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September 5, 1996


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 93--CF--1592. Honorable Charles F. Scott, Judge, Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Colwell delivered the opinion of the court: McLAREN, P.j., and Doyle, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colwell

The Honorable Justice COLWELL delivered the opinion of the court:

The State appeals the circuit court's order quashing the arrest of defendant, Laura Bascom, and suppressing evidence obtained as a result. The State contends that the court erroneously found that the arresting officer lacked probable cause for the arrest although another officer with whom he was working in concert knew facts that provided probable cause.

The facts are essentially undisputed. Wauconda police detective Ronald Geary responded to a 9-1-1 call from defendant's husband, Lance Epoch. Geary found Epoch at his home appearing "heavily soiled, kind of full of mud, and wet." Epoch had an abrasion on his chin and showed other signs of physical contact.

Epoch told Geary that he arrived home at about 9:30 p.m. Defendant arrived soon after. An argument ensued. In the course of the argument defendant retrieved a 9-millimeter handgun from the bedroom. Defendant held the gun to her head and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire. She then pointed the gun at Epoch and pulled the trigger, with the same result. Epoch tried to call 9-1-1, but defendant disconnected the phone. Defendant struck him in the face several times during the confrontation.

Epoch provided Geary with a description of defendant. He said she might have been headed to one of two bars in Fox Lake or to Good Samaritan Hospital. Geary then issued an ISPERN dispatch to area police units. The dispatch noted that defendant was a suicide risk and was wanted for domestic battery. Sometime that night, Geary issued a nontraffic citation against defendant for domestic battery.

At 11:45 p.m., Officer Joseph Neary of the Fox Lake police department responded to Geary's dispatch. A Fox Lake police dispatcher informed Neary that defendant might be found at the Old Style Inn or the Aquarium Tavern in Fox Lake. Neary found defendant, who matched the description in the dispatch, at the Old Style Inn. Neary arrested defendant pursuant to Wauconda's domestic battery request. Defendant said that a nearby purse was hers.

Defendant took defendant and her purse to the Fox Lake police station. An inventory of defendant's purse disclosed a folded paper which Neary recognized as something commonly used to transport cocaine. Neary felt the paper and detected a soft material inside. He then opened the paper. A laboratory test later confirmed that the powder in the folded paper was cocaine. Defendant denied knowledge of the cocaine.

Defendant filed a motion to quash her arrest and suppress the cocaine. The court granted the motion, finding that Officer Neary lacked probable cause to arrest defendant. The court specifically found that Geary had probable cause for an arrest based on his interview with Epoch and his observations at the scene, but refused to impute this knowledge to Neary. The court denied the State's motion to reconsider and the State perfected this appeal.

The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court correctly found that Officer Neary lacked probable cause to arrest defendant. For purposes of this appeal, defendant does not dispute that Detective Geary had probable cause to arrest defendant. She also does not contest the propriety of the search of her purse. She argues, however, that Geary's knowledge cannot be imputed to Neary, the arresting officer. She emphasizes that the precise contents of the ISPERN dispatch are unclear (although admitted into evidence, the dispatch does not appear in the record on appeal), and that Neary made no independent observations of defendant which would have provided grounds to arrest her. Defendant's argument is unpersuasive.

Ordinarily, a ruling on a motion to suppress will not be disturbed unless it is manifestly erroneous. People v. Frazier, 248 Ill. App. 3d 6, 12, 187 Ill. Dec. 369, 617 N.E.2d 826 (1993). Where, however, the facts and the credibility of the witnesses are not in dispute, the issue is subject to de novo review. Frazier, 248 Ill. App. 3d at 12-13. Inasmuch as the facts in this case are undisputed, we will review the issue de novo.

Generally, when officers are working together investigating a crime, the knowledge of one is the knowledge of all. Thus, the arresting officer has the right to rely on the knowledge of the officer giving the command to arrest in addition to his personal observations. People v. Peak, 29 Ill. 2d 343, 349, 194 N.E.2d 322 (1963); People v. Fenner, 191 Ill. App. 3d 801, 806, 138 Ill. Dec. 917, 548 N.E.2d 147 (1989). This is so even if the first officer's knowledge is not communicated to the arresting officer. Fenner, 191 Ill. App. 3d at 806; People v. Fox, 155 Ill. App. 3d 256, 263-64, 108 Ill. Dec. 314, 508 N.E.2d 475 (1987).

We see no reason to deviate from the general rule in this case. The parties agree that Geary had probable cause for defendant's arrest and he issued a dispatch seeking help from neighboring police departments in apprehending her. Geary was not required to include the details of his investigation in the dispatch, and Neary was not required to make observations which would independently establish probable cause. The ...

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