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Handcuff Key Found in Back of Patrol Vehicle after Inmate Transport

Event Summary

 

I was taking everything out of my pockets after a day of work. I realized that the pen-shaped handcuff key I carry in my pocket was missing. I was not sure where or when I had lost it. I bought a new one and did not think much of it. About a week later, I responded to assist a deputy with a K-9 track on a DV/warrant arrest. The suspect was located, and I ended up transporting the prisoner to the jail. When leaving the jail, I did an inspection of the back-seat area of my patrol vehicle. On the floor board at the feet of where my prisoner had been sitting, I found my handcuff key.

 

Lessons Learned

 
  • Always conduct a search of your vehicle at the beginning of your shift and after transporting a prisoner. Agencies should ensure that officers are trained and required by policy to do so.
  • Thoroughly search your vehicle after losing equipment.
  • Officers should attempt to conduct a cursory search of their vehicle, when safely possible, before placing a prisoner in the vehicle.
Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):

I would conduct a search of my vehicle after losing equipment, and I would perform a cursory search of the vehicle before placing the prisoner in the back seat.

 
Full Report

Handcuff Key Found in Back of Patrol Vehicle after Inmate Transport

 

 

Employer Information
 

Type of law enforcement agency: Sheriff’s Office – Full Service

 

Involved Person Info
 

Role: First-Line Supervisor

Years of experience in law enforcement: Greater than 15

 

Incident Information
 

Type of call / Reason for response: Suspect Transport

Incident Initiated by: Equipment Issue

Date: December 2016

Please classify this incident (Check all that apply): Almost resulted in serious injury or death

How many officers were on the scene at the time of the near miss or incident? 1

Describe your initial assessment or impression of the call or scene:

I should have done an inspection of the vehicle after the key was initially lost.

Incident Summary:

I was taking all the stuff out of my pockets after a day of work. I realized that the pen shaped handcuff key I carry in my pocket was missing. I was not sure where or when I had lost it. I bought a new one and did not think much of it. About a week later, I responded to assist a deputy with a K-9 track on a DV/warrant arrest. The suspect was located, and I ended up transporting the prisoner to the jail. When leaving the jail, I did an inspection of the back-seat area of my patrol vehicle. On the floor board at the feet of where my prisoner had been sitting, I found my handcuff key.

Describe how the incident escalated/risk increased:

I later assumed that as I was removing my seatbelt, it had likely gotten caught on the handcuff key, and the key had fallen onto the floor of my vehicle. During the weeks it was in my vehicle, it had finally rolled to the back of my car. By not searching the vehicle when I initially lost the key, I created the risk of a prisoner getting a hold of the key while being transported. I also should have done a cursory search of the vehicle before transporting the prisoner. Luckily the prisoner did not find the key and no one was hurt.

 

Location Information
 

What type of location was this? Patrol Vehicle

 

Lessons Learned
 

Please describe what type of accident or incident was averted:

The suspect potentially could have gotten a hold of my handcuff key and escaped or assaulted me.

What were the contributing factors that almost led to or did lead to serious injury or death?

  • Self-discipline
  • Equipment issue
  • Complacency

Describe the lessons learned:

  • Always conduct a search of your vehicle at the beginning of your shift and after transporting a prisoner. Agencies should ensure that officers are trained and required by policy to do so.
  • Thoroughly search your vehicle after losing equipment.
  • Officers should attempt to conduct a cursory search of their vehicle, when safely possible, before placing a prisoner in the vehicle.

Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):

I would conduct a search of my vehicle after losing equipment, and I would perform a cursory search of the vehicle before placing the prisoner in the back seat.



How relevant are the lessons learned in this incident to you and/or your agency?
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