Wilmington’s Stop, Frisk and Imprison Law Unconstitutional?

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Friday claims the City of Wilmington’s policy of stopping people on city streets, frisking them and imprisoning them without probable cause is unconstitutional. To imprison someone without probable cause or arrest is a violation of false imprisonment and kidnapping laws. Although city officials are calling for stronger measures to enforce the laws in Wilmington, is this policy constitutional or legal? Is stopping people on city streets without probable cause and imprisoning them for a two-hour “investigatory period.” even in the realm of legality? According to the NewsJournal, Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that if Wilmington has engaged in that practice without probable cause to arrest the suspect, it is unconstitutional. “If this is a regular practice of the Wilmington Police Department, it should stop immediately,” she said. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and a permanent injunction against the City of Wilmington’s police policy, on this matter and well as damages. According to the NewsJournal, the lawsuit filed Friday details two incidents where three individuals were stopped, frisked, handcuffed, transported and imprisoned by Wilmington Police. In one case, the two plaintiffs claimed they were also subjected to a cavity search in a stop that never resulted in any charges. This lawsuit should define what police are and are not able to do to enforce the law in Delaware. If these practices are allowed to continue and set a precedent, this could become the new normal police tactics throughout Delaware. The question is: are certain minorities being targeted and is one gender more than the other being targeted for cavity searches?

19 thoughts on “Wilmington’s Stop, Frisk and Imprison Law Unconstitutional?”

  1. WOW- they whine about guns- then whine about stop and frisk….

    Ok – as stop and frisk is already deemed constitutional and DUI checkpoints are as well

    What is your solution ? I’m dying to hear it

    Have u read Terry v Ohio yet or are those judges as stupid and the DE Supreme Court And the DE Superior Court

    Just paid corrupt hacks in you estimated opinion

  2. They’re doing it because the crime rate is out of control- as it is everywhere else there is a minority-in-the-majority population, i.e.</i., the inner cities (I know, I'm a 'racist'). As to the constitutionality, of course it is a violation. To wit:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    What is the probable clause, whom or what do they propose to seize and where is the warrant?

    Of course, modern pinhead jurists (like those who tell us what ‘conservator of the peace means’) like to play Groucho Marx; “…who are you going to believe- me, or your own two eyes?”

    It would seem that not many Americans trust their own two eyes these days.

  3. The people in Delaware will believe their elected politicians until they awaken one day and find out that the constitution has been done away with and they live in a dictatorship and police state. That’s the day they can come into your home and kill you because you simply “pissed somebody off.”
    Some of us don’t see the world through those rose colored glasses!

  4. In Wilmington like NYC the group who benefit the most from stop and frisk are minorities, the same folks who won’t talk to police after a shooting or any other crime yet they demand protection from crime. If you don’t support crime fighting efforts, then you support crime.

    Stop and frisk in no burden. Everything I say in the cockpit is recorded, every possible moving violation is reported to FAA, I am routinely drug tested without any probable cause and I get searched at the airport despite three Federal ID’s with pictures and data.

    As far as legal precedence, who cares? I don’t have the burden of a legal education but then neither do a lot of Judges and Federal Elected Officials.

  5. Mike
    What you say in fine and good for you but you work for a private company and those are conditions of your employment that you choose to obey.

    I, for one do absolutely mind and take great offense if an officer were to stop me walking down the street with no probable cause and frisk me and imprison me for two hours to investigate what they might charge me with. If no crime has been committed and they just think that they don’t like my looks; that’s not probable cause to kidnap me and falsely imprison me.

  6. Don I disagree, it’s not just private sector employers that subject their employees to similar probable cause checks. There is a difference between being detained for questioning and arrested. Sadly in our society it has become more necessary to take more offensive actions rather than defensive ones in crime prevention. I would rather see one death prevented, one drug deal prevented, etc by using such actions than the alternative.

  7. WC
    What the Wilmington Police Dept. is doing is a violation of both the IV and V Amendments of the Constitution, which renders your rationalizations and justifications for the their actions null and void.
    However, I do understand the seriousness of the level of crime in Wilmington and I believe they need to do something but violating people’s civil rights without probable cause is not the answer.

  8. Stop and frisk can be done in a way that is legal and not in violation of the Constitution. At issue is probable cause. Whereas one can get in trouble for such if pulling people in for drugs by picking them randomly, if one pulls them in for jaywalking, or loitering, or abusive language, after the fact, the lack of probable cause is taken care of….

