iStock_000020801110_ExtraSmallThe Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution concerns the right of the people to be secure in their person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.  All citizens are protected against searches and seizures not carried out according to law.  This is one of our most sacred and long held tenants of our constitution; the agreement by which each of us live with one another. The purpose of this article is to identify those searches where law enforcement goes astray from the principle of this amendment.  

Recently, Cadfael Investigative Group, Inc. investigators have had the opportunity and duty to review search warrants in the metropolitan area.  Our agents are knowledgeable about how search warrants should be served and experienced in searching for evidence to prove who was involved in illegal activity and giving accurate assessments of the scope of the criminal activity.  We have written and served scores of search warrants.  What we found is disturbing and contrary to the objective of many a police department’s motto of “protect and serve.”  Some of the startling issues revealed were:

  1. Lack of knowledge on the part of police officers conducting the search of the details of the crime under investigation. Police were generally poorly trained and undisciplined.

  2. A search warrant was not obtained, but the police entered the house of the home owner or occupant by briefly flashing a typed piece of paper and saying it is a search warrant to search the premises.

  3. A search was made of a residence, but the “search” for evidence of a crime would be more aptly described as a raid and looting of private property.  Little efforts were made to locate and identify documents that could prove the crime under investigation.  Instead guns, knives, and other property not connected with the crime were taken.

  4. Not all property was given to the lead agent documenting the items seized from the home.  Some items were carried out of the house without being recorded on the seizure inventory list.

  5. Numerous inventory lists were made, each one different from the previous. The inventory list was not reviewed for a few months and then the number of items was changed.  One group of items was reduced in number.   Did this mean they took fewer items or did it mean one was taken by someone else and cannot be accounted for now?

  6. Drawers inside the home were taken out and the contents dumped on the floor.  Nothing was returned to its original location.

  7. No photographs or video were taken of the search to show what the home looked like before the search and what it looked like after.  No still photographs were taken of contraband to document where it was found and by whom.

  8. The home owner found evidence that the searching officers ordered and ate food from a fast food restaurant and left the wrappers on the floor for the home owner to pick up.

There were more illustrations of instances when the police acted like pirates rather than responsible police officers; more examples of the rights of the person (who was to be secure in his or her home), being compromised by bullying, yelling, and insulting, and then being left to clean up after the search.

Our point is that not all searches are made in a professional manner, and knowledge of search warrant protocols could prove helpful in your cases.  Do not dismiss these facts. 

Call Cadfael at (763) 694-6086 for additional information and assistance to review search warrants and determine if proper protocols have been utilized to gather and preserve evidence.

--Cadfael.