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When John Rambo travels to the small town of Hope, Oregon, he was quickly spotted by the town's sheriff, Will Teasle. Teasle soon picks him up and drives him to the edge of town, while stressing his dislike of drifters and "trouble makers."

Rambo begins heading back into town immediately after being dropped off, and Teasle then arrests him when Rambo did not comply and takes him to the local police station.

And the story goes on...

Does the government of USA allow this kind of activities by a sheriff?

Does a sheriff possess power to kick somebody out of a town without any reason? Then if he doesn't want to be kicked off, does a sheriff have enough power to take him into custody?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Such laws, since the 1972 Supreme Court decision Papachristou v. Jacksonville, have to be written so that they're not arbitrarily vague or enforced and that proper public notice has to be given.

Since the movie was set after that time, it could be argued that Teasle wasn't acting within US law although a vagrancy law that predated that decision might still be on the books in the town.

His arrest and subsequent treatment could have been challenged legally, probably with some success, but his actions following it were illegal and more or less made it a moot point.

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I like your reference. It surprisingly resembles the plot of the film. –  BROY Apr 27 '12 at 12:58
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I think the definitions of sheriff versus that of police chief helps to distinguish whether Will Teasle is truly acting outside the allowable confines of the role.

The easy answer is that sheriffs exercise control exactly the way they want, subject only to the citizenry they serve, because the job is political in addition to law enforcement. His job incorporates law enforcement, but is much more. Based in the tradition of the "shire reeve", who served the dictates of the king, in current times, he serves the dictates of the citizenry who elected him. Keeping the town clear of vagrants seems exactly the type of loosely-defined role a sheriff would be assigned.

While I agree that Teasle may have been unfair and overzealous, I don't believe he did anything illegal. Stallone/Rambo clearly gave off the look and attitude of a drifter (long hair, dishevelled look, American flag decorations, backpack), and Teasle merely made a rapid decision to rush him out of town. For a sheriff who considered his God status unquestionable, Stallone clearly questioned it by returning to town. By twisting the sheriff's arm, he got his own twisted in return.

I don't even believe the actions of the deputies who cleaned Rambo up with the water hose were illegal, either, nor the attempted shave. Every prisoner everywhere gets a shower and a shave. Rambo was not cooperative, possibly even combative, so the exercize of constraint by the beating was something that could be described as defensive, and Rambo would need a witness to the contrary to form a case of brutality.

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