Thursday, March 2, 2017

Secured Police Vans Do Not Create Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Similar to regular police cars, police vans do not create a reasonable expectation of privacy, even when certain security features isolate the arrested individual from law enforcement

United States v. Paxton, 2017 BL 48962, 7th Cir., 14- 2913, 2/17/17.

The Seventh Circuit reversed a lower court’s suppression ruling, finding that defendants do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the back of a police van. Without the expectation of privacy, video and audio recordings are not considered an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. During the criminal proceedings, the court suppressed evidence captured from a video and audio recording of five arrested individuals held in a police van. The court suppressed the video and audio evidence, reasoning that the double plexiglass windows separating the driver and the arrested suspects, thick steel panels on the van, and other security features created a reasonable expectation of privacy for the defendants.

In reversing the decision, the circuit court extended the established principle that there is no expectation of privacy in a police cruiser to police vans, even when there is an appearance of privacy. Additionally, the court pointed to recent incidents where serious injuries and deaths have occurred in police vans as external reasons for the need to maintain camera and audio recording equipment in the van.

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