Summerville Citizens Police Academy -- Part 3

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Class 3

This week’s class is being taught by Captain Michael J. Donoghue. Donoghue has 20 years with Summerville police and another eight with North Charleston.

I will need to pay close attention as he speaks with the speed of light. His topic tonight is Constitutional, State and Local Laws.

Don’t yawn, I do and miss his opening volley. Kudos to Donahue, he has grabbed everyone’s attention and keeps us engrossed throughout the next three hours.

He begins with Constitutional law emphasizing that the U.S. Constitution was written to protect individuals from the government. He cites a number of examples including Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. the United States (a groundbreaking case about wire tapping) wherein Brandeis says: “…If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy….”

Donoghue then moves on to speak of probable cause defining it as “more likely than not,” discusses the difference between misdemeanors and felonies and notes that in South Carolina there are three levels of crime - misdemeanor, felony and treason - whereas in other states there might also be petty offence.

He tells us that domestic violence is the only crime where an arrest is mandatory at the officer’s discretion regardless of what the victim wants.

A lawful search, he says, consists of

An incident resulting in arrest

A warrant


Probable cause under the Carroll Doctrine

Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court which upheld the warrantless search of an automobile. The court recognized that within the time it takes to get a warrant, an automobile can easily be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.

Stop and Frisk is discussed. Stop and Frisk evolved from Terry v. Ohio and Donoghue tells us the whole story.

The Supreme Court upheld the search differentiating between a search done because a subject is acting suspiciously, that their interrogation is warranted, and that the officer, for his own protection, has the right to pat down their outer clothing having reasonable cause to believe that they might be armed.

The court distinguished between an investigatory “stop” and an arrest, and between a “frisk” of the outer clothing for weapons and a full-blown search for evidence of crime.

Donoghue then segues into use of force, and we learn the differences between force and deadly force and how an officer has to decide the reasonableness of his actions versus the severity of the offense, physical threat posed, resisting and evading arrest, etc. - all in a few seconds.

Regardless of the fact that Donoghue has moved quickly albeit thoroughly through his instruction, he doesn’t have a chance to get to interrogations. The three hours is up.

He tells us he will be back if he can to finish his segment. We all hope so!

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