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Old 11-26-2011, 21:53   #1
PBCounty
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911 Hang-ups / Welfare Checks

Hi there,

What is your local policy on residential 911 hang-ups / requested welfare checks if no contact can be established with a person on scene? What is the criteria for making entry into home? What is the criteria for forcing entry? Are "life alert" or panic alarms treated the same?

Thanks.
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Old 11-26-2011, 22:01   #2
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The response practice on 911 hangups used to be much more lax until we had a DV victim tell dispatch it was accidental with a knife to her neck.

Now, we always check, and try to make sure everyone in the residence is okay.
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Old 11-26-2011, 22:17   #3
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It all depends on the specifics of the call. Each 911 call is automatically assigned a case number.
If the call was just a dial then hang-up and the house is found unattended and without prior history then most likely a door will not get booted.
If the caller made voice contact, but then was not there when the LEO arrived the door would most likely get booted.
It just depends on the known facts of the call, caller and address.
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Old 11-26-2011, 22:32   #4
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...without prior history...
Interesting - I never considered the location history angle.
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Old 11-26-2011, 23:26   #5
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I ran the radios for a while for my old PD. We didn't take 911 calls. They were answered by the PSAP at the Sheriff's Office. They could transfer on a drop line for actual, known emergencies.

When they received a hangup, they would attempt a call back. Then, they would call the PD to let us know. That is where policy stopped.

The next step was up to the individual communications staff member. If they wanted to send an officer, they could. If not, they wouldn't.

Personally, I ALWAYS sent someone. The officers would occasionally get pissed off at me when I would send them on these calls, which turned out to be nothing. Usually, they would make contact and learn that the resident informed the PSAP that everything was ok. They would make sure to let me know publicly over the radio that they were less than pleased. Well, that was until another shift had a similar DV call as above. Thankfully, officers were dispatched and learned on scene that it was a legit DV call.

When no one answers the door, officers make a perimeter check. They look in all available windows for any signs of problems inside. They document any vehicles on scene. At that point, they will clear the call. Not allowed to bust in doors just cause of a 911 hangup.

However, when there is a 911 open line, the dispatcher has the ability to relay info to the responding units about what they hear. If there is anything just the least bit "off", officers will often force entry.
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Old 11-26-2011, 23:29   #6
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As for welfare checks, officers will go out. If no one answers, comm center will call the complaintant back and ask for a key holder to respond. If that person can't make it out, but gives authority, officers can make entry.

A couple of years back, once I was gone from the agency, two of the guys responded on a welfare check, found an open window, made entry and found the girl's dead body in the closet under a pile of clothes. Murder trial is back on appeal.
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Old 11-27-2011, 00:29   #7
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911 hang ups can be anything ranging from a fax machine, kid playing with the phone, domestic disturbance in progress, or a home invasion. Everything is situational and there are a lot of variables to determine exact response.

Not sure it's a good idea to be posting a "how we respond" reply to this in an open forum. Do you have a more specific question or just curious in general?
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Old 11-27-2011, 00:58   #8
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Do you have a more specific question or just curious in general?
Just curious in general. My uncle was recently subject to a welfare check which resulted in forced entry. As he was visible through a window and collapsed over the kitchen sink I imagine it was a pretty easy decision to drop a window and enter. It did make me curious however as to how the decisions are made when the circumstances are less clear.
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:05   #9
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Just curious in general. My uncle was recently subject to a welfare check which resulted in forced entry. As he was visible through a window and collapsed over the kitchen sink I imagine it was a pretty easy decision to drop a window and enter. It did make me curious however as to how the decisions are made when the circumstances are less clear.
Yeah, that's an easy one when you see them. Sometimes we have to talk with neighbors or even check call history at the home for prior ambulance calls, etc.
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:26   #10
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The phone prefix here is 1 digit away from "911" and we must have a disproportionately high number of fat fingered people, because we take like 628 9-1-1 hang up calls a night, every one accidental. If we blasted open everyone's door there wouldn't be a lockable door in the city.

Basically it's a common sense approach:

Walk around, size up the house, look in the windows, listen. Talk to neighbors if they are available. If all looks / sounds okay, and there is no extenuating information from dispatch, leave it alone. I generally leave a business card asking them to call when they get in.

