Police Encounters with Suspects and Evidence
Did Officer Smith have a reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop of the vehicle? One of the most dangerous tasks an officer has is traffic stops or stopping a motor vehicle. The officer never knows what is going to happen, once they pull the vehicle over, the officer must remain on guard at all times, and expect the unexpected. Law enforcement officers must apply knowledge, skills, and abilities to make a variety of decisions regarding the mechanics of conducting vehicle stops.
Officer Smith noticed the suspect’s vehicle appears to have a broken taillight, which appears to be covered with colored tape. Based on the possible broken taillight, Officer Smith has reasonable suspicion to make the initial stop of the suspect’s car. A broken taillight is a trafic law violation, which usually involves a fix-it ticket.
Was the “pat-down” of the driver legal? Officers have the rights to perform a pat-down search of the outer garments of a suspect for weapons if he or she has been legitimately stopped with reasonable suspicion and only when the officer has a reasonable fear for his or another person’s safety. Officer Smiths pat down was legal because it was necessary to ensure her safety. Officer Smith conducted a Terry frisk, which requires a reasonable suspicion the suspect is armed. Since the general description of the vehicle that killed another officer fit the description of the vehicle that killed another officer, Officer Smith pulled over; she has the right to pat-down the driver for her own safety.
Did exigent circumstances exist for Officer Smith to give chase to this vehicle? When the driver fled the officer, they would be arrested for fleeing or evading and the car would be impounded. This allows search of the vehicle, now the marijuana can be used as evidence in court.
The gun was legally obtained, because it was in plain view and could be seen from a place where the officer had the right to be, it can be...