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Police Misconduct Essay

Abstract

The responsibility of police officers is to protect and serve the community lawfully. There have been many instances in which the power of an officer has been exercised ethically or unethically. Unfortunately, police misconduct still takes place in today’s police agencies nationwide. Activities such as, illegally searching ones property or a protocol miscue are classified as police misconduct no matter the magnitude of the offense. The right to search and seizure has been protected by the Bill Of Rights since foundation of our country due to our founding fathers. However, the fourth amendment is at risk to be changed due to such cases like Jardines v. Florida and other cases that have tested the boundaries of this amendment. This article will cross examine this case and others such as, Illinois v. Caballes and Kyllo v. United States, to examine if police misconduct could have played a part in these cases.

Police misconduct is an act that is not classified as just by one action of delinquency but several actions such as police brutality, racial profiling and use of deadly force are just to name a few wrongdoings that take part in everyday police duties. However, it doesn’t necessary mean that the officer has to abuse its authority in anyway but a missed protocol falls under police misconduct classification. Officers who forget to follow procedure can lead to criminals getting away with the crimes he or she has committed during or before trial. Prosecutorial misconduct remains a largely undeveloped research issue in large part because of the challenge of defining what constitutes misconduct, but also some misconduct never comes to light (Dr. West, August 2012).

For example, James Broderick was concealing information in the case of People of the State of Colorado v. Tim Masters that mislead the prosecution. If it wasn’t for this undisclosed information during the first trial Mr. Masters would have not lost years of his life in prison for a crime in which ten years later was proven innocent because of touch DNA and police misconduct. This paper will cross examine procedural protocols that can be tied to police misconduct. I will focus case such as, Jardine v. Florida, Illinois v. Caballas, and Kyllo v. United States to name some. These cases will help me determine if proper procedure was followed during the use of drug sniffing dogs during the investigation.

Law enforcement officers use dogs to find people, clear buildings, sniff out evidence and to locate evidence or contraband (Walker, 2001).Law enforcement agencies have a list of behaviors in which they require their employees to follow and enforce even while using specially trained dogs. These canines have been trained to help our police force and have helped solved cases and saved lives since joining the force. The officers who are in charged of these dogs are held under a stricter police protocol. The Fourth Amendment preserves the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” (Walker, 2001). Since police dogs have been on the force, the laws have changed and the areas in which they are allowed to search have as well. Police Canines have the right to sniff luggage, packages, warehouses or garages, cars, buses, and trains (Walker, 2001).

All these locations are in public areas and can be a security issues therefore these areas don’t violate the Fourth Amendment. Places such as post offices, cargo planes and ships, U.S. borders and airports are other areas that the use of canines help search for contraband and other items that are prohibited from entering the U.S. In the 2005 case of Illinois v. Caballes a dog sniff was conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the Fourth Amendment (Illinois v. Caballes,2009). However, the police unit that was on scene had not been the one to conduct the search and that being said I feel that the violation of the Fourth Amendment occurred. The first unit had the situation under control and was already in the process of writing a warning ticket for the violation that Caballes had committed.

The second unit that arrived on scene pulled out the canine and conducts a sniff test around the vehicle. During the search the canine had made an indication at the truck of Caballes vehicle which led to the discovery of narcotics. Even thou drugs was discovered, the search was performed without any specific and articulable facts to suggest drug activity; the use of the dog unjustifiably enlarged the scope of a routine traffic stop in to a drug investigation (Illinois v. Caballes, 2009). Even thou the officers did discover pounds of marijuana and prevented drugs from circling the community Caballes was able to fight this case in court. Police misconduct was not preformed in a threatening manner in this case but a simple missed protocol was able to justify a violation of ones privacy.

Thanks to this case and others the law has been changed and the act of conducting a search in a vehicle is more in the hands of an officer if he or she has probable cause. Privacy of a hotel room is another questionable situation when it comes to violation of the Fourth Amendment. Rooms in which are occupied should be considered as that persons home for the time being. Pilots, business consultants, athletes, truckers and people who simply people who travel have to deal with checking into these rooms daily. However, the canine cant sniff inside a hotel room but the police officer can conduct a sniff test outside the room and if the canine indicates the officer must obtain a search warrant (Walker, 2001). The officer is able to conduct a sniff test outside the room because the hallways of the hotel and other areas not including your room are considered public areas.

The case, Florida v. Jardines stems from a November 2006 anonymous tip to the Miami-Dade Police Department that the home of Joelis Jardines was being used to grow marijuana (Richey, 2012). Is a anonymous tip enough probable cause? Roughly a month after receiving the tip, a detective went to the house. After watching the residence for 15 minutes, a police officer with a drug sniffing dog was sent to the front porch. While on the porch, the dog signaled his handler that it smelled the presence of narcotics. A detective knocked on the front door, where he said he could smell marijuana (Richey, 2012).With all the facts that the officer had he felt like he had probable cause and obtained a search warrant. During the search they had prevented Mr. Jardines from fleeing while discovering the narcotics. At the trial, Jardines lawyer argued that all the evidence from the house must be suppressed because the use of the drug dog amounted to a illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The judge agreed and orders that the seized evidence be removed from the case (Richey, 2012). The officer did obtain a warrant but he had initiated a search with the dog without having probable cause before the dog signaled the officer. In a 2001 case, Kyllo v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the use of a thermal imaging device to try and identify the heat lamps used to grow the marijuana violated the Fourth Amendment because it can detect innocent activities of people in the house (Richey, 2012).These officers violated the privacy of the defendant in this case even with having good intentions to save the community from narcotics they violated police procedure and the Fourth Amendment.

Florida prosecutors argue that unlike thermal imagers, a drug dogs are trained to only signal their handlers when they detect contraband (Richey, 2012). The Florida prosecutor is right that the dogs signal only when they detect narcotics but what gives the right authorization to initiate a sniff at a doorstep. Later on the prosecution stated “There is no point in a dog sniff after a warrant is obtained. The purpose of the dog is to develop the probable cause in the first instance.”

This statement is completely factual but did the officer who initiated the sniff test at Mr. Jardines door have enough probable cause. Is a anonymous tip enough probable cause to take a canine up to a private home and conduct a sniff test. The Florida Supreme court acknowledges that officers can generally walk up to a home and knock but they also determined that there was much more than a knock that had taken place in Mr. Jardines home. This case will be schedule for argument in April and can have an effect on the Fourth Amendment. Police misconduct is still such broad subject but if it wasn’t for these cases of missed protocol our men and women who protect and serve the community are now more aware on how to deal with these situations.

Refrences
Dumm, D.N (2012).Dog Sniff Case Granted Cert .
Retrieved February 28, 2012 from the
World Wide Web: http://www.johnathan
turely.org/2012/01/08/dog-sniff-case-
granted-cert/
Dr. West, E.M.(August, 2010) Court finding of
Prosecutorial Miscondcuct Claims in
Post-Conviction Appeals and Civil Suits


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