Does An Anonymous Call Justify Stopping and Frisking An Individual ?
In Commonwealth v. Jackson, 548 Pa. 484, 698 A.2d 571 (1997), a police officer responded to a radio report stating that a man in a green jacket was carrying a gun at a particular location.
No additional details were provided.
When the officer arrived at the identified location, he saw a number of people including the defendant who was wearing a green jacket.
Based solely upon the anonymous call, the officer stopped and searched the defendant.
Relying upon Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 547 Pa. 652, 692 A.2d 1068 (1997), a factually similar case, the Court held in Jackson that the anonymous tip did not justify a stop and frisk of the defendant. Jackson at 494, 698 A.2d at 576.
In Hawkins, a plurality of the Court explained that when police receive an anonymous call alleging that a person of a particular description is carrying a gun at a particular location, and the police broadcast that information to patrol cars, neither the dispatcher nor the officers in their cars know whether the information is reliable. Hawkins, 547 Pa. at 656, 692 A.2d at 1070.
The Court observed that an anonymous tip may be nothing more than a mere prank call. Id.
At the same time, it may be based on no more than the caller's unparticularized hunch. Jackson, 548 Pa. at 490, 698 A.2d at 574;