Kentucky Lawmaker Wants To Give Police the Power to Detain People Who Don't Answer Their Questions

It’s an attempt to bypass Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by insisting it’s not an arrest.


A Kentucky lawmaker wants to grant police in his state the power to detain a person for two hours if he or she declines to offer up identification or answer an officer's questions while they're investigating possible criminal activity. Lawyers? Miranda warnings? Forget about them.

The bill was introduced by state Sen. Stephen Meredith (R–Leitchfield), and civil rights lawyers are warning that it could open a big, nasty, easily abusable, unconstitutional can of worms.

The bill states that the person who is being detained by police in this process is not considered under arrest, which appears to be a mechanism to try to keep a person from demanding a lawyer. It could also get people to incriminate themselves by making them answer police questions or face temporary detention.

While police are obviously empowered to investigate criminal activity, this bill, SB 89, seems designed to give police the power to target individuals for harassment for the sketchiest of reasons. Meredith told the Lexington Herald-Leader that one of the incidents that inspired the bill (which he acknowledges was pushed forward at the urging of local police) was a man lingering outside an apartment complex, which made neighbors nervous. They called the police, but the man refused to answer their questions and left. They found out later that he had outstanding arrest warrants.

But Rebecca DiLoreto, who lobbies for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, noted that the police could have tagged this guy for violating the state's loitering laws, and then they could have used that actual allegation of criminal activity to demand ID and check for warrants.

DiLoreto warns that SB 89's passage would lead to an environment where police would be able to detain people for up to two hours without having to keep official records because these people aren't technically arrested. She tells the Herald-Leader:

"The idea that we can detain people because we find them to be suspicious and we think they might commit a crime, that crosses a dangerous line. Now, unfortunately, it has been known to happen. Sometimes it's in a mostly white community where someone spots a black person walking down the street and they get suspicious and call police.

The 'crime' in this case is basically that you're here and we don't think, from looking at you, that you should be here. The potential for abuse in that seems obvious."

It would also most certainly violate people's Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

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  1. “It would also most certainly violate people’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.”

    Ya think?

    1. I cringe when republicans do this. It’s the sort of well meaning draconian idiocy that drives people away from the party.

      1. What the hell is “well-meaning” about it?

        1. The well-meaning part is they ostensibly want to stop crime. In practice, they want to keep the hammer on people who otherwise—in accordance with SCOTUS rulings—can drive off when the fucking Oujia dog doesn’t show up.

          End. The. War. On. Drugs. All of them.

          Getting people hooked on smack, or having free-market employees push amphetamine onto their shift workers, is better than this. Maybe we’ll get our cops back?

          Oh, and fuck this guy where he lives. If he has PC for the arrest, THEN MAKE THE ARREST. Asshole.

          If not, then let. Them. Go. They’re crooks. They’ll fuck up again soon. The rest of us don’t need to live in Airstrip One so you can make a collar.

      2. Remember that Moscow Mitch is their Senator. Right there shows their mentality.

      3. Uh, it IS what they do. They are all about authoritarianism. Democrats too. Let’s stop pretending they give a flying f-bomb about the constitution, right and wrong, and that this isn’t devolving into an Orwellian police/surveillance state…it’s all so insincere and is just not the reality. The republic has become an Empire, and it is crumbling.

    2. Meredith needs to be detained for questioning. Preferably through the next primary, se he can be replaced by somebody with slightly more respect for Civil Rights.

      Say, a baboon.

    3. Securing personal identifying information enables police to access a vast trove of database information, including outstanding warrants (if they exist), providing police a positive incentive to engage in “fishing expeditions” (i.e., stopping people unlawfully to see if they might have a warrant). The practice was condoned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Utah v. Strieff (2016). As the dissents in Strieff explained, they are tons of arrest warrants in police databases, with the vast majority concerning menial offenses (some not technically criminal in nature). Police know that when they discover a warrant, and arrest, that they have a right to conduct a search of the arrestee, and can use whatever they find in an indep. investigation–hence the incentive to engage in the fishing expedition. Even if no warrant is found, police databases include a ton of other info, some of it embarassing (but not criminal in nature). For an argument that the Court got it wrong in Strieff, and that securing identifying info., absent a lawful basis to do so (e.g., a “Terry stop”), should be deemed unlawful in itself– as the KY bill proposes, see Logan, Policing Police Access to Criminal Justice Data, 104 Iowa Law Review 619 (2019).

  2. detain a person who fails to identify himself or herself

    Emphasis added. Well, *there’s* your unconstitutionality!

    1. From what little I know, one is, generally, required to “identify” oneself to police officers, if requested. But, that is not the same as requiring an “identification card” or the like. Devil in the details.

