Definitions of terms common to law enforcement are posted on this page.

Glossary of Terms

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Acronym for “arrested person.”
Authority is the statutory or policy-vested right to give commands, enforce obedience, initiate action, and make necessary decisions. Authority may be delegated by those so designated. Acts performed without proper authority or authorization shall be considered in violation of this manual, and those persons in violation shall be subject to disciplinary action.
A beat is a designation for the specific territorial assignment or district of a Patrol Division officer.
Blue Sheet
Blue Sheet is an Emergency Application for Involuntary Commitment with Certification form completed by a responsible person and certified by a licensed physician or Designated Examiner requesting temporary commitment of a person. (DSA&MH Form34-1)
A bureau is a fundamental element of the Department composed of two or more divisions or units under the command of an Assistant Chief.
Chain of Command
The chain of command is the hierarchical arrangement of positions or offices within this Department by level of duty or responsibility. This establishes vertical authority by relationships in which each level is distinguished from all others by specific title, rank, or other special designation.
Command Span of Control
Command Span of Control is the exercise of authority by ranking employees over their subordinates and those for which they are not directly accountable. This pertains to those duties and responsibilities for which the employee is held accountable as prescribed by Department Policy.
Command Staff
Command Staff are those staff members of the rank of lieutenant or above, or other designated employees who are responsible or directly accountable for the proper functions of a bureau, division, unit, or watch.
Voluntary agreement by a person in the possession and exercise of sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent choice to do something proposed by another. Consent is implied in every agreement.
Consent Search
A search made by police after the subject of the search has consented; such consent if freely and intelligently given will validate a warrantless search. Consent is not freely and voluntarily given in the face of even lawful coercion.
Constructive Possession
A person has constructive possession of property if he has power to control and intent to control such item. It exists where one does not have physical custody or possession, but is in a position to exercise dominion or control over a thing.
Property unlawful to possess.
Any land or building immediately adjacent to a dwelling, and usually it is enclosed some way by a fence or shrubs. Curtilage for search and seizure purposes, includes those outbuildings which are directly and intimately connected with the habitation and in proximity thereto and the land or grounds surrounding the dwelling which are necessary and convenient and habitually used for family purposes and carrying on domestic employment.
Department designates this police agency, which is responsible for all functions. It is known as the Salt Lake City Police Department and its chief executive reports directly to the Office of the Mayor of Salt Lake City.
Dependent Child
A dependent child includes a minor who is homeless or without proper care through no fault of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.
Designated Examiner
A physician or another mental health professional designated as such by the Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health.
Diplomatic Agents
Ambassadors and other diplomatic officers who generally have the function of dealing directly with the host country.
Diplomatic Immunity
Immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the host country.
A functional division of the Department composed of two or more units commanded by a captain.
Acronym for “date of birth.”
Duty, Tour of
A tour of duty shall extend from the time employees are required to report for work until the time the tour is over.
The sealing or destruction of a criminal record, including records of the investigation, arrest, detention, or conviction of the petitioner.
Evidentiary Property
Property relevant to a crime.
Exclusionary Rule
A court rule that states where evidence has been obtained in violation of the search and seizure protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the illegally obtained evidence cannot be used at the trial of the defendant.
Exigent Circumstances
Situations that demand unusual or immediate action.  Exigent circumstances in relation to justification for warrantless arrest or search refers generally to those situations in which law enforcement agents will be unable or unlikely to effectuate an arrest, search or seizure for which probable cause exists unless they act swiftly and without seeking prior judicial authorization.

An exception to the rule requiring a search warrant is the presence of exigent or emergency-like circumstances, which permit warrantless search and seizure.

Where there are exigent circumstances in which police action literally must be “now or never” to preserve the evidence of the crime, it is reasonable to permit action without prior judicial evaluation.

Fruits of a Crime
Property stolen or embezzled, or that which is obtained or acquired as a consequence of the crime.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
Evidence which is spawned by or directly derived from an illegal search or illegal interrogation is generally inadmissible against the defendant because of its original taint, though knowledge of facts gained independently of the original and tainted search is admissible.
General Search Warrant
Is one which fails to sufficiently specify place or person to be searched or things to be seized and is illegal as authorizing a random or blanket search in the sole discretion of police.
Good Faith Exceptions
To the Exclusionary Rule provides that evidence is not to be suppressed where that evidence was discovered by officers acting in good faith and in reasonable, though mistaken, belief that they were authorized to take those actions.
An acronym that stands for Government Records Access and Management Act, the state law governing public access to records. For information on how to file a GRAMA request with SLCPD, click here.
Illegally Obtained Evidence
Evidence which is obtained in violation of defendant’s rights because officers had no warrant and no probable cause to arrest or because the warrant was defective and no valid grounds existed for seizure without a warrant.
Incident Commander
The person, regardless of rank, in overall control of an incident. The Incident Commander is responsible for managing all incident operations.
Incident to Arrest
A search can be “incident to arrest” only if it is substantially contemporaneous with the arrest and is confined to the immediate vicinity of the arrest.
Any person who furnishes information regarding drug trafficking or performs an investigative activity with a reasonable expectation of confidentiality under the direction and control of a Salt Lake City Police officer or supervisor.
Inventory Search
An inventory search is not an independent legal concept but rather an incidental administrative step following arrest and preceding incarceration.

