In this assignment you are to write a 2-3 page paper (excluding the title page and reference page) addressing the legality of the following actions of Officer Smith. Make sure to identify the various levels of police encounter in the following fact pattern and describe the legal requirements needed to justify each of those encounters. You should then explain whether Officer’s Smith’s actions were justified when judged against those legal requirements. Make sure to include any sources or legal cases you used to define the legal requirements or that support your conclusions.
Officer Smith is on routine patrol in the small town of Hickory Falls. While on patrol, Officer Smith observes a vehicle, a brown pick-up, which he had never seen before driving through the town. Officer Smith decides to follow this vehicle even though the vehicle had not committed any traffic offenses. After following the vehicle for approximately five minutes, the driver of the vehicle pulled over and parked at a grocery store. Officer Smith parked his squad car and approached the driver, George Radley. Officer Smith asked Radley if he could talk to him and Radley agreed. Officer Smith then questioned Radley for approximately five minutes about who he was, why he was in Hickory Falls and how long he was planning on staying in the town. At the end of the conversation, Radley went into the store and the officer walked back to Radley’s pick-up truck. The officer walked up to the driver’s side window (which was rolled up) and looked into the vehicle with the aid of his flashlight. Sticking out from under the front seat was a pair of rubber gloves, a glass cutter, a screw driver and a hammer. Officer Smith returned to his squad car and checked to see if George Radley had any active warrants. Officer Smith also asked the dispatcher to see if any of the neighboring towns had reported any burglaries. As this was being done, George Radley exited the store and got into his pick-up and drove away with Officer Smith following again. A short time later, the dispatcher radioed to Officer Smith that there were three residential burglaries reported within the last ten days in the neighboring town and in every break-in, a class cutter had been used to make entry. Officer Smith also learned that one of the homeowners caught a glimpse of the burglar as he was running from the house but did not see the burglar get into a vehicle. Upon learning this information, Officer Smith activated his emergency lights and stopped the pick-up truck. Officer Smith ordered Radley to turn of the vehicle and to exit the vehicle. Radley then became very agitated with the Officer and stated that he had to go as he was late for an appointment. Officer Smith told Radley that he was not free to go at this time. Officer Smith then conducted a pat-down search for weapons and then placed handcuffs on Radley since Radley had began swearing at the Officer and waving his arms around. Approximately ten minutes later, the burglarized homeowner from the neighboring town was brought to the scene of the traffic stop to determine if she could identify George Radley as the person that broke into her home. The homeowner stated that Radley was not the individual that had broken into her house. Officer Smith then removed the handcuffs and told Radley that he was now free to go.