May 29, 2024

Search warrants to be left out

Administrative search warrants are no longer being incorporated into Creston code, as decided by Creston City Council during a work session last Tuesday. Instead, they’ll be focusing on municipal infractions as suggested by new city attorney, Brick-Gentry PC.

“The civil infraction is just a citation sent into the magistrate,” Police Chief Paul Ver Meer said. “The magistrate, if they’re found guilty, can say you have 10 days to satisfy the requests of the city. If it take more than that time, it could change to $750 per day that they don’t comply.”

Going along the municipal infraction route doesn’t mean administrative search warrants are being completely ignored. While the council does not plan to add it to the city ordinance, it is still usable by the city due to its inclusion in the Iowa state code.

“Administrative warrants, in my understanding, are authorized by both local and state law,” City Adminstrator Mike Taylor said. “We would have the right to use the administrative search warrants if we needed to.”

Councilmember Jocelyn Blazek said there are some misconceptions in the public on what administrative search warrants are actually about.

“I think the biggest misconception of the public is that they think we’re doing something new and different when actually it’s already legal under state code,” Blazek said. “I don’t think they understand that we can still do this because it is OK under Iowa code. We don’t necessarily have to have it in our code to use it.”

However, just because the search warrant is an option doesn’t mean it will be used often.

“If you’ve exhausted all your other options through municipal infractions and everything else, clearly there’s a pretty serious problem and a normal person isn’t going to go through all that,” councilmember Martin Graham said. “If they don’t comply then you can go back to a judge and say, they’re not complying with anything, and then you can get the search warrant.”

Councilmember Kiki Scarberry explained administrative search warrants are much like criminal search warrants.

“No, I don’t want someone to come into my house under an administrative search warrant. But, if I’m doing something illegal, the cops can come into my house too,” Scarberry said. “When I talk to people about this, they’re not so upset about it. The comments I get back are, ‘it’s never going to pertain to me, because I’m not going to have this terrible building and not take care of my stuff.’”

Blazek said also like criminal search warrants, administrative search warrants must be issued by a judge.

As part of a work session, no action was taken. The council plans to bring the topic up at the next meeting on May 21.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.