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The "welfare check"- convenient police tool to skip 4th amendment

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posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 01:15 AM
I usually don't post so late (past my bedtime), but I think this is important enough to keep me awake a little longer. It is the "welfare" or "wellness checks" that police departments can conduct under the right circumstances.

When the well-being of an individual is in question, police will enter a home to check on that person. Such welfare checks have been known to save the lives of older or sick individuals.
Purpose The police can go into a resident's dwelling without written consent when the resident's welfare and safety are questioned.
Function Police enter the dwelling after receiving a call of concern, which may come from a neighbor, relative or apartment manager. Mail carriers may report when a senior citizen's mail is not picked up over long periods of time.
Effects Friends and family find relief in knowing that their older, sick or otherwise disabled loved one is safe. Welfare checks also can discover a resident in distress who could not call for help on their own.
Features Some police departments work with companies that offer a "call" system to senior citizens and others to ensure their welfare and safety. When these calls are missed or not answered, welfare checks usually are performed.
Considerations Before performing a welfare check, police may ask a caller if the individual in question has been sick or has health issues. They ask because police want to avoid entering a dwelling without due cause. A police welfare check should not encroach on a resident's rights to privacy.
Warning Police can enter a dwelling because of health fears or if there has been a noted abrupt change in a resident's normal behavior. However, if the police walk in on illegal activities, arrests will be made.

It is that final line that is key. We had a case here locally where a small growing operation was busted. The cops knocked on his door late at night, claiming that a woman was reported screaming in his house. He initially refused to open the door, then they threatened to kick it in. He opened the door, and he was done. That same night, 3 of his neighbors had the police knock on their doors looking for this mystery screaming woman as well...

Sound suspicious? I'm guessing they were following their noses...

Several years ago I was dating a young lady that was... passionately vociferous... one evening Tucson PD showed up, beating the hell out of the door. Well, as we were a little naked and tipsy, we answered the door together with a sheet wrapped around us... the expressions on their faces was classic... nope, wasn't beating her officer

More and more, local P.D.s have made a lot of very convenient busts when conducting these "wellness checks":

A welfare check turned into a drug bust after Woodward police officers discovered a marijuana plant in a local residence Tuesday morning. According to a police department call log, dispatchers received a call at 7:34 a.m. Tuesday from a concerned citizen who wanted police to check on the welfare of an elderly woman in a residence in the 4100 block of Richmond Road. Ptl. Tyson Bussinger was dispatched to the location, according to Lt. Derek Ford, who is assigned as a special agent to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotic’s District 26 drug task force. After failing to get a response from knocks on the front door, Bussinger then circled the residence, checking other doors and windows in an attempt to ensure that the woman wasn’t hurt somewhere inside and just not able to get to the front door, the police lieutenant said. “Upon peering through the glass of the back door window, he (Bussinger) observed a marijuana plant growing in the hallway of the residence,” Ford said.


The article goes on to say that the grandmother wasn't living there anymore...

Here's another:

LA GRANGE — A call for a welfare check by Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies resulted in the arrest of five people on marijuana growing charges. Fayette County Sheriff Keith Korenek reports that on June 4, Deputies Louis Gabler, Michael Otten and Joshua Berger responded to call at 5326 E. Old State Highway 71 near La Grange, regarding a welfare concern. As the deputies made contact with the homeowner they detected an odor of marijuana coming from inside the residence. Investigators with the Fayette County Narcotics Unit arrived and a search of the property revealed multiple marijuana plants being grown inside and outside of the residence. Korenek reports that the largest plant was approximately four feet tall was being grown outside and ready to harvest. Arrested and booked for possession of marijuana were 65 year old Ralph Crawford, 58 year old Frances Ivey, 21 year old Joshua Ivey, 46 year old Steven Ivey and 22 year old Julia Koudelka, all of La Grange.


More and more, departments are using this as a way to get entry to your home if they believe that there may be something fishy going on... show up at your door on the ruse of a screaming woman/child (you may live alone), and threatening to kick in your door in if you don't co-operate. No probable cause (cop may have got a tip from a friend of a friend... not enough for a lawful search... Why wait for a proper search warrant when you can pay a kid to make a 911 call, then demand entrance? Smell pot being cultivated and can only track it to a 5 house area? 5 "wellness checks" to be made.

Granted, many busts which involve labs/cultivation may have been under the true spirit of the law. I read of one that got busted because the neighbors had a genuine concern for the welfare of the children; their clothes all ratty and old, always dirty... the neighbors were concerned about them and called the police as they should have.

A few months ago my smartass kid posted something on Facebook, 20 minutes later the cops stormed in saying he was suicidal...he made a joke in poor taste and one of his friends, who had skipped sarcasm classes, called 911 saying he was gonna hit ctrl-alt-del on himself.

In some instances, "wellness checks" are a viable way for an officer to establish that a person is OK if there are concerns... a 80 yo woman who is regularly in her garden all day and doesn't appear for awhile; or a neighbors house and it is easily evident that something horrible may be happening... screaming, hitting...

But more and more I see people in the news that have been busted when things were found while conducting a "wellness check"... it is a nifty little tool they can use to open a door and conduct a search...

Google it... there are a lot of of citizens getting busted for crimes based upon "somewhat suspicion" rather than probable cause and search warrants...

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 01:44 AM

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT)-- A domestic welfare check leads to a meth lab bust in east Knox County. According to KCSO, officers were dispatched to a home on the 6000 block of Babelay Road around 12:00 p.m. Sunday when they found components of a meth lab. Officers evacuated everyone inside the trailer. The KCSO Narcotics Unit also responded to the scene and found evidence of multiple previous meth cooking sites, or "meth cooks." Ricky Lewis, 44, was arrested and charged with initiation and the process of meth, and promotion and manufacture of methamphetamine.

