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Modest Proposal to Articulate Clearly Established Law on Stops, Tickets, Warnings, and Searches

NCJ Number
Illinois Law Enforcement Executive Forum Dated: July 2001 Pages: 83-89
Michael J. Zopf
Thomas J. Jurkanin Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2001
7 pages
In an attempt to deal with accusations of racial profiling during traffic stops, this article presents a proposal for standardizing a report form for police stops that do not result in a ticket, warning, or arrest.
Based upon training officers at the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, expert testimony, and over two decades experience in litigation, this article is for the law enforcement officer and presents a proposal articulating clearly established law on traffic stops, tickets, warnings, and searches. First, the proposed standardized stop form section is presented. The form contains a series of articulable facts for the officers to check in a designated area and then the report is scanned by the department. The form is used only if no arrest has occurred. Under the proposed standardized search report section, when an officer conducts a search of a motor vehicle, whether by consent or based upon the observance of contraband under U.S. versus Ross (1982), where probable cause exists to believe evidence of a crime, police may search the car without a search warrant. When proposing a standardized field interview form, two court cases regarding claims against police for excessive force are discussed: Plakas versus Drinski 19 R.3d 1143 (7th Cir.1994) and Graham versus Connor 490 U.S. 386 (1989). The article concludes with claims against the police department for racial profiling where standardized form defeats statistical analysis; these claims were defeated under qualified immunity, municipal liability, fourth amendment claim, and equal protection. A sample of a standardized form is presented.