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Criminal Nuggets

Sep 25, 2014

A knock and talk is a police tactic. The goal is to conduct a warrantless search of a home by walking up to the residence, engaging in conversation with the resident, ending in consent for the police to enter and search. For an example of how not to conduct a knock and talk, listen to Podcast Episode 014 of the Criminal Nuggets Podcast.

In Episode 014, I discuss the case of People v. Kofron

Clearly, the appellate court had big problems with police and the appellate prosecutor in that case. The question that remains is whether or not this case illustrates THE problem with a knock and talk or was this case an isolated example of rogue cops?

Similar to Stop and Frisk

Ultimately, how a person feels about the police tactic of a knock and talk is probably very similar to how a person feels about a stop and frisk.

A stop and frisk is a similar police tactic. Here, the goal is to conduct a warrantless search of a person. Police are trained to walk up to a person, engage in conversation, and eventually gain consent to conduct a search of the person.

Advocates against warrantless searches of person, probably won’t see the merit in a warrantless search of a home. Supporters of law enforcement who believe a consensual search of a person is an appropriate policy tool, probably see a consensual search of a home in the same way.

Everyone Embarrass Themselves Here

The trial court judge was really bothered by the warrantless search conducted in the case of People v. Kofron.  

The judge actual felt compelled to say this, on the record:

"In my years of law enforcement, I don’t know that I’ve seen anything that exceeds what-the conduct that I’ve seen here.”

People v. Kofron ¶ 11.

The appellate court in its written opinion felt compelled to say about the appellate prosecutors handling the appeal of the case for the State:

“We begin by addressing a number of distortions of the record on appeal made by the State in the ‘Statement of Facts’ section of its opening brief. These distortions are problematic not only because the State relies upon the distortions as key elements in support of its legal arguments on appeal, but also because the distortions undermine the credibility of the State in general.”

People v. Kofron ¶ 14.

To say the least, the trial judge did not believe the cops testimony. The cops were trying to say in court that they were given valid consent to enter and search the home. Sure, things got a little heated, but the resident finally “let them in”. Yea, that is how it went down.

How Do You Say “NO”?

Critics of this police tactic argue that one of the main problems is that there is no remedy when citizens are confronted with police personnel who simply do not accept “No” as the answer.

Police, often invest time, money, personnel and resources on these things. How easily, are they going to show up in force and then just walk away when the homeowner is less than enthusiastic about letting a S.W.A.T team into turns things upside down?

Clearly, the cops discussed in episode 014 did not accept “No”.

What do you think?

Is this case an example of the systematic problem with a knock and talk? Or is this just an example of bad cops executing a good strategy?

Let me know  what you think in the comments below.