Don’t always believe what you see on television.
I’ve heard it, and said it, for years. But recently, something happened that made me reconsider whether I’ve actually adhered to this tidbit of advice.
On Thursday morning, I woke up, rolled over, opened my eyes and looked straight down the barrel of a gun.
“LAPD! Put your hands over your head and get up now!” an officer screamed at me, while never lowering his pistol.
You see, my girlfriend’s father was arrested Thursday morning at his office for a wide range of charges, including foreclosure fraud, equity skimming, forgery and conspiracy. The search warrant involved his offices, his vehicles and our home.
Shaking from fright, I was ushered out onto the front lawn.
“What’s going on? Why are you here?” I asked the officers.
“Shut up, we’re here to search the house. We have a warrant,” the officer to my left replied.
“Show me the warrant. You’re required to show me the warrant,” I told them, drawing on my vast knowledge of police procedure, most of which stemmed from watching too many hours of police dramas.
“No, we don’t have to show you anything.
Now be quiet or we’ll handcuff you and put you in the back of the car until we’re done,” the officer said. And he meant it, too.
Sure that they were in violation of police protocol, my head filled with thoughts of contacting lawyers and filing complaints about the improper methods being used by these officers.
But all of that came from the television.
According to Capt. George Mueller of the LAPD’s fraud and corruption unit, officers conducting a search are not required to give you a copy of the warrant. They don’t even have to show it to you right away, he said.
And they don’t ever have to tell you why they’re searching your home.
What they are required to do is to leave a list of any items they are removing from the house, and to, at your request, show you the warrant before they leave, according to Capt. Mueller, which they did.
And the warrant will tell you what they’re looking for, but not why. They don’t ever have to tell you why.
The television fooled me again.