Can police stop you for looking suspicious?

Sgt. Chris Yagelski

Q: Can someone be stopped by the police just for looking suspicious? Not race or anything. Let’s say a guy tries to avoid you or avoid eye contact and is acting strange. 

A: Any police officer can approach you and start to talk to you, including asking for your ID without any articulable suspicion. You must ID yourself, however, you are free to leave after presenting identification in this circumstance. If a police officer can develop reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity, you can be detained. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be allowed to leave. If you are unsure and want to leave, politely ask the officer.

Q: I have a crazy question. Can I just go to the police station to find out if I can legally buy or own a handgun instead of going to a firearms store?

A: No. Commercial firearms transactions go through a special FBI database. The database used is not one that is available to other law enforcement agencies. Some of the information in the database is available to outside agencies through other files, but not all of it. For example, if a police officer was to run a “normal” criminal history on a person, it would show prior felony convictions, but not other things like if you had been adjudicated mentally ill, renounced your citizenship, etc. Chances are, you are the best person to know if you are no longer allowed to own a firearm.

Q: I watch a lot of murder mysteries on TV and the detectives seem to be very knowledgeable about a lot of stuff. Is this just from a lot of experience or do you guys take special classes?

A: Both! You must have substantial street experience prior to being considered for the detective division. Homicide investigators attend specialized training in investigative techniques, interviewing and specialized classes in death investigations. Our other staff have specialties which include drug, vice, burglaries and sexual crimes including offenses against children. Once investigators are selected, they attend training in interview and investigation and then are paired with a more experienced detective who guides the “on the job” training. After further experience, they are selected for further training in their specialty.

Q: I bought a used I-Phone from a local store for $300, and it was junk and I want my money back. The owner has told me several times to come back another time and then has excuse after excuse.

A: I am not really sure if there is a question in there? However, you have not described anything that is criminal in nature. Buying anything and being unsatisfied is not a criminal issue. The police do not investigate civil disputes. I would recommend small claims if you do not reach an agreement. 

The winner of the $30 gas card sponsored by Station 801 was Kara Will of Michigan City. The answer to last column’s riddle of what was the number of inches, plums, days and the President’s address? It was 1677 (36 inches, 1- plum, 40 days and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.)

The sponsor for this week’s riddle are our friends at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. The winner receives a $30 gas card.

As Blue Chip security was making their rounds they discovered that someone intentionally peeled off several door numbers in the Blue Chip tower hotel.

Immediately, a painter was called to repaint all 100 room doors. My question is how many times did the painter paint the number eight? 

The 11th correct answer by phone or email at exactly 1 p.m. today wins.

To answer a question or ask one, contact Sgt. Chris Yagelski at 874-3221, Ext #1020, or e-mail ASKACOP@emichigancity.com.

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