Questions for LEO on police/civil authority

Questions for LEO on police/civil authority

This is a discussion on Questions for LEO on police/civil authority within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I would love to ask a few questions of LEO's on the subject of their civil authority and the common citizen's right to refuse that ...

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Thread: Questions for LEO on police/civil authority

  1. #1
    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    Questions for LEO on police/civil authority

    I would love to ask a few questions of LEO's on the subject of their civil authority and the common citizen's right to refuse that authority. If there are any LEO's who would like to answer here is the first question.

    A gunman is surrounded in their house in a neighborhood. The officer in charge at the scene wants all residents in a one block area around the gunman evacuated. When you show up at a person's door and tell them to evacuate what force of law does that order hold? What would be the LEO action if the resident respectfully declined their order and said they would take responsibility for themselves and were not leaving?

    I would love to ask a lot of these types of questions. The event that sparked my interest in this is reports about the Greensburg Kansas tornado aftermath where residents were evicted from their homes (some of the few that were standing) and while they were gone the homes were ransacked and belongings taken. My initial thoughts on this are that the scene commander wanting the area cleared to help protect others and prevent collateral injury is prudent, but does not meet the judicial requirements to be a binding legal requirement and that if a resident declined they would be on their own and in additional danger. It is basically just a request for compliance in the interest of the resident's safety. While out in public I know and agree that the requests of a police officer carry a lot of weight. In a person's residence I would not think that to be the case. Help me out. I am not trying to be contrary or a PITA to any LEO. I really do want to understand how come things like the Katrina gun grab happen. Where do law-abidding citizens stand their ground and inform the LEO they are mistaken?
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigiceman View Post
    A gunman is surrounded in their house in a neighborhood. The officer in charge at the scene wants all residents in a one block area around the gunman evacuated. When you show up at a person's door and tell them to evacuate what force of law does that order hold? What would be the LEO action if the resident respectfully declined their order and said they would take responsibility for themselves and were not leaving?
    I dont think I could force you from your home under those conditions... about all I can do is advise you about whats going on, suggest you leave (I dont know why I would). I can "make" you stay in your home if there is immediate danger outside.

    If you disagree with me, and want to "advise" me what is right or wrong... its going to be a bad day for the both of us. If I'm knocking on your door because of a dangerous situation, then is not the time for a debate. In all honesty, I'd probably give you a written invite or perhaps even drive you to the proper venue for such a debate.

    The best course of action in those situations is avoid them... I know you cant avoid a tornado, but you can do things ahead of time to minimize problems when that does occur.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    If you disagree with me, and want to "advise" me what is right or wrong... its going to be a bad day for the both of us. If I'm knocking on your door because of a dangerous situation, then is not the time for a debate. In all honesty, I'd probably give you a written invite or perhaps even drive you to the proper venue for such a debate.

    This is exactly what I wanted to get to. I want you to understand I don't mean to be disrespectful, I really do want to know what would give you the right and authority to do that? Is it a real authority or is it a use of another authority that does not really apply, to punish someone who is disagreeing with you?
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigiceman View Post
    This is exactly what I wanted to get to. I want you to understand I don't mean to be disrespectful, I really do want to know what would give you the right and authority to do that? Is it a real authority or is it a use of another authority that does not really apply, to punish someone who is disagreeing with you?
    Its not that your disagreeing with me, its the fact that you would be hindering or causing the situation to be worse by arguing. If I'm knocking at your door, time is important and I dont have the time to argue.

    Understand that I wouldnt demand you leave unless there is more to the story... and that brings me to another issue; Chances are the LEO that is there knows a little more about the situation at hand and has good reason to see that you leave. We had a tornado come through a few years ago, and we needed to clear a fair portion of our city due to gas leaks. I cant tell you how frusterating it is explaining or even arguing with knuckle heads who though I was trying to trample their rights. Most of them I said said fine, burn up alone and we will fine your family for the removal of your charred body. That got 'em moving most of the time, but it prolonged my exposure too, and thats mostly why I was angry with those people.
    Same thing happened more recent when a train derailed. Nobody was forced from their home, but a lot wanted to debate and argue. I dont have time for that, and I'm risking exposure the longer I take.

