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  • Law Enforcement Understanding

    I am having a little trouble understanding law enforcement's way of doing things. My husband and I are victims of a crime and the local police, in my opinion, are not doing that much about it.
    In October of last year, someone broke into our house and stole 3 books of checks and proceeded to write checks within 4 different cities for various amounts and to various vendors. We had no idea this was going on, but lucky for me, I balance our checkbook every 3 or 4 days...so we caught it relatively early, although that didn't really stop what was happening, most of the damage had been done over a long holiday weekend.
    I got copies of all of the checks, and had affidavits signed by my husband and distributed them to anyone and everyone who asked for them. On one of the checks was a social security number that was unfamiliar to me. So I did a social search and came up with a name and previous addresses for this individual. All the local police could find out about the number was the state where it was issued. I then proceeded to find someone who knew this person and I interviewed with him. I got the perpertrator's families names, addresses, phone numbers, distinguishing marks, tatoos, nicknames, vehicles driven by him, etc. the individuals sister lived (and still lives) next door to us and her brother had been staying with her for a while. I handed it over to the police and even arranged to have someone who know the person to come in and identify this individual off of video tapes, since my husband and I had watched them and not recognized the person.
    Well, after two months, we finally got a warrant signed for his arrest, but after that length of time, he was no longer next door.
    Now when I ask the police about it, they tell me they are waiting for him to get stopped for a routine traffic offense. I don't understand why they are not activly persuing him, even though I understand it is not a high profile case to the police, it is to us. I have given the police names of his family and friends, and even called them once after the warrant and told him he was next door with his sister. By the time they showed up (35 minutes later) he was again gone.
    Could someone in the law enforcement field explain to me if this is standard practice for executing a warrant?
    Any advice or feedback would be appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Rhonda Koch
    Moorhead, MN

  • #2
    The answer to your question is easy. Manpower.

    There are not enough police to run down each lead as it develops. There are not enough police to serve every warrant as it develops. Most detectives have a caseload that is beyond their control. Most patrol officers are busy running calls for service to actively go out and try to run down a warrant.

    TV has done a great disservice to the police and the public. TV makes it appear like we can solve crime at light speed. Sgt Joe Friday last night on Dragnet solved a multiple murder in less than an hour. He was able to get results from SID at the drop of a hat, he was able to run from one end of town to the other end of town with the greatest of ease. The facts are, everything takes time. Lots of time.

    Then you move the prosecution side of the game. Now your'e talking some real time. I've seen cases come up on traffic court docket that were 4 years old. I've gone to county and district court on cases that were more than 5 years old.

    I don't mean sound critical by this comment, but you got really good service. Forgery is a really low priority crime for the department I work for.

    Yes, it is standard practice for warrants to be served on traffic stops. From my experience,very, very rarely will a detective go out and try to serve an arrest warrant

    [ 03-03-2003, 02:14 PM: Message edited by: Evnings ]
    RADAR is the 8th wonder of the world.

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    • #3
      It is not a lot different up here - USUALLY it is just Billy around the corner, and we can grab him, but even here there are some files that have been sitting on the Police computer for several years, waiting for Jeannie to be stopped and dealt with.

      Unfortunately, your incident ends up being lower on the list of incidents that HAVE to be dealt with immediately, solely due to staffing and work levels. It sounds, though, like once the "client" is found, you have provided your local Police with good evidence in order to convict the "client" with. Good luck.
      #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
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      • #4
        Welcome to the world of white collar crime, where you can totally ruin someone's life and most likely will only get probation.

        In all honesty you're lucky. Most folks who try to "help" end up F'ing the case and either warning the turd off or when we try to talk to him/her they already have a heads-up about what's going on.

        Not satisfied with the level of service? Complain to your city council. But be prepared to have your taxes raised. We all need people and to pay those salaries the cities need more money. My dept is running with almost the same number of people as when I came on 12 years ago.

        Don't get me started on caseloads either. One of the reasons I left detectives was the caseload. Try doing a good, thorough job on a case when it is just one of 60. You just can't do it. It's just not physically possible to follow all the leads, rabbit trails and deadends we find or are given.

        The service of the warrant through a traffic stop is common. About the only times I was out actively trying to serve my warrants was on a warrant round-up or when it was a violent felony, like murder or sexual assault.
        "Trust me. I'm from the government, I'm here to help."

