UNC prof ignites 4th Amendment debate after being pulled over by fire truck

UNC prof ignites 4th Amendment debate after being pulled over by fire truck

When a North Carolina firefighter switched on the siren atop his Chapel Hill Fire Department truck to get a driver he suspected of being impaired to pull over, he probably didn’t expect to ignite a constitutional debate.

But that’s exactly what has happened. The woman Fire Lt. Gordon Shatley pulled over on his way back from a call was Dorothy Hoogland Verkerk, a professor at the University of North Carolina and former town council member who is arguing use of the fire truck and siren — which are not authorized for law enforcement actions — gave the color of government to what might otherwise have been a lawful citizen’s arrest. And although a lower court upheld Verkerk’s arrest, an appellate court remanded the case with instructions to consider whether it was an illegal search and seizure.

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