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Fear of Police Presence May Be Cause For Reasonable Suspicion - SD Supreme Ct

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  • Ron Branson
    Fear of Police Presence May Be Cause For Reasonable Suspicion [C]onduct designed to evade contact with police may itself establish reasonable suspicion.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2012
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      Fear of Police Presence
      May Be Cause For Reasonable Suspicion


      "[C]onduct designed to evade contact with police
      may itself establish reasonable suspicion." 
      State v. Starkey (S.D. Supreme Ct.)

      Have you ever realized that police were present, and you took evasive steps to avoid contact with them?

      In light of the current finding by the South Dakota Supreme Court that fearing police may be interpreted as reasonable suspicion to justify police action, I would like to refer you to a real life situation.

      A friend of mine here in California whose name is Max, who  managed a printing business in Hollywood, commuted daily over the hill via Laura Canyon. He took this route daily, with included on the downhill side a right-turn shortcut. In this particular day, unknown to Max, the police had set up a secluded observation point to catch "speeders."

      Now you must understand that everyone must ride their brakes  down the hill to negotiate the curves, but apparently according to this police officer, Max was not riding his brakes hard enough. So a hot pursuit ensued as Max made his typical right turn shortcut, allegedly fleeing the cop. The cop hastily "caught" Max, pulling up at Max's driver window with his gun drawn, and Max looking down the barrel of a loaded police special in the hands of an irate police officer who said, "I caught you."

      Max was taken by surprise, wondering what this was all about, only to find out that the police officer was accusing him of causing a hot police pursuit in an attempt to evade the police. It was the imagination of this police officer that made him believe he was the hero in capturing a get-away suspect who was evading police. To Max, this was his normal daily event of driving home from work, and it was being transformed into a life and death situation.

      Our illustrious mayor of Los Angeles says, "There can never be too many police officers in L.A." We beg to differ with him.
      we citing to our Founding Fathers. In our Declaration of Independence, passed unanimously by Congress on July 4, 1776, they penned these words, "He [King George III] has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance." This hardly bears up the words of Mayor Antonio Vigarlarosa that there can never be too many police officers. Was or original Congress in fear of police action. You better believe it.

      Keep in mind when these police officers were then harassing the People back in 1774, they were not speeding over the speed limit on the super highways, nor making illegal left hand turns, failing to wear a set belt, or signal. They did not even fail to purchase auto insurance, or pay their tab fees. So what was the charges for which the People were then being harassed? It is hard to imagine, but we know this one think, it was cleaning our the financial livelihood of the People, and wrecked their economy. This proves the point. In all ages, and at all times, and under every circumstance, the abundance of police officers are detrimental to society, and brings its economy down. Police will always find something to which the People are in violation of, and the People will therefore owe money to government bureaucrats who are enriching themselves.

      Ron Branson
      VictoryUSA@...

      *   *   *

      http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/opinion/simmons-reasonable-suspicion-is-common-sense/article_81c8a949-1897-540e-a5e8-0275f95acc92.html

      SIMMONS: Reasonable suspicion is common sense

      “Looks like you’re doing a lot of work trying to avoid me,” quipped Officer Fletcher as he pulled over Ms. Starkey. It was 2 a.m. in downtown Rapid City the summer before last.

      The officer had observed Ms. Starkey driving suspiciously and apparently trying to evade him. He turned on his sirens and stopped her vehicle after following her down Mount Rushmore Road, through an empty church parking lot and back to near a bar. Seeing evidence of alcohol consumption, the officer arrested her for driving under the influence (DUI).

      Initially, the local circuit judge dismissed the arrest since the officer had failed to observe any actual traffic violations, such as speeding. “I am unable to discern specific and articulable facts which taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant this stop. There were no traffic violations that should have prompted the pursuit,” he ruled.

      The judge’s order was appealed and the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed the decision. The court held that the traffic stop was legal, even though no actual traffic violations had been observed.

      In the days of the Dragnet TV show, Sergeant Joe Friday probably would have reached the same conclusion.

      State vs. Starkey recognized that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution places limits on the ability of the police to search, seize, and even make brief investigatory stops of citizens. Law enforcement must have at least “reasonable suspicion” based on specific facts before pulling over a driver. But conduct designed to evade contact with police may itself establish reasonable suspicion.

      One of the important factors for the Court in upholding Ms. Starkey’s traffic stop was the setting in which it occurred. Eventually, after remaining stopped in her lane of traffic several car lengths behind the officer and circling through downtown at closing time, she ended up back near a bar.

      An interesting contrast can be found in State v. Rademaker, decided in April of this year. There, the Court held that a driver’s avoidance of a sobriety checkpoint, standing alone, cannot justify a traffic stop. In that case, however, the driver had executed a wide turn, then sped away at 70 miles per hour on a gravel road, so the traffic stop that followed was indeed Constitutional.

      The level of suspicious facts required to justify a police officer stopping a vehicle is less than that required to justify an actual arrest. Reasonable suspicion is all that is necessary for a police officer to stop someone. Probable cause is required before an arrest can be made. Because an arrest is much more intrusive than a quick stop, a greater showing of specific facts is required in order to comport with the Fourth Amendment.

      Not uncommonly, an officer will identify additional facts which justify an arrest after making a stop (empty beer cans in view, for example). Otherwise, the officer is required to end the stop and allow the citizen to depart.

      In the Starkey case, the South Dakota Supreme Court quoted from a United States Supreme Court case concluding that a suspect’s unprovoked headlong flight from officers in an area known for heavy narcotics trafficking could justify a stop (though not an arrest).

      Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday was a pillar of common sense. He would have agreed with balancing the rights of citizens against the ability of officers to put two and two together before turning on their sirens.




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