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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sorry to present one of these "what if" situations but I've been thinking on this a while and I'm curious as to where my rights to privacy end.
Lets say that I'm at home and a neighbor hears a loud noise and calls the police and reports a possible crime at my home. The police arrive at my door and I inform, through the door, that everything is ok.
My question is this, do the police have a right to gain entry into my home (assuming there's no permit in hand)? If I refuse to open the door, will I be charged with obstruction? I'm just curious where my rights to privacy end and the law begins.
 

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Well I work in Texas, I would not try and charge a home owner for obstruction/interferance because they would not open the door. However that is only if the complaint received was for a loud noise type disturbance. If the complainant did not witness some type offense such as Family Violence, Sexual Assault or other violent in progress crime then I would not to try and force you to open the door.

I would become more suspicious of your reasoning for not coming to the door. That might lead to a further investigation if the facts at the scene warrant it.I f you have not done anything wrong then you should be willing to answer the door. Face to face contact will clear the problem up real quick, I hope that covers you question hypotheticly speaking


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He who assails us does so without impunity.
 

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With this limited information from your neighbor, I doubt in most states that they would have enough probable cause/reasonable suspicion to make entry into you're house. They should explain their reason for being there, and that they are checking on your, and your families, well being.
 

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Originally posted by cwm1150:
I would become more suspicious of your reasoning for not coming to the door. That might lead to a further investigation if the facts at the scene warrant it.I f you have not done anything wrong then you should be willing to answer the door. Face to face contact will clear the problem up real quick, I hope that covers you question hypotheticly speaking
Hmm... reasons not to open the door for an officer.

1. Accidentally locking your braces with your girlfreind (worse if its the police chiefs daughter, even worse if its that officers daughter)
2. Husband/Wife was carrying out some erotic fantasy's.
3. You did something abyssmaly stupid, and rather wouldn't want a police report of it to turn up in tomorrows newspaper (some small towns post almost all police reports in the paper). Like starting your new grill, and burning all of your hair off.
4. You were cleaning your gun and "forgot" to make sure it was unloaded, resulting in a broken TV.
5. Almost any of the odd situation in American Pie 1 or 2. (I'm laughing just thinking about it)
6. I can't think of any more right now, but I'm sure more exist.

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"You're basically killing each other to see who's got the better imaginary friend." - Yasir Arrafat (On going to war over religion)
 

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Personally I hate that kind of call. There are about a zillion "what if's" rolling through my pea brain as I am driving to the scene. I then experience sensory overload after talking to the RP while I try to put together a rational explanation of what has occurred. I usually end up with 50 "This is serious stuff" explanations and I should kick down the door and 50 "It's a hamburger with nothing on it" explanations and I shouldn't even bother the homeowner.

Hopefully you see where this kind of call can easily end up in the US Supreme Court and/or a gizzillion dollar lawsuit.

The trouble is, under the circumstances you describe; an older more experienced officer is more likely to force the issue than a newer officer. I know this sounds strange so let me explain.

Without a large experiential database, a newer officer has insufficient data to make comparisons so he/she will usually walk away. An older experienced officer with a large database can visualize many bad possibilities and will draw on those experiences to justify further investigation and/or intrusion.

In short I can create “probable cause” much more efficiently than a less experienced officer simply because of my experiences. This is not voodoo police work and it is not what we euphemistically call “creative report writing,” it is a fact of life and recognized by the courts as legitimate.

Let me give you a real life example: I had not been on the beat for more than a year when I was sent to investigate a simple owner discovered B&E as it was called on the East Coast in those days. (Burglary) Anyhow, this nice cute girl shows me where someone had broken into her apartment that she shared with another girl and her boyfriend. Nothing was taken and no suspect.

This was an easy report so I cut some paper and split. Too bad I was young and really stupid. Too bad I didn’t know then what I know now. If I had been more experienced I might of realized that the apartment complex was full of cute girls. I might of realized that the motive for the burglary was not theft but in fact rape and the only reason that the suspect had not stayed around was that he found the boyfriends stuff in the apartment and decided he might get his ass kicked or worse so he departed. Too bad I was so stupid as to not check other apartments for signs of forcible entry. Too bad, because if I had just gone next door I would have noticed the damage to the next apartment door, where the suspect had forced entry and was now waiting for his victim, a very cute single mom, who was raped just minutes after arriving home, and not more than thirty minutes after I smugly cleared the scene.

You better believe that I have never made that mistake again and you better believe that I have caught more than one assh--- hiding or prowling nearby homes, businesses, or apartments. You better believe that it is not a mistake that anyone I have trained over the years is going to make because I do everything in my power to transfer my database into his or hers.

So now back to your question. You may be the homeowner, who just doesn’t want to be bothered, or the homeowner with a gun to your head held by the home invasion suspect and told to lie to me, or you could be the guy that just killed your wife, or, or, or, or, or…………………………………………
 

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To add to what patrickL said, Polly Klass' murderer was questioned by police on the side of the road next to where the body was later found.

