Why don't suspects on "Cops" ever mention the cameras?

I have heard that quote almost exactly during one of the earlier epi’s of that show.

It is amazing how many civil rights you see violated on just one episode of that show- and by police officers who know they are being taped! :eek:

Can I walk into your house without you inviting me? Probably not.
If someone else is invited into your home, and I’m in their “party”, it’s assumed that I can come in.
The cops can come in, and the camera man is in their party, but the party isn’t neccesarily invited, but then again, if it’s a domestic, frequently one of the parties DID invite the cops.
I gotta’ say, I’d certainly rather be arrested in front of as many witnesses as possible. There is nothing the police do that needs to be done in secret, so far as I’m concerned. I honestly don’t trust anyone to do a cop’s job and not lose control of himself or make poor judgements from time to time.

IANAP, but I’m gonna ask for a Cite on that one.

Can you provide some examples?

I’m not doubting you, but I’m curious.

Searching the car beyond what is allowed.

Arresting someone without probable cause.

Arresting someone who asks what the charges are and refusing to tell them.

Questioning without giving Miranda rights.

Bolding mine.

If the person isn’t under arrest, they can be questioned without a Miranda warning, as i understand it.

Well, define “arrest”- in these kind of cases, I believe SCOTUS has ruled that simply the beleif that you are not free to go is an “arrest”. And, in any case, generally, the answers can’t be used against them without being Mirandized.

Now, I have watched those shows, and it seems to me that most of those ignorant fools don’t beleive they are free to go, nor are they.

Which is why “Am I free to go now?” is an important question to ask. If they say no, consider yourself under arrest. Of course, during a routine traffic stop, you do need to provide the officer with your information, sign the citation and such before you ask that.


That’s something I notice all the time…some people, when questioned by the cops, don’t know when to STFU.

One episode that stands out, the cops busted a guy and found the phone number of his drug dealer. They called him and set up a buy, pretending to be the guy they just arrested. (What an idiot – how could the dealer NOT recognize his voice?) The dealer showed up, but a cursory search of the car found no drugs. So they impounded the car “to do a proper search”, and lo and behold, they opened the fuse box and there it was, several neatly-wrapped eight-balls.

Now…WHY didn’t they check the fuse box on the street? And WHY was the camera directly centered on the box, right as they opened it? It totally looked staged. (I suppose, they could have re-created the discovery just for the camera’s benefit…I mean, cops would never, EVER plant drugs on someone, right? RIGHT??)

Does anyone know if the camera people are actual cops? Once I saw another bust, which was a little more difficult than the cops expected…the cameraman had to pin one guy to the ground, and you could hear his voice shouting, “STAY DOWN! DON’T MOVE!” Nice breaking of the fourth wall, there!

I don’t have much in the way of examples. There was one episode where they were doing a pot sting. They announced themselves and the buyer was standing with his hands behind his back while a cop behind him was getting ready to cuff him. Another officer, a big guy, came running in from the side and tackled the guy. He could have killed him.

I remember there was one episode where they did a drug bust and the perp (I don’t remember if he was dealing) turned out to be a mild-mannered white guy with a couple of kids. Paul Stojanovich was just stunned and sat there thinking, and saying that that it wasn’t what you expect a crackhouse to look like. He couldn’t believe he was going to have to send off a white man to the places he sent poor black people to. He wanted to figure out a way to give the man a break.

IANAL, so just my non-lawyer understanding.

Serving a warrant is a judicial process, so it includes only public officers (police).

Responding to a crime in progress is a public safety matter, not involving a court (yet), So the police can just go in without a warrant. And people can accompany them. And you could indeed run in right behind the cops to watch. (But it’s likely the cops would promptly chase you right out again. (On the show, cops seem to frequently be controlling crowds, telling people to move back, stand over there, etc.) Temporarily, they are in charge, as it is the scene of a crime.)

In fact, I think that you or any citizen could just go into the house if you believe a crime is in progress, and could make a ‘citizens arrest’. How it works from there depends on laws of that state. (I sure wouldn’t advise doing this in most cases, given the chance of the occupants being armed.) And you could probably be charged with trespass or breaking & entering, if you can’t show that you had reasonable cause to believe that a crime was in progress.

There is no requirement to tell someone the charges when you arrest them.

Based on your comments above, I think you’re a bit confused on when Miranda warnings are required.

