Is the 4th Amendment Enough? – by “Russell P”

In the digital age, I believe that the 4th amendment alone is too vague to accurately protect peoples’ rights against search and seizure. The 4th amendment protects the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. In the case of Kyllo v. United States, a thermal imaging device was aimed at a private home from a street in order to determine if the private home had special lamps used to grow marijuana plants. The lamps had a specific heat signature that could be picked up by the device. I think that from Kyllo’s perspective, that this is definitely an unreasonable search. It is as if the police can see inside his house without even entering and consequently can gain a warrant to come in without ever actually seeing what is going on in the house. From his perspective, even though he is using them to grow marijuana, he could be using the lamps for other things. However, while I see Kyllo’s point of view, I can also see why the police thought that it was okay to “search” his house from the street. They did not break and enter or perform what they thought was an unreasonable search. The 4th amendment needs to be updated to more accurately protect people because we have so much new technology that skates the edges of the law.

Tasers were originally developed as a weapon that could be used by law enforcement so that deadly force would not be necessary, but they have proven to still be dangerous. Tasers essentially temporarily paralyze an individual by sending an electrical current through the body. They are thought of to be less dangerous than guns, so people have been using them more and more liberally and I think that there must be some new rules to prevent the abuse of tasers. In the case of Bryan v. McPherson, Bryan was tasered in my opinion, simply because he took one step towards officer McPherson. The officer’s defense was that he was threatened and since the weapon was non lethal, it was not an excessive display of force. However, I believe that tasering an unarmed man who has taken one step out of a car is definitely a display of excessive force. This brought to mind the situation at Elevate (http://abcnews.go.com/US/yale-university-questions-police-tasered-student-club-raid/story?id=11796814) a few weeks ago. This was another situation in which a taser was used excessively. The police were coming in to break up a Yale party as a part of a citywide crackdown on nightlife. The party was not grossly out of control, nor were any of the people at the party armed or considered dangerous. There was absolutely no reason for the SWAT team to come in fully armed and taser a person multiple times. Even if the student in question made a move towards a police officer, there were numerous officers and apparently only one “aggressive” student. Before the era of tasers, they probably would have simply subdued someone who came after them with simple manpower. This would have been easy to do in this situation because the police officers outnumbered the aggressor(s) by so many. Now that we have tasers and they are considered not deadly, the “easy” fix is to whip out the taser and use it. I know that tasers are a relatively new technology, but there need to be many more ground rules and regulations that prevent excessive and unnecessary uses. Even though the taser causes less deaths than guns do, it is still an excessive display of force and should not be used simply because an officer is too lazy to subdue the aggressor physically.

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