A police officer's interest in self-protection arises when he reasonably believes that a suspect is armed and dangerous; at that point, he has an interest in "taking steps to assure himself that the person with whom he is dealing is not armed with a weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against him." Terry, 392 U.S. at 23, 88 S.Ct. at 1881. The steps taken by the officer for self-protection, however, necessarily intrude upon the individual's interest in personal security, which is protected from unreasonable governmental intrusion by the Fourth Amendment. See id. at 19, 88 S.Ct. at 1878-79. To determine whether the intrusion was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, a court must analyze the competing interests of the officer and the individual. Id. at 20-21, 88 S.Ct. at 1879-80; see also Long, 463 U.S. at 1046-47, 103 S.Ct. at 3479-80.
In finding that Officer Pope was restricted to conducting a patdown frisk, the district court erroneously concluded that a patdown frisk was the only permissible method of conducting a Terry search. This reasoning is incorrect because the reasonableness of a protective search depends on the factual circumstances of each case. See Terry, 392 U.S. at 29, 88 S.Ct. at 1884; cf. Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 59, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 1901, 20 L.Ed.2d 917 (1968) ("The constitutional validity of a warrantless search is pre-eminently the sort of question which can only be decided in the concrete factual context of the individual case."). Thus, a patdown frisk is but one example of how a reasonable protective search may be conducted
. Cf. Adams, 407 U.S. at 147-48, 92 S.Ct. at 1923-24 (officer acted reasonably under the circumstances by reaching directly for weapon in waistband of suspect's pants); United States v. Hill, 545 F.2d 1191, 1193 (9th Cir.1976) (per curiam) (officer acted reasonably in lifting shirt of suspect to identify source of bulge in clothing).
Balancing the officer's interest in self-protection against the resulting intrusion upon Baker's personal security, we hold that Officer Pope's direction was reasonable under the circumstances. Having formed a reasonable belief that Baker was carrying a weapon, Officer Pope had an immediate interest in determining whether Baker actually was armed and, if so, neutralizing any potential threat without assuming unnecessary risks. See Terry, 392 U.S. at 24, 88 S.Ct. at 1881. Directing that he raise his shirt required little movement by Baker and allowed Officer Pope to immediately determine whether Baker was armed without having to come in close contact with him. And, it minimized the risk that he could draw his weapon before Officer Pope could attempt to neutralize the potential threat. In comparison, complying with this direction involved a limited intrusion upon Baker's personal security. Indeed, this act was less intrusive than the patdown frisk sanctioned in Terry. The officer avoided the "serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person" necessitated by the patdown frisk, which requires the officer to "feel with sensitive fingers every portion of the prisoner's body." Terry, 392 U.S. at 17 & n. 13, 88 S.Ct. at 1877 & n. 13. In sum, based on a balancing of the necessity for the search against the intrusion caused by the search, directing that Baker raise his shirt constituted a reasonable search limited to discovering whether he was carrying a concealed weapon. Cf. id. at 29-30, 88 S.Ct. at 1884 (applying de novo review to determine the reasonableness of the method of a protective search).