And based on THAT confusion, I’m willing to bet you’re a bit confused on when probable cause exists, and that might account for your belief that they search “beyond what’s allowed.”

I watch the show fairly frequently, and I drive my wife crazy by stopping the DVR and saying, “Now… see… before this happened, there was no probable cause…” In general, the show’s cops don’t seem to cross any lines at all. They are, of course, expert at working right up TO the line… but they’re trained for that.

That’s a good example. The first question is perfectly acceptable. And after the cop asks if he can take a look, most people feel obligated – after all, if they say ‘no’ to a search after that exchange, they’ll look guilty. But when they say
‘yes,’ they’ve just given consent, and the subsequent search is permissible by reason of that consent, with no probable cause needed.

I don’t say that the cops on Cops NEVER cross the line. But in my experience watching the show, it’s rare. What happens most often is that there’s an initial consensual encounter or Terry stop, and the suspect talks or acts himself into providing probable cause.

Could you expand on the issue of Terry stops.

My understanding was that the purpose of a Terry search is the officer’s safety, and that he is searching for weapons. Yet i’ve seen police perform Terry searches and pull drugs (baggies etc.) and drug paraphernalia (spoon, crack pipe) from the person’s pockets that could in no way be construed as weapons or something liable to endanger the officer.

Is my understanding wrong? Are they allowed to essentially empty your pockets of anything on a Terry stop?

Here are the cases:

Wilson v. Layne (1999): http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=98-83 (it violates the Fourth Amendment for police to permit media to accompany them into a house during the execution of an arrest warrant)

Hanlon v. Berger (1999): http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/decisions/526us808.pdf (applying Wilson to media accompanying police executing a warrant for ranch and appurtenant structures, excluding residence).

The Court’s holding was pretty limited, but here’s the meat of it:

The Court also held that it was reasonable for the Marshals to believe that it did not violate the homeowners’ civil rights for them to allow media to accompany them during execution of a warrant.

At any rate, Wilson’s logic is that the search exceeded its justification. More recent cases have recognized that media presence during police investigations in public or on commercial property (as opposed to residential) are not covered by Wilson.

Depends on whether they have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Hard to tell from edited footage.

Again, hard to tell from edited footage.

Devenpeck v. Alford

It’s only a violation of civil rights to then use the result of the questioning at trial.

Yes and no. The patdown *is * limited to searches for offensive weapons, but in Minnesota v. Dickerson (1993) (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=508&invol=366) The Court held that contraband detected by touch during a terry stop was fair game.

I admit that most of what we have seen is the “perps” being stupid and not shutting the fuck up.

However, I disagree about the police not supposed to give the charges when requested. If you read the cite that Gfactor has given, the Court goes on to say "*or if either officer had made the arrest without stating the grounds; * "- which says to me that sometime, especially after the arrest has been consumated the Police must state some valid charges. If they don’t, you go free- they can’t hold you without charges, right? And, I think that refusing to answer the question “why are you arresting me?” is at least a violation of “good police practice”.

I admit that part of this may be the editing. Perhaps they edit out too much.


But yes, actually. :slight_smile:

Here’s the deal: the Terry search is, as you suggest, limited to a brief, non-intrusive pat-down of the outer clothing, and the purpose is to ensure the officer’s safety by finding weapons.

However, since the officer is legally engaged in this brief, non-intrusive search, anything that he does find that in tunrn creates probable cause is legit. For example, if he feels a small bump in the pocket, it’s obviously not a weapon… but if he, by virute of his training and experience, recognizes it as a crack pipe, then he now has probable cause to reach INTO the pocket.

Please re-read the opinion. The comment you quote was in the context of discussing the “closely-related offense” rule – a rule they are rejecting:

Again: there is no rule that requires police to inform arrestees of the charges. That is required at arraignment. Not at arrest.

I certainly agree it’s sound police practice to inform people why they’re being arrested. But it’s not constitutionally required.

It’s one of the favorite television programs in the prison where my husband works.

Your husband works in a prison?!?

As far as I know, all the episodes where the cameraman entered the residence are older episodes. The issue has been pressed, and the cameras are no longer allowed into the homes. I know at least my hometown police department stopped allowing the cameras into the residences. But I think it is currently either a COPS policy, or court presidence, and they no longer enter homes. Have you seen any recent episodes filmed in the last couple years where they actually entered someone’s house?
If this is not universal throughout the country, then the answer to your questions is simply “A case has not yet made it to the SCOTUS”.