    Society requires them to “police” the streets. Get it? Police the streets. One can police the streets and remove those one thinks are selling drugs, or one can police the streets and remove those who are committing misdemeanors. Either way, those selling drugs are getting pulled off the streets. The misdemeanor approach, (jaywalking, loitering, inciting a riot) does not violate the Constitution and polices the streets.

    A better signal to the criminal element would be if the judge in the lawsuit above, throws it out. Says something like they looked like they were criminals in a criminal zone; what would you expect police to think… If you saw a clown in a circus, you think he belonged there, If you saw a fireman at a burning building, you’d think he belonged there. If you saw a preacher at a funeral, you’d think he belonged there… What were those guys thinking by standing in a criminal zone looking like criminals?

    If a judge does that… we begin to turn the corner. The idea is not to round up every criminal. Just make Wilmington so unwelcome the go back to New York, now that the Republicans are gone…..

    So, stop and frisk is not unconstitutional. One just has to adjust towards processing every misdemeanor one finds in that neighborhood… If one turns up an illegal weapon or illegal drugs in the process, well sorry dude, you are being charged….

  9. Kavips
    “A better signal to the criminal element would be if the judge in the lawsuit above, throws it out.”

    I believe that would set a dangerous precedent for the all police forces in Delaware. Violation of a citizen’s civil rights is a serious matter and this should be taken seriously by the federal court to defend the civil rights of all Americans.

  10. @kavips: You’re normally harmless enough, but this line:

    “Says something like they looked like they were criminals in a criminal zone; what would you expect police to think”

    had better be irony. If it’s not, you have no business commenting about politics, at least not in this country.

  11. “the same folks who won’t talk to police after a shooting or any other crime yet they demand protection from crime.”

    If you were any more stupid we’d have to water you once a week. You really, truly don’t understand that snitching can get you killed?

  12. You really, truly don’t understand that snitching can get you killed?

    Not to mention that people often have tribal/gang affiliations based on race.

    But none of it is really going to matter much in the future, once the internet really kicks into gear and stupid people start publishing their crimes on it.

    Dover Delaware: This Is Just Wrong: Crazy Brawl Of 2 Girls & A Guy Jumping An Elderly Lady In A Hood Of Dover, Delaware For Trying To Stickup For A Boy & Then The Whole Block Comes Out

    (If they leave then I guess it’d be another case of “white flight,” huh?)

  13. mynym

    People have already been publishing their crimes on the internet, thinkng they’re invulnerable. What were talking about here is the Wilmington Police Dept. willfully breaking the law and violating citizen’s civil rights with a known power structure of entitlement.

  14. Perhaps a better way to deal with the prevalence of crime: Pregnant Woman Breaks Attacker’s Leg With Kickboxing Training!

    Just kidding. She’s probably guilty of racism and a failure to realize that she owed him an old tribal/gang debt when she kicked him like that, huh? Because supposedly all her ancestors once kicked all his ancestors. Or something like that. It gets a little confusing after a few generations. But American liberals and progressives still seem to see things in “If I had a son he’d still look.” black and white. For all their talk of grays and the complexity of reality on some issues, on others it’s supposedly as simple as “black and white,” apparently.

  15. This applies to any law that is truly unconstitutional:

    …any law that is contrary CANNOT be enforceable and is void. There are a ton of cases that have shown this time and time again. And any LEO worth even a grain of respect should know that in the legal hierarchy it works like this:

    United States Constitution
    International Treaties
    Federal Statutes
    Agency Rules and Executive Orders
    Judicial Opinions
    State Constitutions and Statutes
    Citation Form

    So as you can see NO law, no statute, or code, can supersede Constitution of the United States.

    I am positive like most cops that to you, this just does not seem remotely believable. Mind swimming with “How can there be a law for which I am to enforce WHILE at the same time be Unconstitutional (= UNLAWFUL)?” That is the point- There are 10’s of thousands of unconstitutional codes and statues. It will take many really good people WHO will refuse to enforce, prosecute, jail.Know Your Rights: Law Student Backs Down Cop After Being Unlawfully Stopped For Carrying A Gun In Portland, Maine!

    People can usually still have whatever legal and civil rights they declare or are willing to fight for.

  16. mynym

    Everybody should care about the legal precedents that are set in America. They can be used to overturned our civil rights and must be acted upon immediately!!!

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