An inventory search provides the following:

  • Protection of the owner’s property
  • Protection against false claims
  • Protection from dangerous items
A juvenile is a person of less than 18 years-of-age, or any other person under the continued jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. The term “child” is used interchangeably with the term “juvenile” in this section.
Knock and Announce
A rule for execution of arrest and search warrants requires that police knock and announce their authority and purpose before entering into a home. A peace officer can break the door of a house to effect arrest only after first stating his authority and purpose for demanding admission. The officer may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house, or any part of a house, or anything therein, to execute a search warrant, if, after notice of his authority and purpose, he is refused admittance or when necessary to liberate himself or a person aiding him in the execution of the warrant.
Mechanic’s Lien
A claim created by statute for the purpose of securing payment of the price or value of work performed and materials furnished.
Mental Health Related Call
An incident requiring police intervention that involves a mentally ill person in crisis or involves a mental health issue.
Neglected Child
Neglected children are those whose parent, guardian, or custodian has abandoned them or has subjected them to mistreatment or abuse; or who lacks proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of the parent, guardian, or custodian; or whose parent, guardian, or custodian fails or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, or medical care, including surgery or psychiatric services when required, or any other care necessary for their health, morals, or well-being; or who are at risk of being neglected or abused because another minor in the same home is a neglected or abused child.
Officer, Police
Police officers are employees of the Department who are designated as such by virtue of their oath of office, and are charged to carry out the responsibilities and duties prescribed to them by statute, ordinance, and policy. (Ref. 30-1-21 City Ordinance)
Official Acts of Immunity
Embassy:The business office of a foreign government located in Washington, D.C.  Also serves as the residence of their ambassador.  Both embassies and consulates are considered to be property of the foreign government.  Unauthorized entry by police or military of the host government may constitute an act of war.

Waiver:Privileges and immunities are extended from one country to another to permit their respective countries to perform their duties effectively.  Privileges or immunities may not be waived by an individual enjoying them, but the sending States can, and do, waive them.  The U.S. Department of State requests waivers of immunity in every case where the prosecutor advises that, but for the immunity, charges would be pursued.  In serious cases, if the waiver is refused, the offender is expelled from the United States.

Pink Sheet
An Emergency Application for Involuntary Commitment Without Certification form completed by a peace officer or Mental Health Officer requesting temporary commitment of a person (DSA & MH 34-2).
Plain View Doctrine
In search and seizure context, objects falling in plain view of officer who has the right to be in a position to have that view are subject to seizure without a warrant and may be introduced in evidence.

Under plain view doctrine warrantless seizure of incriminating evidence may be permitted when police are lawfully searching a specified area or it can be established that police had prior justification for intrusion into the area searched, that police inadvertently came across item seized, and that it was immediately apparent to the police that the item seized was evidence.

However, the plain view doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object to another until something incriminating at least emerges.

Corollaries of plain view are plain feel and plain smell and this can extend to all five human senses.

The items seized may be seized only if it is immediately apparent that the item is evidence or contraband.

Poisonous Tree Doctrine
Doctrine refers to an illegal arrest or search which leads officers to evidence seized in a proper manner that may be inadmissible because of the taint of the original illegality.
Probable Cause
Having more evidence for than against.  A reasonable ground for belief in certain alleged facts.  A set of probabilities grounded in the factual and practical considerations which govern the decisions of reasonable and prudent persons and is more than mere suspicion but less than the quantum of evidence required for conviction.

Probable cause is the existence of circumstances which would lead a reasonable prudent person to believe in the guilt of the arrested party; mere suspicion or belief, unsupported by facts or circumstances, is insufficient.

The finding of probable cause for issuance of an arrest warrant (as required by the 4th Amendment) may be based upon hearsay evidence in whole or part.

