Protective Sweep Law & Legal Definition


During the arrest of a suspect in his residence officers may always do a type of search called a "protective sweep" of the area immediately around the arrestee, and the path, walk or hallways directly to and from him and the entrance to the residence. The purpose of a protective sweep is to ensure the security of law enforcement officers. The protective sweep must be limited to a cursory inspection of places where a person may hide, and last no longer than is necessary to dispel the reasonable suspicion of danger.

A full protective sweep of the entire house may be done only with justification. That is, that there are articulable facts that, together with the rational inferences an officer could draw from them, would warrant a reasonably prudent officer in believing that there reasonably may be someone in the house who poses a danger to the officers. If a full sweep is made, officers must be prepared to justify the reasons for it.