Have Arrest Warrants Plagued Your Department?

As I work with various agencies, one common piece of office decor I find in every department is a file cabinet jammed full of arrest warrants. Conducting fugitive apprehensions for many years prior to law enforcement, I had the privileged opportunity to work with many seasoned veterans in the bail bond and fugitive apprehension arena. One comment that was made to me came from a bondsman who had a 99% capture rate with his skips. He said, "I always know I am going to catch my guy because I don't leave the office until I know where he is at". Simple in context but deep in thought, I used these words to my advantage as a law enforcement officer, making numerous warrant arrests by conducting a solid preliminary investigation before using up unnecessary mileage on my car, fuel and time which all equate to money our agencies don't have.

Due to a lack of manpower, resources and time, It has been my experience that arrest warrants have long been "swept under the rug" by most law enforcement and seen as of more interest during domestic disputes or traffic stops. Back in May 2004, this topic sparked my interest to conduct my master's research into the number of outstanding warrants in our state. To my revelation, Missouri ranks in the top ten states for the total number of outstanding felony and non-felony warrants, according to federal authorities. The audit indicates that more outstanding arrest warrants could be cleared with better preparation and investigation.

Although it is unrealistic to think that I could educate a fail-proof training regimen in only a few paragraphs, Here are a couple of keys points to think about prior to leaving the station in search of your next arrest warrant.


Always, always, always obtain a recent photo of the person you are attempting to bring in. A few sources to locate a good photo are: booking, license office, bondsmen, Face-book(tm), My-Space(tm), Yahoo(tm), MSN Personals, (tm) etc. Time and time again, I watch as seasoned veterans grab a newly issued warrant, look at the address, drive to the house and knock on the door only to be told the subject is not home or doesn't live there. There is no way for the officer to know what the subject looked like by going off of pedigree information on the warrant or if he was the person that even answered the door. Unless you have arrested this guy numerous times in the past, always take the time to obtain a current photo before heading out.

Solid Address

Check your department's report database. People are often frequent flyers and have been listed as a victim, witness or suspect in other matters. Don't always assume the address on the warrant is correct. Also check with your contacts on the street. They may know who he is running with or where he is staying. Crooks are typically creatures of habit. If you can track back around ten years of the subject's life, you will see patterns in work habits or people with whom he has kept in contact.

Learn as much about your subject as you can. Find out what his habits are and with whom he associates. Any phone numbers or vehicle info from reports and traffic citations, and web searches can also be of assistance to gain information on your subject. Most importantly, don't spend a lot of unnecessary time and money knocking door-to-door looking for this guy. Try networking your resources by phone and with other officers, bondsmen and agencies.

Remember; you will always know you are going to catch your guy because you are not going to leave the office until you know where he is.