The Collective-Knowledge Doctrine

This was a discretionary appeal to the Pa. Supreme Court.  The issue at hand in this case concerns what is called the “collective-knowledge doctrine,” or what is otherwise known as the “fellow-officer rule.”  The important facts are these: Yong was witnessed by one undercover officer to be involved in suspected drug activities at a particular location on one day, then, in following days, Yong was stopped and frisked at the same location by a different officer, during a drug raid, which recovered a gun from Yong’s waistband.  In the record of the trial court, there was never any evidence put forth that the officer who had frisked Yong had any particular suspicion of him to do so. (In other words, there was no communication between the undercover officer and the arresting officer regarding Yong.)  Yong had argued that his “mere presence at the subject residence of the search warrant was insufficient to justify a protective pat-down.”

Setting aside the lengthy recitation of precedents that the majority discussed in deciding this case, suffice it to say that the rule of law the majority articulated was this:

“[W]here, as here, the arresting officer does not have the requisite knowledge and was not directed to so act [to seize or search], we hold the seizure is still constitutional where the investigating officer with probable cause or reasonable suspicion was working with the officer and would have inevitably and imminently ordered that the seizure be effectuated.