Spot checks are usually conducted in times of heightened security alerts or in areas where a crime has been committed and investigation or surveillance is being conducted and where the police needs to increase its vigilance.
Police officers may stop an individual for spot check/ accosting when the individual’s appearance, demeanor, or actions suggest that he or she may be engaged in some criminal activity; if the hour of day or night is inappropriate for his presence in the area, or their presence in the neighborhood is inappropriate; if they are carrying a suspicious object or if their clothes bulge in a manner that suggests that they might be carrying a weapon; if they are located in proximate time and place to an alleged crime; if the officer has knowledge of the person’s prior criminal record or involvement in criminal activity; or if the person flees at the sight of the police officer.
A citizen should be aware that when a police officer approaches an individual to conduct a spot check, the police officer is bound by the following rules:
- They should clearly identify themselves as a police officer; if they are not in uniform, they should announce their identity and display an official identification card and/or their badge.
- They should be courteous at all times and confine their questions regarding your identity, place of residence, and other inquiries necessary to resolve their suspicions and not hold you longer than is reasonably necessary.
- They cannot compel you to answer any questions posed during the spot check / accosting.
- They cannot arrest you on the grounds that you failed or refused to respond to his questions.