Terry stop law reform proposals
I am not a big fan of Terry stops in general, because they are warrantless seizures, and, moreover, because police routinely try to escalate Terry stops to get arrests out of them.
However, I am pretty resigned to the fact that Terry stops are here to stay for the foreseeable future. I would like to propose three reforms to reign in Terry stops a bit at the margin:
- That a police officer be required to use the words “Terry stop” (as in “stop, you, this is a Terry stop”) before there is any duty for the suspect to stop. That way, there will not be issues regarding whether the police officer was ordering, as opposed to merely requesting, a stop.
- That a police officer has to say what crime she suspects before any questioning and/or pat down. This helps innocent people bring and support civil suits for unconstitutional Terry stops that are not actually grounded in reasonable suspicion.
- That a police officer may not Terry stop somebody who is on her own property (that is, in her home, in her curtilage and/or in any open fields that she owns). I simply don’t think it is reasonable to allow police to Terry stop a person on her own property.
For what it is worth, here is a recent case that gotten me thinking again about proposed reforms #1 and #3 in the above list: