What Does a Police Welfare Check Mean?

What Does a Police Welfare Check Mean?

A police welfare check is done if a call is made to check on a person presumed to be in danger. Buzzle delves deeper into what a police welfare check means.
Child abduction - Concept Photo
Quick Fact:
In 2013, the Aspen police responded to 335 welfare check calls. This is apparently 16% more than the 281 calls received in 2010. From 2010 to 2014, the number of welfare check calls to which the Aspen police has responded and taken action has almost doubled from 38 to 69 cases.
A police welfare check, also called a police wellness check, is done for an individual's safety. By a welfare check if you picture the police investigating someone's house or breaking open a door, you may be right, but that isn't the entire story.

The police do so to ensure that the person is safe and not in any mortal peril. There are certain misconceptions associated with this term, and it has been misused in many instances as well. In the following paragraphs, you will find a more elaborate explanation regarding welfare checks.

Situations
  • Assume that you have old grandparents or friends or siblings living in another city, with whom you communicate regularly.
  • You are not physically present in the city to help them or keep a track of their activities. So, if you haven't heard from them for a while, it is natural to be concerned about their safety and well-being.
  • If your acquaintances have helpful neighbors or friends, well and good; if not, you have to seek help from the police, who will conduct a welfare check.
Function
  • You will need to request a police welfare check at the police station of the place where your friends or family or whosoever resides, whom you want the check conducted on.
  • The police will ask you details about the person; this is because if the matter turns out to be nothing, they will simply have wasted their time.
  • To be more precise, if the scenario is such that the person is not able to hear your calls (if he is old), or is avoiding your calls (if he is your son/daughter) because he needs some time alone, etc., it makes no sense for the police to enter the house and check on the person.
  • If the individual is old, they will inquire if he has been under some treatment or has undergone some operation, etc.
  • In fact, in such cases, most likely, they will rush to the house of the suspected individual, in case he needs medical help.
  • If it is your sibling or friend, they will ask you details about your last conversation with him, if there was any upsetting incident, etc.
  • If there is, it is quite possible that the person may not be in the right state of mind and may harm himself. The police will then immediately rush to the spot.
  • A request can also be made if you find that your neighbor has not been seen for a while. Ideally, you can enter her house to check as well (just in case it is a minor issue and does not require the law to interfere), but if the doors are locked, or you find anything suspicious, you can request a wellness check.
  • If the police finds that the individual is fine, they will inform you immediately.
  • If he is unconscious or has unfortunately expired, they will notify you as well as the paramedics, and monitor the situation until you arrive and take over.
  • If they suspect any foul play (if the person is dead), the case may be turned over to higher authorities, and the body may be sent for an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.
Importance
  • Mainly, a wellness check is conducted for the sake of the elderly living alone.
  • If you are unable to care for them (due to whatever reasons), the law enforcement officers will intervene and control the situation.
  • Do not misinterpret this; they are not caregivers, they will not knock on the person's door every fortnight and check if they are fine. The check will be conducted if and only if you request them to do so.
  • Perhaps your sibling calls you everyday at 5:00 in the evening and has disappeared without a trace, or your grandfather has not answered your repeated calls, or your neighbor hasn't taken his regular morning walk, etc.
  • Thus, the intervention of the police in these matters is very relieving, this wellness check, therefore, is very important and necessary.
Welfare Check Laws
  • To begin with, contrary to what many people assume, a police welfare check does not require a search warrant or a court order.
  • If they have sufficient evidence to believe that the person's life is endangered (if an elderly person is a heart patient, if a teenager is suicidal because of abuse, etc.), they may enter the property.
  • They can identify themselves, knock on the door, and if there is no response, they have the complete right to enter the property.
  • This search, however, cannot be conducted to arrest someone or obtain evidence.
  • The police are entitled to take certain decisions regarding the matter at hand. These decisions are totally at their discretion.
  • The basic purpose of a welfare check is to provide emergency assistance, that is the reason the police do not require a court order.
Police welfare checks are actually very useful, especially for the senior citizens. Of course, they are not routine, and must be conducted only when an individual's safety is assumed to be threatened. The police themselves will take steps to ensure if the check is absolutely essential or not, in order to save their valuable time.