Before you begin the Fourth Amendment analysis on your next traffic stop case, ask these questions instead. Is the officer a real police officer or is he a convicted felon? Is the drug dog certified?
According to the Log Cabin Democrat:
A Hilltop Volunteer Fire Department fireman has been arrested on suspicion of imitating a police officer in Mayflower, and Mayflower Chief of Police Richard Shaw has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office investigation.
Turns out that John A. Brinkley, dressed in “police markings” with duty belt and pistol, was using his personal vehicle with blue lights and drug dog to assist in traffic stops. Brinkley is a volunteer fireman, he is not a police officer. He is also a convicted felon. He is also under arrest.
Brinkley was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm by certain persons, criminal impersonation of a police officer, possession of blue lights and driving on a license suspended for DUI.
The article did not say if Brinkley made any arrests or how long he was assisting with the traffic stops. I wonder if he was able to, under the totality of the circumstances, develop a reasonable suspicion to prolong any of the stops. I wonder if he (or the dog) determined probable cause to search any of the vehicles.
Police officers will almost always argue that a defendant was nervous when trying to validate reasonable suspicion or probable cause. It’s scary enough when a citizen is stopped by an armed officer with blue lights, gun and dog. This article might make someone a little more nervous.