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If you haven’t read Terry vs Ohio, the officer saw two men outside of a store that appeared to be casing the place for a robbery. They had been taking turns walking in front of a store and looking in the window. They were doing this repeatedly, and talking in between each run. A third man had shown up and left. The officer saw the three meet up down the street and approached them. He patted Terry down and found a gun in his jacket. He also found a gun in one of the other men’s pocket as well.
The court deemed it reasonable for the officer to suspect the robbery and pat them down.
NYPD’s policy seems to me to be just patting people down for being present in certain areas. I don’t find that reasonable at all. Courts have supported officers who pat down people after they put their hands in their pockets after an officer has asked them to take them out of the pockets. That is understandable, but a pat down just for being somewhere (TSA?) is not.
Yes, there is a difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause. The courts deemed a pat down, or “Terry Frisk” (stemming from the name of the court case), less intrusive than a full on search. For an officer to pat somebody down, they have to have reasonable suspicion to believe the person is currently armed and dangerous. Since reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause, this doesn’t take “evidence” per se. There are numerous factors that can give an officer reason to pat someone down, but I do not think NYPD’s policy meets the standard.
A Terry Frisk is not supposed to involve reaching into pockets. It is a pat down of the person’s garments/body to ensure there is no weapon on them. For an officer to pull something out of a pocket, they have to be able to articulate that it felt like it could be a weapon. This is where it gets complicated as far as drugs/paraphernalia go. A glass pipe in someone’s pocket is hard, and the general size of a pocket knife. A baggy of weed does not feel like a weapon. However, courts have upheld officers pulling drugs out of pockets if the officer immediately recognizes the feel of (this is the only specific example I remember from training) a crack rock the way it slides between a plastic bag.
Probable cause is a higher standard, and what is needed for an arrest (different than a detention) or a search/arrest warrant. This requires actual evidence rather than reasonable suspicion.
I hope this helps. This is all based on the training/schooling I have been through at both the state and federal level of law enforcement.
As for the second question, I think that is best left up to Mr. Woods and his staff!December 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm in reply to: how do you respond to these gun control arguments? #19472
Guns are no more designed “to kill” than knives are. Guns are a tool, designed to fire a projectile. Knives are a tool, designed mainly to cut.
While it is slightly irrational to just say “yes, private citizens should be able to own tanks, anti-aircraft weapons, etc,” the general principle of it is true. Every time someone attacks the 2nd Amendment and brings into it the “sporting” use of a gun, they have immediately conceded that they either didn’t pay attention to history, or they just disregarded it. It’s sole purpose is to allow the citizens to defend against tyranny.
While the average citizen would never be able to afford such an arsenal, lucky for us more and more people are waking up and hopefully we wouldn’t need private citizens with this stuff. Hopefully enough military/law enforcement personnel understand what is going on and side with the people rather than the government.