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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > October 2015 > State v. Cash 2015 Ohio 3792

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State v. Cash 2015 Ohio 3792

Question: Can a police officer approach and request identification from someone who appears to be loitering in an RTA hub for several hours?

Quick Answer: Yes, officers can engage in conversations with citizens as long as the person knows he or she is free to walk away and police have not conveyed a message that compliance is required.

Facts: Officers on foot patrol were contacted by the RTA security director because she had observed Cash loitering in the RTA hub. The RTA has strict rules prohibiting citizens who are not waiting for buses from loitering in the hub. Given that Cash had been in the hub for several hours, it was apparent he was violating RTA rules. Based on their observation of Cash, they could not recall if he was previously banned from RTA property. Two officers approached Cash and requested his identification. Upon complying, the officers were able to verify he was previously barred indefinitely from the RTA hub. Cash was arrested for trespassing and a subsequent search revealed he was unlawfully in possession of oxycodone and methadone. At a suppression hearing, Cash argued the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to stop him.  The court found the officers’ interaction was a consensual encounter and did not rise to the level of a Terry stop. The court pointed out that, absent coercion, a request for identification during a consensual encounter does not otherwise convert the exchange into a Terry stop requiring reasonable suspicion.

Keep in Mind:  It is generally permissible to request identification from citizens without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment provided that officers do not employ a level of coercion in their request.