A North Carolina police chief has officially barred officers from making up phony 911 calls in order to gain access to private residences without a search warrant.
Several officers with the Durham Police Department lied about 911 hang-up calls to convince residents to consent to searches of their homes, an officer said under oath in late May, a local ABC affiliate reported.
The allegations prompted Police Chief Jose Lopez to send out an internal memo barring the practice.
"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," he said in the memo, Raw Story reported. "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."
Officer A.B. Beck admitted during testimony that he lied in order to gain entry to the defendant's home in South-Central Durham and serve an outstanding warrant.
He told a District Court judge that fake emergency scheme was a common practice within Durham's police department — an accusation the police chief denies.
"This has never occurred," Chief Lopez told the ABC affiliate. "We want to find out what ... led him to believe that this is something he should do."
Chief Lopez said his department immediately launched an internal investigation and is only aware of the single incident.
Durham's City Manager Tom Bonfield, however, is promising to look into the allegations.
"If confirmed that this tactic was used, the city manager agrees that it is entirely unacceptable," Mr. Bonfield said through a city spokesperson, the ABC affiliate reported. "This tactic is not a policy, nor an acceptable practice of the department for any reason."
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