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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Dropped 911 call entitles police to warrantless entry of home
 

Issue Detail:

 
At the following link is a December 15, 2011 decision by Burlington County Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Kelly (retired on recall) affirming the conviction of an Air Force Captain for Obstruction (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a)) and Resisting Arrest (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-2a(1)). The decision is on-line here. At issue was a \"dropped\" 911 call that came from Captain Evan Reece\'s home in Pemberton Township. (A \"dropped\" 911 call is a call that is received by police but in which the caller gives no voice response to the dispatcher.) When Sergeant Peter Delagarza came to investigate the call, Reece, in a calm voice and demeanor, told him that he did not place the call. After Delagarza noted a fresh abrasion on Reece\'s hand and notice there were three cars in the driveway, he asked Reece about his marital status and whether or not he was home alone.\" At this point, according to Delagarza, Reece\'s \"demeanor began to change.\" Reece allegedly refused Delagarza\'s request to \"come in and look around\" and when two other officers arrived, Reece allegedly tried to close the door and lock it. The officers, however, were able to push the door open before Reece was able to lock it. \"After a few minutes of physical struggle, with the police hitting [Reece] in the face, he was controlled and cuffed\" and charged with the two offenses. Police then checked out the house and found it to be normal. Reece was convicted of both offenses by Pemberton Municipal Court Judge Charles Shimberg on March 14, 2011 after five court appearances. Judge Kelly affirmed, holding that a 911 call is presumptively an emergency and that the police were \"justified in doing what was needed to insure that no one in that house was in need of emergent aid.\" The circumstances constituted an exception to the normal rule that police must get a search warrant before making an entry into someone\'s residence. Reece has filed a civil suit in the matter. http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/20119on//PembertonComplaint.pdf and one of the officers, John Hall, filed a counterclaim seeking damages against Reece for allegedly injuring him. The lawsuit, however, has been put on hold while Reece appeals his conviction to the Superior Court, Appellate Division. John Paff, Chairman New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Police Accountability Project paff@pobox.com 732-873-1251

 

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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Dropped 911 call entitles police to warrantless entry of home. April 10, 2012.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012101is/
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