The dangers officers face while serving warrants

When Officer Copeland tried to serve that warrant -- he embarked on a mission widely regarded as highly dangerous in the law enforcement profession.

Serving warrants can be one of the most dangerous missions police officers embark on, law enforcement experts from across the country told KVUE's Tony Plohetski Tuesday.

San Marcos Police Officer Kenneth Copeland was serving a warrant at a San Marcos subdivision when he was shot multiple times. He later died at a hospital from his wounds.

According to former New York Police Officer and Police expert Tom Verni, while traffic stops are often considered the most dangerous missions for police officers, often times they're more anxious or fearful trying to get someone charged with a crime behind bars.

Verni said such operations often give suspects a so-called home-court advantage.They know the hiding spots and may have easy access to weapons.

Occasionally, those offenders have already refused to comply with police and turn themselves in, and they say these defendants may feel they are desperate and have nothing to lose.

"You don't know if they are armed, you don't know if they have a barking hungry pit bull. You don't know if they themselves are equipped with some sort of self-defense tactics that you aren't aware of. So it is like walking into the unknown that makes this so very unpredictable and very dangerous
to the officers involved," Verni said 

Plohetski's research found that in 2015 and 2016 -- seven officers were killed nationally while serving warrants. That's among 280 total killed in the line of duty. However, none from Texas were killed while serving a warrant. 

Last April, Austin Police Officer James Pittman was shot and injured while he and other officers tried to serve a search warrant at a North-Central Austin home. The suspect, Tyler Harrell, 18, has said he didn't realized the intruders were police.

Verni and other police experts said some officers often do a number of things to decrease the danger when serving warrants at a house.

They try to learn whether the suspect has access to guns, who lives in the home, and may sometimes even try to question people who have been in a home to learn the layout before going inside.

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