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OPINION

Calif. High Court Ruling Undermines Police, Endangers Communities

crime scene tape
(Dreamstime)

Michael Letts By Monday, 06 May 2024 01:52 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In a decision that could seriously impair police effectiveness, a recent ruling by the California Supreme Court holds that individuals cannot be detained merely for avoiding police interaction. To appreciate the gravity of this ruling, we need to dive into its origins and the principles at stake.

The basis of modern criminal investigation, including the gathering of evidence, finds its roots in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment was crafted as a response to the arbitrary and invasive practices of the British government prior to American independence, where military forces could forcibly enter homes and confiscate goods at will.

To prevent such abuses, the Fourth Amendment shields American citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, ensuring that law enforcement actions are justified by probable cause. This means that before a search warrant is issued, there must be a reasonable basis, supported by facts, to believe that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.

On the streets, however, police interactions are not always about searches but often simply involve questioning.

Historically, the courts have ruled that for an officer to require cooperation from an individual, there must be a "reasonable articulable suspicion" of criminal activity. This is a lower threshold than probable cause but still requires specific and articulable facts suggesting involvement in a crime.

In practice, law enforcement has relied on certain behaviors, such as an individual fleeing at the sight of police, as sufficient to meet this standard. The rationale is straightforward: a reasonable person might conclude that fleeing from police presence could indicate an attempt to avoid identification due to reasons like outstanding warrants or possession of contraband.

The recent ruling from California striking down this practice as a basis for detention poses significant challenges. At a time when rates of violent and property crimes are surging to unprecedented levels, restricting police officers' ability to engage with potential suspects based on their behavior in public spaces could severely hinder proactive crime prevention measures and compromise community safety.

This decision aligns paradoxically with broader national policies that seem equally counterintuitive, such as open border policies that potentially facilitate the entry of terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminals. These policies, under the guise of humanitarianism or administrative oversight, undercut the very essence of government responsibility as outlined in the Constitution: to "provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare" of its citizens.

As we grapple with these developments, one must wonder about the rationale behind such decisions and policies. They appear to be as logical as airlifting known criminals into the heart of our communities.

Until then, we are left to defend ourselves as we watch foundational principles of public safety being eroded by the very institutions entrusted with the responsibility to uphold them.

Michael Letts is the Founder and CEO of In-Vest USA, a national grassroots nonprofit organization helping to re-fund police by contributing thousands of bulletproof vests for police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. He also has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. Read More Michael Letts reports — Here.

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MichaelLetts
As we grapple with these developments, one must wonder about the rationale behind such decisions and policies.
police, crime, california
513
2024-52-06
Monday, 06 May 2024 01:52 PM
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