I was watching the television show Cops recently. A cop saw what he suspected was drug activity involving two men in a van and a possible seller/buyer. He stopped the van questioned the men inside it (with no confessional on their part) and proceeded to search the van. Drugs were found.
Now, the question is, did he have probable cause. He didn't clearly see drugs sold from the distance that he observed the supposed transaction. He didn't have a confession or a search warrant. By the way, police almost never get a warrant when they do searches of cars, which are almost always for drugs.
Police are allowed exceptions to the warrant requirement if a dog supposedly sniffs drugs in a car, which didn't happen in this case.
Now you might think this was good police work, but was it constitutional police work? Probably not. While I was disgusted at this cop run around of our civil liberties, most viewers probably didn't.
What happened if there was no actual drug activity? No drugs or large sums of money? Would this footage have been aired, probably not.
It makes better television for police to be catching so called bad guys instead of harassing innocent people. I was never a big fan of the show but I don't believe I ever saw anyone who turned up to be completely innocent on that show.
By the way, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union exist to ensure that the rights and liberties of Americans are protected and respected.