• December 28, 2014

Serving warrants always involves risk

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Posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — Serving warrants always has an element of risk involved, and “not all situations are preventable,” Temple police spokesman Cpl. Christopher Wilcox said.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you’re going up to someone’s door,” said Bell County Constable Thomas Prado, who does his share of serving warrants and documents.

Even though the officers try to learn everything they can before serving the warrants, the situations “are very fluid and rapidly evolve as they progress,” Wilcox said.

Law enforcement focuses on tactical training, gathering intelligence and the safe serving of warrants. But even with all the training, planning and tactics, “not all situations are preventable,” he said.

The danger of serving warrants became all too clear in Killeen earlier this month when Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie was fatally shot May 9 while trying to serve a warrant with the SWAT team. He died May 11. Officer Odis Denton was shot in the leg during the incident.

In April 2009, Temple Officer Marlin Reed was shot when the SWAT team tried to serve a narcotics search warrant for marijuana at the Creekside Apartments, Wilcox said. That was the first time the Temple SWAT team was involved in a shooting during a warrant service since the team started in 1989, but they knew they were going out on a “high-risk” search warrant, according to the police report.

Police officers were met with gunfire when they opened the door and announced who they were. Reed was shot in the arm.

Also shot were two suspects — one shot three times in the chest.

High risk

No definition exists for a “high-risk” warrant because all warrant services have some element of risk, Wilcox said. But a warrant can be considered “high risk” based on facts known to the officers, such as the offense, a suspect’s criminal history, history of violence, weapons violations or possession (known or reported) and gang affiliations or those of known associates.

Just because a warrant service may be high risk doesn’t mean it will be a “no-knock” warrant, Wilcox said. He referred to the Cornell University law school’s definition of a “no-knock” warrant.

A no-knock warrant allows police officers to enter certain locations without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose before entering. The warrants are issued to prevent evidence from being destroyed or lesson the risk to police or other individuals.

The shooting in Killeen this month involved a no-knock warrant.

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