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Video on social media purporting to show Elk Grove Police acting unprofessionally, or does it?

Video on social media purporting to show Elk Grove Police acting unprofessionally, or does it?

 

There is a video making the rounds of social media that critics say show Elk Grove police officers acting unprofessionally while dealing with an incident on Monday, January 29, 2018.  The video was posted by a woman going by the screen name “Princess Honey.”

 

The one minute and forty one second video,  shows the later part of an interaction between the woman and Elk Grove police officers.  The officers had pulled over a car in which the woman was a passenger being driven by her boyfriend’s mother according to the Facebook post.  The license on the vehicle was over 6 months expired and the officers were going to have the vehicle towed, per California Vehicle Code, -22651(o) California Vehicle Code: Authorizes officers to tow vehicles that have expired registration over 6 months.

 

During the video officers asked the woman, identified as having the last name Williams by officers, to move away from the car. Williams does not comply and at one point officers ask to search her purse.  On her Facebook post, Williams stated that officers asked her not record them. Her own video does not back that up.  Officers repeatedly asked her to move away from the car and in fact told her that she could record from another location.

 

Comments on Williams page and the page of the Elk Grove Tribune, which shared the video, were critical of the police officers actions in towing the car and searching her purse.  Elk Grove Laguna News did further research on the actions of the police officers and found out that the officers acted in accordance with standard law enforcement policy on towing the vehicle and searching Williams’ purse.

 

The Elk Grove Police Department policy on towed vehicles can be found on their website,

510.4 VEHICLE INVENTORY All property in a stored or impounded vehicle shall be inventoried and listed on the vehicle storage form. This includes the trunk and any compartments or containers, even if closed and/or locked. Members conducting inventory searches should be as thorough and accurate as practical in preparing an itemized inventory. These inventory procedures are for the purpose of protecting an owner’s property while in police custody, to provide for the safety of officers, and to protect the Department against fraudulent claims of lost, stolen, or damaged property.

 

Law enforcement sources were contacted by Elk Grove Laguna News regarding the vehicle stop and search of the car and the purse.

 

PASSENGER OF CAR DETAINED DURING CAR STOP:

Brendlin v. California (2007): Passengers are technically detained during car stops even if they have done nothing wrong (This is for officer safety so they don’t have people walking all around as they search the vehicle)

http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-brendlin-v-California

 

Further, officers may direct occupants in and out of cars and to other areas so they can safely continue with their duties/ investigation

SEARCH OF THE PURSE

Terry V. Ohio (1968): An officer may perform a search for weapons without a warrant, even without probable cause, when the officer reasonably believes that the person may be armed and dangerous. (Courts have leaded towards officer safety in allowing Terry Searches to protect ourselves).

https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/criminal-procedure/criminal-procedure-keyed-to-weinreb/the-fourth-amendment-arrest-and-search-and-seizure/terry-v-ohio-4/

To further explain why a Terry search of the purse was lawful in this case, consider these facts:
– In order for an officer to safely search a car, occupants must get out and be far enough away where they can not attack an officer during a car search (In this case, she stood right by car)
– While officer is searching car, he is bent over, head buried inside a car looking around. He also must fill out paperwork for the tow and the citation, again attention being diverted.
– Training and experience shows females have been found to carry firearms, pepper spray and knifes in their purses 
– The purse was bulky with large unknown objects inside. A quick search was done to help the officer feel safe there was no weapon therefore he can do a safe vehicle search
– The officers advised the female that she was free to leave, and in fact ordered her to leave but she refused in violation of 148(a)(1) PC (Delay peace officer in performance of their duties). She could have been arrested but officers wanted to let her go to work. Her refusal to leave elevated their officer safety concerns, further justifying a search of the purse for weapons.
– Officers wanted the female far enough away from the scene so they could safely conduct a search.  
Unfortunately, comments on social can often escalate incidents due to comments by people who do not understand the law and what is allowed or not allowed.  It can be exacerbated by media sources that do not research issues before passing judgement as to what was done in this case.  Comments were made that the police acted inappropriately and those were affirmed by the media person posting. One comment suggested that the person contact the BLM Sacramento police abuse hotline, to which the Tribune editor thanked the person. This is not the role of media in this situation.  If the person in question has an issue, they should contact the Elk Grove Police Department to file a report and a complaint. Not a third party. At a recent city council meeting, Betty Williams with the Sacramento NAACP stated that her office receives the most complaints about the Elk Grove Police Department. Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett responded that he has not received any of the complaints. You can see the video of their exchange here 
Elk Grove Police officers are using body cameras, so all interactions are being recorded. It’s possible that there are no complaints because the complainants realize that the videos could show a different side to the story.  One of the people commenting on social media said,
 “This is why we are asking for a policing oversight commission. It certainly could have been handled better and police are supposed to protect the people not take advantage of the situation when they do not invoke their rights in traffic stops. This is how/why things escalate. They need better training”
Actually this is a reason why we don’t need a police commission made up of people who do not understand the laws and legal law enforcement procedures.  Numerous people commenting on the posts do not understand what officers can and cannot do.  Officers can always have better training. We also need people that comment to have a better understanding and do some research before making comments that only serve to make things worse.  Just as doctors are not reviewed on the medical practices by non doctors, police officers should not be reviewed by those that either do not understand the jobs or do not like police officers. In this case the officers acted appropriately and within the scope of the job duties.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Fatandcrabby says:

    I feel silly now because while reading your post in its entirety, I was envisioning the story to be about a Caucasian woman who had failed to register the car. It wasn’t until viewing the video of the City Council meeting that I became aware that the unprofessional behavior complaint was about alleged racism.

    Thank you for the enlightening post sir.

  2. DO NOT EVER TALK TO THE POLICE!
    There is nothing wrong with this.
    I did not realize it is illegal to be a racist.
    Everyone on this planet is bias.

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