Thursday, October 6, 2011

Albany Citizen's Police Academy - Week 5 - Search and Seizure and Traffic

This week's class was taught by Officer Robert Hayes. He taught both portions of the class. Hayes explained the rules that determine constitute a legal search. Probable cause is 51% more likely than not that the person committed an act. Reasonable suspicion is less than probable cause. An encounter is when an officer stops a citizen to make an inquiry without indicating the citizen isn't free to leave at any time. A stop is when the officer makes it clear the citizen is not free to leave. Officer Hayes explained that an officer must be able to articulate proof for any search or stop; however, an encounter doesn't require a report. If an officer can't articulate a reason for turning an encounter into a stop, the stop won't hold up in court. Hayes discussed the different types of legal searches including consent, warrants, and probable cause. An officer often searches an individual during a stop to insure the officers safety. A frisk is to look for weapons that could put the officer in harm.

Officer Hayes also discussed traffic laws in Oregon. He discussed the dangers of speeding and not obeying traffic devices. He explained how some of the traffic laws can be interpreted quite differently creating situations where the courts will dismiss cases based on the confusion.

At the end of the class, Officer Hayes took us out and let us use the lidar (laser radar) to see how it worked. That was cool. The car I set the lidar on was going 23mph in downtown Albany where I'm fairly certain the speed limit is 20mph. He also stepped out into the street to stop a passing car to tell them to turn on their headlights!

I went to this class expecting it to be dry and boring, but Officer Hayes is a good presenter. Anyone who can make traffic law interesting has to be a good speaker!!

Okay, it wasn't a K-9 demonstration or EVOC ride-a-longs, but it was still interesting!

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