North Carolina police accused of making up phony 911 calls to search homes

Several police officers in Durham, N.C., reportedly got into homes and searched them by telling residents police had received 911 hang-up calls from their addresses, according to news reports.

The tactic, a way around the requirement to get a warrant to search a home, was described in court by a Durham officer identified as A.B. Beck by IndyWeek. Beck admitted during testimony he used the tactic earlier this year and, as a result, found two marijuana blunts and a marijuana grinder.

Durham County Chief District Judge Marcia Morey squashed the marijuana case, saying, “You cannot enter someone’s house based on a lie.”

When asked about the officer’s claim that the tactic is common in the department, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said it is not. “This has never happened,” he told ABC11. “We want to find out what led … him to believe that this is something he should do.”

Lopez said the department immediately launched an internal investigation.

After the case was dropped, Lopez sent out a memo banning 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,” the memo stated, according to multiple news reports. “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.”

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever

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