Sunday, October 4, 2009

Searching prisoners. A basic rule.

"Search your prisoner". This simple instruction is taught at every police academy in the world. This simple sentence is printed on signs in police lockup facilities everywhere. It is repeated almost daily at roll calls and by field training officers to their recruits. You know coppers though, the most basic safety measure there is and they neglect to do it.

Turnkeys everywhere complain about finding contraband of all kinds on prisoners already inside the holding facility. Besides drugs, knives, razor blades, scissors, nail files, and even small guns are confiscated in lockups. The officers assigned to the holding facilities rightfully get angry at the street officers who endanger their safety. The officers, who allow the contraband to get past them, are sternly disciplined, as they should be.

There are stories.

Driving past a subway station, a copper is flagged down by a man bleeding from a gash in his face. The man asks to be taken to the hospital. "Somebody tried to rob me", was his story.
The copper opened his rear door. The man started to climb in. "Wait a second " the officer said and opened the mans coat. The butt of a pistol was sticking out of the inside pocket. The officer grabbed the butt as the man pulled away. The gun came out in the coppers hand. Thinking quickly, the copper flicked the safety off and confronted the man with his own gun. When assisting cars arrived, the investigation revealed the man had tried to stickup some one with a bigger gun and got cracked in the face for his efforts. A victim is not always the good guy. Big city coppers have a saying, "Today's victim. Tomorrow's offender." Never put someone behind you without knowing who it is.

In another instance officers assigned to the wagon were transporting prisoners from a drug raid. The wagon man began to pat down a man before putting him into the truck. A "Tac" officer, (tactical, plain clothes) said "he's been searched already." The wise wagon man said "right" as he pulled a snub nosed pistol from the mans front pants pocket. The tac man sheepishly reached out for the gun. The copper said "I'll meet you at the station." When the wagon door was opened at the station, all five prisoners had slipped the cuffs from the back to the front. The man would have easily pulled the gun from his front pocket. A deadly tragedy was averted.

Sadly, two plain clothes tactical officers in another district, didn't fare so well. The "snitch", they put in the back seat, hid a gun in his boot and shot both coppers in the back of the head. One was killed instantly. The other copper lingered for a few hours before he too died.

Is it laziness? Do officers feel so immortal they overlook danger? Coppers can't afford to assume the other guy searched already. Search your prisoners yourself if you're unsure. Search anyone you don't trust. Police can do a pat down for weapons of any one they have a reasonable suspicion about. Every officer wants to go home with the minimum of blood loss. It may save someone's life. Maybe yours.


  1. Keep safe and keep spreading the word.

    Nice to have met you at Corner Bakery the other morning. I enjoyed sharing titles of books to check out, especially the Gary Jennings Marco polo suggestion. I plan to get that soon.

    Take care and keep safe,

  2. Denise A.

    Thanks for suggesting the Great books Website. I'm adding it to my favorites.



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