      1. Unless they’ve fixed the law, Georgia requires you to present your driver’s license on demand to the police and failure to do so is a presumptive operating a motor vehicle without a license. It’s part of the law regarding driving without a license, but since the particular section of the law doesn’t specifically say “anyone operating a motor vehicle”, this is the part of the “it’s the law” they use to claim you have to show your ID to the cops when they demand to see your ID. The least bit of common sense or legal sense would make it obvious you can’t arrest somebody for operating a motor vehicle without a license when they are not in fact operating a motor vehicle, which suggests to me the threat of arrest is merely a threat or that the cops make damn sure they have some other add-on charge so that they can drop the operating a motor vehicle without a license charge and it never has a chance to get to an appeals court where the validity of the bullshit can be properly be found to be bullshit.

        1. “….which suggests to me the threat of arrest is merely a threat or that the cops make damn sure they have some other add-on charge so that they can drop the operating a motor vehicle without a license charge and it never has a chance to get to an appeals court where the validity of the bullshit can be properly be found to be bullshit.”

          “Bullshit” seems to cover it.

        2. “I don’t have an ID”

          1. Dont lie. They can arrest you for lying.

            Of you dont have ID on you, then go for it.

            Its better to stand up for your rights and put them on notice that you know your rights.

            1. That cops CAN lie is messed up. There are many good cops, but in general do not trust cops. Under this insane law, mark the start time, say nothing, and tell the cop when his 2 hours has expired. Then expect to walk free to call an attorney to file a complaint.

        3. Georgia requires you to present your driver’s license on demand to the police and failure to do so is a presumptive operating a motor vehicle without a license.

          Pretty much every state requires that – for those operating motor vehicles. Passengers and pedestrians don’t because these people aren’t even required to have an ID at all, let alone a driver’s license.

          Any cop arresting someone for failing to provide a driver’s license is just running the ‘failure to respect mah autoritay’ thing and its not going to make it to court.

          1. “Any cop arresting someone for failing to provide a driver’s license is just running the ‘failure to respect mah autoritay’ thing and its not going to make it to court.”

            This happened in a small town in CA where I used to live. The person arrested was riding a bicycle. The judge was not happy.

        4. Ah bullshit.

          I have cops rage at me for not showing my ID or talking to them if I am not driving or under arrest. They bluster but then let me go after I repeat 20 times, “Am I free to go”. If Im the passenger in a vehicle, I say nothing.

          1. That happen often? Just sayin = I have cops rage at me for not showing my ID or talking to them if I am not driving or under arrest.

            This legislation is a spectacularly terrible idea. There has to be a backstory here. It is not a case where this idiotic legislative idea just popped into Sen. Stephen Meredith’s head.

      2. That depends on the state. Some are “shall identify” while others are not.

        1. Papers, please….

      3. As I remember about 20 years ago, SCOTUS ruled that you DO have to identify yourself…VERBALLY. You DO NOT have to produce identification unless you are first placed under arrest.

  3. “Who are you?”
    “What are you doing here?”
    “Can I see your ID?”

    There. I answered your questions.

    1. Alternate answers:

      “Who are you?”
      I’m big as life and twice as cute!

      “What are you doing here?”
      Who can say officer? I’m a very strange man.

      “Can I see your ID?”
      I assume that’s possible. You don’t appear to be vision impaired.

      1. “Can I see your ID?”
        I doubt it. It’s in my pocket.

  4. “Am I free to go?”

    If the answer is no, it’s an arrest. Good luck getting a cop to ever answer that question, though. Invoke the 5th, demand to speak to an attorney, shut up.

    1. “Am I free to go?”

      If the answer is no, it’s an arrest.

      “You are not under arrest, but you are not free to leave at this moment. You are being detained for questioning as part of an investigation.”

      Now what?

      1. Sit down and shut up.

      2. I would like to speak to a lawyer.

      3. I’m not participating in your investigation without my lawyer present, so either call him or get the fuck out of my face.

      4. The correct question is “Am I under arrest?” If no, WALK AWAY. You CANNOT be detained for questioning. Remember the Miranda warning, “You have the right to remain silent…” YOU DO NOT have to answer ANY question except your name. If you are under arrest, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY and still don’t have to answer any question.

        1. All of the above. Try not to make any furtive movements.

          You don’t have to answer their questions. Just…walk away.

  5. The ‘crime’ in this case is basically that you’re here and we don’t think, from looking at you, that you should be here. The potential for abuse in that seems obvious.”

    This regularly happens to white people travelling through, or otherwise having legitimate business in Black, Hispanic or mixed neighborhoods in, or adjacent to, high crime areas.

