Branson Board of Aldermen considers change to law enforcement stops

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 7:50 AM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Police in Branson could soon be allowed to give someone a ticket if they refuse to to identify themselves to an officer.

During the July 27 Board of Aldermen meeting, Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews and City Attorney Chris Lebeck explained the push behind this change. Lebeck said this does not violate the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“We have to have reasonable suspicion that somebody has, is, or will commit a criminal offense,” Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews said.

Chief Matthews said under those circumstances, they can stop and temporarily detain a person while they investigate.

”It is 3 a.m. in a dark alley you see a person, they’ve got a screw driver, you had past break-ins in that area, that would be a reasonable suspicion stop,” Matthews said.

He said the current city code only applies to a person after they have been arrested and read their Miranda rights.

”What’s your name, I don’t have to tell you, right now we have nothing to go on on that,” said Chief Matthews.

City Attorney Chris Lebeck said the officer has to make a probable cause statement if he believes the ordinance has been violated.

”Then it’s up to the officer and the officers discretion whether it’s worthy of a citation,” Lebeck said.

Lebeck said the first violation would be $200.

”That includes court costs,” said Lebeck.

Alderman Ruth Denham had some concerns as well.

”If someone is innocent and they just don’t want to give their name, all of a sudden this innocent person becomes a criminal,” Ruth Denham said.

Denham said she feels like this is another right given away.

Chief Matthews answered by saying his standard for reasonable suspicion and probable cause are much different than what the courts use to determine proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

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