Law enforcement officers use two methods to investigate possible criminal activity: reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion means officers have a reasonable belief, sometimes cal

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Law enforcement officers use two methods to investigate possible criminal activity: reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion means officers have a reasonable belief, sometimes called a hunch, that criminal activity may have occurred. They have no hard evidence to support their belief. Probable cause is more concrete. Probable cause means officers are not just suspicious that criminal activity has occurred; they think it’s likely, or probable, that criminal activity has taken place. Many times reasonable suspicion may evolve into probable cause. This is not always the case, however. Initial contact between an officer and a subject often involves reasonable suspicion rather than probable cause.

This is a two-part assignment. Be sure to complete both parts.

Part 1

In Part 1 of this assignment you are required to write a one- to two-page narrative in which you:

  • Distinguish between reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

Part 2

For each scenario in the template:

  1. Determine whether reasonable suspicion or probable cause applies to each scenario.
  2. Justify your determinations.
  3. Use three sources to support your writing.
  • Cite each source listed on your source page at least one time within your assignment.
  • For help with research, writing, and citation, access the library or review library guides.
  • You may use your textbook as one of your resources.

Law enforcement officers use two methods to investigate possible criminal activity: reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion means officers have a reasonable belief, sometimes cal
Reasonable Suspicion Versus Probable Cause Template Instructions For each of the 10 scenarios: Determine whether reasonable suspicion or probable cause applies. Justify your determination. Note: The first scenario is completed for you as a guide to completing the remaining nine scenarios. Remember to use SWS to properly cite your sources. Scenario Reasonable Suspicion or Probable Cause? Justification Example Scenario: A police officer sees a vehicle leaving an alley which is a known narcotics area. Each week, police officers make several arrests in this alley. The officer stops the vehicle, contacts the driver, and retrieves his ID. The officer asks the subject why he was in that area. The subject states, “It’s none of your business.” The officer runs the subject for wants and warrants. The check comes back, and the officer determines the subject has two misdemeanor warrants. Reasonable Suspicion In this scenario, the officer used reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. Officers may use reasonable suspicion when criminal activity is suspected in a known narcotics area. Officers may also be use reasonable suspicion when the public calls tips into the police or when another officer alerts the department to potential criminal activity in an area. After the traffic stop in this scenario, legal searches and arrests would be considered lawful. Probable cause indicates a higher level of certainty and legal vigor. Scenario 1: A police officer sees a vehicle leaving an alley which is a known narcotics area. Each week, police officers make several arrests in this alley. The officer stops the vehicle, contacts the driver, and retrieves his ID. The officer asks the subject why he was in that area. The subject states, “It’s none of your business.” While standing at the vehicle’s window, the officer notices a plastic bag on the passenger floorboard with what appears to be a white powdery substance. The officer orders the driver out of his vehicle, handcuffs him, and detains him in her police vehicle. Later the substance was determined to be powder cocaine. Scenario 2: A police officer sees a vehicle leaving an alley which is a known narcotics area. Each week, police officers make several arrests in this alley. The officer stops the vehicle, contacts the driver, and retrieves his ID. The officer asks the subject why he was in that area. The subject states, “I was visiting a friend and got lost.” The officer asks the subject to step out of the car. While doing a pat down frisk for weapons (officer safety), the officer finds a loaded handgun tucked inside the subject’s waist band. The officer arrests the subject for felony possession of a firearm. Scenario 3: A police officer sees a vehicle leaving an alley which is a known narcotics area. Each week, police officers make several arrests in this alley. While leaving the area, the subjects fails to stop at a stop sign and proceeds through. The officer stops the vehicle, contacts the driver, and retrieves his ID. The officer asks the subject why he was in that area. The subject states, “I was visiting a friend and got lost.” The officer decides to search the vehicle for narcotics. He asks the driver whether he can search his car. The driver says, “No.” The officer searches it anyway and finds a bag of narcotics on the back seat. He arrests the driver for possession of narcotics and writes him a citation for going through the stop sign. Scenario 4: An officer finds a man wandering behind a building at midnight. The officer also notes a window has been broken in the back of the building where the subject was standing. The officer suspects this man broke the window to gain entry. She arrests the subject. While searching the subject, the officer finds narcotics in his pocket. She arrests him for attempted burglary and possession of narcotics. Scenario 5: A woman walks down a shopping aisle in a retail store and picks up an item. She turns the corner, and the item is missing. Scenario 6: An officer is following a car on the highway and sees the car “weaving” in the lane from white line to yellow dotted line. Scenario 7: Two police officers are on a stakeout. They see two men running out of a gas station. The men get in separate cars and drive away. The officers determine a robbery occurred at the gas station. They put out a verbal broadcast to all units. A pair of patrol officers believe they see a car matching the description. They pull the vehicle over and arrest the driver for robbery. Scenario 8: A game warden is patrolling at night for poachers. The warden sees a pickup truck come out of the woods. The officer follows the car and gets close enough to see a smear of blood on the bumper. Scenario 9: Two undercover gang officers spot two subjects in a known gang area. They have been looking for one of the men who is wanted for murder. The killer has a tattoo of the devil on his right shoulder. The officers stop the two subjects and search them. The officers ask the subjects to remove their shirts. One of the subjects has a tattoo of the devil on his shoulder. The officers arrest this man for murder. © 2020 Strayer University. All Rights Reserved. This document contains Strayer University Confidential and Proprietary information and may not be copied, further distributed, or otherwise disclosed in whole or in part, without the expressed written permission of Strayer University. Page 7 of 7

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