A Midwest drug raid confirmed the wisdom of the adage, “Look before you touch” and surfaced a couple of hidden dangers that serve as reminders to stay alert for dangers from above and below when searching a home or other location. Here’s what happened:
Serving a search warrant at the home of a repeat offender suspected of dealing prescription drugs, officers initially encountered a rather conventionally barricaded front door. A metal pole capped with rubber tips at each end was braced between the back of the windowless, steel insulated door and the wall of a small entryway so the door wouldn’t open in. It took officers considerable effort to batter and bend the door to a point where they could climb in.
The back door was even more fortified. Several 1×4 oak planks had been laid across the door and wedged into the framing. It was then shimmed to further seal it in place. Clearly this guy was alert to the fact that someone trying to break into his house, including the police, was a distinct possibility.
Inside the house, though, were the real hidden dangers. In a bedroom, a closet door had been opened back against a window. Two pieces of metal had been stretched across from the top of the door to the top of the window frame and then piled with pieces of angle iron, pipe and a hammer. If the door was pulled shut to look behind it or an officer came in through the window and pushed the door closed while climbing in, the heavy load would come crashing down on your head. Fortunately, officers were tactically savvy enough to look up before moving the door, so no one was injured.
In the kitchen, in a bathroom and in the family room, searchers found other booby traps. Someone had taken small pieces of cardboard, poked razor blades through them, then duct-taped the cardboard to the undersides of the sinks, a vanity and entertainment center cabinets. If officers ran their hands underneath those areas looking for contraband – before looking – their fingers would slide right over the razorblade edges. Thankfully, the searching officers again demonstrated outstanding tactical acumen and took the time to look under these surfaces and use their eyes before their hands.