may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed August 19, 1997
Ramsey County District Court
File No. CX969735
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Joel A. Watne, Jeffrey F. Lebowski, Assistant Attorney Generals, 200 Capitol Office Building, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant Jeffrey Kuensting petitioned for judicial review of his driver's license revocation. The district court upheld the stop of Kuensting's vehicle based on an informant's tip and sustained the license revocation. We affirm.
Officer Michael Lochen received the dispatch call reporting there was a "DK" (drunk) person picking up food at the Main Event and that an employee of the restaurant had reported the incident; the dispatcher also gave Lochen a description of the suspect's vehicle. When Lochen arrived at the Main Event parking lot, the dispatcher advised him that the suspect was in his vehicle and was backing out. The vehicle matched the description Lochen had been given earlier; the officer followed the vehicle and, based solely on the tip, stopped Kuensting when he left the parking lot.
At the hearing, Officer Lochen explained that a dispatcher who receives a call types the information into a computer, and another dispatcher reads it to the officer on the radio; the information also appears on a computer screen in the squad car. The dispatcher's computer printout, identifying Heroff as the caller and the Main Event as the location from which the call was placed, was entered into evidence.
Kuensting contends the district court's finding that Heroff told the dispatcher Kuensting was drunk is clearly erroneous because Heroff testified only that she reported Kuensting "may have been drinking"; she did not make an unequivocal statement to the police dispatcher that Kuensting was intoxicated. Counsel and the court questioned Heroff extensively regarding the words she used in reporting the incident to the police. While she testified that she reported that he "may have been drinking" and that he "had been drinking but he had not been drinking at [her] restaurant," when the court asked her if she told the dispatcher that she believed Kuensting was intoxicated, she replied, "Yes, I did." The district court had the opportunity to assess Heroff's credibility and to make findings and draw inferences from her testimony. The district court's finding on the issue of what Heroff reported is not clearly erroneous.
A police officer may make an investigatory stop of a motor vehicle if the officer has a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity." Id. at 691 (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). Generally, police may not base a stop on an informant's tip without minimal information suggesting that "the informant is credible and obtained the information in a reliable way." G.M., 560 N.W.2d at 691. An informant's tip will be judged on all the circumstances. Id.
In determining an informant's credibility, the district court first must consider whether the informant provided sufficient information to identify himself or herself, thereby giving the police a basis for holding the informant accountable for false information. City of Minnetonka v. Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d 887, 890 (Minn. 1988). For purposes of making an investigatory stop, an officer is justified in assuming that an informant has truthfully identified himself or herself. Id. The district court did not clearly err in finding that Heroff identified herself sufficiently.
Kuensting characterizes the informant here as anonymous. He argues that at the time of the stop, the only information Officer Lochen had from the dispatcher was that an unknown caller from an unknown source had provided a tip reporting a possibly drunken man. The record and the law do not support Kuensting's claim.
Officer Lochen testified that the dispatcher told him an employee of the Main Event had called to report a drunken person picking up a food order, but the dispatcher did not identify the employee to Lochen by name. But the fact that Officer Lochen, at the time of the stop, did not have the name of the informant is not determinative. Instead, the question is whether Heroff provided the police with enough information to locate her and hold her accountable later if she knowingly provided false information. See id. (upholding stop where caller, while not identifying himself by name, said he was a station attendant at a named gas station). Heroff testified that she identified herself to the dispatcher by name and job title at the Main Event, and the dispatcher's computer printout shows Heroff's name and location. Collective knowledge of the police can provide the basis for an investigatory stop. Rancour v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 355 N.W.2d 462, 464 (Minn. App. 1984). Heroff provided sufficient information to be located later, as she in fact was. See Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d at 890 n.1 (noting fact that police subsequently identified caller who agreed to testify if necessary may be used to discredit argument that information was not adequate to identify and locate caller).
Kuensting claims Heroff's statements were insufficient as a matter of law to provide Officer Lochen with a reasonable, articulable suspicion to support the stop. This court must consider whether the information available to the police showed that the informant had a basis for her tip. See G.M., 560 N.W.2d at 691. The informant here was a Main Event employee who reported personal observation of Kuensting's intoxication at that establishment. See Playle v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 439 N.W.2d 747, 749 (Minn. App. 1989) (concluding that where informant identified himself as employee of particular restaurant and reported drunk driver at restaurant, there was reason to believe informant based his conclusions on personal observations). Heroff's tip gave Officer Lochen a sufficient basis to stop Kuensting's vehicle.