The reporters never ask the first question... What was the welfare check in reference to?

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 01:56 AM
reply to post by madmac5150

I don't have a problem with welfare checks. I'm sure, as is the case with everything, some abuse does occur. But I know for a fact they save lives. My grandfather was saved by a welfare check called in by an apartment manager. I'd be extremely angry if I called in a welfare check with good cause, from thousands of miles away, only to be told "sorry, we don't do that."

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 02:35 AM
I believe this is on topic but you may disagree. There are a number of things that occur that the police use to get into your house with no basis in fact. Wellness checks is just one of them. These days in my neck of the woods it is standard that if someone has a beef with you and you have kids they call CPS and make an unidentified tip to get you in trouble. A lot of people have had their doors broken down based on an unidentified call about drugs. It is even a scam used to get insurance money so long as they keep the cost low enough. The insurance company just pays them as it is cheaper for them then an investigation and it is also used to by those calling to raise your rates. The insurance company will not give out the name of whoever said you were in an accident.

For once I do not blame the police for this as I do not have a reasonable solution for the problem. Of course you are talking about police abuse of this but they are not the only ones. The only solution I can see is that the police and others be not allowed to follow up on calls from unidentified callers, and that if there is no basis to the call that the name of the caller be given to the person whose rights have been violated. Or maybe the police can be forced to follow the law about false police reports and be required to make an arrest but there are problems with that as well.

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 08:58 AM
reply to post by madmac5150

I hadn't thought of this. It is just too convenient isn't it? I'm starting to believe that there are police-training contractors out there who think up new encroachments and outrages as marketing tools.

It's gotta be a highly competitive market. Presumably the contractors who can come up with the greatest number of sneaky-but-technically-legal outrages get the most training contracts. And thus the police departments receive lots and lots of new low-down tips and tricks and still stay technically within the limits.

And of course it's never-ending. We eventually get used to it and stop complaining as it goes incrementally more and more and more over the top. Gotta love police-state incrementalism. Works ever time....

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:07 AM
One time when I was on call for my agency, I received a call from the police, who had gotten a call from the neighbor of a 78 year old man, who was alcoholic, and had passed out drunk on his living room floor. It was going down to 0 degrees that night. There was no heat in that room and the neighbor feared he would freeze to death.

I asked the po-po if they could enter the home, go into his bedroom, get some pillows and blankets, and cover him up. They did.

When they went into his bedroom, they found his two grandsons sitting on his bed, smoking crack, listening to music, with a gas space heater on. They had the door closed so no heat would escape.

They were arrested. I was glad. Bite me.

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:09 AM
Warrants are a novelty.

Cops kick in doors for phantoms all day long. They thought they saw somebody, got the wrong address, heard something, welfare check, anonymous complaint, 911 call, etc....

Warrants have become the last resort.

Just kick the door down and let the lawyers work it out when the smoke clears.

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:16 AM

Originally posted by thisguyrighthere
Warrants are a novelty.

Cops kick in doors for phantoms all day long. They thought they saw somebody, got the wrong address, heard something, welfare check, anonymous complaint, 911 call, etc....

Warrants have become the last resort.

Just kick the door down and let the lawyers work it out when the smoke clears.

I've worked closely with police for many years, even though I am not an officer. What you say here has not been my experience at all. The only time I have known them to do this is when there is a small child alone in the home, usually injured or neglected, and needed to go to the ER. They have then entered the home, with me right behind them.

This thread is like "let's talk about any bad thing the police have done that we know of, and ignore the great amount of good they do".

Have at it.

ETA: I couldn't begin to count on my fingers and toes how many times I've been with them when they had a search warrant.
edit on 7/30/2013 by BellaSabre because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:42 AM
reply to post by madmac5150

I have been waiting for someone to bring up this topic.
Being former LE, I can attest to the fact that a welfare check, does offer a way around the 4th and such.
There are certain criteria that need to be met, but it is a way around certain things.

Take for example, daughter has been trying to contact mother at her home for 2 days. No answer. Daughter calls into PD and requests welfare check. LE arrive, attempt contact, see nothing visible from outside to lead anything out of the norm. LE can't then force their way in.
Now, daughter arrives on scene, no keys and no other way to go in. LE can stand by, while daughter forces her way in.
All legal.

Now, same call, but when LE attempt to contact, an unknown person answers the door. Daughter is contacted and advises she does not know the person. LE, at the request of the daughter can force entry.

Same call, but when LE arrive, they see inside that a room has been torn apart. They can force entry.

Same call, but they here screaming from inside, LE can force entry.

LE can't just force entry, without some reasoning as to why they believe someone is in distress.

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 11:06 AM
Again, I am not against "wellness checks" if they are legitimate. More and more, however, these checks are being conducted simply as a way to get someone to open their door... a way to dodge those pesky search warrants... it happens a lot more than people think...

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 11:10 AM
There was a case in an affluent Kansas City suburb last year where the police attempted to force their way into a woman's apartment to do a "well check" (welfare check) and the woman refused to let them in and brandished a steak knife to discourage them so they shot and killed her. Yes the police were called because she was depressed and they thought that she should be checked on in case she was suicidal. Moot point now.

posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 03:45 PM
We live in a small town, rural area... every bust for cultivation that I have seen in the paper this year (4 at least that I am aware of) have been as the result of "wellness checks"... this area is known for it. One bust was a guy that lived in the middle of nowhere... at least a mile or two between homes. Supposedly, one of his neighbors thought he may "hurt himself"; so the official story goes anyway... he claimed that he had never said any such thing to anyone, but they still used the "wellness check" to get in his door...

This practice is just FAR too easy to abuse...

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