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Posted: 1/12/2006 3:18:45 PM EDT
If they have enough evidence for a warrant then they should be good to go but knocking on peoples' doors for the purpose of looking for suspicious activity or trying to get verbal consent does seem like fine line when it comes to people's rights.



Police rethinking 'knock and talk' technique

05:47 PM CST on Thursday, January 12, 2006

Donald Ray Hall testified that he had crack cocaine on his kitchen table and a gun nearby the day Dallas police arrived at his door.

But federal drugs and weapons charges against him were dropped – a judge threw out the evidence against him, saying officers had conducted an illegal search.

The case is one of several that have the Police Department rethinking how and when officers conduct so called "knock and talks," a popular police technique of investigating suspected drug activity without a warrant.

Police brass are considering requiring that knock and talks be audiotaped or videotaped to protect officers from allegations of improperly searching people's homes.

Officers may also be required to obtain a written consent for the search from the occupant of the residence.

"We think knock and talks are a very valuable tool," Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said. "We also recognize that they have to be carefully managed, that they can be abused ... what constitutes a lawful voluntary search versus one that is coerced is a fine line that we don't want to cross."

The knock and talk technique involves knocking on the door of a home, usually a suspected drug house, and trying to talk the people inside into inviting them in to search without a warrant. Police can enter without a search warrant if they see illegal activity happening.

Police often use knock and talks when neighbors complain of drug activity, but officers don't have enough evidence for a search warrant. Knock and talks usually hold up in court unless a judge has some reason not to believe an officer's version of events.

Defense attorneys and legal experts said they knew of no major department currently requiring the taping of knock and talks.

"It makes a great deal of sense," said George Dix, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law and an expert in criminal law and procedure. "It's really admirable that they're concerned about it enough to think about it creatively."

The problem with knock and talks is that they are sort of a "he said, he said kind of situation," Mr. Dix said. An officer can say the suspect gave consent for a search when he did not, or can falsely claim that he saw illegal activity that gave him the legal justification to search the house.

Audio and video "would make a world of difference because then you'd know what happened," said Kenneth Blassingame, a Dallas defense attorney representing clients in two different cases who claim police conducted illegal searches using knock and talks.

"Somewhere between what the defendant and the police officer says normally is the truth," he said.

Police say they need to be aggressive in cutting crimes that link closely to violence, such as dealing drugs. But in that "noble cause," it is easy to see how some officers may be tempted to cut legal corners, said First Assistant Chief David Brown.

Tougher knock and talk rules could help police strike a balance between fighting drugs and protecting the rights of citizens, including drug dealers, he said.

"We've got to do more to get a handle on illegal drugs in our community," Chief Brown said. "But we have to find ways to do it that are legal, moral and ethical."

Under current knock and talk policy, officers must have a supervisor present for planned knock and talk operations. They can obtain either written or verbal consent for the search.

"The law is clear verbal consent is OK," Chief Brown said. "But verbal consent is so weak. We need to cut out the perception that verbal consent was not given or even fabricated. How you got into the house is key."

In Mr. Hall's case, a federal judge threw out drug and gun evidence seized in April 2004 at his mother's apartment. The judge did not believe a Dallas police officer who testified that when he approached the second-floor apartment to conduct a knock and talk, he found the door wide open and Mr. Hall and a friend packaging crack at the kitchen table.

Instead, the judge believed Mr. Hall, who testified that he did have crack and a gun, but that the door had only been slightly ajar. Testimony showed that if the door had been slightly ajar, the kitchen table would not have been visible.

"The Court finds the defendant to be more credible ... ." U. S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer wrote in his September ruling. "In addition, the Court found the defendant's testimony to be more consistent and forthright."

"This court cannot excuse a tainted search just because it bore fruit," his 29-page opinion stated.

The officer involved could not be reached for comment. Police said he didn't face any disciplinary action because there was no evidence of a violation of department policy or procedure.

"Everybody wants to see drugs off the street," Mr. Blassingame said. "The problem is they're going out there and violating the hell out of these people's rights."




http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/011306dnmetknockandtalk.1bbde17a.html
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 3:21:54 PM EDT
This will be fun.

Link Posted: 1/12/2006 3:52:31 PM EDT
The cops in Portland, OR, had a knock and talk program. They wanted to talk to someone about some pot, so they had a female officer knock on the door. The guy inside was growing the stuff and pushing it into his fireplace as fast as he could when he saw the cops. Some where along the line the guy in the house shot and killed the female officer.

The knock and talk seems pretty low key; so does "Mind if I search your car?"
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:09:38 PM EDT
I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who was dumb enough to let the police in their home without a warrant.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:10:49 PM EDT
A No-Knock happened here in Illinois the other day. Perp went for his gun and got hot lead. Fortunately the cops had the right house. However, the Illinois state police is investigating.

This is a no win for the average citizen. Someone enters an innocent man's house, cops or otherwise.....what's he supposed to do!?!

