University of Pittsburgh

David Harris on "Mere Encounters" vs. Investigative Stops by Police

Publish Date/Time: 
July 30, 2012

Professor David Harris explained the differences between a so-called "mere encounter" between police and civilians, and an investigative stop.  While the former requires no evidence and allows the civilian to walk away without question, the latter requires reasonable suspicion and allows the officer to temporarily detain the civilian.  But they are often hard to tell apart in practice. In an article about the ongoing Jordan Miles civil suit against the Pittsburgh Police, Professor Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "[i]f you expect people on the street to figure out a mere encounter from an [investigative detention], it's unlikely, really." 

Read the article here.


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