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Police Training


Stop and Frisk: Legal Perspectives, Tactical Procedures

Douglas Mitchell and Gregory Connor

The investigative stop, by whatever name known, has long been accepted as a legitimate and valuable part of the American police officer’s enforcement repertoire.  The U.S. Supreme Court first addressed and accepted this activity in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)  Its opinion in the Terry case is one of the most important in the Court’s treatment of contemporary law enforcement activity.  Portions of the analysis and discussion of the case showed the direction in which Fourth Amendment jurisprudence would evolve over the subsequent three decades, and shall certainly remain a focus for function far into the future.

The Court acknowledged that there were significant conflicts between the police and the public they served as a result of this activity.  There were, and remain today, strong differences of opinion between the law enforcement and some portions of the communities we serve in regard to the legitimacy and basis for the investigative stop.  This social tension is again gaining in prominence, with society again being forced to face the issues and ideals in conflict.  The authors strongly believe that unless our profession takes appropriate action to address the developing conflict and improves performance in this regard, public support and legal justification may needlessly erode or be eliminated.