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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Police shootings, traffic stops, & the Fourth Amendment.

The recent surge in media attention to police of use violence, catalyzed by increasing video footage of shootings and other police uses of force, invites consideration of a host of complex issues. One of those issues is how, if at all, the Fourth Amendment applies to these events.

Perhaps surprisingly, when the shootings are connected to a traffic stop the answer to that question is quite complicated. The United States Supreme Court has not provided a clear answer. Though it has repeatedly analogized traffic stops to the Terry v. Ohio stop-and-frisk model, it has also taken a largely hands-off approach that increases police discretion during traffic stops and minimizes Fourth Amendment constraints, an approach that in itself is in theoretical tension with Terry. State courts, by contrast, have often pursued the Terry analogy to create varying state limits on police discretion during traffic stops. These state limits can sometimes be quite strong, even dictating what words police can and cannot utter during a traffic stop.

I’ll provide an overview as I blog this month.

Posted by Fabio Arcila on August 6, 2015 at 08:58 AM | Permalink

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