Community warrants are search warrants used by police and prosecutors to close down neighborhood drug houses. The focus is on the place more than the people inside. However, offenders dealing drugs from the houses will still be arrested and are still fully prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.
The most effective and efficient way to establish the existence of drug trafficking or crime at an identified location is by executing a search warrant. This strategy allows the police to gather evidence of criminal activity that can be used by a landlord to evict a problem tenant or by the city to close the house using the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance (some private homeowners have successfully closed drug houses in Small Claims Court). However, since large amounts of drugs are not usually trafficked in these drug houses, there are insufficient resources to justify intense, time-consuming felony investigations of the criminals involved. This coupled with the fact that that many drug house operators do not sell drugs to police informants, makes obtaining traditional search warrants difficult; and sometimes impossible. These facts led us to involve the community in resolving its own problems by using their observations to establish probable cause for search warrant affidavits. Moreover, neighbors can anonymously tell us how many people come and go and how often, are there street-level hand to hand drug exchanges, do cars drive by slowly, is drug paraphernalia scattered about the house and many, many other indicators of a drug house.
We can easily gather this information. The neighbors are the eyes and ears of the police. Neighbors remain anonymous; we use police officers to corroborate what neighbors’ say (if we can’t corroborate illegal activity, we won’t ask a judge to sign a search warrant).
Any neighbor who lives near a suspected drug house should report it to the police department. If the house is a drug house, the police can facilitate a meeting with a neighbor or neighbors to obtain information for a community warrant. Of course, not all suspected drug houses are drug houses, nor are all drug houses ones where we can corroborate illegal activity. But if you do live near a drug house, we will make every effort to work with you and the police to remove that problem from your neighborhood.