Police Faked 9-1-1 Phone Calls to Warrantlessly Search Homes

Officers entered properties by claiming emergency calls were made, except they weren't.

DURHAM, NC — A dubious police tactic has come to light, in which officers used falsified information in order to gain ‘consent’ to search private properties without a warrant.

Officers in Durham have apparently discovered that they can create the legal pretext for a search by lying about calls to 9-1-1 emergency services that never actually took place.  The tactic is apparently legal — and commonplace — according to an officer’s sworn statements.  WTVD-TV explains:

A Durham police officer admitted under oath that he lied in order to gain entry to a home and to serve an outstanding warrant.

During a court hearing last May, court officials say he told a District Court judge that it was a common practice within Durham’s police department.

He said he knocked on a resident’s door, claiming police had received a 9-1-1 hang up call. But, it never happened.

The tactic was pervasive enough for the Durham police chief to issue a department memo immediately calling for its disuse:

It has recently been brought to my attention that some officers have informed citizens that there has been a 911 hang-up call from their residence in order to obtain consent to enter for the actual purpose of looking for wanted persons on outstanding warrants. Effective immediately no officer will inform a citizen that there has been any call to the emergency communications center, including a hang-up call, when there in fact has been no such call.

– Jose L. Lopez, Sr., Chief of Police

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