You may have seen this video from practice yesterday. It’s recommended viewing, if for no other reason that to point out that the HBC is either A. Brilliant, B. The Man You’re Wife Wishes You Were, C. Bat-crap Crazytime Insane, or D. All of the above. (Note:this thing-that-really-happened is also probably relevant in the analysis)
Regardless, what we have here is an ersatz demonstration of what legal-types call a “Terry Frisk.” A Terry Frisk, so named because of the Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968), which allows peace officers to stop and briefly detain an individual if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person recently has, or currently is, committing a crime. If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the targeted individual might be carrying a weapon, then the stop can include a brief pat down search of the person in order to eliminate that possibility.
Where the HBC faux-detention (and the Jadeveon Clowney cuffing it was based on) deviates from this common practice is with the unnecessary handcuffing. Terry does NOT stand for the proposition that an officer can handcuff you just for questioning. Handcuffing is more than a brief stop for questioning, and is more in the nature of an outright arrest. Now if the surrounding circumstances warrant the cuffing, then this deprivation of personal liberty can be justified, but not when a single individual is surrounded by several officers, relatively docile, and completely cooperative. A handcuffing in that innocuous circumstance is excessive and not within the conduct allowed under Terry and its progeny.
You still with me?
What I aiming at is that the Columbia Police Department improperly handcuffed Clowney and Dixon. That they did so in a public place betrayed that they either don’t understand or don’t care about the constitutional limits on their powers to detain individual citizens. I suspect the CPD enjoys having the spotlight when Gamecock athletes are involved in relatively minor brushes with the law. I also suspect that the CPD officers in this case knew exactly who they were detaining, and it made them feel all warm inside to bask in the reflected light of the nation’s number one football signee.
I would like to contrast, without weighing in on which is the more correct approach, the Columbia PD’s approach with that of another “C”PD – the Clemson Police Department. That CPD takes a different approach insofar as they go to great lengths to protect CTU athletes from embarrassment or undue attention. I’ve heard this approach articulated from the highest of CTU officials, and have seen examples ranging from not releasing the occurrence of an arrest until forced to do so, all the way to delaying the arrest and prosecution of a troubled athlete until after the player had all but exhausted his eligibility. The CTU �administration even has an employee in its Athletic Department who’s job description includes serving as a liaison between the department and local law enforcement. You’ve heard that CTU sells its recruits on the “family atmosphere?” Well, this engagement with local law enforcement is a large part of that purported family setting.
All we’ve got is the HBC doing a pantomime after practice. Oh, and a police department that apparently gets off by harassing our players.