    1. Look, if a white person is in a black neighborhood, it’s to sell drugs. Probably to children. You don’t hate children of color, do you?

      1. Or maybe to buy drugs, anyway if there’s an innocent explanation they can prove it to the police.

        1. Since when are we required to prove our innocence to the state?

          1. I should have used a /sarc tag.

            1. Poe’s Law.

          2. When you are subjected to an “red flag” gun confiscation order.

            The police will break down your door and search your home and confiscate any guns they find.

            Then you will be given a hearing weeks or months later whereby you will have to prove your lack of dangerousness.
            Good luck with proving a negative

      2. I don’t like kids. Not like Shreek and Pedo Jeffy.

    2. Or adjacent to areas that are adjacent to high crime areas. And areas that are adjacent to those as well.

    3. I’m here to eat at my favorite rib joint.

      1. Doug’s in the East Bay was pretty good. I didn’t like Sam’s in Austin as much as I thought I would. Fargo’s in Bryan, Texas, is awesome. Get the beans side too.

        Bout it for my ‘hood BBQ joints since Thelma’s closed.

        1. Oh yeah, forgot Pierson’s up off Little York in Houston. Outstanding, and I don’t hand those out to any merely good BBQ joint. Naturally, he went out of business a few years ago. Sigh.

  6. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Stephen Meredith (R–Leitchfield)

    Does Leitchfield have an equipment-rental establishment where a man might rent a woodchipper should the need for a woodchipper arise?

    1. Nice.

  7. Here is an excellent example of a needed addition to all legislatures: people should be able to officially attach allegations of unconstitutionality to bills before they are voted on, putting all legislators on notice that if the bill becomes law and the allegations are upheld, no matter how much later, the author and all those who voted for it go to jail for a five year felony, lose their government pension, get a whopping big fine. and can never again hold any government job, even at $0 pay.

    1. Here, here!!

    2. Doesn’t title 18 already do this?

    3. ^^Ten years hard time no possibility of parole. If a death results then the death penalty.

  8. Suggest all see Hiibel vs. Nevada. From the wiki header:

    “….SCOTUS held that statutes requiring suspects to disclose their names during a police Terry stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment if the statute first required reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement. ”

    The part after “if” makes all the difference.

    1. Also it says give name, does it mention ID?

      1. How about EGO?

        1. my name is Nobody

      2. It specifically does not mention ID. ‘Identify yourself’ is ‘give your name’ only.

        1. “Well, I’ll be, your last name actually *is* Jablome. Well, you lucked out this time…”

  9. My name is legion – – – – – – –

  10. I would like to see a wider crop of this photo of the lady being arrested.

    For research.

    1. I’ll bet she got a very thorough pat down. You know, for drugs and contraband.

  11. demopublicans taking rights away and not getting tarred and feathered for it

  12. Q: ****
    A: Fuck you

    State Sen. Stephen Meredith should be arrested for treason.

  13. “But Rebecca DiLoreto, who lobbies for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, noted that the police could have tagged this guy for violating the state’s loitering laws, and then they could have used that actual allegation of criminal activity to demand ID and check for warrants.”

    So in essence, cops are too lazy and/or incompetent to use the rules already in place so reward them with more power.

    The excuses are no different than those surrounding any other government failure, it’s never due to a dumb idea or due to people screwing up, 100 pecent of the time government failure is due to under-funding or government just doesn’t have enough power.

    You’d think it would have gotten old by now and would not be believed so without question, but even repubs make the same old tired arguments on behalf of big gov.

  14. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

    1. My god I have been looking for that for years.

      The Gulag Archipelago will be on my bookshelf in a few days. Thank you for that post EWM.

    2. Well well…

      Look what I have found. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Harvard Address: a warning to the West

      Thanks again EWM.

  15. Imagine if those Russians owned their own guns and rifles…

  16. I say we have a signed bill as evidence of a conspiracy to deprive people of their Constitutionally protected rights which is a felony under title 18 of the US Federal code.

    Why with such evidence of a crime in progress do the local sheriffs not arrest this douche and impose our constitutional laws upon him?

    1. The local sheriffs are in cahoots. They want that power.

  17. It didn’t take long for some paranoid freak to blame this on fake Russian agents, and a US Republican senator, who has NO SAYSO on state legislatures. “It rained.” “Its because Trump is a Russian agent!!” Sheesh…. one tune pianos.

