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Search and Seizure Policy - Development and Implementation

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 54 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1985) Pages: 13-17
C F Ahlers
Date Published
5 pages
This description of the development and implementation of a police search-and-seizure policy covers the policy goal, preliminary coordination of the policy development, policy research, policy outline, and policy updating.
The goal of a search-and-seizure policy should be to have totally legal searches in 90 percent of the cases. The development of policy and procedures should involve the top executive of the police agency and representatives from the planning and research section; the education and training section; the State or district attorney's office; and the office of law, solicitor's office, or attorney general. Research underlying policy development should focus on the nomenclature of the fourth amendment, the selection of a text that provides a sound analysis of relevant legal principles, and the acquisition of a basic understanding of the fourth amendment. The policy statement might address such issues as a compliance standard, the police officer's status, probable cause, search warrant requirements and serving, stop and frisk, and arrestee search. The policy statement might also cover< automobile searches, evidence in drunk-driving cases, consent, inventory search, post-mortem examinations, wiretapping, and abandoned property. Drafts of the policy statement should be sent to appropriate persons, including field practitioners, for review. The final policy statement should be brief and mandate specific behaviors by agency personnel. The policy should be regularly updated in accordance with court decisions and law changes. Six footnotes are provided.