Would You Answer Questions of Plainclothes Officers at the Gate and Give Identification?

“Has anyone else encountered plain clothes deputies asking for ids and chatting people up at the gate seating area in FLL? Some were pretty upset and felt profiled.”

Would You Answer Questions of Plainclothes Officers at the Gate and Give Identification?

This question — which was asked by FlyerTalk member MrsGraupel — is in response to reportedly witnessing deputies who were purportedly not in uniform asking passengers for identification and asking random questions at the seating area of a gate at Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

The disturbing part was what MrsGraupel posted next: “The first few were taken by surprise and complied. The next guy got suitably noisy and asked what they were doing and why, went to the agents who summoned uniformed deputies that then gave a bs explanation with not detail.”

FlyerTalk member petaluma1 posted a reminder of Statute 901.151 of the State of Florida — which is more familiarly known as Florida‘s Stop and Frisk Law — states in part:

Whenever any law enforcement officer of this state encounters any person under circumstances which reasonably indicate that such person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this state or the criminal ordinances of any municipality or county, the officer may temporarily detain such person for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of the person temporarily detained and the circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad which led the officer to believe that the person had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense.

Did the plainclothes deputies violate the law?

Summary

I do not know enough about this incident to comment on it; but if a law enforcement officer asks for your identification without just cause, you are not required to provide it to him or her — although he or she could potentially decide to ensure that your life is a little more difficult as a result of your refusal. You also are not required to answer any questions unless reasonable circumstances permit him or her to do so. Regardless of the circumstances, you do have the right to remain silent and ask why the law enforcement officer is questioning you and asking for your identification.

The point is not to give officers a difficult time, as you may likely choose to voluntarily provide answers to questions and present your identification upon request. Rather, it is to ensure that the balance of power is not slanted towards what may be considered a police state.

Many law enforcement officers are genuinely devoted enough to their profession to place their lives on the line every day in order to dedicate themselves to protecting civilians and will do whatever they can to uphold the law.

In this case, I have a feeling that there is more to the story than was told; and that the plainclothes deputies had a reason for doing what they were doing.

Can you think of any reasons as to what the plainclothes deputies were doing at the gate — not this weblog — and the reasons why?

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “Would You Answer Questions of Plainclothes Officers at the Gate and Give Identification?”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Looking for an escaped illegal alien that just ran away from ICE and the TSA..sorry I couldn’t resist (no pun intended).
    Seriously my guess is that they may have been looking for a criminal suspect trying to flee the state but just guessing of course.

  2. A says:

    Yes, I assume they got a tip that a possible dangerous criminal was at the airport. The first duty of a government is to protect its citizens.

  3. Arnaud Dumarchelier says:

    @A – that makes no sense. If they were looking for a “dangerous criminal” wouldn’t they know who he/she was already, and thus negate the need to ask a bunch of people for their identity? The first duty of a citizen to ensure the government is accountable to the people, and not have the rights and freedoms upon which this country was built on infringed upon without due-process.

  4. Sharee says:

    Are we at least allowed to ask them to show us their badge before providing it? Otherwise seems like anyone who is involved in identity theft could do this far too easily.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      For the reason you cited — as well as for your safety — you are absolutely permitted to ask law enforcement officers to show their badges to you, Sharee.

      In fact, many law enforcement officers encourage that you do request proof if you are not 100 percent certain that they are indeed not impostors…

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