Serving warrants can be a high risk assignment for police officers

Serving warrants is risky for law enforcement because when an officer pulls up to any house in any neighborhood they’re bringing bad news. (CBS Austin)

San Marcos police officer Ken Copeland was in the process of serving an outstanding warrant to a 51-year-old disabled veteran when he was killed in the El Camino Real subdivision. Stewart Mettz has three outstanding warrants for injury to the elderly and family violence. It was the officer’s day off, but he volunteered to help out for what can be a very dangerous part of his job.

Serving warrants is risky because when an officer pulls up to any house in any neighborhood they’re bringing bad news. An officer might have divorce papers, an eviction notice or a felony arrest warrant and none of it is going to be well received.

“You're the purveyor of bad news,” said Charley Wilkison, Executive Director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).

The Texas Peace Officers’ Monument sits on the grounds of the Capitol and is etched with the names of fallen heroes.

“Over 2,000 names are now on the wall,” said Wilkison.

The next name engraved on the monument will be that of Officer Ken Copeland.

“It's a very violent state,” said Wilkison. “Texas has lost the most officers in the line of duty of any state in the United States.”

Officer Copeland was serving an arrest warrant at a San Marcos home when he was shot and killed on Monday.

“Serving warrants can be a very dangerous situation,” said Chief Deputy John Sisson. “A lot of times people just don't want to go to jail.”

Sisson has served warrants for forty years.

“You just don't know what's behind that door,” said Sisson.

The Chief Deputy in Travis County Precinct 3 says there's a long check list of safety measures designed to keep officers safe.

“You do a threat assessment on the house and the individual to see what kind of danger, what kind of threat there is,” said Sisson. “When you pull up to the house you park past the house so they don't see your police car. And, when you knock on the door you don't stand in front of the door you try to stand on the side of it.”

But even when officers follow every rule, serving warrants is always a high risk assignment.

“It's unpredictable,” said Sisson.

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