Letter Re: A Story of Caution in Today’s Police State, by Lebannen

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HJL,

I appreciate Lebannen’s miltary service, and his desire to serve his community as a local police officer. I do think that it is very, very important to clarify a piece of legal advice that the OP provided in this article. Towards the end of Part 2 of the article the OP states “If the police come to your door and ask you to step outside or open it, you do NOT have to comply. They need a warrant unless an exigent circumstance occurs.” This is patently incorrect in the case of a vehicle stop, and in failing to do so you may find yourself being involuntarily extracted through the front vent window of your vehicle.

There are two established pieces of case law where the Supreme Court acknowledges an officer’s authority to order either the driver or passengers to exit the vehicle during a lawful traffic stop. There needn’t be any level of suspicion of illegal activity for an officer to do so, nor does an officer need to clarify any officer safety concern to do so.

Pennsylvania v. Mimms allows an officer to order a driver to exit the vehicle.

Maryland v. Wilson allows an officer to order passengers to exit the vehicle.

I won’t elaborate here, other than to say you can do a Wiki search on either and find a plethora of details surrounding those cases. The moral of the story here is: please step out of the vehicle when asked to do so by the officer. – K.G.

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