TO PROTECT WITH COURAGE

TO SERVE WITH COMPASSION

9-200 Search and Seizure

I. PURPOSE

To provide employees with legal guidance in order to conduct lawful searches and seizures.

The term "officer" is used generically in this document and does not assume a level of rank, such as Patrol Officer. It includes all applicable sworn and non-sworn personnel.

II. POLICY

Minneapolis Police Department employees shall conduct searches in as minimally intrusive a manner as possible, adhere to all MPD policies and to the rights given to persons under the United States Constitution and the Minnesota State Constitution.

Minneapolis Police Department employees shall be responsible for understanding and performing assigned duties in accordance with the MPD’s Search and Seizure Policy and the guidelines set forth in the Minneapolis Police Department Search and Seizure Guide and Training Manual, and it is hereby incorporated by reference.

III. PROCEDURES / RULES / REGULATIONS

A. Searching People

  1. A full search of a person is not justified with reasonable suspicion; it requires probable cause or other condition outlined below. Officers can legally search people without a warrant in the following circumstances:
    1. Probable Cause;
    2. Search Incident to Arrest;
    3. Medical Emergency/Life-Saving;
    4. Plain View;
    5. Consent Search.
  2. Searching an Arrestee’s Property:
    1. A custodial arrestee’s property (purse, backpack, etc.) shall be searched prior to arrival at any jail, detention center, chemical testing unit, or investigative unit.
    2. A non-custodial arrestee’s property is not subject to search without consent unless reasonable articulable suspicion exists to believe that the individual is engaged in other criminal activity and the personal property may contain a weapon.
    3. Items property inventoried will be searched according to protocol set forth by the Property and Evidence Unit.
  3. Searching Persons of the Opposite Sex
    1. When practical, persons should be searched by an officer of the same gender if such an officer is on the scene or can arrive within a reasonable period of time. If the gender of the person to be searched is in question, officers shall ask the person to identify their gender before proceeding with the search.
    2. Prior to the execution of an arrest or search warrant, where a female officer is likely to be needed, a female officer shall be included in the operation if possible.
    3. A strip search shall be conducted and witnessed by at least two officers of the same gender as the person being searched.
  4. Strip Searches
    1. A strip search includes the removal or rearrangement of clothing to permit the visual or manual inspection of any skin surfaces of a person’s genitals, buttocks, anus or female breasts.
    2. Strip Searches may be conducted only in the following circumstances:
      • Officers have probable cause to believe that evidence, or contraband exists and will be destroyed or lost in the absence of an immediate strip search; or  
      • Officers have probable cause to believe that an immediate search is necessary to prevent imminent danger to the suspect, officer or others.
    3. The following procedure shall be followed when conducting a strip search, whether the person has been arrested or not:
      1. Supervisory approval shall be obtained before conducting a strip search. Such approval shall only be given after an on-scene assessment by the supervisor.
      2. The supervisor shall be present when the search is conducted unless precluded from doing so by the issue of gender. 
        • If the supervisor who authorized the strip search is prohibited from being present, a supervisor of the same sex as the person to be searched should be present when the search is conducted.
        • If it is not reasonable or possible to have a supervisor of the same sex witness the strip search, the supervisor shall ensure that at least two officers of the same sex conduct/witness the search.
      3. The search shall be performed in a location that affords the suspect privacy from persons not involved in the search.  Officers shall be aware that strip searches conducted in the field could require extraordinary measures to ensure the suspect’s privacy.
      4. The supervisor authorizing the strip search shall complete a CAPRS supplement articulating why the search was justified and necessary. The supplement will also explain:
        • Which officers conducted the search;
        • Which officers were present for the search;
        • Where the search was conducted; and
        • How the search was conducted.
      5. Nothing stated in this policy shall preclude an officer from immediately recovering a weapon if the officer can articulate that any delay would cause imminent danger to the safety of the officer or others.
      6. vi. Nothing stated in this policy shall preclude an officer from collecting a urine sample for evidentiary purposes (e.g. DWI).
  5. Body Cavity Searches
    1. A body cavity search is a search that goes beyond visual or manual inspection of skin surfaces, so that it involves internal physical examination of body cavities, and in some instances, organs such as the stomach.
    2. With the exception of the mouth, body cavity searches shall only be performed by medical personnel, in a medical facility, pursuant to a search warrant or court order.
    3. Exigent circumstances such as the suspect placing illegal narcotics or contraband into their mouth does not require obtaining a search warrant or court order.
    4. Minimal physical force (which includes low control options such as joint manipulation, pressure points and verbal directions) may be used to recover suspected narcotics from a suspect’s mouth. Force used shall not include any strikes or any type of force which restricts breathing or blood flow in the neck.
  6. Searching People – Documentation
    1. Terry Stops (Investigative Detentions), Terry Frisks, and searches (to include consent searches) must be justified under the law. Officers must be able to provide the justification for any frisk(s) and/or search(es) conducted.
    2. Absent exigent circumstances, officers are responsible for knowing certain facts, to include: the name of the person encountered, as well as the probable cause which served as the basis for the officer’s actions.
    3. Documentation should be made via added remarks to the call in CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) or by another method, unless a CAPRS report and supplement is required.
    4. A strip search of a person always requires a CAPRS report and supplement. All officers who witness and/or conduct a strip search shall complete a supplement.

