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SCOTUS Rules Police Cannot Search Homes Without Warrants in the Name of 'Community Caretaking'

Brian D.

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As color of law knows, my career was in the fire/EMS racket. Working with the police, we sometimes did "welfare checks" based on reports from neighbors or relatives that someone in a home hadn't been seen or heard from in days. Our role was to make forcible entry and of course render medical aid if needed. We made a good bit of noise outside before anyone (cops first) went inside for the safety of all. Sadly, we often found the resident(s) deceased.

But, I always wondered about the legality of what we were doing.
 

BB62

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As color of law knows, my career was in the fire/EMS racket. Working with the police, we sometimes did "welfare checks" based on reports from neighbors or relatives that someone in a home hadn't been seen or heard from in days. Our role was to make forcible entry and of course render medical aid if needed. We made a good bit of noise outside before anyone (cops first) went inside for the safety of all. Sadly, we often found the resident(s) deceased.

But, I always wondered about the legality of what we were doing.

For what it's worth, my read of the opinion doesn't make "welfare checks" illegal, but rather does so to police searches associated with such activities.

Here's a link to the opinion: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/20-157
 

hammer6

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As color of law knows, my career was in the fire/EMS racket. Working with the police, we sometimes did "welfare checks" based on reports from neighbors or relatives that someone in a home hadn't been seen or heard from in days. Our role was to make forcible entry and of course render medical aid if needed. We made a good bit of noise outside before anyone (cops first) went inside for the safety of all. Sadly, we often found the resident(s) deceased.

But, I always wondered about the legality of what we were doing.
you entered private property without owner approval or a warrant. but you always wondered about the legality of what you were doing?
 

solus

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you entered private property without owner approval or a warrant. but you always wondered about the legality of what you were doing?
So hammer6, community EMTs/caregivers do not enter without owner(s) permission since they receive tacit from the nice LEs who have unequivocally violating the property owner's fourth amendment rights first to "secure the scene"!
 

color of law

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The meaning of the term “community caretaking functions” are noncriminal police actions. “Noncriminal police actions” exclude those persons rendering aid to someone in need, such as public employees, EMT personnel, or private citizens. Police have powers that others don’t have.

And it should be noted that lower courts have conflated “welfare checks” with “community caretaking functions” contrary to Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court has only referred to “welfare checks” three times and in none or those cases was “welfare checks” at issue.

Police are not obligated to “shield their eyes” from any illegal activity; should they be invited into the home to perform “welfare checks” or see criminal activity through a window from a public area. And the police cannot enter the home uninvited without a warrant, with few exceptions, exigent circumstances. The court made it clear that police cannot perform a criminal investigation disguised as a “welfare check.” Remember, “community caretaking functions” do not apply to the home. Police entering the curtilage to investigate (a crime) is simply a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Again, the court made it clear, only the police can perform “community caretaking functions” (unrelated to the home) like rendering aid to motorists in disabled vehicles, and is not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere, in effect, in your home without a warrant.
 

Firearms Iinstuctor

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I made force entry into several homes as welfare checks.

Found most of the occupants dead.

One I found laying alive on the kitchen floor where he fell after having a stroke.

Done properly and legally it is a good proper function of police and EMS.

This case was about what happen after wards when and how they confiscated his firearm.
 

Brian D.

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Yes hammer6, I did wonder about the legality of it. After asking our city law director, and getting very little explanation, didn't feel very confident. Guess I could have asked a smarter law director someplace. Also I knew it was common practice in many other cities around here.
 

hammer6

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Yes hammer6, I did wonder about the legality of it. After asking our city law director, and getting very little explanation, didn't feel very confident. Guess I could have asked a smarter law director someplace. Also I knew it was common practice in many other cities around here.
just because it's commonplace doesn't mean it's right.
 

color of law

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just because it's commonplace doesn't mean it's right.
Apparently some have failed to read my above post or I was not clear enough in pointing out what a "wellness check" evolves.
POLICE cannot perform wellness checks without a warrant. EMTs are not the police.
 

color of law

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Perhaps not usually. Unfortunately my junior cop (of two, the other is Chief) is the senior EMT ‘Team Leader’. I doubt that he appreciates the separation of his roles.
Many people have medical training and may be licensed by the state to perform medical services, but once someone decides to become a police officer or law enforcement officer he/she forfeits some of those freedoms us nonlaw enforcement officers have. Law enforcement personnel have strict rules they have to follow, one of which is they need a warrant to enter a man's castle.
 

solus

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Perhaps not usually. Unfortunately my junior cop (of two, the other is Chief) is the senior EMT ‘Team Leader’. I doubt that he appreciates the separation of his roles.

so, "your" junior cop & the chief...nice...

one would presume your junior cop, after 18 years would have progressed beyond EMT-Basic status & gotten educated to EMT - Paramedic.

but sorry it is WI after all!
 

KBCraig

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The ruling doesn't say that police can't perform a wellness check without a warrant.

It says that they cannot search a home and seize property without a warrant, even under guise of a welfare check.
 

solus

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The ruling doesn't say that police can't perform a wellness check without a warrant.

It says that they cannot search a home and seize property without a warrant, even under guise of a welfare check.
Kinda like telling a child don't touch the stove isn't it?
 

color of law

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The ruling doesn't say that police can't perform a wellness check without a warrant.

It says that they cannot search a home and seize property without a warrant, even under guise of a welfare check.
What is a wellness check? As I explained the SC has never addressed wellness checks. Now there is the “emergency aid doctrine" which the courts say does not require a warrant., but the SC has failed to define what that exactly is. A wellness check does not necessarily encompass an emergency. A warrantless entry is justified where there is an objectively reasonable basis for believing that emergency aid is necessary or medical assistance is needed, or persons are in danger.

The bottom line is there is no such thing as EQUAL justice.
 

hammer6

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Apparently some have failed to read my above post or I was not clear enough in pointing out what a "wellness check" evolves.
POLICE cannot perform wellness checks without a warrant. EMTs are not the police.
EMTs are still a government agency
 
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