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Legal Perspectives

How to Justify Officer Safety Searches

On average, 60,000 officers are assaulted on the job every year. That's an average of 164 per day. The risk level you face on the job makes it important not only to resist complacency and to follow prudent tactics, but also to understand how to ensure that your interactions with suspects are constitutionally justifiable, so that you are never forced to choose between being safe and being sued.

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Seizing and Searching Passengers

In the 2007 decision in Brendlin v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court added yet another to a series of Fourth Amendment opinions on the subject of vehicle searches and seizures involving passengers, rather than drivers.

Anticipatory Search Warrants

Can you get a search warrant in advance that will authorize you to enter and search for the suspected items once the designated time arrives or the triggering event occurs? According to a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the answer is, yes.

Third Party Consent Searches

One of the "firmly established exceptions" to the warrant requirement for searches and seizures is the "consent exception."

How to Testify in Court

From the scene to the stand, prepare to give effective testimony in court.

Keeping the Peace During Civil Disputes

Although it’s tempting to take sides on certain calls, doing so can have major repercussions for you and your agency.

Seizing Evidence in Plain View

The Fourth Amendment governs three forms of activity: searches (intrusions into privacy), seizures of the person (detentions and arrests), and seizures of property. If these acts are not authorized by judicial warrant, they must come within one or more of the court-created exceptions for warrantless search and seizure (Katz v. U.S.). One of these exceptions is called “plain view.”

Davis Rules

In a fairly common scenario, you obtain a valid Miranda waiver from a suspect in custody and begin interrogation. Part-way through your questioning, the suspect begins to feel uneasy about going forward and says something about remaining silent or talking to a lawyer.

Holding Back Home Occupants

When you go into a suspect’s home to execute a search warrant, it’s not uncommon to find several people present, whether suspects, family members, or others. Sometimes, occupants may outnumber officers on the scene. This can create problems of safety and control, making it more difficult to carry out the search. Realizing this, the Supreme Court has provided guidelines on the ability of officers to detain, handcuff, and question occupants while a search takes place.

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