Document Type

St. John's Law Review Commentary


This Comment analyzes the holding in Tarhaqa Allen v. N.Y.C. Police Department, which prohibits a police officer from searching a person’s bag or backpack, even if the officer reasonably suspects that the person is armed and dangerous. The court based its decision on Terry v. Ohio, where the Supreme Court upheld an outer clothing search for weapons. The court in Tarhaqa Allen concluded that all backpack searches exceed the scope of outer clothing and therefore must be banned. This Comment argues that police officers should be allowed to search backpacks because (1) the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio did not intend delineate the confines of the Constitution, but instead intended a fact specific holding; (2) allowing backpack searches promotes officer safety, which is the underlying purpose of Terry searches; and (3) Constitutional safeguards ensure that police officers do not exercise unfettered discretion.