Police Abuse Essay Research Paper Police Officers

Police Abuse Essay, Research Paper Police Officers Overstep Their Rights When Searching People One of the main powers law enforcement officers carry is the authority to make citizens involuntarily give up their rights. Most people when confronted by police get mild to moderate panic reaction, can become nervous or anxious, and do as much as possible to limit the time spent with the officer.

Police Abuse Essay, Research Paper

Police Officers Overstep Their Rights When Searching People

One of the main powers law enforcement officers carry is the authority to make citizens involuntarily give up their rights. Most people when confronted by police get mild to moderate panic reaction, can become nervous or anxious, and do as much as possible to limit the time spent with the officer. Due to the difference in power between a citizen and a police officer, citizens often unknowingly, give up their constitutional rights when an officer acts tough or bullies them (Guidelines?1).

A common and almost everyday occurrence of this situation is the traffic stop.

The common routine for this is as follows: A person is pulled over for speeding. The officer approaches the car and after checking the license and registration asks if they have any illegal weapons or drugs in the car. When the citizen answers ?no? the officer asks in the strongest most intimidating language that if he can check that for himself. The officer may say ?why don?t you step out of your car? or ?then you would not mind if I took a look in your trunk?? Many people simply comply with the requests because they do not really realize that they have the right to say no (Guidelines?1).

Numerous court cases have been held regarding the matters of not only police searching a car but searching your person, the bus or train a person is on and even that persons personal belongings such as a purse, cigarette cases or wallet without a warrant. A warrant is an absolute must to enter into your car home or property. These types of

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

cases very often prove that officers may take their power to far and often on purposes (Search Warrants Explained 1).

The following is an example of what could happen. A cop stops a speeding car, without a search warrant but suspicion the policeman demands that the driver opens his trunk. Upon doing so he discovers the corpses of a woman and two children. The man later walks out of court scot-free because the evidence was inadmissible. The Fourth Amendment had been violated (Reynolds 59).

Just this past year the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled nine to nothing that officers could not search a person when only writing them a traffic citation. This came across in a case in which an Iowa man was arrested after an officer pulled him over for speeding. Without the individuals consent, the officer looked through his car. (Under the drivers seat the officer found a small amount of marijuana and the man was ordered 90 days in jail.) The case was first tried in the Iowa Supreme Court where the court ruled in favor of the officer five to four. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court where the nation struck down Iowa?s ruling. The Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated ?No further evidence of excessive speed was going to be found either on the person or in the car.? Hopefully this will keep officers from overstepping their boundaries in Iowa but only in Iowa (Epstein 1).

Officers many times like to intimidate citizens perhaps because it makes them feel good or they think they will not get caught. Jean Benson is a 61 year-old grandmother from Florida. She was driving through Louisiana when she was pulled over

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

by a policeman. ?Pop your trunk.? Were the officer?s words? He brought out a piece of paper that ?said? he had a right to search her car and that she was signing it voluntarily.

She then told him that she did not want him to look through any of her personal belongings. To this he replied, ?you will sign that piece of paper and we will search your car.? The policeman searched her car and found nothing. The elderly woman was so shaken by the incident that she cried for the next 100 miles (Hallinan 1).

The following is an example of what happened just outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania. A motorist by the name of George Karnes was pulled over by state trooper Thomas Krutski for going 82 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. The trooper then wrote him a ticket for the offense. This is where the stop should have been over. Then the trooper asked to search the car. Karnes said no because there was no reason but the trooper did not let him go. Police are instructed that once a motorist refuses a search, police must let him go. Then the officer called in a K-9 officer, who promptly arrived on the scene. The officer asked Karnes three separate times to search the car. All three times he refused so the officer then brought out the drug-sniffing dog. Twice the dog sniffed his way around the car. Both times the dog found no detection of drugs. Finally, two and a half-hours after he was first pulled over, the troopers let George Karnes go (Hallnian 2). The process that just took place above was an example of police overstepping their boundaries and easily intimidating common citizens for no apparent reason.

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

Many other forms of harassment occur by police officers and even security officers. There are countless incidents in which police believe they have the right to search your travel bags, luggage, purse, bus or train somebody is riding on, or even just stop a person for a terry search when they are walking on the street.

In an Illinois case more that half of the justices expressed concern over the power

that gives police the power to search anyone who flees from police. (The case argues that William Waldrow had the right to run when he saw four police cruisers drive by in a high crime neighborhood.) Police got out, chased him and found an illegal handgun in his possession. The Illinois Supreme Court argued that police would only be entitled to a pat down search not a full body search. Even Justice David Souter said that he to might have fled in order ?to get out of the way? of what might occur between police and other possible criminals (Mauro 1). Justice John Paul Stevens expressed concern that if somebody was jaywalking, could he be entitled to a search by police? (Asseo 2)

The following took place in Bay County, Florida. A man by the name Tyvessel White was arrested for an irrelevant matter, after he was taken into custody, police obtained the keys to his car and took it from his workplace?s parking lot. (Supreme Court to Rule?1). The police officers did not obtain a warrant to seize White?s car, they did not even have knowledge that the car had contraband, or claim that the seizure of the car was at all relevant to his arrest (The Forfeiture?2). The basis for the seizure was the belief by the police, based on eyewitness and videotapes, that the car had been used in the delivery and sale of cocaine on three occasions and was subject to forfeiture (Supreme Court Says No?1). After the car was searched two pieces of crack cocaine

