In its second opinion of the term the Supreme Court ruled that a police officer should have been granted qualified immunity when he shot at a car whose driver had led police on a high speed chase to stop it instead of waiting to see if spike strips worked.

In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court declined to decide one of the most important questions this term for state and local government: whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires police officers to accommodate suspects who are armed, violent, and mentally ill when bringing them into custody. But the Court held that the officers in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan were entitled to qualified immunity.

When police officers entered Teresa Sheehan’s room in a group home for persons with mental illness to take her to a hospital for psychiatric care, she threatened to kill them with a knife she held, so they retreated. Before backup arrived, the officers decided to reenter her room to prevent her from gathering more weapons or escaping. Upon reentry, Sheehan still had the knife in her hand and yelled for them to leave. One officer pepper sprayed Sheehan but she refused to drop the knife. The officers then shot her multiple times but she survived.

CSG Midwest
In April of last year, Wisconsin lawmakers passed a first-in-the-nation bill with new standards on how local law enforcement must handle investigations that involve the death of a civilian by an on-duty police officer.
The legislation, AB 409, didn’t get much national attention at the time. But a few months later, after high-profile incidents involving the death of a 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., and the acquittal of a New York police officer in the death of an unarmed African-American man, Wisconsin’s actions were being held up as a national model.
Recent concerns about officer-related deaths, and the investigations that follow, have resulted in much legislative activity in state capitols in 2015 (see below) — calls for an increased use of police body cameras, for example, and new rules for how violent incidents are handled, investigated and publicly reported.

With passage of this act, Montana became the first state to require state and local government entities to obtain a probable-cause warrant before remotely engaging personal electronic devices. Agencies may obtain location information in the case of emergencies or if an electronic device is stolen or if an individual gives authorized permission to access their location information.

This act relates to investigations of deaths involving a law enforcement officer. It requires the use of outside investigators in the event of a police-related death of a citizen, and requires reports of custody death investigations to be publicly released if criminal charges are not filed against the officers involved. In addition, officers must also inform victims’ families of their options to pursue additional reviews.

This act requires a provider of wireless telecommunications to provide call location information concerning the telecommunications device of a user to a law enforcement agency in certain circumstances; requires a provider of wireless telecommunications to submit its emergency contact information to the Department of Public Safety; requires the Department to maintain a database of such emergency contact information; authorizes the Department to adopt regulations; and provides other matters properly relating thereto.

This term the U.S. Supreme Court will hear at least five cases involving Fourth Amendment searches.  Two involve drug sniffing dogs, one involves warrantless blood draws from DUI suspects, and another involves detaining a person who has left the premises before executing a search warrant.  In Maryland v. King the Supreme Court will decide whether the Fourth Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA, without a warrant, from people arrested and charged with serious crimes. 

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in Maryland v. King, which CSG signed onto, because this case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute.  In fact, twenty-eight states and the federal government have adopted DNA arrest laws. 

Crime knows no boundaries.  This session featured a discussion with attorneys general who are working to protect public safety at home by increasing cooperation with their North American counterparts.

As the chief legal officers of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, attorneys general serve as counselors to state government agencies and legislatures, and as representatives of the public interest. A large group of new state attorneys general were sworn in at the beginning of 2011, following the November 2010 elections. This year will bring a continued effort to fight financial fraud but attorneys general now have expanded enforcement authority under a new federal law. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is also making a priority of providing the highest quality legal training for those in state government service.

This Act defines a "cold case" as a homicide or a felony sexual offense that remains unsolved for one year or more after being reported to a law enforcement agency and one that has no viable and unexplored investigatory leads. The Act requires law enforcement agencies create registries of the names of cold case victims, their family members, and their legal representatives. It directs law enforcement agencies to notify such people when the agencies set up the registries.