Class 14-17 Week #2
Week #2 of the Sandwich Citizens Police Academy was devoted to an introduction to constitutional law. Dull, dry, boring, turgid; yes, but the foundation of everything the Sandwich PD and its officers do. Sgt. Lawrence provided an overview of the basics: Mere Suspicion, Reasonable Suspicion, and Probable Cause, all of which police officers must be able to articulate, especially the last two.
Class binders contained copies of the legal precedents presented in Terry v. Ohio and Mapp v. Ohio. In Terry, the court affirmed an officer's right to pat/frisk a person suspected of concealing a weapon. The officer had many years of experience and during a lengthy observation of 3 characters apparently preparing to commit a crime, he stopped them and performed a "pat frisk," which is limited to a person's outer clothing. He subsequently discovered concealed weapons, and the characters were arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons. This led to a lengthy class discussion of what constitutes Probable Cause--"more probable than not, more likely than not, more than suspicion, less than beyond a reasonable doubt" that a crime has been/is about to be committed. The court ruled that the searches were warranted.
In Mapp, the court ruled that evidence obtained in searches and seizures in violation of a person's constitutional rights is inadmissable in a criminal trial in state court. Sgt. Lawrence then discussed "interview" vs. "interrogation" and what triggers a Miranda warning.
A person must be in custody--i.e., deprived of freedom or arrested--and faced with interrogation, thus necessitating a reading of the person's Miranda rights. Prior to interrogation, the person must be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent and the right to consult with a lawyer. Absent this information, any statements obtained from the person are inadmissable in court.
Sgt. Lawrence passed around a sign-up sheet for ride-along assignments--always extremely enjoyable. Students were advised to dress appropriately (no flip-flops, no outrageous outfits) and to leave any weapons at home. He also introduced Officer Lauren Gilrein, the new Community Service Officer. She may look like a kindergarten teacher, but she definitely is not.
Despite the impressive array of desserts--cookies, cheesecake bites, crispy brown sugar/almond slices--the Chief and his well-known sweet tooth were nowhere in evidence.
Note for future classes: Joint Operations with the Sandwich Fire Department will be presented at Sandwich High School, and Court Procedures will take place at the Barnstable County Court House.
Contributing Editor, Donna Leiss
Photos courtesy of Bob Nichols