Extra Legal Searches

When the police conduct searches on suspects in their drive against crime in their communities, it must be founded on a certain moral ascendancy in the conduct of this activity. But the conduct of these “searches” borders on the criminal. Asking a person to stop on the basis for a mere tip rather than hard intelligence, as was stated in the case in the document, robs the law enforcement officials of the moral authority to conduct such activities.

It undermines their mission in the eradication of criminal elements from the communities’ streets in that they who are tasked to enforce the law would be the first to break them for the sake of “crime reduction”. It is certainly disturbing to be knowledgeable of the fact that the police whom we entrust to protect the community is capable of using violent, degrading, and bigoted acts in the conduct of their duties.

In the conduction of extra legal or illegal body searches, does the court have a contribution in the making of the incidents of these illegal, violent and physically intrusive search procedures? In fact, not only the courts are to be blamed in the incidents of these extra legal searches, but many actors have contributed to the conduct of these illegal activities. The police, of course, bear much of the blame for the incidents.

But to lay the blame on the courts for this incidents must be addressed in terms of the statutes that the courts rule and decide on different cases. In fact, the incidents of extra legal searches involve a form of a trade-one that all of us as citizens decide to tolerate every day. But does this toleration mean that we should just look the other way when these incidents happen? Should we saying that this is a necessary evil to live with, since the perceived enemies-drug dealers, gun dealers, goons and gang members-must be taken off our streets and neighborhoods?

If that is the case, the drive against criminality, against drugs, illegal drugs must be intensified, using all means available, including illegal, extra legal searches. But as we must state, “alleged” criminals are not subjected to these dehumanizing “crime reduction” strategies because the police want to, but because we want to and choose to allow these incidents in exchange for a sound night’s sleep.


Harcourt, B. H. (2004). Unconstitutional police searches and collective responsibility. Criminology and Public Policy Volume 3 number 3 pp 363-378