It was later determined that when the officers arrived on the scene young Ms. Klass was likely mere yards away in some brush tied up and gagged and very much still alive.

The officers felt the situation was "hinky" but had nothing other than a tresspassing complaint to press any issue with.

They actually helped him get his car out of the ditch he was stuck in when he pulled off the road!

By all means an officer must follow his or her instincts.

I'd hate to be the officer that let somebody be kiled because I didn't ask too many questions.
 

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Originally posted by Orion:
To add to what patrickL said, Polly Klass' murderer was questioned by police on the side of the road next to where the body was later found.

It was later determined that when the officers arrived on the scene young Ms. Klass was likely mere yards away in some brush tied up and gagged and very much still alive.

The officers felt the situation was "hinky" but had nothing other than a tresspassing complaint to press any issue with.

They actually helped him get his car out of the ditch he was stuck in when he pulled off the road!

By all means an officer must follow his or her instincts.

I'd hate to be the officer that let somebody be kiled because I didn't ask too many questions.
Actually Polly’s body was found in the Northern part of Sonoma County, not far from a town called Cloverdale.

Richard Allen Davis was confronted on private property near the Sonoma County Juvenile Hall in another part of the county. It will never be known if Poly was alive or dead at that time.

The deputies ran him for warrants and he came back clear. The property owner was not willing to press charges for trespassing so they had to kick him loose.

Too bad that the state parole status system was not tied into the California Law Enforcement Teletype System (CLETS) at the time, if it had been when they ran him for warrants they would have discovered he was a parolee out of his area and could have arrested him.

Happily and tragically the parole system is now part of CLETS, due to the Poly Klass kidnapping, but too late to save Poly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies. I personally would answer the door for a known law enforcement officer but there have been crimes commited in my area by people pretending to be law enforcement responding to a call only to rob the homeowner as soon as they open the door. I hate to change the subject, but how can an average joe, as myself, konw if the person knocking at the door is an actual police officer or just a criminal dressed up waiting to get my goods? Thanks again for the replies.
 

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I hate to change the subject, but how can an average joe, as myself, konw if the person knocking at the door is an actual police officer or just a criminal dressed up waiting to get my goods? Thanks again for the replies.[/B]
Fair enough question. If you are worried ask for their name and ID/Badge # through the door and call dispatch. Dispatch will confirm if the officer is legitimately at your home or not.

WARNING, this can piss the officer off but remember he/she works for you not the other way around.
 

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If the officer has a complete uniform (not just some gun in regular clothes flashing some kind of badge), and especially a marked car, it's about 99.999999999999999% probability that he's legit.

The instances of police impersonators are so few in this nation of 290 or so million people that it's not really something to be worried about, which is WHY it makes the news on those very extremely rare occasions when it does happen. In most of the "impersonator" incidents, the dirtbag has only a badge they acquired somewhere (just about anyone can get a badge from uniform companies), but not a uniform.

If an officer asks to speak to you, ask them to explain the circumstances. If they ask to check the house to ensure everyone is OK, it'll only take a few minutes to let you help them do their job. If you don't want to let them in, then don't.

However . . . if they have a reasonable belief that there is an exigent circumstance, such as a danger to someone inside the house, they can enter w/o a warrant or your consent.

If this occurs (not likely if you lead a clean life), don't try to stop them. Just document what occurred, get names, and call 911, ask to speak to a supervisor. If you don't get satisfation there, consult an attorney.

In the "general loud noise" scenario by a 3rd party complainant, it's unlikely it would go very far. Depends on how the complainant describes the noise, how credible the copmlainant is, history at the addresses involved, history of the parties, etc.

Methinks your question is much ado about nothing.

Perhaps you should check into a citizen's academy, or perhaps, go for a ride-along to see how LEOs actually do business. I highly recommend a ride-along.

SF
 

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Originally posted by SF:
(just about anyone can get a badge from uniform companies), but not a uniform
Although as you pointed out extremely rare officer impersonations do occur. However, "anyone," I repeat, "anyone" can walk into a uniform store and buy a uniform. In fact I know of several uniform stores in my area where I can walk in and order a complete uniform with shoulder patches and all simply by telling them I work at that particular agency.

At least here in California, there is no law preventing a person from buying a basic municipal navy blue, a highway patrol tan, or a county tan and green combination uniform. Getting shoulder patches is child’s play. Aside from getting them directly from the uniform store, there is more patch swapping amongst cops and citizens in this country than you can shake a stick at.

Also keep in mind that although again extremely rare, cops can be criminals too.
 

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We had one of those unknown problem calls last week, that turned out to be a murder/suicide. When the Police pulled up to the house, they heard a single gun shot and when SWAT made entry they found two bodies. You just don't know what you have waiting for you, when you hang that mic back on the dash and head for that next call.

7th
 
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