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Copyright (c) 2001 Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center 
Touro Law Review

ARTICLE: Terry and Beyond: Testing the Underlying Assumption of Reasonable Suspicion

Winter, 2001

17 Touro L. Rev. 439


Illya D. Lichtenberg, Ph.D. n1, Alisa Smith, J.D., Ph.D 2 ad Michael Copeland, M.A., J.D. 3



In Terry v. Ohio, 5 the United States Supreme Court carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant and probable cause requirements. The Court held that a police officer could conduct an investigative stop of a citizen without a warrant and based on a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. 6 The Court also held that same officer, based on a reasonable suspicion that the citizen may be armed and dangerous, could conduct a "pat-down" frisk of the citizen's outer clothing ("stop and frisk"). 7 The Court's conclusion was a result of balancing citizens' interests in being free from unwarranted police intrusions against the interest in police officer protection. 8 To support the balance in favor of law enforcement safety, the Court found that criminals armed with guns and knives historically harmed police officers. 9 The Court relied on Uniform Crime Report data from 1960 to 1966 to support its belief that citizens subjected police to great risk of violence. 10 The Court enumerated the number of police officers killed in 1966, the number killed by guns, the number killed by knives, the number assaulted and the number injured in 1966, and the total killed since 1960. 11 Thus, when the Court held that "stop and frisks" were permissible, it did so based on the assumption that the dangers presented justified the intrusion.

Since the 1968 decision in Terry, the assumption of the danger of policing has become firmly rooted in American ...
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