FPC Informational Memorandum: Confirmation of Warrants Prior to Arrest
Under Wisconsin Statute Section 968.07, a law enforcement officer may arrest a person when the
law enforcement officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that a warrant for the person’s arrest
has been issued in this state. The information that a warrant for a person’s arrest may exist is
usually obtained when an officer “runs a wanted check” either via radio with the district station
console operator or through the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) laptop squad computer. The
district station console operator is usually a civilian office assistant with access to the National
Crime Information Center (NCIC), Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), and local warrant
databases. Once the possibility of an existing warrant is identified through an initial check of the
databases by the console operator, it is the responsibility of the officer executing the warrant to
determine that the subject is the person for whom the warrant was issued. A person can be
identified as the subject named in a warrant by matching various factors such as date of birth,
social security number, physical description, fingerprint, photograph, or other means of positive
Once a person is identified as the subject named in the warrant, it must then be confirmed as a
valid, active warrant with the police agency that entered the warrant into the database.
Confirmation of a warrant is always necessary, since the computer database may not accurately
reflect the most current status of the underlying case upon which the warrant was originally
issued. The existence of a warrant in the database merely indicates the likelihood of a valid
warrant. Authority to make an arrest does not exist until the officer has confirmed the actual
existence of the warrant. If the warrant is issued by another police agency, the console operator
must contact the originating police agency either telephonically or electronically and request the
status of the warrant. The length of time required to confirm the existence of a valid warrant
varies but is typically a matter of minutes rather than hours. Since the majority of warrants are
confirmed as valid, some officers have made it a practice to take a subject into custody before a
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