Ethical and Legal Issues
For this assignment, you are to consider yourself a police detective. You are about to be engaged in a very stressful situation. The following are the facts:
- You and your partner are working the afternoon shift and are at your duty station—the detective bureau—when you receive a call from the communications center.
- Uniformed police officers on the crime scene have requested that a missing person’s investigator respond for a critical missing person’s case. You ask the communications officer on the phone for any additional facts, and all she knows is that it is a child missing from her home.
- As you leave the detective bureau to respond to the scene, you ask for the juvenile detective working your shift to accompany you.
- As you respond to the scene, you learn via police radio that the missing child is a female, age 11. She did not return home from school.
- You arrive at the residential neighborhood of individual houses and are greeted by the first officers on the scene. They brief you on what they know.
- First, they announce that the missing child is the daughter of a police lieutenant from your agency.
- Next, they have learned from the school that the child never arrived at school that day.
- Neighbors, volunteer firefighters, and uniformed police are gathering to begin searching the adjacent wooded area for the missing child.
- You ask several uniformed officers to begin conducting neighborhood interviews to see if anyone saw anything during the morning as the child left for school. Quickly, an officer identifies a neighbor returning home from work who provides information.
- As the neighbor left for work, he observed an adult subject walking behind the missing child on the sidewalk. This neighbor did not recognize this adult male as being from the neighborhood, but he provides you with a physical description of the individual.
- By narrowing the scope of the investigation by focusing on a handful of neighbors, you are able to locate a family that has had a visiting family member from a nearby city. Now, the focus of the investigation has narrowed on locating and speaking with this subject, whose name is Sam.
- You learn that Sam is returning to his home in the nearby city by transit bus in a few hours. As the primary investigator on the case, you decide to meet the bus and to bring Sam to the detective bureau for an interrogation.
You must remember that your actions will be carefully reviewed at the time of trial. Everything that you do must meet the standards of the U.S. Supreme Court. As this investigation continues and as you meet the subject at the bus station, consider how you will approach him to obtain information on this investigation. Remember, as you conduct an interview or interrogation at the detective bureau, your goal is to determine what happened to the missing child. If you are not careful with your questions, your interview can become accusatory. Discuss the following:
- If you have a person of interest to interrogate, should you give the Miranda warnings? Why or why not?
- When are Miranda warnings required?
- When is a waiver of Miranda rights valid?
What rights are provided by Miranda?
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