Encounters

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Encounters

  1. 1. Running head: An Encounter with a Police Officer <br />An Encounter with a Police Officer <br />Patricia Pryor<br />Kaplan University<br />CJ 227<br />An Encounter with a Police Officer <br />An officer sees a vehicle that is unfamiliar to him; he decides to follow this vehicle and questions the person driving it. Afterwards, he then calls dispatch, continues to follow the person and at some point pulls the person over when he believes the driver may be part of string of robberies in surrounding neighborhoods. When the suspect is put through a lineup it is found that he not the perpetrator and is released. Did the officer have a legal right to pull over this vehicle? <br />Encounter #1<br />The first encounter was when Officer Smith noticed a brown pick-up that he had never seen before in town. He decided to follow the vehicle and after a few minutes the driver stopped and parked at a grocery store. Following the driver would have required none, simple because an officer is able to follow a vehicle that is travelling on public roads and in his jurisdiction. An officer would most likely do this when they may have some sort of suspicion that something is not right. In this case the officer felt that the brown pick-up was out of place and was following it to see where it was going therefore he was justified. <br />Encounter #2<br />The second encounter was when Officer Smith parked his squad car and approached the driver, George Radley. Officer Smith asked Radley if he could talk to him and Radley agreed. Officer Smith then questioned Radley about who he was, why he was in town and how long he was planning on staying. At the end of the conversation, Radley went into the store and the officer walked back to Radley’s pick-up truck. During this encounter the officer needed reasonable suspicion. It is standard practice for an officer to stop suspicious persons in public places and ask them questions. To determine reasonable suspicion the officer must view the totality of the circumstances of the case to see if he had a particular and objective basis for assuming Radley was involved in illegal acts. Officer Smith was not justified in stopping Radley because the suspect had not been acting in any suspicious way. <br />Encounter #3<br />The officer walked up to the driver’s side window and looked into the pick-up with the aid of his flashlight. Sticking out from under the front seat was a pair of rubber gloves, a glass cutter, a screw driver and a hammer. Officer Smith returned to his squad car and checked to see if George Radley had any active warrants. Officer Smith also asked the dispatcher to see if any of the neighboring towns had reported any burglaries. George Radley exited the store and got into his pick-up and drove away with Officer Smith following. Officer Smith has the lawful ability to look inside the pick-up using his flashlight because although in most cases police need probable cause to conduct any type of search there are exception. This exception would be the “plain view” doctrine. This allows the officer the ability to look inside of the pick-up and look for any illegal items or in this case any items used to commit a robbery. The information found while Officer Smith looked through the window will then determine if he is justified to conduct a more detailed search. Officer Smith did have the right to use his flashlight and peer inside the vehicle he did nothing wrong in doing so. <br />Encounter #4<br />Encounter four was when the dispatcher radioed to Officer Smith that there were three residential burglaries within the last ten days in a neighboring town and in every break-in, a glass cutter had been used to make entry. Also one of the homeowners caught a glimpse of the burglar as he was running. Upon learning this information, Officer Smith activated his emergency lights and stopped the pick-up truck. Officer Smith ordered Radley to turn off the vehicle and to exit the vehicle. Officer Smith told Radley that he was not free to go at this time. Officer Smith then conducted a pat-down search for weapons and then placed handcuffs on Radley since Radley had began swearing at the Officer and waving his arms around. At this point Officer Smith has reasonable suspicion because of the information he learned from dispatch and during encounter number three where he noted the glass cutter and some other items inside of the pick-up. In order for the officer to detain Radley he must first have reasonable suspicion which is less than probable cause. Officer Smith believed that the driver of the vehicle was a suspect in break-ins. He has specific proof to back up his belief. A similar case where an officer stopped a suspicious vehicle was People v. Remiro, 89 C.A. 3rd 809 (1979), where an appellate court upheld the stopping of the vehicle on the basis of the officer’s reasonable suspicion. Officer Smith was in the right to stop George Radley. <br />Encounter #5<br />Encounter five happened about ten minutes later, when the homeowner was brought down to the site and asked to determine if Radley was in fact the person that broke into her house. The homeowner stated that Radley was not the individual. Officer Smith then removed the handcuffs and told Radley that he was free to go. The officer believed to have probable cause to detain the suspect. The officer detained Radley in the belief that he was the suspect committing break-in and waited for the homeowner to come to the scene to either confirm or deny. When the homeowner stated that the person was not the one whom committed the break-in he was released and was able to go on his way. At this point the Officer was right to detain George Radley until the situation was solved. <br />References<br />Roberson C., Wallace H., Stuckey G. (2007). Procedures in the justice system/8th Ed: Pearson Education, Inc<br />Legal Database. (2010) Reasonable Suspicion. Retrieved on April 1, 2010, from http://www.legal-database.com/reasonable-suspicion.htm<br />

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