Although the Fourth Amendment does protect individuals from unlawful searches and seizures, police officers employed by the Denver Police Department are permitted to frisk, or pat down a person when certain circumstances exist. According to the Department’s Operations Manual, if a police officer “has stopped a person for questioning and reasonably suspects that his/her personal safety requires it,” he/she is then permitted to conduct a “limited” search, meaning they can pat down the individual’s outer clothing.

If the officer feels an object that he/she believes to be a weapon during the “frisk,” he/she “may search for and remove it from the clothing.” After the officer has removed the item, they shall determine if it is a weapon, contraband, or stolen goods. If it is any one of the three, the officer holds the right to make an arrest and complete a full search of the individual and their immediate area. After an individual has been arrested, they shall be transported to a nearby station.

Under certain circumstances can an officer perform a strip search of an arrestee, however, if the individual was arrested for a traffic or a petty offense, they shall not be stripped searched. The only time Denver officers are permitted to conduct a strip search of an arrestee who has been detained for a traffic or a petty offense is if they have reason to believe he/she is concealing a weapon or controlled substance.


What if a stop and frisk doesn’t lead to an arrest?


If the stop and frisk does not require an officer to make an arrest, he/she must inform the individual that they are free to go. The officer should not continue with questioning unless the individual has given him/her consent to do so.


What if an officer conducts a stop and frisk without reason to believe his/her personal safety is in danger?


Police officers may sometimes conduct a limited search (i.e. frisk) or even a full search without having a valid reason for doing so. If a Denver police officer does conduct a search and an individual believes it violated one or more of their rights, they should speak with a Denver, CO police brutality lawyer. Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC is a police brutality law firm in Englewood, CO that can help an individual determine if their rights were violated by a police officer and whether legal recourse is available to them.

Although police officers are given the authority to stop, question, and even search individuals, they must only do so when they have a valid reason for doing so. Officers of the law are prohibited from using an individual’s race, gender, religion, etc. as their basis for stopping a person. If an officer engages in bias policing or racial profiling, they should be held accountable for their actions, and the Denver, CO police misconduct lawyers at Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC are capable of doing this.


Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC can be reached at:


333 W. Hampden Avenue, #420B

Englewood, CO 80110

Phone: 720-923-2333