Product Tampering
Tampering is the crime of intentionally altering a product in order to cause harm, to threaten to cause harm (or to do so) or to communicate false information RANK: Rank is a designation of a specific level of responsibility for execution of work, supervision, command, management, or administration specifically distinguished from other levels by class specifications and name (Ref. 30-1-14 City Ordinance).
Public Information Officer (PIO)
The first point of contact for reporters seeking comment on SLCPD activity. Start all media inquiries by calling (801) 799-6397 (NEWS). During a large-scale incident or disaster, the PIO ensures that timely, accurate and appropriate incident information reaches the public, partner agencies and other constituent audiences.
Rank Order
Rank order is the vertical relationship of the ranks of this Department in respect to levels of authority and responsibility.
Reasonable Suspicion
Such suspicion which will justify an officer in stopping the defendant in a public place is quantum of knowledge sufficient to induce an ordinarily prudent and cautious person under the circumstances to believe criminal activity is at hand. It must be based on specific and articulable facts, which, when taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant intrusion.
Search Incident to Arrest
A police officer who has the right to arrest a person either with or without a warrant may search his person and the immediate area of the arrest for weapons.
Search Warrant
An order in writing, issued by a justice or other magistrate, in the name of the state, directed to a sheriff, constable, or other officer, authorizing him to search for and seize any property that constitutes evidence of the commission of a crime, contraband, the fruits of a crime, or things otherwise criminally possessed; or, property designed or intended for use or which is or has been used as the means of committing a crime. A warrant may be issued upon an affidavit or sworn oral testimony.
Search without Warrant
Is presumed to be a violation of the Constitution. In order to validate such a search the state must prove an exception to the warrant requirement such as consent, exigent circumstances, or a search incident to arrest.
A sector is a designation for a group of beats.
Services, Auxiliary
Auxiliary services are functions and activities which provide technical, special, and other supportive services to all elements of this Department. The Records Unit, Communications Unit, Crime Lab, and Evidence Room provide auxiliary services.
Services, Line
Line services are functions and activities which are basically concerned with fulfilling the primary police responsibilities. Line services are provided by the Patrol and Investigative Divisions.
Services, Staff
Staff services are functions and activities which serve the purposes of developing personnel into effective employees and of developing this Department to most effectively meet its responsibilities in fulfilling the police purposes or missions.
A squad designates an element consisting of one or more employees with special functional responsibilities and is subordinate to a division or unit. A squad is commanded by a sergeant or supervisor.
Stop and Frisk
The situation where police officers who are suspicious of an individual run their hands lightly over the suspect’s outer garments to determine if the person is carrying a concealed weapon.  Also called a patdown or threshold inquiry, a stop and frisk is intended to stop short of any activity that could be considered a violation of 4th Amendment rights.

The scope of the search must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances which rendered the initiation of the stop.

A supervisor is a designated person performing supervisory duties, and who usually holds the rank of sergeant among sworn personnel, and is titled supervisor among civilian personnel.
SWAT Tactical Commander
The Tactical Operations commander is the officer who is responsible for the management of all aspects of a tactical operation. The Tactical Operations Commander will coordinate through the Department Operations Center or Incident Commander when separate commands are established.
Temporary Commitment
An involuntary and temporary commitment to a local mental health authority initiated by a Pink Sheet or Blue Sheet procedure.
Telephonic / Electronic Harassment
Repeated communication to include: text messaging, paging, e-mail, faxes etc. sent with intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another or repeated attempts to contact regardless of whether or not a conversation ensues.
Terry, Terry Stop(s), Terry v. Ohio
See Stop and Frisk.
Totality of Circumstances Test
A test used to determine the constitutionality of various search and seizure procedures, e.g. issuance of a search warrant. This standard focuses on all the circumstances of a particular case, rather than any one factor.
Transient Person
One who is found in the City but who has no fixed place of residence.

For the purpose of this policy, transient activity is defined as activity in which any person, whether suspect or victim, involved in a crime or incident is a transient.

A Unit is a component within a division or may be an independent unit made up of squads and is commanded by a lieutenant or unit manager.
Volunteer (Police)
A volunteer is someone who performs service for the department without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered. This includes, but is not limited to; chaplains, explorer programs, interns, members of neighborhood watch, mobile neighborhood watch, project safe passage, individuals providing administrative support, and any other identifiable need of the organization.
Warrant – Arrest
A written order of the court which is made on behalf of the State, or United States, and is based upon a complaint issued pursuant to statute and/or court rule and which commands law enforcement officers to arrest a person and bring him before a magistrate.

Any peace officer who has knowledge of an outstanding arrest warrant may arrest the person without having physical possession of the warrant.

Vehicle Pursuit
An attempt by an officer to stop a moving vehicle when the driver knowingly resists apprehension by fleeing or failing to stop.
A watch designates one of the three basic time units for assignment of personnel, usually specified in terms of eight, ten or twelve hour periods.

  • First Watch – Day Shift
  • Second Watch – Afternoon Shift
  • Third Watch – Graveyard Shift
Watch Log
The Watch Command Log is a daily summary of events of significance compiled by Watch Commanders. There are three watches in a 24-hour period: days, afternoons and graveyards. Items contained in the Watch Command Log are based on information available at the time of its release and should not be interpreted as an admission or finding of guilt. Arrest information may differ from formal charges filed by the prosecuting agency.