Police officers sometimes need flexibility to respond appropriately to a variety of factual situations confronting them in street encounters. It is a huge task to promulgate a set of rules which will be flexible enough to cope with the enormous variations in police-citizen encounters, but which at the same time, the police can easily and effectively apply. It is not the purpose of this article to criticize the court's efforts in this area. It is the purpose of this article to evaluate investigatory stops by police officers as they perform their duties with this lesser standard than probable cause. The paper will trace the erosion of probable cause under the fourth amendment resulting from recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the rise of reasonable suspicion as the standard for investigatory stops. This is followed by a discussion of several important United States Supreme Court cases that have replaced the probable cause standard with that of a modified Terry reasonable suspicion standard. The main thesis of this article is that "reasonableness" as a standard for limited detention of citizens is appropriate in certain circumstances, but the wholesale elimination of the probable cause standard will inevitably result in an over-all disservice to society.
Harper, Robert Berkley
"Has the Replacement of "Probably Cause" With "Reasonable Suspicion" Resulted in the Creation of the Best of All Possible Worlds?,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 22
, Article 2.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol22/iss1/2