Muni-mail – Police Dispatcher’s error leads to suppress of drugs – State v. Handy
[ 04/26/11 – 11:28 am] In a 5-2 decision this morning, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that unreasonable conduct by a police dispatcher in negligently providing the police with inaccurate information must result in a suppression of evidence. In the case, captioned State v. Handy, the police stopped a young man for riding his bicycle on a sidewalk, an offense that was a violation of a local ordinance. The police called in to their local dispatcher for a warrant check. The dispatcher reported that there was an active warrant for the young man they had stopped. Accordingly, the police arrested the bicyclist and conducted a search incident to the arrest that led to the rec overy of illegal drugs. Subsequently, it was discovered that there was no active warrant for the person the police had stopped. The police dispatcher had given the police information related to a person with a similar name with a different spelling, a different date of birth and an address in California. Writing for the Court, Justice Long held that the unreasonable conduct by the dispatcher, as an agent of the police, would be held against the police and must result in the suppression of the evidence seized following the arrest.
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