'Good Time Had by All': Regulating Police Use of Flash-Bang Grenades in the Execution of Search Warrants
30 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 18, 2017
“BIG TIME FUN!! LOTS OF BROKEN GLASS, BAD GUY JUMPED ON THE FLASHBANG, GOOD TIME HAD BY ALL.”
This is the content of a text message sent by an officer who had just executed a search warrant in U.S. v. Ankeny. While there was no finding of abuse in this specific case, the text message is indicative of the underlying problems with police use of flash-bang grenades in the execution of search warrants. Injuries stemming from police usage of such devices have become increasingly more common over the last few decades and flash-bang usage has led to severe injuries to suspects, innocent third parties (including children), and in some cases it has even led to death.
This comment will argue for judicial oversight in police authority to use flash-bang grenades. By tying authorization to use flash-bangs to the warrant application process, the judiciary will be able to put a check on the discretionary use of flash-bangs and provide a detached, neutral eye to judge the reasonableness of such use. Judicial approval will also serve to indemnify officers should a subsequent civil suit be brought, allowing the judicially authorized deployment of a flash-bang to be given great deference in the court’s review.
At a time in which concern about police abuse and violence has risen to the forefront of the collective American conscience, small measures ensuring the protection of the public from unnecessary police tactics will help mend the gap of trust that has widened between officers and those whom they are charged to protect.
Keywords: Fourth Amendment, Criminal Law, Unreasonable Searches, flash-bangs
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