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Analysis Of Article On 4th Amendment

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Review: " Suspect Searches: Assessing Police Behavior Under the U.S. Constitution"

Ð' The article "Suspect Searches: Assessing Police Behavior Under the U.S. Constitution," by Gould and Mastrofski explores the police usage of unconstitutional searches.Ð' Unconstitutional searches are those that are in violation of the fourth amendment.Ð' The fourth amendment rights, along with certain case laws put forth the guidelines for legal stops, frisks, and searches.Ð' Gould and Mastrofski perform a direct observation study which concludes the frequency of unconstitutional searches.Ð' This article puts police procedure under the spotlight and investigates the factors that seemingly increase the likelihood that an officer would engage in unlawful searches.Ð' In some cases, differentiating between constitutional and unconstitutional searches can be a difficult task, while in other situations police officers may obviously infringe on citizens' rights.Ð' Any violation of rights poses many serious implications and consequences for policing, especially when it comes to effective community oriented policing.

Ð' Ð' The police searches are governed by the fourth amendment thatÐ' provides protection against illegal search and seizure and requires that the issuing of warrants is based on probable cause.Ð' Gould and Mastrofski focus on warrant less searches.Ð' A legal search must be based on the concept of probable cause.Ð' As cited in our text book, The Police, probable cause is information that is "sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed" (as cited, Brinegar v United States, 1949).Ð' A police officer must make a determination about probable cause based on the totality of the circumstances, in each and every situation. Without the existence of probable cause prior to a search, that search would be held unconstitutional and any evidence gained will usually be omitted from trial, with few exceptions.

Ð' Being able to grasp the concept of constitutional versus unconstitutional searches is just the first step in being able toÐ' understandÐ' the article's research to measure the frequency of unlawful searches.Ð' A difficult task is proposed when trying to find the number of occurrences of wrongful searches.Ð' Police officers are obviously not going to come forward and admit to an illegal search because of the organizational disciplinary measures they will face.Ð' Also, in many cases the officer doesn't believe that he has violated any rights.Ð' On the other hand, the citizens who are unlawfully searched usually do not come forward, especially if the search was not followed by an arrest.Ð' There are definitely many unknown illegal searches that are never reported.Ð' This is known as the dark figure.Ð' The research done by Gould and Mastrofski seeks to overcome the dark figure by using a direct observational method.

Although there are many advantages of using an observational method, it is still realized that there are some disadvantages.Ð' The research only involves one undisclosed jurisdiction.Ð' They refer to this jurisdiction as "Middleburg".Ð' Middleburg is a mid-sized American city fighting the war on drugs.Ð' The number of search cases being evaluated is small and it may not fully represent all policing jurisdictions.Ð' However, the research method was performed well and does still demonstrate its purpose; to bring attention to an unnoticed problem that is truly existent.

In the study a team of faculty and staff observers followed a number of officers on patrol for a three month period.Ð' The observers took notes on the police encounters with the public and then they were given opportunity for a short debrief with the officers in order to gain insight into their thoughts as events unfolded.Ð' These observers wrote an account of 115 searches that were to be analyzed

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