police

The Supreme Court decides numerous difficult cases each term. It may be surprising that no issue has vexed the Court like whether probable cause to arrest someone means they can’t bring a First Amendment retaliation case. In Nieves v. Bartlett the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues in an amicus brief (for the third time) that probable cause defeats First Amendment retaliation claims.   

Russell Bartlett was attending Arctic Man, an Alaskan snowmobile race, when he declined to talk to Police officer Luis Nieves who was patrolling the large outdoor party. Officer Nieves later observed Bartlett yelling at a separate officer, Bryce Weight, and Weight pushing Bartlett away. Believing Bartlett posed a danger to Officer Weight, Officer Nieves arrested Bartlett. Bartlett alleges that Nieves said “bet you wish you had talked to me now” in the process of the arrest.

Bartlett sued Officer Nieves claiming Nieves arrested him in retaliation for his refusal to initially speak to Nieves in violation of the First Amendment. The district concluded there was probable cause to arrest Bartlett. All federal circuit courts to decide this issue except the Ninth Circuit have held that to bring a First Amendment retaliatory arrest case plaintiffs must be able to prove the absence of probable cause to arrest them, which Bartlett could do not in this case.

CSG Midwest
Starting this year, Michigan law enforcement agencies must keep track of the reason for, and the circumstances surrounding, a law enforcement officer’s resignation.
The result of state legislation passed in 2017 (SB 223), this new requirement aims to prevent officers who resign due to accusations of misconduct from being hired by another department unknowingly.
“Many times, police departments don’t want to risk a lawsuit by giving out a bad report on a former employee; other times, there’s a deal cut between the officer and the police chief or sheriff,” says Sen. Rick Jones, the sponsor of SB 223, who is a former sheriff with 31 years of experience in law enforcement. Such a deal, he adds, would allow an officer to resign in lieu of termination, which allows him or her to remain certified and to have a clean employment record when pursuing another job in law enforcement.

In July the Department of Justice (DOJ) added two new requirements for states and local governments to receive federal Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) for law enforcement funding. Chicago sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguing that these new requirements and another requirement are unlawful and/or unconstitutional. An Illinois federal district court granted Chicago’s request for a nationwide preliminary injunction temporarily disallowing DOJ from imposing the two new requirements.     

Congress created Byrne JAG in 2005 to provide “flexible” funding for state and local police departments. In April 2017 DOJ required Chicago (and eight other jurisdictions) to provide documentation that it complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which prohibits states and local governments from restricting employees from sharing immigration status information with federal immigration officials.

CSG Midwest
Michigan legislators gave unanimous approval in July to a bill that sets statewide rules for the retention and release of footage captured on police body cameras. HB 4427, signed into law in July, takes effect in January. It requires evidentiary recordings to be kept by law enforcement for at least 30 days. Footage related to complaints against a police officer must be retained for three years; any recording that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation must be kept until completion of the legal case.

This week the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), John Kelly, issued two immigration enforcement memorandums. While one of the memos addresses President Trump’s executive order involving sanctuary cities (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States), neither memo discusses sanctuary cities.

The most direct effect of these memos on states and local governments is the expansion of a program allowing state and local law enforcement officers to be designated as “immigration officers” for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law. But considering this program is voluntary the most significant effect for states and local governments may be the increased deportations of residents, and the effects of them on family members and the community as a whole, expected to occur as a result of the memos.

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