Approximately fifty years ago, America declared a war against itself—the “War on Drugs.” Since then, our local and state police, armed with military weapons and federal funding, have fought tirelessly against “public enemy number one”—drugs. Not surprisingly, this war has created an atmosphere where it is now common to see police officers equipped with a mentality and armor that had previously only been seen in the dark-trenches of an international war zone. Worse yet, this battlefield mentality has leaked into almost every area of police-civilian encounters.
As a “loyal foot solider” in the Executive’s War on Drugs, however, the Supreme Court has played an important role in the current state of affairs between police officers and citizens, most recently in its decision in Heien v. North Carolina, which held that an officer’s mistake of law can provide reasonable suspicion necessary to justify police intrusion into countless more citizens’ lives. Consequently, this Note takes a closer look at the consequences of allowing police mistakes of law to give rise to reasonable suspicion in the background of the War on Drugs and police militarization. In particular, this Note explores how recent Supreme Court decisions, the War on Drugs, and police militarization have shaped Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and impacted civilian-police relationships throughout the nation. It will explain how the Supreme Court’s decision in Heien will only amplify these problems and their effects. Finally, this Note will conclude by explaining how the Supreme Court must begin to take responsibility for their role in exasperating these issues to the detriment of the Fourth Amendment if it is to retain its meaning.
The War Against Ourselves: Heien v. North Carolina, the War on Drugs, and Police Militarization,
70 U. Miami L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.miami.edu/umlr/vol70/iss2/10