Initial Pat-Down Search in the Jail
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for those who work in custody facilities. It deals with conducting pat-down searches as arrestees enter your facility.
The point, my friends, is this: Don’t ever rely on the “search incident to arrest” by the arresting or transporting officer.
Folks, I’ve studied tragedies for many decades. If you’re familiar with my work, you know I talk about proximate and root causes. Proximate causes are the immediate circumstances that contribute to the tragedy. Root causes are the factors that truly cause the event. Root causes are just as important – if not more so – as proximate causes.
Consider the fatal shooting of a detention deputy inside a Midwest jail last year. An arrestee was brought into the county jail for booking. He had a handgun concealed on his person. While he was being processed for housing, he shot and killed the detention deputy.
The proximate cause of this line-of-duty death is an arrestee concealing a weapon. But the root cause is failing to conduct a pat-down search on the arrestee when he entered the facility. As a result, he was able to harbor the gun while moving through the booking process.
The point, my friends, is this: Don’t ever rely on the “search incident to arrest” by the arresting or transporting officer. Don’t ever believe, “He’s good, I searched him on the street.” That’s not a knock on my law enforcement brothers and sisters. But corrections staff conduct dozens and dozens of pat-down searches every day. You’re pretty good at it. And you just might find something a patrol officer missed.
Conduct thorough pat-down searches of all arrestees immediately after they enter your facility. Don’t wait. Don’t put them in a holding cell or accept custody of them until they’ve been searched by your receiving staff. Without exception, this should be your agency’s policy. Resolve all doubt. Conduct the search every time.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.