In one New Haven CT neighborhood, cops walking a beat are now looking into parked cars, and removing items that they consider to be valuable, and are then placing them in the property room at the police station, where the rightful owners can pick them up.
They say this is NOT a violation of search and seizure laws, because it is one of six exceptions in CT laws that cover search warrants. According to a New Haven Register article, Lt. Herbert Sharp says. “When it comes to a car, if there is something in plain view that is of value, and the car is unlocked, law enforcement can go into the car and retrieve that item and take it into the property (room) and place it where it is safe,” he further ads, that officers would be acting as caretakers.
Personally? I say the police are going WAY over the line! I mean if I come upon an unlocked police cruiser, does that mean that I, as a tax payer, am able to enter the vehicle and take valuable things for safe keeping? Most of the things in a police cruiser belong top tax payers…Right?
So now cops are 100% law-abiding? A crooked cops is walking down the street, he sees a nice camera, nobody is looking…so he takes it. Still nobody around? SCORE! If somebody sees him? “OH! Yeah! I’m just acting as a caretaker! This citizen should have locked their doors!” (note to the Maine State Trooper that went on a rant about an unsafe vehicle a few months back…Do you see how my hypothetical quote wasn’t directed at anybody that could be linked to a specific event? That makes it different from the way you posed a hypothetical quote.)
Doesn’t this open up a possible defense to criminals caught in the act??
“Yeah! See, I was walking down the street minding my own business, right? And this lady pulls up in this fancy SUV, and she’s got all these kids, right? One of em’s talking ‘ Mama…I want a drink!’ and another’s talking like ‘Mama, Billy hit me!’ right? And she’s got the little one in the little carrier that clicks into the car seat, you know? And she walks off, right? And she didn’t even lock the door! You know? And there’s her purse, and her cell phone, and them fancy little DVD players in the back for the kids and stuff? And I thought to myself, ‘Stevie?’…That’s my name, Stevie…So I thought to myself ‘Stevie, if you don’t do something, somebody’s gonna come along and steal all that stuff from that nice lady!’ Now I was just gonna sit there and wait for her to come back, you know? But I waited like four, five, six minutes, then next thing you know like ten minutes goes by, and I got this appointment, you know? So I figured I would just take the stuff, you know, like the cops do? And I was gonna drop it off later at the police station!”
Reasonable doubt right? Innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has to prove intent right??? How can they prove he didn’t intend to do just what he said?
Or how about this? Mr. police officer is securing valuables, and he just happens to see a bag of drugs? And what if these drugs belonged to a minor, who shouldn’t have had them in the first place, and maybe if the parent of said minor had found them, they would have thrown them out or whatever. But the amount is a felony amount, and the person driving the vehicle now has a felony arrest, because they have legal possession over everything in the vehicle.
I know, I know…Kid shouldn’t have had the drugs, blah, blah, blah… But this very well could be a one time thing for the kid. Do you honestly think the cop, or the courts are going to care? ESPECIALLY if the driver had a drug problem five or ten years back?
I see it like this. REGARDLESS of the fact that the police NEVER want me in their vehicle, unless they put me there, I certainly don’t want them in mine. Secured, or otherwise! This opens the door to so many other “we are just doing this for your own protection” scenarios, and THAT is something we should all be wanting to avoid!
Open your eyes folks! The more authority our peace keepers, and elected officials can get, the more they will take. And once they have it, they are NOT going to give that up!
We are raising a generation of citizens that see no reason why you shouldn’t be searched at airports, and if you can be searched at airports, why not when you are walking down the street, or driving along? Is that what we want???