Can a Police Officer Stop a Someone Based on a Hunch That He Might Be Involved In Drug Activity ?

In People v. Harper, 237 Ill. App. 3d 202, 603 N.E.2d 115, 177 Ill. Dec. 334 (1992), two police officers stopped the defendant after he exited a "known dope house." Harper, 237 Ill. App. 3d at 205, 603 N.E.2d at 116. The defendant had parked his car near the building, entered it and remained less than a minute before departing. Upon stopping him, officers uncovered a packet of cocaine that the defendant had concealed in his mouth. at the time they stopped the defendant, one of the officers had personally participated in a search of the premises which uncovered drug paraphernalia nine months earlier. Since that time, the officer had arrested seven individuals near the building who possessed narcotics. Despite these facts, the appellate court held that the evidence must be suppressed. In so ruling, the court stated that the officers' decision "to stop defendant was based on no more than a hunch that he might be involved in drug activity." Harper, 237 Ill. App. 3d at 206-07, 603 N.E.2d at 117.