    Again, I wouldnt care if you stayed or not in almost all cases but the minute you got in the way of whatever I needed to do, I'd change my mind.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    I understand what you mean about wasting your time and it being frustrating. I can completely understand how that would get old real quick and would indeed increase your exposure. Thanks for the answer and the insight.

    To help me, and anyone else, to better interface with the law enforcement community would you answer this?

    You are home and an officer comes to your door with the news that a standoff a street over is in progress and that they are asking everyone on your street to leave their homes until it is resolved. For legitimate reasons this is not possible for you. Let us say a loved one is sick in bed and cannot be moved in a reasonable period of time, not just that you don't feel like leaving and missing something on TV. How would you interface with the officer, or how would you want someone to interface with you? Would it be best to just say "I understand officer, thank you.", and then not leave?
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigiceman View Post
    I understand what you mean about wasting your time and it being frustrating. I can completely understand how that would get old real quick and would indeed increase your exposure. Thanks for the answer and the insight.

    To help me, and anyone else, to better interface with the law enforcement community would you answer this?

    You are home and an officer comes to your door with the news that a standoff a street over is in progress and that they are asking everyone on your street to leave their homes until it is resolved. For legitimate reasons this is not possible for you. Let us say a loved one is sick in bed and cannot be moved in a reasonable period of time, not just that you don't feel like leaving and missing something on TV. How would you interface with the officer, or how would you want someone to interface with you? Would it be best to just say "I understand officer, thank you.", and then not leave?

    I'd try this; Thanks for letting me know, but grandma is sick and I cant move her out of the house. We will stay put and get ourselves to the basement.

    It might help to ask for advice in staying safe... maybe let him suggest moving to the basement. Ask "Do you think it would be better if we move to the basement?" Whatever you do, dont mention guns or "being able to handle" this and that. Often times this might be taken as "I'm going to get in the way and make a bad situation worse"

    Just speak honestly about your situation. Dont suger coat or try to sound official, LEO's are just regular guys wearing a costume.
    "Just blame Sixto"

  7. #7
    Member Array mslaughtertx's Avatar
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    +1 on this. Most of the time you tell the LEO knocking on your door the situation they will understand. However, it has to be a pretty big deal for me or any LEO to take the time to go door knocking. TO further this, if you being in an area creates danger for surrounding parties then you can be forced to leave.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    I'd try this; Thanks for letting me know, but grandma is sick and I cant move her out of the house. We will stay put and get ourselves to the basement.

    Just speak honestly about your situation. Dont suger coat or try to sound official, LEO's are just regular guys wearing a costume.

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mslaughtertx View Post
    TO further this, if you being in an area creates danger for surrounding parties then you can be forced to leave.
    I understand the 'if it creates a danger', I just don't understand what could constitute a danger by being in your home. Once again I only want to understand.

    What would be your legal authorization to determine the danger existed and what law backs that up?
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    It varies by state and local ordinances...
    Welcome to the Center for Law and the Public's Health
    Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader - Chapter 1
    Worldandnation: Forced evacuation mired in constitutional dilemma

    but what it basically comes down to, is a person acting in due authority can enforce an evacuation order based on "the obligation of the government to protect the public health, safety, morals and general welfare."

    And "general welfare" is subjective...you don't have all the information, so you don't get to decide what's best for the 'general welfare' of the populace.

    Edited to add: And if they declare a National Emergency or martial law, they can pretty much do what they want. I think the government enters into the "Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission" mindset.
    Last edited by Kerbouchard; March 9th, 2008 at 11:46 PM. Reason: add info
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    I don't want to change the direction of this thread, but I find this quote from the World and Nation link, the one Kerbouchard partially quoted to be of particular interest and amusement.

    "University of Florida law professor Michael Allan Wolf said a fundamental legal concept is "the obligation of the government to protect the public health, safety, morals and general welfare.""