    1. The Republican Senator gets tarred by sharing party membership with the asshole legislator.

  18. * “The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that refusal to answer law enforcement questions cannot form the basis of reasonable suspicion. See Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 437, 111 S.Ct. 2382, 115 L.Ed.2d 389 (1991) (“We have consistently held that a refusal to cooperate, without more, does not furnish the minimal level of objective justification needed for a detention or seizure.”) (citing INS v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210, 216-17, 104 S.Ct. 1758, 80 L.Ed.2d 247 (1984); Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 498, 103 S.Ct. 1319, 75 L.Ed.2d 229 (1983) (plurality); Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 52-53, 99 S.Ct. 2637, 61 L.Ed.2d 357 (1979)).” – U.S. v. Santos 403 F.3d 1120 (2005)

    * “It is a settled principle that while the police have the right to request citizens to answer voluntarily questions concerning unsolved crimes they have no right to compel them to answer.” – Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 727 , n. 6 (1969)

    * “Typically, this means that the officer may ask the detainee a moderate number of questions to determine his identity and to try to obtain information confirming or dispelling the officer’s suspicions. But the detainee is not obliged to respond. And, unless the detainee’s answers provide the officer with probable cause to arrest him,[fn31] he must then be released” – BERKEMER v. MCCARTY, 468 U.S. 420 (1984)

    * “In contrast, a much different situation prevailed in Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979), when two policemen physically detained the defendant to determine his identity, after the defendant refused the officers’ request to identify himself. The Court held that absent some reasonable suspicion of misconduct, the detention of the defendant to determine his identity violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable seizure. Id., at 52.” – INS v. DELGADO, (1984)
    * “The person [460 U.S. 491, 498] approached, however, need not answer any question put to him; indeed, he may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S., at 32 -33 (Harlan, J., concurring); id., at 34 (WHITE, J., concurring). He may not be detained even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds for doing so; and his refusal to listen or answer does not, without more, furnish those grounds. United States v. Mendenhall, supra, at 556 (opinion of Stewart, J.).” – FLORIDA v. ROYER, (1983)

    * “The application of Tex. Penal Code Ann., Tit. 8, 38.02 (1974), to detain appellant and require him to identify himself violated the Fourth Amendment because the officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe appellant was engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct. Accordingly, appellant may not be punished for refusing to identify himself, and the conviction is Reversed.” – BROWN v. TEXAS, (1979)

    * “The Court has concluded that asserting ones constitutional right cannot be a crime, nor can it be evidence of a crime.” – Ramet v. State 125 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 19

    * “One of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances. Truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as of those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth.” – Ohio v. Reiner, 532 U.S. 17, 20 (2001)

  19. So, about 23,000+/- people are incarcerated in Kentucky, corruption is beyond belief, and every single statute or proposed law was bought and sold.
    So proud.
    But legislators are pretty cheap, some votes are only a few hundred bucks (investors take note!), and laws are enforced on a case by case basis.
    You know, like most governments in the world.

  20. Define “answer question”.

    “What are you doing out here at this time of night.”

    Big penis automobile toilet sunglasses

    That’s an answer.

  21. Meredith withdrew the bill earlier today. The ky legislature site no longer has a copy of the text? Where else might I find it?

    In an interview with the herald ledger (https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article239502963.html), Meredith says he withdrew the bill because people on social media accused him of being a communist, fascist, racist, idiot, scum, un-American and “an old, wrinkled white guy.”

  22. While I’m certainly no supporter of many things on the Democrat agenda, why did I know before I even clicked on the headline that this was a Republican lawmaker that proposed this?

    1. Because despite their assertions, deep down the vast majority of Republicans love big government – powerful government, police power. They worship police power.

  23. Don’t the cops essentially do this anyways? They can charge “interference with official acts” or the myriad of charges they have for Contempt Of Cop.

    They may drop the charges later, but you’re still getting the ride.

  24. Seems to me it’s just another way for government to intimate it citizens.

  25. As if some of the police wouldn’t do for there own causes.. Many times I have seem a cop stop a women just to get her information and have a conversation he normally couldn’t have with the woman.

  26. Scary. Perhaps he just floated it out there to bump traffic on his twitter account. ?

  27. Once facial recognition is widely deployed, everyone whose been arrested (including years ago) will end up in a database and the police bodycam system can be set up to, at the push of a button, to check if the person appears to be a match for someone in that database with an outstanding arrest warrant.

    That’s both good and bad…

    It seems to me that police should have the power to establish the identity of someone they encounter, even peripherally, during an investigation of a possible crime to check if they have an outstanding arrest warrant or are violating a restraining order.

    On the upside, such technology would significantly reduce the “opportunity” to detain people while “establishig identity” for the purposes of checking for outstanding warrants and speed up the process of these checks when they are legitimate but result in “no match/no warrant found”. On the downside, the government/police will surely find a way to abuse this technology.

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