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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

June 05, 2000
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If they run, you can chase them

Jose Torres In a decision that expands the authority of police, the US Supreme Court ruled that officers are justified in stopping and questioning individuals who run at the sight of police officers. The five-to-four ruling stops short of giving police a blanket right to stop those who flee at the sight of officers, but did acknowledge that such flight can be a justification to stop and question someone. The Chief Justice, William Rehnquist wrote for the court in the decision. ?Allowing officers confronted with such flight to stop the fugitive and investigate further is quite consistent with the individual's right to go about his business or stay put and remain silent in the face of police questioning,? Rehnquist wrote. The case in question involved a man who fled after seeing police officers in an area known for narcotics traffic. He was found in possession of a loaded handgun and was arrested. The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) praised the ruling. Executive Director Robert Scully said the ruling will allow officers to investigate highly suspicious behavior without the fear of allegations of harassment. The ruling reaffirmed the principle that a decision by a law enforcement officer to stop someone is never an exact science, but that flight by an individual who sees police is justification for questioning.

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