    Morals? Where in our constitution or any of our documents does it say the government is to protect the public morals? I know that members of the public have used the government to attempt to enforce certain moral issues, but that doesn't make it a government obligation.

    I think that while the "public" welfare is indeed a concern of the government, individual welfare is the concern of the individual citizen. Their example of a dam about to break is a good one. The government has the obligation to warn the public about the dam. It would even be within the government's ability to facilitate the evacuation by supplying some transport or setting up roads to support those leaving. The "public" safety is in no way enhanced by forcing any one person from their home. If this is the definition of public safety then the Supreme Court ruling that the police are not responsible for any one individual's safety would be wrong.
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Sorry, bigice, it's the best I could find...
    if you search google for "Supreme Court Rulings Public Welfare" you can find a lot of stuff I didn't feel like wading through tonight to provide you a detailed case study.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

    http://miscmusings.townhall.com/

    Who is John Galt?

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    Thanks Kerbouchard. I appreciate your response and the references. I am still wading through them. I wouldn't expect you to wade into court cases. I just wonder in the wake of some of the things that have happened recently where the line is drawn between the authority we give to our public servants and our individual rights. It seems to be getting blurrier.

    If we say a police officer who thinks you are a criminal cannot enter your home and search it without a warrant, how can we say he can enter and evict you for any reason that does not originate from a judicial authority? I understand that different communities and states have different laws that cover this and this is just a general discussion.

    Part of what I am looking for is getting back to the New Orleans gun grab. I don't believe that anyone ever has the authority to order the entry of people's homes against their will and seizure of any of their property, guns or any other. I think this should be so fundamental and repulsive that even if someone were to believe they needed to do this, the people they told would instantly and automatically correct them, and if they still insisted, flatly refuse. How did the people who did that in New Orleans ever believe what they were doing was right, let alone legal, or that the person that gave the order had the authority to tell them to do so?
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    If you read some of the references I cited, or any of the numerous posts about this same subject, you will find that a lot of the police and national guard were quoted as finding it sickening. I don't believe most of the guys involved in it, with the exception of the Kansas fiasco, wanted to be doing what they were doing. I'll tell you for sure, I don't want to wade through water, while being shot at, and try to recover bodes while the water I am wading through is contaminated with human waste, bacteria, and diseases.

    If you are speaking directly of N.O., the governor had the authority to order an evacuation. I do not belive he had the authority to order confiscation of the weapons, but in a situation like they were in, it's easy to justify 'extreme measures'...

    When you face a tragedy like N.O. it's difficult to know exactly what to do. Both on the LEO side and the civilian side. As a LEO, you want to get everybody to safety. As a civilian you want to protect your property and civil liberties...As far as the area where it becomes fuzzy...I don't know the answer to that. There are precedents in several states that allow for a mandatory evacuation. It would be a tough decision for me, personally, to make.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

    http://miscmusings.townhall.com/

    Who is John Galt?

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    Member Array bigiceman's Avatar
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    The mandatory evacuations were one part. I do understand there is authority for that, and it is judicially based in a lot of cases. The weapons confiscation, I just don't understand for a lot of reasons. The biggest thing I don't understand is the outright illegality of it. The next biggest reason is the waste of manhours it represented. I know it seems simple to me because I wasn't there. There were a lot of things that played into why people did the things they did I can never know about.
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
    "Baa."
    LTC(RET) Dave Grossman

    Revolutionary War Veterans Association Shooter Qualification: Cook

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    I have had to participate in as a LEO in a "Mandatory Evacuation" door-to-door alert. We did not force anyone to leave. We did, however, give them a sheet of paper which advised them that refusal to evacute exempted them from any rescue or assistance service. Basically, it stated that emergency services personnel would not be risked in a rescue attempt during or immediately following the storm if they refused to evacuate. Then we asked them for Next of Kin contact info. If they refused to leave, they were aware of the consequences. No way we were going to arrest people for it.
    Gonzo
    "Skin that smokewagon!".

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