Area Police Working to Protect Your Rights

Area Police Working to Protect Your Rights
By: CJ Cassidy
Jackson, MO - Most of us want the police around when we need help, but how about when you're on the other side of the law?
How would you react if an officer asks to search your home or your car?
Would you find yourself in hot water if you refused?
Officers with the Cape Girardeau Law Enforcement Cooperative, which includes Cape, Jackson, Cape County and the SEMO DPS talked about many of those questions at a special Search and Seizure Training Class.
If an officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, they can hold you until they give you a ticket.
They can also search your car, with your consent.
If you say no, police can still search if they have probable cause, but if they don't, then you're within your rights to stand your ground.
Most home searches take place quietly, but that doesn't make them any easier on the residents, or the officers doing the search.
"There's times you're confronted by people, who don't want you to be searching them. They feel their rights are being violated, and it's not saying they're guilty of anything, everyone feels this way," Patrolman Jason Young says.
He's only been on the streets for one year, and like many other officers he was glad for the chance to learn how to protect you and at the same time, respect your privacy.
"the laws are constantly changing and being revised," he says.
"When we go through cases I point out what they're allowed to do not allowed to do," Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, who spearheaded the course, says.
He points out police must abide by the law too, whether it's stopping you on the road or trying to enter your home.
"When the police are at someone's home and they're saying "what if I say no, what are you going to do?" I explain to officers if you say "I am going to get a search warrant if you refuse", you've just violated their rights," Swingle explains.
He adds police need to remember words can hurt a case when it goes to trial.
"The officer has to be very careful and say I'm going to apply for a search warrant and show him the door is open judge might still not grant it," Swingle says.
"You don't want something to go to court and get thrown out, because you don't know what you're doing. You also don't want to violate a citizen's rights," Young agrees.
Prosecutor Swingle tells me he hardly ever comes across officers in Cape County, who don't follow proper procedure, because they don't know the law, but having training from time to time, keeps police updated on new laws and court rulings.