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    U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit and Federal Liability forEmergency Vehicle Operation

    An area where few federal lawsuits have occurred has been where a collision occurs at the result of a police officer’s emergency vehicle response to an in-progress radio call. A new case from the United States Court of Appeal for the 8th Circuit may expose public safety agencies to further liability in federal court based upon non-pursuit emergency vehicle operation. In ...
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    Two Rulings Related to School Detention: (1) Detention w/o Notification & (2) Detention by SRO

    Detention w/o Notification OK In the first case, Wofford v. Evans, 390 F.3d 318, (4th Circuit 2004), school officials twice detained a 10-year old after her classmates told their teacher that the girl, M.D., had brought a gun to school. Students at Colonial Elementary School in Botetourt County, Va., reported to their teacher that they had seen M.D. in possession of ...
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    Supreme Court: Police Have No Liability for Failing to Enforce a Restraining Order

    A question that is often raised in law enforcement is whether there is any duty to protect citizens from the harm they suffer at the hands of a third party. For example, is a witness to a crime entitled to some protection by law enforcement so that no retaliation occurs; and, if the police fail to protect the witness and the ...
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    Supreme Court Further Clarifies “Knock and Announce” Rule

    In United States v. Banks, 124 S.Ct. 521 (2003), the Supreme Court further clarified the rules regarding knocking an announcing during the execution of search warrants. The Court has decided a number of cases pertaining to this issue over the last several terms. A brief review of the cases provides guidance into this critical police task. In Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 ...
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    Reducing Liability by Subscribing to the Law Enforcement Legal & Risk Management Update

    The Law Enforcement Risk Management & Legal Update is a new periodical that provides timely updates on the law and trends impacting the law enforcement profession. The focus of this bi-monthly subscription service is the critical tasks that create liability for officers and their agencies. In addition to case summaries the reporter also includes a roll-call training section to be used ...
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    Reasonableness of Handcuffing during a valid “Terry Stop”

    Does handcuffing during a “Terry Stop” transform the stop into a full-blown arrest, which requires the officer to have probable cause rather than the lesser requirement of reasonable suspicion? A case from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut determined that the application of handcuffs does not automatically turn an otherwise valid “Terry Stop” into a full-blown arrest. ...
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    Officers not Liable for Excessive Force in Arrest of Paraplegic

    Brant v. Volkert, 72 Fed. Appx. 463 (7th Cir. 2003). Officers are often faced with circumstances involving persons with physical disabilities. As such it is necessary to train officers for such circumstances. Mr. Brant, a paraplegic was stopped by the police while operating a three-wheeled scooter erratically and with no lights. A computer check revealed that Brant’s right to operate the ...
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    Overview of Police Liability

    While police officers may believe that they will be exposed to liability for all of their actions, both proper and improper, the fact of the matter is that most courts have avoided second-guessing police actions and have only sanctioned the most egregious conduct. There are various levels of liability that may exist when an officer’s actions are deemed improper. The purpose ...
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    Renewed Challenges Based on Miranda

    Over the past couple of years courts have seen a renewed number of claims based upon allegations related to violations of the 5th Amendment self-incrimination clause as well as violations of the rule announced in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Two cases decided on June 28th 2004 provide some guidance for law enforcement agencies with respect to the reaches ...
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    Restraint of Autistic Student doesn’t Seize “Excessive Force” Standard

    A difficult issue in the school setting is use of force to control students and maintain a safe environment. This issue is more difficult when dealing with students who have disabilities that place them in special education. A recent case from Mississippi provides an example of how courts will analyze such uses of force under state law. In Pigford v. Jackson ...
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    Supreme Court Update: ~ Qualified Immunity ~

    An individual officer’s greatest shield in a lawsuit that alleges a violation of civil rights is qualified immunity. A decision by the United States Supreme Court in December, further clarified the strength of this immunity. In Brosseau v.Haugen, 543 U.S.___; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8275 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case involving the use of deadly force by Officer ...
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    Supreme Court-Violation of Miranda does not Violate 5th Amendment but may Violate Due Process

    In a decision dated May 27, 2003, the United States Supreme Court held that interrogation undertaken and continued in violation of Miranda, does not give rise to a civil lawsuit based on a violation of the Fifth Amendment in cases where the police never attempt to introduce the statement in a criminal trial. Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. ___, slip op. ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court: Admissibility of Out of Court Statements Made to Police

    Was Statement made during an Ongoing Emergency-in attempt to Resolve Emergency? Was Statement made after Emergency-in effort to prove Past Events for Criminal Prosecution? In Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana the United States Supreme Court decided companion cases which involved the same issue but resulted in different outcomes. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether prosecutors could use ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court Exigent Entry at Loud Music Call

    Brigham City v. Stuart, involved a fairly typical police event. Officers from Brigham City were called at 3:00 a.m. about a loud party at a residence. Two officers approached the house and heard yelling and what sounded like a disturbance at the rear of the house. The officers documented the fact that they heard “thumping and crashing” and someone yelling “stop, ...
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    Use of Deadly ForcePre-Shooting Events Impacting Reasonableness of Shooting

    An on-going issue in deadly force cases is how courts will review the totality of circumstances surrounding the shooting and how officer tactics and actions before the shooting may have an impact on the reasonableness of the use of deadly force. Some of the federal circuits view the “totality of circumstances” as only that moment in time where the officer pulls ...
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    Electronic Communications Privacy Act

    2701. Unlawful access to stored communications (a) Offense.— Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section whoever— (1) intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or (2) intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility; and thereby obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in ...
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    Justice Department Findings in Regards to Illegal Immigrants
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    Are Off-Duty Incidents Within the Scope of Garrity?

    In accordance with the ruling in Gardner v. Broderick, supra, a police officer may be compelled to answer questions specifically, directly, and narrowly relating to the performance of his official duties as long as he or she has not been required to waive his or her privilege against self-incrimination. This raises the question as to how a department may deal with ...
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    Use of Deadly Force Based on Perceived Threat

    Police officers sometimes subjectively perceive suspect action as a threat and react in accord with that threat. In many of these cases, the so-called “furtive” motion turns out to be simple movement and not a threat at all. Sample v. Bailey, 337 F.Supp.2d 1012 (N.Dist. Ohio 2004) provides a good example of how courts view these cases when deciding whether an ...
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    US Supreme Ct Anticipatory Search Warrent United States v. Grubbs

    United States Supreme Court: Anticipatory Search Warrant Valid Though Triggering Event Not Included in Warrant The United States Supreme Court held that an anticipatory search warrant, that described the triggering event for execution in the affidavit, but not the warrant or the attached schedules that were given to the suspect at the residence, still met the particularity requirement of the 4th ...
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