State v. Anderson

In State v. Anderson, 155 Wis. 2d 77, 454 N.W.2d 763 (1990), the Court addressed the policy considerations at work in a Terry case. The court said that the focus of the Fourth Amendment and Wis. Stat. 968.24 is reasonableness. This contemplates a commonsense balancing between individual privacy and the societal interest in allowing the police a reasonable scope of action in discharging their responsibilities. The court noted that suspicious conduct by its very nature is ambiguous, and the principal function of the investigative stop is to quickly resolve that ambiguity. As a result, the court held that police officers are not required to rule out the possibility of innocent behavior before initiating a brief stop. See Anderson, 155 Wis. 2d at 83-87. The Court held that because "flight from the police is a strong indication of 'mens rea,' i.e., a guilty mind or a guilty purpose, we conclude that behavior which evinces in the mind of a reasonable police officer an intent to flee from the police is suspicious behavior sufficient to justify a temporary investigative stop." See Anderson, 155 Wis. 2d at 79. Anderson sighted a squad car in an alley near where he lived, then turned his car away and onto a city street and sped up. The court concluded that "flight at the sight of police is undeniably suspicious." Anderson, 155 Wis. 2d at 84.