U2DB 1st Response: Criminal Justice Leadership and Issues in Diversity
Using 100 words or more, please respond to the following post:
While it is not legal to pull someone over by profiling, it is legal for an officer to pull over a driver based on reasonable suspicion. (Wolf Law, 2018). So, an officer cannot pull someone over because they are of a certain color, or because they have long hair. However, an officer can pull a driver over based on reasonable suspicion, at least in Colorado. In the scenario, George has been pulled over because he appears to be a drug dealer and is continually driving on the “drug pipeline” where he is repeatedly pulled over. In fact, 33 people were arrested during “Operation Snowfall” for drug trafficking across the “drug pipeline” from Atlanta to Augusta. (Adams, R., Johnson, D. & Williams, A., 2019). According to reasonable suspicion, there is nothing wrong with these stops. An officer can pull someone over if they reasonably suspect that the person has committed a crime, is going to commit a crime or is presently engaged in criminal activity. (Wolf Law, 2018). While reasonable suspicion is not as specific as probable cause, officers must have informed reasons to utilize reasonable suspicion. (Wolf Law, 2018). In George’s case, the officers are pulling him over because they have a reasonable suspicion that he may be involved in drug dealing crimes. With that being said, the repeated stops become unnecessary. After George has been stopped so many times, officers should understand that he is not someone who is driving on the “drug pipeline” for the purpose of distributing drugs.
In the state of Colorado, officers may pull someone over if they have a reasonable suspicion to do so. If officers in Colorado were not pulling someone over when there was a reasonable suspicion to do so, their superiors would tell them they need to. Reasonable suspicion involves the informed opinion of the officer to stop a driver. Once stopped, the officer may see drug paraphernalia or drugs, leading to search, seizure and arrest. (Wolf Law, 2018). Reasonable suspicion stops account for many drug busts and aid in getting drug dealers off the street. (Wolf Law, 2018).
If I were a new officer undergoing training and my field officer told me to “just skip” George or someone like him when it came to conducting stops for reasonable suspicion, I would ask my field officer why there was a need to skip him. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion to stop a person, they should be stopped. If the officer has informed facts and the circumstances surrounding the stop are due to reasonable suspicion and not profiling, the officer is fine to pull the person over. I would check with my field officer to be sure I was correct.
When George got pulled over by highway patrol on his last trip home, it seems that the officer did not even have reasonable suspicion to pull him over. This did not occur on the “drug pipeline” and if the officer pulled him over simply based on how he looks, it would be considered profiling. The officer pulled George over and proceeded to start taking his car apart. This is a direct violation of George’s fourth amendment rights that protect against unreasonable search and seizure. Without probable cause, the officer would have needed George’s permission to start searching his vehicle. In Colorado, any evidence collected without probable cause would qualify as an illegal search and evidence collected would be tossed out in court. (Colorado Legal Defense Group, 2019). In addition, the defendant’s charges could be greatly reduced or dropped entirely. Police in Colorado may only search if they have a warrant or if the search falls under an exception to a warrant that is permitted by the courts. (Colorado Legal Defense Group, 2019). There are numerous exceptions to the warrant requirement, but two of them that are fitting for the scenario include voluntary consent to the search and the automobile exception that allows officers to search the vehicle if they have probable cause. (Colorado Legal Defense Group, 2019). In George’s case, there was no probable cause and even if evidence were found and collected, they likely would not be admissible in court. This officer does not appear to be one that would be a role model or leader for other officers, as he is not allowing citizens their fourth amendment rights.