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Reasonable Suspicion / Probable Cause – OWI – Collective Knowledge Doctrine

State v. Bridgette M. Glaze, 2010AP3128-CR, District 2, 8/24/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Glaze: John C. Orth; case activity

Although Glaze’s stop by one officer investigating possible domestic violence was likely unsupported (¶9), the stop was adequately supported by an alternative basis: observations of a second, off-duty officer which, under the “collective knowledge” doctrine were imputed to the first officer and supplied reasonable suspicion that Glaze was driving while intoxicated.

¶10      Two legal maxims are key to our holding.  First, as long as there were objective facts to support reasonable suspicion, an officer’s subjective intent does not alone invalidate a seizure of a vehicle or its occupants.  State v. Baudhuin, 141 Wis. 2d 642, 651, 416 N.W.2d 60 (1987).  So, it does not matter whether the off-duty deputy, initially, was subjectively focused on possible domestic violence so long as there was an objective justification to stop based on suspicion of OWI.  Nor does it matter that all the arresting deputy knew was that he was being dispatched regarding a possible domestic violence incident.  Second, courts recognize that the police force is a considered a unit and that an officer may rely on the collective information within the department when dispatched to a scene.  See Mabra, 61 Wis. 2d at 625-26.  So, the off-duty deputy’s observations are imputed to the dispatched officer, regardless of what dispatch says or does not say.

The off-duty officer certainly possessed facts (erratic driving; slurred speech; glossy eyes) supporting reasonable suspicion. However, the officer did not convey these details to the arresting officer until after the stop, albeit quite shortly, ¶5. The court says that under the collective knowledge doctrine the latter was acting as the former’s “surrogate when he made the stop,” ¶12, but that is so only if the supporting details need not be communicated before the stop. There is caselaw authority that they must, State v. Bruce E. Black, 2000 WI App 175, ¶17 n. 4, 238 Wis.2d 203, 617 N.W.2d 210 (“in order for the collective-information rule to apply, such information must actually be passed to the officer before he or she makes an arrest or conducts a search. This conclusion is supported by State v. Friday,140 Wis. 2d 701, 712-15, 412 N.W.2d 540 (Ct. App. 1987), reversed on other grounds, 147 Wis. 2d 359, 371-79, 434 N.W.2d 85 (1989), where we held that collective police data cannot support an officer’s search when the data is not in fact communicated to the officer prior to the time the search is made.”). But there is more recent contrary authority as well, so the operative principle might be in some doubt, State v. Pickens, 2010 WI App 5, ¶12, 323 Wis. 2d 226, 779 NW2d 1: “Our analysis focuses, as it must, on the information presented to the court and not on the undeniable fact that police officers often properly act on the basis of the knowledge of other officers without knowing the underlying facts.  For example, under the collective knowledge doctrine, an investigating officer with knowledge of facts amounting to reasonable suspicion may direct a second officer without such knowledge to stop and detain a suspect.  See Tangwall v. Stuckey, 135 F.3d 510, 517 (7th Cir. 1998) (where arresting officer does not personally know the facts, an arrest is proper if the knowledge of the officer directing the arrest, or the collective knowledge of police, is sufficient to constitute probable cause).”

Given propriety of the stop, the arresting officer developed probable cause to arrest for OWI:

¶15      Glaze argues that without field sobriety tests, the officer’s observations of intoxication were insufficient to form probable cause for OWI.[4]  But our supreme court has upheld findings of probable cause without field sobriety tests.  See Washburn Cnty. v. Smith, 2008 WI 23, ¶¶30, 33-36, 308 Wis. 2d 65, 746 N.W.2d 243.  Here, despite the absence of field sobriety tests, the totality of the circumstances gave the arresting deputy probable cause to arrest for OWI.  When the arresting deputy first approached Glaze, he noted an odor of intoxicants, slurred speech and glossy, red eyes.  Before arresting Glaze, the deputy also spoke with the off-duty deputy, who expressed his own observations and belief that she might be intoxicated.  Given the observations of both deputies, a reasonable officer would believe that Glaze was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.  We therefore affirm the trial court’s denial of her suppression motion.[5]

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