A Durham, North Carolna police officer has admitted to lying to residents about 911 calls in order to search their homes. He claimed in court that the ruse was official departmental policy.
Indy Week reports that one officer admitted, under oath, in May to telling a woman that police had received a 911 call from inside her home.
The caller hung up, officer A.B. Beck reportedly told the woman, before asking for permission to search the home. The woman permitted Beck into her home, where he found marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Beck testified that the 911 trick was used in cases where domestic violence is alleged. He admitted to lying to gain entry into the home.
The defendant has not been named because charges against her have been dropped.
Her attorney made a motion to suppress the drug evidence in the case following Beck’s admission.
Marcia Morey, chief district judge for Durham County, granted the motion.
"You cannot enter someone's house based on a lie," Morey said.
The district attorney’s office subsequently dropped the charges in the case.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez sent out an internal memo to officers following the case’s dismissal.
WTVD News obtained a copy of that memo.
"Effective immediately," Lopez wrote. "No officer shall inform a citizen that there has been a call to the emergency communications center, including a hang up call, when there in fact has been no such call."
Lopez denied that such a policy was ever official within the department.
"This has never occurred," he said. "We want to find out what … led [the officer] to believe that this is something he should do.”
Durham’s City Manager Tom Bonfield said his office will look into the matter.
"If confirmed that this tactic was used, the city manager agrees that it is entirely unacceptable," a spokesperson for Bonfield said. "This tactic is not a policy, nor an acceptable practice of the department for any reason.”