silent and choose not to answer questions, right to get an attorney before speaking to the police officer; anything that he says may be used against him in a court of law; the state will provide him with an attorney if he can manage to get one; and despite the fact that he has said pointed out where the gun is, he has the right to stop until he will get an attorney (KyAnn, 2011). The officer should then detain him by handcuffing him to ensure his safety and prevent him from escaping; then, take him to the police station. Once at the police station, he should book him; thoroughly search him again, store safely, take his photo and fingerprints his belongings, and make the suspect acknowledge by signing in an inventory sheet; lastly, ask for the personal information and details of the suspect.
Bennett, W. W., Hess, K. M. & Orthmann, C. M. H. (2006). Criminal Investigation Eighth ed.,. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.
Del Carmen, R. V. (2009). Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.
Del Carmen, R. V. & Walker, J. T. (2011). Briefs of Leading Cases in Law Enforcement. Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
Smith & Fusco, P. (2011). Constitutional Law For Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Waters, K. (2011). Miranda’s Rights. Macon, CA: Samhain Publishing.