The last thing police need is another tool taken away in their pursuits of suspects.
However, that is exactly what the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did in a decision earlier this month. The court ruled that police could not continue to pursue fleeing misdemeanor suspects onto private property without permission or a search warrant.
That may mean some misdemeanor suspects getting away as officers can’t or don’t want to wait out a warrant or permission to enter the property. Officers will continue to have the right to enter property if there is suspicion that evidence related to the crime will be destroyed or if they have evidence the suspect will flee. Otherwise they must stop at the property line in misdemeanor cases.
A three-judge panel on the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit made the ruling. This will provide more ammunition to critics of the 9th Circuit, some of whom have gone as far as proposing dissolving that particular appeals court because of similar “liberal” decisions.
Among those who might get away with crimes more easily are drunken drivers, who will know they can pull into their own driveways and avoid taking sobriety tests until a warrant is issued. By that time alcohol levels may have greatly dissipated and someone who was legally drunk may no longer be.
Officers also will have to make quick decisions on whether a suspect has committed a felony or a misdemeanor before pursuing a suspect onto private property, and in the end some officers may delay the decision long enough for a suspect to escape or simply make an incorrect decision on the classification of the offense in question.
Attorneys representing police officers plan to appeal the ruling, first to a larger panel of 9th Circuit judges and on to the Supreme Court if necessary.
We are glad to hear that, as we don’t believe a ruling further handcuffing police officers was a wise one to start with.
Don’t handcuff officers.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Send us your thoughts on this topic to www.ivpressonline.com/letterstotheeditor
Concerned about a current issue? Want to share your point of view? We want to hear from you. Send a letter to the Editor. Click here!