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Yes, it is. Your son was not committing a major crime, but he was urinating in public. Thus, the police had the right to place him in custody (or arrest him) and give him a citation for public urination. Any time the police can place you in custody, they are allowed to conduct a search of your person to look for weapons. The courts have upheld this as legal because of the fact that arrest situations are so dangerous to the police, that the courts have said that it is reasonable for the police to search for and seize weapons for their own safety. And this is exactly what happened in your son's case. The police seized your's son's knife during his "arrest" in order to protect their safety, and since the weapon was not evidence in the crime of urination itself, it will be returned.
I hope this answers your question.
Yes, they did not arrest him. But he was placed in custody meaning that he was not free to leave. And even in these circumstances, the police are allowed to search for weapons for their own safety.
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