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UNITED STATES v. CLIPPER

March 12, 1991

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RONALD T. CLIPPER


Oliver Gasch, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

OLIVER GASCH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Defendant, by counsel, has moved to suppress the seizure of narcotics which the police state were taken from his person. To fully understand the implications of this case, the Terry doctrine must be reviewed. Terry and two associates were observed by Detective McFadden of the Chicago police apparently "casing" a store on McFadden's beat. McFadden did not know them nor had he any tip respecting their illegal activities or whether any of them possessed a pistol. He knew that armed robbery and burglary had taken place on his beat. It was conceded that he lacked probable cause to make an arrest. The Supreme Court sustained the action he took in what is now generally known as the Terry stop and frisk doctrine. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968). McFadden approached Terry, spun him around, patted him down, and discovered a pistol, which he seized. He did the same to one of Terry's associates.

 Chief Justice Warren, writing for the Supreme Court, at page 22, described the situation as follows:

 
One general interest is of course that of effective crime prevention and detection; it is this interest which underlies the recognition that a police officer may in appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner approach a person for purposes of investigating possibly criminal behavior even though there is no probable cause to make an arrest. It was this legitimate investigative function Officer McFadden was discharging when he decided to approach petitioner and his companions.
 
We are now concerned with more than the governmental interest in investigating crime; in addition, there is the more immediate interest of the police officer in taking steps to assure himself that the person with whom he is dealing is not armed with a weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against him.

 392 U.S. at 23. And, at page 24, the opinion states:

 
It would appear to be clearly unreasonable to deny the officer the power to take necessary measures to determine whether the person is in fact carrying a weapon and to neutralize the threat of physical harm.

 392 U.S. at 24. At pages 26-27, the Court further filled in the details justifying the stop and frisk doctrine:

 
It does not follow that because an officer may lawfully arrest a person only when he is apprised of facts sufficient to warrant a belief that the person has committed or is committing a crime, the officer is equally unjustified, absent that kind of evidence, in making any intrusions short of an arrest. Moreover, a perfectly reasonable apprehension of danger may arise long before the officer is possessed of adequate information to justify taking a person into custody for the purpose of prosecuting him for a crime.

 392 U.S. at 26-27. And, at page 27, the Court further elaborated the doctrine as follows:

 
The officer need not be absolutely certain that the individual is armed; the issue is whether a reasonably prudent man in the circumstances would be warranted in the belief ...

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