The importance of properly transporting a defendant once detained should never be underestimated. For simplicity I have included my company’s policy for transporting defendants. I believe it does a more than adequate job describing standard transportation policy in regard to safety and liability.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for transporting persons in custody of bail enforcement agents of this company between points of arrest and initial booking.
Transporting prisoners is a potentially dangerous function. Therefore, it is the policy of this private investigation agency to take the precautions necessary while transporting prisoners to protect the lives and safety of officers, the public, and the person in custody.
A. Vehicle Inspection
1. At the beginning and end of each assignment, all vehicles used for defendant transport shall be inspected for readiness as follows:
- A safety screen, if available shall be securely in place and undamaged.
- All windows shall be intact, and outer door latches in proper working order.
- Rear-seat door handles and window controls shall be deactivated with “child safety locks” when available.
- The interior shall be thoroughly searched to ensure that no weapons or contraband have been left behind or hidden within the vehicle.
2. Prior to placing a prisoner in the vehicle for transport, the transporting agent shall inspect the interior for weapons or contraband. The vehicle shall be searched again after the prisoner has been delivered to the detention facility or other destination.
B. Handcuffing/Use of Restraints
1. Investigators shall handcuff (double-locked) all defendants with their hands behind their back and palms facing outward.
2. The agent may handcuff the prisoner with his/her hands in front, or use other appropriate and approved restraining device(s) where the prisoner
- Is in an obvious state of pregnancy,
- Has a physical handicap, or
- Has injuries that could be aggravated by standard handcuffing procedures.
3. Females shall be subject to the same handcuffing and restraint policy as males unless in an obvious state of pregnancy or otherwise exempted by this policy.
4. Investigators may use discretion in handcuffing juveniles but shall use authorized restraints necessary to control unruly or potentially violent juveniles of any age.
5. Prisoners shall not be handcuffed to any part of the vehicle during transport.
6. Additional approved restraint devices may be used to secure a prisoner who violently resists arrest or who manifests mental disorders such that he/she poses a threat to himself or to the public.
7. Agents are prohibited from transporting prisoners who are restrained in a prone position (hogtied).
1. Prior to transport, all prisoners shall be thoroughly searched for any weapons or contraband.
- A protective search should be conducted by an agent of the same sex as the prisoner. Where this is not practical, agents shall strictly adhere to this agency’s policy on searching prisoners of the opposite sex.
- The transporting investigator should search the prisoner regardless of searches that may or may not have been conducted by other agents.
2. Unless accompanied by a female agent, male officers should not normally transport females in custody. Contact local law enforcement.
3. Females shall not be handcuffed to male arrestees and should normally be separated during transport.
4. Juveniles shall not be transported in the same area of a vehicle with adult prisoners.
5. Special precautions shall be employed when transporting high-risk prisoners or prisoners over long distances. In particular:
a. Waist chains should be employed in addition to handcuffs; especially when handcuffed in front.
6. Prior to initiating the transport, the agent shall call the county jail’s communications center with the following information when possible:
a. Arrest location and name of defendant; and
b. Time and mileage readings before and after transport of a female.
7. The officer should use care when assisting a prisoner into the vehicle for transport.
8. Prisoners shall be transported in a manner that allows for constant visual observation. Seating of agents and prisoners should conform to the following:
a. Where the vehicle has a security screen but only one transporting agent, the prisoner shall be placed in the back seat on the right-hand side of the vehicle. When the vehicle is not equipped with a security screen and has only on
e transporting agent, the prisoner shall be placed in the right front seat.
b. When a prisoner is being transported in a two-agent vehicle without a security screen, the prisoner shall be placed in the right rear seat. The second investigator shall sit in the left rear seat behind the driver.
c. Leg restraints shall be used when an investigator believes the prisoner has a potential for violent behavior.
d. One transporting agent should not attempt to transport more than one prisoner in a vehicle without a security barrier, but should request law enforcement assistance.
e. All prisoners shall be secured in the vehicle by proper use of a seat belt.
9. The physical well being of prisoners shall be monitored during transit. Particular attention shall be directed to persons reported or suspected of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or who have a history or propensity for violence.
a. Prisoners who report/display symptoms of serious illness during transit shall be turned over to the nearest law enforcement officer for handling.
b. Escorting investigators shall remain with the defendant at all times unless relieved by other authorized personnel and a custody form obtained.
10. Symptoms or reports of physical or mental illness (such as threats of suicide or psychotic behavior) shall be reported to the booking officer.
11. Any wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetic devices, and medication should be transported with, but not in the possession of, the prisoner.
12. Prisoners shall not be left unattended during transport at anytime.
13. Officers shall not engage in any other activities while transporting prisoners unless failure to act would risk death or serious bodily injury to another. In non-life-threatening yet serious situations, investigators should call for emergency law enforcement assistance and may remain on-hand until such assistance has arrived.
14. Any escape shall be immediately reported to law enforcement authorities together with a complete description of the fugitive, mode and direction of travel, crime, and propensity for violence if known.
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Please note, neither the author or this publication is an attorney nor are they offering legal advice in this article. Please consult your own attorney or legal counsel, should you have questions regarding civil or criminal legal questions and matters.