ANYONE trying to enter my home by any other means than being let in will be shot.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:12:17 PM EDT
I am so very grateful for the refinements in Constitutional law promoted by the war on drugs.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:14:56 PM EDT

I've always been told when the cops show up at your door. Your best bet is to go outside and talk with them.


I guess now I am going to have to lock my door on the way out and swallow the key!


Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:15:31 PM EDT
As long as I can tell them to stay out on the porch and step outside to "talk" I don't have any problem with them knocking or talking. Since the ruling that police can search my home for "officer safety", my policy became all interaction will take place on the front porch or in the yard. Rain, -12 degrees, July heat wave, whatever.

Taping the incident just makes sense to me. Keeps the cops honest and puts an end to the crack-head claiming that he threatened to cut off his nut sack if he didn't agree.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:16:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AIRBOSS4:
A No-Knock happened here in Illinois the other day. Perp went for his gun and got hot lead. Fortunately the cops had the right house. However, the Illinois state police is investigating.

This is a no win for the average citizen. Someone enters an innocent man's house, cops or otherwise.....what's he supposed to do!?!

ANYONE trying to enter my home by any other means than being let in will be shot.



I think you have the wrong thread?
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:22:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Grunteled:
As long as I can tell them to stay out on the porch and step outside to "talk" I don't have any problem with them knocking or talking. Since the ruling that police can search my home for "officer safety", my policy became all interaction will take place on the front porch or in the yard. Rain, -12 degrees, July heat wave, whatever.

Taping the incident just makes sense to me. Keeps the cops honest and puts an end to the crack-head claiming that he threatened to cut off his nut sack if he didn't agree.



Good call. I helped set up the highway interdiction team here, and the judges always thought we were lying about consent automobile searches. I mean, who the hell would agree to a search knowing he had $100K and 2 kilos of cocaine in his trunk, right? Even so, we usually won on suppression issues because the BGs wouldn't testify.

Then we got cameras in the cars. Bwahahahahahaha! I thought I was going to come in my pants when I saw the expression on the judge's face the first time we played one in court. His jaw dropped, he blinked, he looked at the defendant, he looked back at the TV, and shook his head. There was Joe Dirtbag, big as life, very amiably telling the cop "Oh, I don't mind at all, officer. You go right ahead. Anything I can do to help?" Suddenly the judge knew we had been telling the truth for the preceding year and a half or so.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:23:49 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Grunteled:

Originally Posted By AIRBOSS4:
A No-Knock happened here in Illinois the other day. Perp went for his gun and got hot lead. Fortunately the cops had the right house. However, the Illinois state police is investigating.

This is a no win for the average citizen. Someone enters an innocent man's house, cops or otherwise.....what's he supposed to do!?!

ANYONE trying to enter my home by any other means than being let in will be shot.



I think you have the wrong thread?



Hey! ANYONE trying to tell him he is in the wrong thread by any other means than being invited to do so will be shot.

Watch your ass, buddy.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:24:09 PM EDT
Even tho I don't have jack diddley to worry about, there is a reason I have two entrance doors to my house, and the front and back outside steel doors are covered by a roof. I don't want ANYONE inside the house proper, period, unless I know them. Also it keeps the slavering dogs from chomping, tho the heads popping up every 2 seconds can be a bit disconcerting for someone.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:31:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:

Originally Posted By Grunteled:

Originally Posted By AIRBOSS4:
A No-Knock happened here in Illinois the other day. Perp went for his gun and got hot lead. Fortunately the cops had the right house. However, the Illinois state police is investigating.

This is a no win for the average citizen. Someone enters an innocent man's house, cops or otherwise.....what's he supposed to do!?!

ANYONE trying to enter my home by any other means than being let in will be shot.



I think you have the wrong thread?



Hey! ANYONE trying to tell him he is in the wrong thread by any other means than being invited to do so will be shot.

Watch your ass, buddy.



Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:33:30 PM EDT
My original premise was going to be knock and talk vs. a no knock etc.

My fault for not being at attention!

ANYONE disagreeing with me will be shot!!!

Carry on soldiers.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 4:48:17 PM EDT
I'm ok with talking to them outside-but no warrant, no entry. Period.

IF they are there and acting in an official capacity, they are not there to have tea with you. I'm of the belief that if they spend enough assets to do a knock and talk on you, they plan on making an arrest and are going to do their damndest to get it.

Not to mention the added attraction of being able to seize your home for a drug offense or under a RICO statute.

Dave
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 5:15:27 PM EDT
We Knock-Talk all the time. This is a normal part of policing in Alaska and yes, we record every contact. You would be suprised how many dirt bags will say sure search me, my car, my bags or my house. I get invited into the house and if you watch the dirt bag they will let you know just where the dope is. On the other hand to many of the judges out there smoke to much dope themselfs. All to often I have ran into officers of the court that ar criminals themselfs. Just remimber next time something about gun rights come up and these judges give your rights away.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 5:16:54 PM EDT
Other common tricks to get in to look around:

"Uh, may I use your bathroom?"

"My cellphone battery died, mind if I use your phone?"

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