B. Searching Vehicles

  1. Officers can legally search a vehicle in the following circumstances:
    1. Plain View;
    2. Medical Emergency/Life-Saving;
    3. Probable Cause;
    4. Protective Weapons Sweep;
    5. Search Incident to Custodial Arrest;
    6. Inventory Search;
    7. Consent Search;
  2. Searching Vehicles – Documentation
    1. If the search of a vehicle results in an arrest or seizure of evidence or contraband, a CAPRS report and supplement shall be completed and the officer must articulate in his/her supplement the legal justification for the search. The supplement shall contain all pertinent information concerning the search including:
      1. Legal justification for the search;
      2. Results of the search;
      3. Any damages that occurred;
      4. Officers who conducted the search; and
      5. The name and date of birth of the consenting person (if applicable).
    2. If damage to property was caused during the course of a search and/or resulting seizure:
      1. A supervisor shall be notified;
      2. Photographs shall be taken and property inventoried to document any known damages.
    3. If the search of a vehicle does not result in an arrest, property damage or seizure of evidence or contraband, the fact that a search occurred and the legal justification for it should be documented via added remarks to the call in CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) or by another method.

C. Searching Dwellings and Buildings

  1. A search warrant is always required to search dwellings and non-public areas of buildings, absent consent or exigent circumstances. Without a search warrant, officers may legally search a dwelling or building in the following circumstances:
    1. Hot Pursuit;
    2. Protect and Preserve Life;
    3. To Prevent the Destruction of Evidence;
    4. Serving an Arrest Warrant;
    5. Consent Search;
  2. Searching Dwellings and Buildings – Documentation
    1. If the search of a building/dwelling results in an arrest or seizure of evidence or contraband, a CAPRS report and supplement shall be completed and the officer must articulate in his/her statement the legal justification for the search. The supplement shall contain all pertinent information concerning the search including:
      1. Legal justification for the entry/search;
      2. Results of the search;
      3. Any injuries that occurred;
      4. Any property damages that occurred;
      5. Officers who entered the property; and
      6. vi. The name and date of birth of the consenting person (if applicable) and their relationship to the property searched.
    2. If the search of a building/dwelling does not result in an arrest, property damage or seizure of evidence or contraband, the fact that a search occurred and the legal justification for it should be documented via added remarks to the call in CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) or by another method.
    3. Officers assigned to a search warrant shall complete a supplement stating their assignment and actions taken if they were responsible for:
      • Using force to subdue or detain individuals;
      • Causing damage;
      • Locating, recovering or documenting evidence; or
      • When directed by a supervisor.
    4. If damage to property or occurs during the course of a search and/or the resulting arrest or property seizure:
      • A supervisor shall be notified;
      • Photographs taken to document any known damages.

        Note: If entry for a search is made forcibly to windows or interior or exterior doors, the report shall be additionally titled FENTRY.
    5. When applicable, officers shall property inventory:
      • Photographs documenting damages;
      • Consent to Search form; and/or
      • Audio and/or video recording of consent granted.

Last updated May 15, 2013