Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Wayne, Pennsylvania
    (Chester County)
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    Default 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    I am a new poster here, a long-time gun owner, aged 56, an NRA member, don't drink or smoke, have a great amount of respect for the local PD and authority in general, and also have a valid license to carry.

    But I am troubled by an event that occurred at approximately 4:25 AM on January 25, 2009. I guess I'd like to share that event with you and receive any suggestions of what I should have done differently.

    My girlfriend and I attended a long auction the day before in Ephrata, PA, bought some firearm related stuff there, ate some sushi that evening in Reading, PA with another who attended the auction, came home to my Chester County town home after a long day, and went to bed around 9:30 p.m. on January 24, 2009.

    At some time this morning (probably a few minutes before 4:25 AM or thereabouts), I thought I heard someone attempting to press the doorbell. I felt I heard an electronic clicking of sorts as if the doorbell was malfunctioning, but I could be wrong. I don't think it rang, because my dog sleeps at the top of the stairs and he would have started barking at the sound of a doorbell.

    So I just laid in bed for a few minutes wondering what was going on and didn't hear anything else. So I'm thinking maybe I imagined this. I figured my kids had keys to the place, but if they were visiting, it sure was an odd time. So I pondered for a moment about what to do and it seemed like everything was alright.

    Then someone pounded on the door and my dog immediately jumped up and started barking - which is what just about any dog would do when suddenly awakened at early morning hours. So now I thought I knew it was either a kid coming back from college who lost or forgot a key, a neighbor who needed help for some emergency, or a bad guy.

    So I turned on my nightstand lamp on in the second floor bedroom, put on my pants and shirt, took my Beretta 92 out of the nightstand, put a round in battery, and went outside my bedroom door. I turned on the stairwell light, went down the stairway with my barking dog, and turned on the outside lights. The front door has a double door, so I opened the inside door (which is mostly a glass door) and cracked the outside door (a glass storm door), because I didn't see anyone standing in front of it.

    Imagine my dismay to here "THIS IS THE POLICE!". Surreal for sure, because I couldn't see them with the lights in my eyes. Thought about it later and they seemed to be in the classic "Y" position with officers and lights on each side of the "Y", an officer in the middle, and me at the bottom of the Y.

    I asked them "Why are you here?"

    "We've received a phone call that there is a disturbance here - yelling, screaming, etc."

    I told them there was nothing going on and that they had awakened everyone from a deep sleep.

    Then one said "What's in your hand?"

    "It's a gun - and I have a permit to carry it."

    "LAY THE GUN ON THE GROUND, RIGHT NOW!"

    Now you have to understand that it's 4:25 a.m., it's dark outside, I can't see the people claiming to be police, nobody has showed me a badge, there weren't any lights swirling around on any vehicle, etc.

    I told them I wasn't going to lay it on the ground but I'd put it down inside on a Venetian chest.

    As I started to turn, another officer shouted, "DON"T DO IT", as if I was contemplating death by cop at this hour of the morning. I just backed away from the door and into my living room, never raising or pointing the pistol in their direction.

    The gun in question was one of those older Beretta 92 EL's in mirror-blue finish, gold features on trigger, hammer, screws, etc and had about 10,000 rounds through it still looking as if it came home from the factory yesterday.

    I put the gun down and came back to the front door. My dog was already there with his nose against the glass, barking away. Someone yelled, "Put the dog away!"

    I said "He lives here. Why are you here again?"

    He repeated that there was a complaint that someone heard yelling and screaming and they were just checking it out. I told them there was nothing going on, that he had awakened me, my GF, and of course, my dog, but that he was welcome to come inside.

    He asked if the dog was OK with him coming in the house and said, "Yeah, as long as you're a good guy." Most dogs know the difference.

    And I opened the storm door to let him in and backed into the living room. I also yelled up the stairs, "Honey, somebody heard some screaming and yelling and said it was going on in here and there are at least three policemen outside who are just checking this out. Will you come downstairs?

    She's a great shooter and I'm glad she didn't come down the stairs with my FN Police shotgun, laser, and EOTech site.

    So now there's one officer standing by the door, a corporal standing inside my living room, my GF standing near the bottom of the stairs, my dog standing by the coffee table wondering what's going on, and me standing by the Venetian chest where I placed my Beretta 92 thinking the same thing.

    I looked at his shoulder patch and recognized "Tredyffrin Township" which is where I live. Well, at least these guys weren't from Blackwater...

    The officer in the living room handed me his notepad and a pen, and asked me to write down my name and birthdate, which I did. While my hands were occupied, he stepped over and said "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to move this gun."

