“Training and Experience”

The Washington Post publishes an in-depth examination of search warrant procedure in Washington DC that argues warrants based solely on officers’ “training and experience” were ineffective – that is, the police discovered nothing illegal – 40% of the time. In comparison, warrants for which police do more investigative work appeared to bring better results.

Attorney Alec Karakatsanis, of the nonprofit group D.C.-based Equal Justice Under Law, said warrants that rely on training and experience as justification for a search subject the black community to abusive police intrusion based on flimsy investigative work. In the past two years, he has filed seven civil rights lawsuits in federal court challenging D.C. police’s practice of seeking search warrants based solely on an officer’s training and experience.

“They have turned any arrest anywhere in the city into an automatic search of a home, and that simply cannot be,” said Karakatsanis, who spent three years studying the issue, starting when he worked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. “It would work a fundamental change in the balance of power in our society between government agents and individual rights.”

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