[Ed.note: This article reviews a court case (US v. White) that is related to protective sweeps. The case is not yet decided, and would not be binding on all jurisdictions. However, it is a case that would likely be persuasive in other courts. Regardless, the events in the case are likely to happen in all jurisdictions, and by examining the case now, we might be able to make good decisions when faced with similar circumstances in the future. As with all of our articles, this is not legal advice, and you should refer to your department’s standard operating procedures and legal counsel for guidance.]
Making an arrest is one of the most dangerous situations for a law enforcement officer, and was the leading circumstance during which officers were feloniously killed in 2012. Courts have recognized the real danger associated with arrests to officers, and often provide officers a wide latitude of authority to search arrested suspects. However the extent of the area that can be extended for a protective sweep has remained in the gray area.