CJ390 – Critical Issues in Policing May Intersession First Case Study Analysis Scenario It’s your first day back on the 7 AM to 3 PM shift, you are in the roll-call room of the state police barracks, waiting for your sergeant to address the shift before you go on patrol. Sipping a cup of coffee and trying to wake up, you wonder what the weather will be like. “Hope it doesn’t rain. There will be a lot of traffic accidents to work if it rains,” you think to yourself. The sergeant, looking a little sleepy himself, enters the roll-call room. “All right, men, I don’t have any new items for you, but I do want to remind you about the mental patient who escaped from custody yesterday. The city and county have not had any luck locating him, and they have asked us to keep an eye on the interstates. He may be trying to get home. Remember, he can be dangerous. For those of you who have been off for a couple of days, I have some copies of this guy’s description and background. Pick one up before you go out. Any questions?” The room is quiet for a few seconds. When you realize that no one else is going to say anything, you raise your hand. “Sergeant, have you heard what the weather’s going to be like today?” “Oh yes, it’s supposed to rain, so be sure you all have enough accident forms,” he warns. After picking up a copy of the escaped mental patient report and checking out your patrol car, you proceed toward your patrol zone. Your zone consists of approximately fifty miles of interstate and nearly one hundred square miles of suburban area near a metropolitan city. Traffic accidents keep you busy during the first few hours of the shift. Your sergeant was right about the rain. It began raining just after you left the state police barracks and, needless to say, has contributed to a number of commuter accidents in your zone. It is now 11 AM, and you decide to eat an early lunch and work on some reports at a nearby truck stop. As you start to obtain clearance on the radio, the dispatcher provides new information on the escaped mental patient. “All units prepare to copy, be advised that city P.D. has informed us that a homicide has occurred in Fairbanks subdivision last evening. Suspect is described as being the escaped mental patient from the state hospital. Suspect last seen in the Fairbanks subdivision running from the scene in a northerly direction at about 7 AM this date. Consider suspect armed with a knife and dangerous.” The report surprised you. You didn’t realize that the escaped mental patient was that dangerous. You fumble through your attaché case and pull out the report on the mental patient. After a closer reading, the report indicates that the individual is criminally insane and extremely dangerous. You now wish that you had read the report in more detail, since Fairbanks subdivision is only a few miles from your patrol zone. You decide to call headquarters on your cell phone in an effort to acquire more information on the fugitive. The records clerk at headquarters advises you that the mental patient stabbed an elderly woman to death last night. The patient had broken into a residence at Fairbanks subdivision where the woman lived alone with her two small dogs. The records clerk informs you that the mental patient also stabbed the dogs to death. Closing your cell phone, you decide to skip lunch in favor of some peanut butter crackers and a soft drink. You feel that you should spend the time patrolling in the areas near Fairbanks subdivision, looking for the mental patient. It is still raining hard, and you hope that there will not be any more traffic accidents to work before you get off duty. The radio dispatcher interrupts your thoughts. “Attention all units in zone 26 and vicinity. An armed robbery has just occurred at the Pike Street Liquor Store. Two suspects seen heading north in a late 1990s gray Buick Century. City police were in pursuit of suspect vehicle until lost near Interstate 26 and the Brookcastle Highway.” Zone 26 is your zone, and you’re only a few miles from the Brookcastle exit. You begin to head south on I-26, watching the northbound traffic for the gray Buick. You observe a man hitchhiking on the northbound side of the interstate. The man is dressed in only a shirt and pants, and you wonder why the man isn’t under a bridge for cover from the rain. You realize that the man could fit the description of the escaped mental patient. As you look for a level area in the median strip to turn you notice a blue Nissan Altima- with what appears to be two girls- stopping to pick up the hitchhiker. Just as you being to pull into the median strip a gray Buick speeds by on the northbound side of the interstate. It is raining hard, and you are unable to make out the occupants of the car or its license plate. Pulling onto the northbound lane, you realize you must make a decision. The hitchhiker who was just picked up by the girls may or may not be the patient. The gray Buick could be the robbers or just someone driving too fast in the rain. You have enough probable cause to stop either the Buick or the Nissan. Making a radio call for assistance would result in at least a five- or ten- minute delay for a backup unit. By that time the vehicle you decide not to stop would probably be lost. You cannot waste any more time. You have to act now. Questions Critically answer the following questions.
Your response should be at least one page. You must provide detail justification for any decision that you make. Based on what you have read, answer the following questions: 1. What should you do? 2. If, in fact, there were no police units close to your location, would your decision change? Why? 3. What probable cause exists for pursuing the gray Buick? For pursuing the Nissan?z