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Terry vs Ohio

NCJ Number
Date Published
0 pages
This police training cassette, accompanied by an audio cassette, reenacts the incident that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Terry v. Ohio (1968) and summarizes the ruling's guidelines for law enforcement officers with regard to searches of individuals when no probable cause exists, but the officer has reason to believe a crime may be committed and the suspect may be armed.
A Cleveland plainclothes detective observed three suspects casing a store for a stickup in the mid-afternoon. He approached the suspects, identified himself, asked their names, and patted them down. The officer felt a pistol on Terry which he removed. Terry was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, and he moved to suppress the weapon as evidence. The motion was denied by the trial judge, who upheld the officer's actions on a stop and frisk theory. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed Terry's appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the officer's actions were proper and upheld Terry's conviction. The Court also detailed procedures that officers must follow in searching citizens and obtaining evidence admissible in court. First, the officers must reasonably conclude that a crime is about to be committed; and there is reason to fear their lives and the lives of others are in danger, because the suspect may be armed. After identifying themselves, officers can pat down a suspect and reach into a pocket only if they encounter an object that feels like a weapon. Accompanying the video is a booklet that summarizes the incident and the case's progress through the courts and that explains the rationale for the Supreme Court's decision.