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  • +6

    Scott v Harris - The Final Word on State Claims

    In 2007, the United States Supreme Court decided Scott v. Harrisi, which vastly limited Fourth Amendment liability arising from vehicle pursuits. This case began in 2001, when Victor Harris was clocked traveling 73 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. Harris fled the traffic stop and caused a pursuit that lasted approximately 10 miles. During the pursuit, he sped through a ...
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    US Supreme Ct - Randolph v. Georgia

    Police Cannot Use the Consent of a Co-Occupant to Make Entry in Order to Search for Evidence to be used Against the Opposing Occupant who Is Present and Objects to the Entry. Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. ___, slip op. 04-1067 (3/22/06). The United States Supreme Court further clarified the rules regarding consent searches in homes in Randolph v. Georgia, decided ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court Violation of Knock and Announce Rule Does Not Require Exclusion of Evidence

    In Hudson v. Michigan, the United States Supreme Court considered how a violation of the knock and announce rule should impact the admissibility of evidence in a criminal prosecution. The facts in Hudson involve the execution of a search warrant by the Detroit Police Department. The police obtained a warrant to search Booker Hudson’s residence for drugs and weapons. Upon arrival ...
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    Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Discrimination

    *+The Need for Policy and Training+* Utilizing the Walker formula previously cited: Does the policy-maker and/or trainer know to a moral certainty that officers will face situations that may involve sexual harassment, discrimination or misconduct in the law enforcement profession? Would an officer be better equipped to deal with these situations if trained and directed by policy? Is there likely to ...
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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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    Use of Deadly Force Pre-Shooting Conduct and the 21 Foot Rule

    A circumstance that officers often face is the suicidal individual who, in essence, holds him or herself hostage. These are difficult cases. While such cases require a police response, officers sometimes are caught between a rock and hard place. Much has been written about the concept of “suicide by cop” but the fact remains that officers are often called to deal ...
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    Witnesses: A critical element in administrative investigations

    When your law enforcement agency conducts an administrative investigation you usually have a complainant and your agency employee. Frequently, the complainant has a witness or two. Your employee often has other agency employees, such as a partner or back-up officer, supervisor and the dispatcher. Other witnesses with little or no allegiance to either the complainant or employee are commonly referred to ...
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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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    Startled Look and Hiding Your Purse are Insufficient to Establish Reasonable Suspicion

    In S.V.J. v. State of Florida, 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 1037 (Florida App. Ct. 2nd Dist. 2005), the Court of Appeals for Florida considered a school search case where the only facts articulated in support of the search was a startled look coupled with the appearance of trying to hide a purse. S.V.J. attended an alternative school for disruptive students. On ...
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    Training Liability & Use of Deadly Force

    Any time a law enforcement officer uses deadly force, the likelihood that a lawsuit will follow is almost a certainty. Most of these lawsuits are brought in the federal courts as civil rights claims based upon the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. These actions are brought under a federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which creates civil liability when ...
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    Use of Flash-Bang May Constitute Excessive Force

    In Boyd v. Benton County; City of Corvallis et al. 374 F.3d 773 (9th Cir. 2004), the United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit held that the use of a flash-bang while executing a warrant may constitute excessive force under the 4th Amendment. The court then granted the involved officers qualified immunity because the law was not clearly established ...
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    Strip Search Filmed By Media Rendered Search Unreasonable

    A search conducted by members of the Indianapolis Police Department was found to be unreasonable and unprofessional based upon the presence and filming by a camerawoman. In Thompson v. State, an Indiana Appellate Court examined a strip search which occurred during an undercover operation. The operation, being conducted by a policewoman, was being filmed by a television camerawoman who was filming ...
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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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    Startled Look and Hiding Your Purse are Insufficient to Establish Reasonable Suspicion

    In S.V.J. v. State of Florida, 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 1037 (Florida App. Ct. 2nd Dist. 2005), the Court of Appeals for Florida considered a school search case where the only facts articulated in support of the search was a startled look coupled with the appearance of trying to hide a purse. S.V.J. attended an alternative school for disruptive students. On ...
  • +2

    Proving Constructive Possession of Illegal Drugs

    Officers from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department executed a search warrant at the home of Dale Ann Harris, where she lived with her children. When the police made entry, they found Harris and two other women inside the apartment; all were handcuffed and detained. Officers searched the kitchen and found jars, vials, tin foil, and spoons which contained suspicious liquid ...
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    Use of Force-Policy and Training Considerations

    The law enforcement community has been scrutinized and criticized on a regular basis for incidents involving use of force. Perhaps part of the lack of understanding on police use of force comes from the fact that most people get their perspective on police use of force from television. The reality of police use of force is that it is not the ...
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    Stop and Frisk—What do you do, what can you do?

    The Law of Citizen Contacts and Stop and Frisk On a daily basis police officers have contacts with citizens that are consensual and thus do not implicate the Fourth Amendment. These contacts do not require the police to have any level of suspicion to justify the contact. Since police do not justify the stop based on some level of suspicion, the ...
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    Two Rulings Related to School Detention: (1) Detention w/o Notification & (2) Detention by SRO

    Is it unconstitutional for school officials to detain a student without notifying her parent? And is it unlawful for a school resource officer to detain a student long enough to deliver her to a school official for investigation of a school offense? Two cases that reached the appellate level in their respective jurisdictions address these questions. Detention w/o Notification OK In ...
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    Positional Asphyxia

    Another aspect of pepper-spray that leads to litigation is deaths resulting from positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia involves the improper placement of individuals who have violently resisted causing physical exertion and sometimes exacerbated by the effects of pepper-spray which inhibits breathing. Many of these cases also involve the presence of narcotics that increases a suspect’s heart rate as well as other physiological ...
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    Procedural Time Limits In Administrative Investigations - Absolutes

    When you are involved with public employee disciplinary matters and have procedural time limits imposed on your case, failing to meet those time limits will normally result in losing the ability to discipline the employee regardless what the misconduct may be. In essence these limits are essentially a statute of limitations, in other words, bring your discipline within the allotted time ...
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