By Kevin “Coach” Collins
The 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision Terry v Ohio should put an end to the outrageous behavior of our TSA agents. The Terry case provided guidelines for police to “stop and frisk” those they deemed to have just committed a crime, are committing a crime or are about to commit a crime. Nevertheless, the Court tempered this new authority with a requirement that the police also have “reasonable suspicion” to justify such actions
The basic elements of Terry v Ohio are that a Cleveland Police Detective ( Martin J. McFadden) who was patrolling in plainclothes, observed three men loitering in the vicinity of a jewelry store. Relying on the experience and intuition he developed over his 38 years as a police officer, McFadden determined that the trio was preparing to rob the store so he stopped them and frisked them. The search revealed that two of the men were armed with handguns. McFadden placed all three under arrest. Until “Terry” police were empowered to stop and search suspects only after a crime had been committed.
All were found guilty, but they appealed their convictions up to the U.S. Supreme Court. After almost five years of legal maneuvering their convictions were upheld as justifiable based on McFadden’s established knowledge and experience regarding the identification of criminals even before they had committed their crime.
The Terry decision was not a complete “green light” for those in law enforcement to violate the 4th amendment with total impunity. As agents of government, Police officers must determine the existence of “reasonable suspicion” about the criminal nature of the person[s] being observed. Such “reasonable suspicions” must be based on ““specific and articulable facts.” Agents of the government may not act on a hunch.
This is the salient point as Terry v Ohio relates to the intrusive searches being carried out by Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). These TSA agents are employees of the Department of Homeland Security which makes them government agents and therefore bound by “Terry.”
Private security officers
It is an established fact that private security officers are not bound by the Terry v Ohio guidelines. A security guard is allowed to search someone on the property he/she is guarding on a mere hunch of wrong doing.
Given the sharp differences between the ways “Terry” rules apply to private guards and TSA agents, there appears to be no grounds for the type of vague and unsupported “hunch searches” TSA agents are doing everyday without cause.
Almost all of these searches would fall victim to Terry v Ohio as they should.
To read more about Terry v Ohio use these links:
This day in history November 22
1963: John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald who later murdered Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. Kennedy’s murder led to the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson as the 36th President later that day.
Remember we have work to do. Join your local TEA party and Republican County Committees to make sure real conservatives get our nominations.
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