    After he had picked it up and started moving it to the kitchen counter, I told him it was OK to move, but that it was loaded and a round racked.

    He was very careful with it as it carried it to a distant counter and set it down gently.

    When he came back, he again asked "Are you sure there was no yelling or screaming?" I told him the same stuff I told him previously, and asked him who called in this false alarm. He said he couldn't divulge the name.

    He wished me a good night, we shook hands, and the three or four of them went on their way. My GF and I tried to go back to bed, but we had a hard time reconciling what occurred.

    So around 8:30 a.m., I saw one of my neighbors (a hunter, dog lover, cigar smoker, etc) and told him what happened. He couldn't believe it and was sure they had the wrong address.

    Around 9:30 a.m., I stopped by the Tredyffrin township building, met an officer outside who asked if he could help me and I told him my story and said I wanted to follow up to learn why four of them were at my place at 4:25 a.m.

    I asked, "Wasn't it the wrong address?"

    He said, "No, they got the right address."

    I was dumbfounded. He did offer that I could come back at 10:00 pm tonight (Sunday) or Monday as they got off shift around 6:30 am and speak with the Sargent who was also at my address. I intend to do so.

    So now you know everything I know.

    I'm grateful no one was hurt during this misadventure, that training for the township officers showed some restraint, that my NRA training was equally restrained, but I am very puzzled about who made the erroneous call and that this can happen in the United States.

    In retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised. I just feel that if there is a nutcase living near me who is hearing things in his or her own head, the police should warn me and other neighbors about it. I'm still in a bit of shock at my exposure to what felt like the new "Police State".

    I also wondered if I should have left all the lights off as I checked who was knocking at the front door, or whether I should have even let the officer in. Is this the way it's going to feel if our citizenship ever gets forcibly disarmed?

    May I respectfully ask those who have taken the time to read this post and have any suggestion to comment on it?

    Kindest regards,

    Bamboomaster

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pittston, Pennsylvania
    (Luzerne County)
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    I can't speak for everyone but I would not have allowed them to enter my house. They had no probable cause to think the call was real. Obviously there was no yelling and screaming when they pulled up. As for dropping the gun. I might have responded by saying show me some id.

    Any one can show up at your house in the middle of the night shining lights into your face claiming to be the pd. As a matter of fact that would be a good scam for a home invasion tactic. See what I mean?
    troll Free. It's all in your mind.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Bucks, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    Never open your door at 4:25 AM.



    Most of the trouble flows from that initial mistake. If they were bad guys, you'd bypass every protective measure that you've set up by opening the door and placing yourself into a situation of their design. The best locks and the stoutest doors are useless if you open them on demand.

    If they are good guys, they should stand outside your house for a while and listen to the quiet. A phone call from some random person is not a warrant to enter your home. Unless you're OJ and there's a history of wife abuse, I don't see any urgency.

    People have lost their dogs in similar circumstance, where there were no prior crimes at the address, no obvious evidence of criminality. Some cops seem to view every dog as a threat and a target. Strangers knock on your door at 4:25 AM and expect you to accept the burden of proof that YOU pose no threat to THEM.

    Next time, talk to them from a 2nd-floor window. Or call 911 and get patched through. DO NOT OPEN YOUR DOOR. After you open the door and share air space with cops, there is literally nothing that you are allowed to do to prevent them from doing whatever they want. Sure, you can try suing them later, but you can't raise a hand to stop them from disarming you, from searching the house, from shooting the dog, from cuffing you and the wife and the toddler. They are MUCH less likely to break in a locked door just to pursue a warrantless investigation, and you have NO OBLIGATION to come outside.

    Cops have tough jobs. If my sister was being hacked to death n her home and a neighbor called in a report of the screams, I would want and expect the cops to investigate. But that doesn't negate the Constitutional safeguards.

    I'd definitely follow up on who filed the complaint, that information is only protected to a point (and a lot of that changed with the new PA right to know law). A civil lawsuit would likely make that available.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Claymont, Delaware
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    Sorry to hear about the rude awakening. Hope you can find out who made the call and press charges.

    Personally I'd never let anyone I don't know into my house. I don't care what they are wearing. I've seen reports of Bad Guys doing such things and no good came from it. I'd either talk to them through the door or go out to talk to them. They have no right to enter unless they have a search warrant.

    I'll leave it at that and let the more knowledgeable give their opinions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Slate Belt Area, Pennsylvania
    (Northampton County)
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    +1 to all of the above.