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

were found in the dashboard ashtray (Supreme Court to rule?1). The officers now face the following questions about their authority to impound the vehicle and look through the car. Can the vehicle be impounded even when a reasonable and less intrusive alternative exists? Can an inventory search be conducted at the point of seizure on the side of the road, or must it take place at the impoundment location? Can the officers search the contents of any closed and locked items? And lastly, will the officers suspicion that the

drugs may be preset in the vehicle affect the admissibility of any evidence found during the search (Anderson 1)?

This case was taken to the Supreme Court in Florida. The court said that the cocaine should not have been used as evidence because police failed to obtain a warrant before searching the car. The court ruled that in the absence of any emergency police could not seize ?a citizen?s property?without the intervention of a neutral magistrate (Supreme Court to rule?1).?

Throughout the following example many questions will arise on the actions the police took in the incident. The following was argued in United States v. Whitehead, where a man was found guilty of cocaine possession. 3 A man boarding a train from Miami, Florida to New York City was seen by law enforcement officers as acting suspicious and calling attention to himself. The officers decided to check him and talked to both the taxi driver and ticket agent, both of who had contact with him. The officers concluded that he was picked up at a motel known for drug traffickers and paid for his ticket in all cash. With this in mind the officers confronted the man and noticed he broke out in a profuse sweat, they told the man that they were conducting a narcotics test

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

and asked to check his bags. He declined. He boarded the train without difficulty. The officers then contacted Amtrak officers who got on the train when it stopped in Washington D.C. With them came two drug-sniffing dogs. The officer knocked on the door of the man with the dog and asked for permission to search his bags with the dogs. The defendant then allowed him to do so. The dogs were attracted to one of the man’s bags, which in turn revealed three kilograms of cocaine (Kingston 5).

Now many questions are raised in a situation like this. First what did the defendant do that was so suspicious, was he walking frantically? Avoiding officers? Constantly checking his bags? Second, what is the train considered? Is it a Public Place? Or is it considered to be the same as a motel room or a private home? Lastly and most importantly, where does the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution come in.

The fourth amendment of the Constitution states ?the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated (Rosen 1).? The Fourth Amendment brought upon as a priority by the early Americans since they knew what it was like to have British soldiers bursting into their homes without warrants (The Right of the People?1). According to case law, officers may not forcibly enter a premises without waiting for the occupant to respond unless exigent circumstances exist (Judge Rejects Evidence?2). Forty-four states also have Constitutional guarantees on the right to keep and bear arms. It reads as follows, ?The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation, or any other lawful purpose (State Constitutions 1).? The Fourth Amendment sounds simple. It requires that before any search or seizure, the government must obtain

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

a court-authorized warrant by showing there is a probable cause to believe a crime has been or will be committed (Richey 2). This would mean that the police have a set of facts, information, circumstances, or conditions that would lead a person to believe that some type of crime has been or will be committed (Police and the Rule?1). By obtaining a search warrant an officer may execute a search and seizure at any time of the day. The owner or occupant does not even have to be present for the search to occur (If you are Stopped 2).

There are certain times when a vehicle can be searched without a warrant being needed. Under the Carroll doctrine ?a vehicle can be searched without a warrant if there was probable cause to believe it contained contraband or evidence? This rule which came from the court case Carroll vs. the United States, also applies to an assortment of vehicles including: motor homes, a house boat, and a room on a train. The vehicle exception is based in the Court?s findings that the expectation of privacy with respect to one?s vehicle is lower than that regarding one?s home or office. This comes mainly from the fact that inherent mobility of vehicles, their periodic inspection and licensing requirements, and the public nature of vehicle travel where both its occupants and contents are in plain view (Kubura 1).

A Wyoming court ruled last year that police were justified only in searching the car for drugs a driver may have had with him and therefore can not search any personal belongings of passengers. This protects drivers in a case where they do not know or are mistaken about the contents in his or her vehicle (Carelli 2)

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

The ruling came from an incident in which a David Young was pulled over in the early morning hours on July 23, 1995. The officer saw Young with a hypodermic needle in his pocket. He then acknowledged that he had used it to take drugs (The New Oregon?1). The officers then searched the car (under reasonable suspicion) and asked the two female passengers?s to get out of the car. One of them left her purse on the back seat and inside it police found drug paraphernalia and liquid methamphetamine. The Wyoming Supreme Court threw out her conviction last year, ruling that police were only allowed to search the car and did not have a right to search her purse (Richey 1). Lisa Kemler of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers stated that ?you get in

a car and as a passenger you basically have no rights. Almost anything goes as long as police find evidence of a crime. Andrew Fine of the Legal Aid Society expressed his concern that the ruling wrongly introduced the element of guilt by association (Carelli 1).

