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Durham police chief tells officers to stop lying about 911 calls to search houses

  1. Rob Cypher
    The Durham, North Carolina, police department last month officially banned a possibly illegal tactic used by officers to gain entry to homes for searches.

    Several officers lied about nonexistent 911 calls to convince residents to consent to searches of their homes, according to testimony May 27 by a Durham police officer in a marijuana possession case.

    The officers targeted homes where individuals with outstanding warrants were believed to be living, reported Indy Week.

    Police then told residents that dispatchers had received a 911 call from their address – although no such calls had been made.

    Legal experts say the tactic may be illegal. “People have a constitutional right to privacy, and you can’t fake someone out of their constitutional rights,” said defense attorney Brian Aus. “You’ve got to be honest about this stuff.”

    Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said the 911 tactic was never part of official policy, although he officially banned its use last month in a department memo.

    Officer A.B. Beck admitted on the witness stand to making up a 911 call in February to gain entry to a woman’s home, where he found two marijuana blunts and a marijuana grinder.

    Beck testified that he intended to serve a warrant at the house, although he never showed the warrant in court.

    The officer testified that the 911 tactic was permitted under department policy when domestic violence was alleged.

    The woman’s attorney made a motion to suppress the marijuana evidence, saying the defendant’s consent to a search was made under false pretenses.

    The judge granted her motion, and prosecutors dropped the charges against the woman.

    “You cannot enter someone’s house based on a lie,” said Durham County Chief District Judge Marcia Morey.

    Lopez issued a memo 10 days after the case was dropped to all department personnel banning the 911 tactic.

    “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,” said the memo. “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.”

    The department told Indy Week that it was examining the tactic’s use before it was officially banned.

    Travis Gettys
    Raw Story
    July 14, 2014



  1. Diverboone
    It's basically a type of knock n talk. It's quite common for LE to state that they have had a call/complaint, when one never existed. This seems to incorporate the 911 system as a coercion factor.
  2. Name goes here
    In the United States, it is perfectly legal for a law enforcement officer to misrepresent the truth to investigate anything they see fit.
    "Officer, I don't mean to be rude however without legal representation present, I cannot answer any questions. Am I being detained or am I free to go?"

    Remember, they are looking to investigate a situation which can drastically alter your life even if you haven't done anything wrong. Self incriminating is easier then you may think just by answering basic questions. Don't be a dick. They are doing their job. You need to know your rights before engaging in conversation with law enforcement.
  3. Diverboone
    This is a misleading statement. As it is illegal for an officer to state that he has a search warrant when one does not exist.
  4. Name goes here
    Allow me to clarify.

    An officer can makeup an excuse to engage in conversation (in this case, fake 911 calls) and ask for permission to enter/search your belongings. A warrant is not required with consent.
  5. Diverboone

    I absolutely agree with your other post, I just wanted to point out they're limited to how untruthful they can be. There is a gray line where these lies can become a constitutional issue. But yes for the most part they can be as untruthful as they want to be. Deception hidden in a lie is one of the most useful tactics utilized during investigations.

    In most investigations police a looking for a suspect. With that in mind they are more inclined to look for guilt than innocents. So when you waive your 5th Amend Right and choose to converse with the police it's a game of Russian Roulette.

    As often as we hear the words "You have the Right to remain silent" it's simply amazing at the number of people who do not understand those words. Nor do they know the risk when waiving this Right. ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE HELD AGAINST YOU!
  6. SpacyMacey
    I remember taking a class way back actually where they taught about the risks of basically ever speaking to law enforcement and it seemed so crazy to me because if I'm innocent I always figured why not talk maybe they would be more understanding and see I'm cooperating. Basically it just explained what Diverboone said though, "anything you say can and WILL be held against you". Kind of hate that we are supposed to feel that way but I guess it is just the truth. Silence and remaining out of conversation is sometimes/usually the best approach it seems.
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