Friday, October 24, 2014

Shameful Police Conduct in Sacramento

U.S. Supreme Court cases are very clear that in order to stop and detain someone, the 4th Amendment requires that police must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime was committed and that the person being detained was involved in the criminal activity.  The suspicion must be more than a hunch: it must be based on particular factors that implicate the specific person being detained.

In spite of the many cases clarifying the rule of law stated above, today CHP officers stopped, detained, and pointed guns at numerous scared, innocent motorists while searching for a man suspected of killing two Sacramento area cops.  This was not only highly inappropriate checkpoint style conduct, but it was also flagrantly violative of our country's rule of law.

Cops take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution.  That should include the 4th and 14th Amendments.  The fact that they were searching for a suspect who killed cops is not a sufficient reason to disregard the U.S. Constitution and the requirement of particularized suspicion about someone they detain (and point a gun at).  I imagine that we still have a long way to go before this kind of misconduct will end. 

Incidentally, the photo above came from an article in today's Sacramento Bee.  The reporters didn't scrutinize or otherwise discuss the appropriateness, or lack thereof, of police pointing guns at the motorists.  I think it's a duty of good journalism to question such things.  Scrutinizing government conduct is a fundamental role of news reporting.