Troublesome Aspects Of Police “Whisper” Stops

In Drug Crimes by RSFJ

On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry posted in Drug Crimes on Thursday, February 15, 2018.

A police “whisper” stop takes on an ominous quality once its underlying meaning is understood.

Imagine that police officers in St. Louis or troopers elsewhere across Missouri lack any evidence to suggest that a given individual is connected to unlawful drug activity.

Federal agents working in a laboratory in another state have, though, pursuant to secretive investigative techniques that bypass warrant requirements. Those agents — from the FBI, perhaps, or the Drug Enforcement Administration — quietly pass along what they know to local law enforcers.

And those officers duly act upon that whispered communication to fashion some pretext allowing them to come into contact with the suspect (and, often, his or her vehicle). They make an arrest and secure a conviction that is presumably based upon their independent findings. Conveniently, those make no mention of the federal tip.

That practice deeply undercuts constitutional safeguards, states a recent national media piece that spotlights a prominent report on such evidence-linked abuses.

“[C]oncealing the origins of evidence and intelligence” fundamentally injures justice in the criminal law realm, note both NPR writers s and the authors of that report spotlighted by public radio. Defendants, judges and others are left in the dark concerning questionable investigatory tactics and “constitutionally dubious methods.”

The authors of the above-cited Human Rights Watch report hope that its findings further empower already aggressive defense attorneys as they dig for the sources and details relevant to every piece of evidence they possess.

The report’s lead author stresses the importance of every person interested in justice to take “a really good, clear, skeptical look at what might have been done at the root of the case.”