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        • #5
          I'm not sure how law enforcement works up there but you may try contacting the sheriff's department. In KY they are the primary warrant serving agency and in some jurisidictions, like ours, they also take calls for service and work criminal cases. In either case, they may be able to work at getting the warrant served more quickly than the local police department.
          Good luck!

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          • #6
            While forgery warrants dont really take a high priority with us, burglaries usually get more attention at my dept.

            In my dept. your warrant would go to our warrants division, where it would sit for a few days, then it would go out to the patrol shifts who would make an attempt to locate in between calls for service. It would take a while, but it would get served, or we would at least give it a few good attempts. But like Evnings and KenM have said, it all boils down to manpower, and a lack of it.

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            • #7
              Generally, if I have a case such as this where the initial crime (in your case the burglary) was committed in my jurisdiction and the secondary crimes (the forge and utter) were committed within my county, but within city limits, I would go forward with all charges. In most cases, it's easier to pursue the forge and utter rather than the burglary.

              However, that's me. It doesn't have to work that way. In fact, since the crimes or forge and utter happened outside of the city limits of the agency initially working it, it would be up to the agencies that handle the places where each forge and utter took place to investigate and pursue charges.

              Warrants. Since I became an investigator, I no longer serve warrants. It's not that I don't like to, it's because the patrol guys get stats for warrant arrests. I get the stat for the warrant obtained and the cleared case. I'll go with them on the service, but I won't take the credit.

              With that said, here's how our warrant system works. I fill out the affidavit, either send it in or walk in to the State Attorney office for review. It goes before the judge for his signature (if I'm walking it through, I can get it done within hours. If I send it in, also referred to as file, it could take days or even months). It then goes to the clerk's office for entry then to our warrants section. Here's where it gets tricky, and might explain where you're having a hard time...

              If I know that he lives at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, that address goes on the warrant and that address gets entered into NCIC/FCIC. If 1313 Mockingbird Lane is within my jurisdiction, then it will show within my local systes as active and anyone who works the district and zone that he lives in will know about when they do their warrants search prior to shift* (see bottom on this subject).

              If, however, 1313 Mockingbird Lane is within the boundaries of another jurisdiction, it will be up to them to serve it. Unless, of course, you wear green like me and the entire county becomes my playground !

              Now, if service has been attempted at 1313 Mockingbird Lane and his sister says he no longer lives there, she has no idea where he lives and as far as she's concerned she no longer HAS a brother, a notation is made in CJIS (Criminal Justice Information System-where the warranted was entered) that he no longer lives there and left no forwarding address. This will update everything and keep us from going to the wrong address.

              If he starts off with no address, or sometime down the road it's discovered that he has no address of record, then, yes, the best way to get him will be chance contact by someone on the road. This could be a traffic stop, a suspicious person or any type of self intitiated activity or call for service that allows to make contact with him.

              If the judge allows for out of state pickup/extradition, then no matter where he's stopped at, the habeus grabus will be placed upon his person and he will go forthwith to the branch jail to see the judge and be sent back up to the frozen tundra to answer the charges.

              As far as the initial problems go, unfortunately it does all come down to manpower. Up until this year, I was the sole investigator in a district of 16K population and 8 Deputies sending me reports. At the end of last year, I picked up a supervisor. Just last month we picked up another zone (maybe another 5-6K population and 4 more Deputies sending in reports). To answer the extra work we picked up another Investigator. The two of us are handling around 12 cases...these are workable cases. Anything else is sent back to patrol to follow up on because we simply can't afford to spend the time on every one of them. Before I had help, I did it all. Needless to say, many things got pushed to the side so that I could handle the most extreme cases.

              In the end it comes to priorities. our C.I.D. only handles felonies, so persons crimes take initial priority.

              As was also mentioned, Hollywood has made it look like if we can't solve the crime within 60 minutes and 6 commercial breaks, we're a bunch of incompetant boobs. They also make it look as though every ounce of manpower and resources are expended on that one case. That simply doesn't happen. It may on occassion, but not routinely.

              The best way to handle it is to ask. Don't assume or be antagonistic, and by all means don't go by the old "my cousin's best friend's girlfriend's hairdresser's aunt said that the police department is made up worthless idiots who have nothing better to do than write tickets and eat donuts" theory. Just ask questions and be understanding.

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              • #8
                Oh, by the way..thanks for the question and I'm moving this to "Ask a Cop".

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