    I would have called 911 and verified with a calltaker/dispatcher that there were LEOs actually at the door. After positive ID, I would have stepped outside to talk with them. If you're a diabetic and had a syringe lying on the table, they would have been all over the house looking for drugs.

    Glad things worked out peacefully for you. You can petition your county call center for the record of the call. If the LEOs requested a number be assigned to the call, all information will be complete, complaintant included.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    (Lancaster County)
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    35
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    1st. I would have never dropped the gun until I knew for a fact that they were PD.

    2nd. I would not have let them into the house without a warrant period! I may have offered to step outside but that would be all.

    3rd. I would tell them they either were mistaken or have the wrong address and would like to go back inside and go to bed. If they refuse and force me to comply with any illegal requests I would. But I would be calling my lawyer in the morning.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Windsor Twsp., Pennsylvania
    (York County)
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    #1... Welcome to PAFOA! Something tells me you're going to find this place to be an incredible resource, I know I have!

    #2... Awesome 1st post, and thanks for sharing this. I, for one, am looking forward to the various responses.

    #3... My own lack of experience with situations like this prevents me from offering any kind of advice, but I am sending a +rep to you for putting your experience out there and inviting responses... well done!
    While many claim to support the right, precious few support the practice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Hatboro, Pennsylvania
    (Montgomery County)
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    Can't comment on the visit directly. However, I just want mention that motion sensors around the house would be beneficial in identifying people in the middle of the night. Nobody can approach my front or back door without setting one of three sensors off. In fact people walking on the sidewalk set the front sensor off. At the very least they could help you I.D. the good guys if they show up at 4AM again.
    I can tell you've been rady8ed, you have a nice glow about you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    Look up your address with the first 3 numbers of your zip, see what come up.

    Many who live on a "Center" "Ridge" or "Penn" street will understand,

    To give an example, Center street in Allegheny while calling 911 could come out to 15 or 20 places, giving the town is no use, but cutting down to the boro or township will help.

    Unfortunately, many people do not know what exact boro ow township they live in.

    If you have an alarm system, (I don't remember reading you disarmed it) call your central station to see if there was not a "Panic" alarm for your home. Many times people will trigger a silent panic with their key fob and not realize it, then call us asking why the PD is there... As a general rule, the PD will not tell you why they are there.

    What you might have done, rather then blindly let them in is call 911 and ask why there are police at your home.
    As some one said, this could have been a ruse to get in your home as a hoe invasion. Uniforms and badges are pretty common to the people who do this, so not a good indicator that you are really dealing with the PD.

    One more thing you might consider is if you pissed off any one lately who might want revenge. Unfortunately, there are people who will go to a phone booth (rare these days) or use a throw away phone to make a call of “Domestic disturbance” that can not really be traced back to them.

    Some thing similar happened to us here, the PD come knocking in the middle of the afternoon asking if all was ok… Fortunate for me, I know my local PD and the one who came that day is a very good friend of my neighbor. Turns out, based on a post my wife put on her “Myspace” a ‘Friend’ OF hers thought she was suicidal, and knowing she had guns in the house, decided to call the police on us from Washington state…

    Army mom buddies they where, turns out my wife was venting on her blog saying how our Son had not written her in months from Iraq, she could be dead and he would never know… This was enough to spark the call to our local 911 from a friend. (An anti gun friend) who right away thought this would turn out to a bloodbath from an uncontrollable woman in grief of her son…
    Skeet is a sport where you are better to hit half of each bird then completely blast one and miss the other completely.

    The choice is yours, place your faith in the court system and 12 of your peers, or carried away by 6 friends.

    Nemo Me Impune Lacessit. 'Nobody provokes me with impunity'
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    In this world there's two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Default Re: 4:25 AM Police Visit?

    Hey GL, you forgot the kitten stomping. Oooppps, that's ATF, sorry.

    Bam, welcome to the forum.

    I had something happen a while back myself, not to the extent of yours. Late night, 2200 or so, banging on door. I looked outside, and saw a PSP car in front of the house, and a 5'4" female PSP Trooper at the door. I answered the door, .45 held behind my back, just in case. The Trooper was very nice, looking for another address, which I told her how to get to.

    At 0425 a banging on the door, with or without "this is the police", is responded to by me in a barricade position covering the door with an M1A. To many home invasions. Someone else in the home will call 911, and if they where responding to a disturbance call and pulled up to a dark home and no noise they can go away. Where I live I would also call our Public Safety force and let them check to see if they are the popo. If they shoot the PSO, then I know they are not the popo. If OK then I would step out to see them.

    We can only do what we think is right at the time. Situations like yours are very dynamic, and every second things change.
    I would a least want the info from the call about the disturbance.

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