In this archive episode, Dennis talks about ordering passengers out of vehicles and the meaning of heightened caution. Recorded on 08/17/2017.

State v Bacome 2017…/supreme-court/2017/a-9-15.html In April 2011, detectives were engaged in an undercover drug patrol in Woodbridge when they observed defendant Taiwan Bacome driving a blue Ford Bronco. S.R., the owner of the Bronco, was riding in the front passenger seat. Having previously encountered both men, detectives knew the men used and dealt narcotics. The police department had also received complaints from defendant’s neighbors of a lot of traffic coming and going from [his] apartment, which, in the detectives’ experience, is often indicative of narcotics activity. In their unmarked vehicle, the detectives followed the Bronco, losing sight of it shortly after arriving in an area of Newark known for crime and drug trafficking. In an attempt to pick up the Bronco’s trail, the detectives drove back to Woodbridge, presuming that defendant and S.R. would return there with newly purchased drugs. About an hour later, the detectives observed the Bronco re-enter Woodbridge. The detectives resumed surveillance and, after they both observed S.R. in the passenger seat not wearing his seatbelt, they conducted a traffic stop. In this appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court clarified the circumstances under which police officers may require a passenger in an automobile to exit a vehicle after a valid stop. The first detective reported that he saw defendant lean forward as if he were reaching under his seat and immediately ordered defendant to exit the vehicle. The second detective then ordered S.R. out of the passenger’s seat. Both occupants complied. Defendant specifically challenged S.R.’s removal from the vehicle. The trial court found that defendant’s reaching under the seat created the heightened caution that warranted S.R.’s removal. The Appellate Division reversed, finding the detectives failed to prove “heightened caution.” The Supreme Court reversed, finding that while the heightened caution standard remained the proper test for determining the appropriateness of ordering a passenger from a car, defendant’s movements inside the stopped car was an objectively reasonable basis to justify removal of the passenger.

State v Brian L. Smith 1994 Although the per se rule under Mimms permits an officer to order the driver out of a vehicle incident to a lawful stop for a traffic violation, we decline to extend that per se rule to passengers. Instead, we determine that an officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts that would warrant heightened caution to justify ordering the occupants to step out of a vehicle detained for a traffic violation.…/supreme…/1994/a-28-93-opn.html