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MILITARY POLICE AUTHORITY OVER CIVILIANS - THEY LOOK LIKE POLICE, THEY ACT LIKE POLICE, BUT ARE THEY POLICE?

NCJ Number
58563
Author(s)
D M CORRIGAN
Date Published
1978
Length
97 pages
Annotation
MILITARY POLICE HAVE NO STATUTORY AUTHORITY TO ARREST CIVILIANS ON MILITARY INSTALLATIONS AND OFTEN THE COURTS HAVE STRAINED LOGIC TO UPHOLD THE NECESSITY TO MAINTAIN ORDER. A SAMPLE STATUTE IS PROPOSED.
Abstract
HISTORICALLY CONGRESS HAS BEEN RELUCTANT TO PASS A LAW GIVING MILITARY POLICE THE RIGHT TO ARREST CIVILIANS BECAUSE THE FEAR OF MILITARY AUTHORITY WHICH WAS ENGENDERED DURING COLONIAL TIMES IS STILL STRONG. AS A RESULT EXISTING MANUALS URGE MILITARY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO SEEK GUIDANCE FROM A JUDGE ADVOCATE ANYTIME A SITUATION INVOLVING A CIVILIAN ARISES, BUT THE JUDGE ADVOCATE HAS LITTLE LEGAL THEORY AND FEW COURT PRECEDENTS TO RELY ON. BASICALLY MILITARY POLICE ARRESTS ARE IN THE SAME LEGAL CATEGORY AS CITIZENS' ARRESTS OR ARRESTS BY POSTAL INSPECTORS OR CUSTOMS OFFICIALS. THE COURTS HAVE UPHELD THEIR AUTHORITY TO MAINTAIN ORDER ON A MILITARY, INSTALLATION BUT HAVE STRICTLY MAINTAINED THE SOLDIERS OBLIGATION TO OBSERVE FOURTH AMENDMENT PROTECTIONS. SOME COURTS HAVE HELD THAT CIVILIANS SUBMIT THEMSELVES TO SEARCH ON A BASE WHEN SIGNS WARN THAT MILITARY POLICE MAY SEARCH CARS AND BARRACKS, BUT OTHERS HAVE SAID THAT THE BASE COMMANDER'S ORDER TO SEARCH CONSTITUTES A SEARCH WARRANT WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT. HOWEVER, THE EXISTING CONFUSION LEAVES MILITARY POLICE WITH NO CLEAR GUIDELINES AND RENDERS THEM LIABLE TO TORT ACTION. A STATUTE TO GRANT APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY TO MILITARY PERSONNEL AND ALLOW EFFECTIVE PROTECTIONS OF FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS IS PROPOSED. THE DISCUSSION CONTAINS LEGAL CITATIONS, FOOTNOTES, AND REFERENCES. (GLR)