Established by the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio (1968), police officers may perform a frisk – a limited search of a civilian’s outer clothing in pursuit of weapons or nonthreatening contraband – when they determine suspicious activity is afoot or otherwise feel threatened.
We merely hold today that where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others’ safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer...
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