If anything looks out of place, you have extenuating information from dispatch, or you get a spidey sense that is solid enough for you to articulate why you had to smash their door in, then make entry.

Obviously if you see someone lying on the floor after having received a 911 hang up from the same house, they probably ain't napping. Make entry.
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:58   #11
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Originally Posted by PBCounty View Post
Hi there,

What is your local policy on residential 911 hang-ups / requested welfare checks if no contact can be established with a person on scene? What is the criteria for making entry into home? What is the criteria for forcing entry? Are "life alert" or panic alarms treated the same?

Thanks.
Life alerts are a different story. The resident must sign a forced entry agreement before they can have service. I have broken into several homes after a life alert activation and found several DRT, and several who have fallen out of their wheelchair and were not able to get back up.

Other than that, no. We must have something articulable that the resident is home and in danger other than the initial concern.

Every situation is different though. I have broken into a few hotel rooms to get daddy's little drug addict out of the crack motel and back home.
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Old 11-27-2011, 06:00   #12
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Originally Posted by Sharky7 View Post
911 hang ups can be anything ranging from a fax machine, kid playing with the phone, domestic disturbance in progress, or a home invasion. Everything is situational and there are a lot of variables to determine exact response.

Not sure it's a good idea to be posting a "how we respond" reply to this in an open forum. Do you have a more specific question or just curious in general?
hangups with no or limited voice contact have been some of my most nightmare calls.
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:29   #13
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Well, interesting as it may be some of our facilities have staff housing. This is where our control center and the judgement call of a operations LT comes in. Other than that I won't say any more concerning that over a public forum.

In regular police work, I don't personally have any experience, but I have had the experience of asking for assistance with my presence not being able to be there. They would have forced entry if they thought it were necessary to do so.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:36   #14
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Just curious in general. My uncle was recently subject to a welfare check which resulted in forced entry. As he was visible through a window and collapsed over the kitchen sink I imagine it was a pretty easy decision to drop a window and enter. It did make me curious however as to how the decisions are made when the circumstances are less clear.
How's your uncle doing? Hope everything's okay.
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:15   #15
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Quote:
Basically it's a common sense approach:

Walk around, size up the house, look in the windows, listen. Talk to neighbors if they are available. If all looks / sounds okay, and there is no extenuating information from dispatch, leave it alone. I generally leave a business card asking them to call when they get in.

If anything looks out of place, you have extenuating information from dispatch, or you get a spidey sense that is solid enough for you to articulate why you had to smash their door in, then make entry.

Obviously if you see someone lying on the floor after having received a 911 hang up from the same house, they probably ain't napping. Make entry.
Essentially the same with us. Per policy, we visit EVERY 911 call residence or location.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:02   #16
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Kind of two separate tracks here...
The 911 hangups mean without a doubt, some sort of occurrence caused that phone line to hook up with our dispatch center. If dispatch immediately makes contact back and everything seems OK, we don't get sent. The devil's in the details, was it the last motion someone getting killed was able to make? Was it a 2 year old putting Elmo down on the phone ? And often enough, it was an electronic glitch or fax machine. Totality of circumstances decides how thorough we are, but generally the 911 absent any other details won't get forced entry. 911 with the slightest bit of hinky = forced entry.

A check for well-being also hinges on details. Who is calling in the check and why ? We definitely don't treat these as all equal. We generally run in a lower gear with these... unless the caller had some articulable urgency. We don't have a clear written policy, fine by me, since a lot of these would still end up being in the gray areas.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:09   #17
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As with many things in law enforcement, it boils down to the totality of the circumstances.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:18   #18
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As with many things in law enforcement, it boils down to the totality of the circumstances....
....and playing "Bet Your Badge".
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Old 11-27-2011, 14:27   #19
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We had a home invasion with 3-4 murdered people that the only call was a 911 hangup. Everything looked good from the outside so no entry was forced. We get a million 911 hangup calls every night as well. Everything is situational dependent and determines how we respond.

Yes, if I did a welfare check and I saw someone slumped over a sink, I'd force entry in a heartbeat.
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Old 11-27-2011, 15:46   #20
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How's your uncle doing? Hope everything's okay.
He had passed as a result of heart attack (only in his 40's). Thanks for asking.
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