FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Bob Parker

Bob Parker

Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.


Covert Entry Search Warrants

Use these warrants to further your investigation without tipping off your target.

July 22, 2011  |  by Alicia Hilton - Also by this author

With this SWAT blog, we'll answer a question proposed in a previous blog, "When a Traditional Search Warrant May Not Be the Best Choice."

We'll review the potential outcomes of immediately executing a traditional search warrant, discuss an interesting development in search and seizure law, and explain how these changes in the law have given officers a legal tool that will help them to solve complex cases like our scenario. 

Why executing a traditional search warrant is not the best choice:

If a magistrate authorizes a traditional search warrant of Armen's residence, and you execute that search warrant, Armen will know that he's the target of an investigation, even if no one is at the residence when the search is conducted, and no one sees the officers enter or leave the premises. How will Armen find out about the search?

Traditional search warrants have a notification requirement. Officers who execute a traditional search warrant must provide an immediate return on the results of a search. A return is a document that notifies the subject of a search that the search was conducted. The document must disclose whether evidence was taken during the search and what evidence was taken.

Once Armen realizes he's the target of an investigation, Armen may destroy evidence you failed to discover in your search. Armen may flee the jurisdiction. Armen may threaten or harm potential witnesses. He also may tip off his co-conspirators. These associates may destroy evidence, flee the jurisdiction, harass or kill potential witnesses, or otherwise jeopardize your investigation.

Surveillances and information from informants won't get you the information you need:

Officers have failed to infiltrate Armen's social circle and make contacts with his business associates because Armen has no known contacts outside the Armenian community and speaks only Armenian. None of your informants have gotten close to Armen.

You won't get all the evidence you need to uncover the scope of Armen's crimes and to bust Armen's associates unless you get inside his residence.  You'll need to check his e-mail and other computer data, look for photos, for bank statements and other investment records, and for other incriminating evidence.

Is there a legal tool that can help you get the evidence you need? Yes. It's called a covert entry search warrant.

Covert Entry Search Warrants and the USA Patriot Act

Some officers mistakenly believe that the USA Patriot Act only assists law enforcement officers who are conducting terrorism investigations. That's not true. The Patriot Act added many different provisions to the U.S. Code, and some of these provisions apply to criminal investigations that are not terrorism-related. One of these provisions, 18 U.S.C. §3103a, provides statutory authority to use covert entry search warrants.

What's a covert entry search warrant and how would you get one?

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Police Prevented Trump Protests in Anaheim From Veering Out of Control
Officers were deployed on foot and in patrol, motor and mounted units — and even in the...
Beloved California K-9 Bruno Dies
Before he died, Bruno — the iconic Anaheim (CA) Police Department K-9 who became...
Ban President Obama from National Police Week
Those chosen to speak will be people of prominence and influence and their words will have...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine