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Reasonable Suspicion – Traffic Stop – 911 Call, Informant’s Knowledge

City of West Allis v. Kristie J. Kapke, 2012AP630, District 1, 11/6/12

court of appeals decision (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

Phone call from citizen informant, reporting suspected drunk driving, was sufficiently reliable to support stop, against argument that informant failed to offer basis of knowledge for his tip, State v. Williams, 2001 WI 21, 241 Wis. 2d 631, 623 N.W. 2d 106; State v. Rutzinski, 2001 WI 22, 241 Wis. 2d 729, 623 N.W.2d 516; and State v. Powers, 2004 WI App 143, 275 Wis. 2d 456, 685 N.W.2d 869, discussed and applied.

¶18      Like the anonymous informant in Williams, here, the citizen informant’s call to police, reporting “a possible intoxicated driver,” was also a contemporaneous account of criminal activity.  Although the citizen informant did not provide a lengthy blow-by-blow of the driving, it was apparent from the context of his statement and the fact that he said he was a pedestrian, that he was contemporaneously viewing driving that he thought was criminal.  Additionally, he provided details similar to those provided by the informant in Williams—car description, woman driver alone in car, and license plate number—all of which the police corroborated prior to the stop.  Furthermore, as a named citizen informant, he was entitled to the relaxed test for reliability, unlike the anonymous caller in Williams.

¶21      So too here, the citizen informant’s eye-witness description of Kapke’s car, license plate number, and street location, provided police with verifiable information.  They went to Kapke’s home, which was close by, and were able to corroborate, within a very short time after the citizen informant’s call, that Kapke was alone and behind the wheel of a Monte Carlo with a license plate matching the citizen informant’s description.

¶25      Still, Kapke faults the citizen informant’s tip here on the grounds that he failed to provide details about Kapke’s driving and to describe to dispatch why he believed her to be possibly intoxicated.  In Powers, we rejected this same argument.  …

¶26      The citizen informant’s tip here, that Kapke was “a possible intoxicated driver,” is no different than the caller’s tip in Williams: “they’re selling drugs.”  Id., 241 Wis. 2d 631, ¶4.  The caller in Williams did not provide any more basis for her opinion of drug selling than the citizen informant did here of intoxicated driving.  Yet, the court in Williams concluded the caller’s tip was sufficiently reliable.  Id., ¶47.  Similarly, we conclude the citizen informant’s tip is sufficiently reliable here.

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