Another way police violate people?s rights is by bringing television camera crew or journalists into homes during arrests or searches. The issue came about in two separate cases of Hanlon v. Berger and Wilson v. Layne. The U.S. Supreme court ruled ?that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to residential privacy for police to bring members of the media or other third parties into a home during the execution of a warrant when the presence of the third parties in the home was not in aid of the execution of the warrant? (Legal Affairs?1). The court also added that police who carry out such media ?ride-alongs? could be sued for violating the Fourth Amendment. Joshua Dratel of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers added, ?The government is not

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

allowed to make a display of you.? The rulings now require members of the media that are accompanying police to stay outside when officers enter private homes (Asseo 2).

In a case that questions how far police can go to search people. The Florida Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether officers can track down and frisk someone for a gun based on an anonymous telephone tip. Miami police said they were justified in searching a 15-year-old boy based on a tip that he had a gun. The call informed of the boy?s whereabouts and description. Officers located him and searched him and found an illegal handgun. The boy?s lawyer for the case Harvey Sepler, said that this type of search would harm the ?relationship between police and citizens in a free society.? He argued that under the Fourth Amendment police must obtain a warrant based on ?probable cause? that a crime has been committed (Willing 1). The state court

said telephone tips, without verification by the police themselves, are not enough to justify a search of someone (Biskupic 2). In such a situation when an individual is being detained, the police are only allowed to do a pat-down search of your outer clothes to check for weapons and nothing else (Searches 1).

Another question must also be answered in the war on searches. Exactly how much leeway does an officer have when looking for evidence to conduct a search? What type of devices is the officer allowed to use and what is fair?

Along the southwest border, police are using a new type of x-ray machine that stirs up some controversy. The x-ray machine is the size of a car wash and can scan a 40-foot truck in minutes. All the driver does it drive through it and afterwards the cameras will tell if there are any illegal goods on the truck or bus and anything else he wishes to

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

know. The machines which cost about three and a half million dollars each can catch fake walls and other compartments stashed with illegal drugs. Another type of weapon is a thermal imaging camera. It is the size of a regular camcorder and allows police officers to find out whether someone is growing marijuana at home or has a bag containing narcotics. The camera works by picking up the slightest heat to the quarter of a degree even at nighttime, and pointing out the spot where it is (Srinivason 1). Evidence from this scanner is enough to obtain a warrant and let police search your house (Thermal Scan 1). Currently it is the most requested item in the office of National Drug Control Policy?s technology transfer program (Srinivason 1). Yet another gadget is one that appears to be a beeper, and can even be turned to vibrate mode like most beepers. But it enables officials to locate radioactive material without even checking the bags. The use of any of these new devices has not been deemed legal or illegal up to this point.

Although customs inspectors have gain approval from a supervisor to perform a personal search (Huie 2).

In 1988 Operation Pipeline was formed. It is a group of a few thousand police officers constantly patrolling the nation?s highways. The officers only reason for being on the road is to target minority drivers and look for drugs. There are many indicators of potential drug mules on the road according to these officers. Air fresheners, fabric softener, laundry detergent are all signs that a smell is being covered up. Maps with cities circled on them could be perceived as drug routes, fast-food wrappers on the floor could indicate that the driver was too anxious to leave his drug load. Tools on the floor that could be used to open up hidden compartments, tinted windows, new rims, and

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

single keys in the ignition (Webb 5). All of these indicators can easily be found in any innocent citizens? vehicle, as acknowledged by Operation Pipeline?s founder Bob Vogel. If a persons indicators are on the high side the following will happen. He will be given his papers back and the officer will stay around and strike up a friendly conversation, telling about the drug problems they are having on this route and that if it would be all right to look through your car. If you refuse a dog can be brought out to sniff at your car for evidence. Most drivers consent to a search after their license and registrations are given back. But what they do not realize is that at this point you are technically free to go since nothing was wrong with you or your vehicle and now the officer is just having a friendly chat with you (Webb 6).

In response to this and many other warrantless searches Pat Barber of Colorado City, Texas put up a eight foot by six-teen foot sign that read ?Just Say NO to Searches!? The sign was put up on his own property and even had a phone number where an

answering machine read a two-minute public message about citizens? constitutional rights against unreasonable searches. Barbers reason for doing this was due to the unprecedented number of vehicle searches on today?s highways and roads (Just Say NO? 1).

When signaled by an officer, safely pull over to a place out of traffic. Sit calmly, with your hands on the steering wheel, if you have passengers tell them to sit quietly with their hands visible (If the Police Stop You? 2). You may remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions, but do give your driver?s license and registration. Ask if you are under arrest, if you are not and your license and registration are given back you

Police Officers Often Misuse and Overuse their Powers when it comes to Conducting Searches on Persons or Property

Should be free to leave (Your Rights and the Police 2). If you are given a ticket sign it, otherwise you may be arrested (What to do if You?re Stopped 1).

As seen in this paper it is quite visible that police often misuse and overuse the powers granted to them by the courts and the Constitution. The reader can see that policemen take their powers to far and try to bully citizens into voluntarily giving up their rights granted to them under the Fourth Amendment. Court rulings continuously stand by the citizen and his or her rights. The Supreme Court especially has stated its issue on many of the things going on by police today (Valencia).