Legislation Expands Some Police Powers

05/29/02 12:00AM



(Host) The Senate has given its approval to a compromise plan to expand the power of police in a limited number of cases. Currently, law enforcement officers who don't have a warrant can't arrest a person charged with a misdemeanor if the officer didn't witness the crime.

The conference committee compromise allows the police to arrest an individual without a warrant in cases of violent crimes. The arrest can be made if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person committed the crime.

The plan does not extend this power to most misdemeanors as legislation passed by the House did. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears says the compromise tries to strike an important balance:

(Sears) "When it's a case of physical violence in terms of arresting someone, we will err on the side of public safety. And when it's an issue of a minor, non-physical violence issue, we'll err on the side of civil liberties."

(Host) The measure now goes to the full House for its consideration. The House is expected to act on the compromise when it returns to the Statehouse on Thursday.
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