Shift Briefing Series: Police welfare checks

Understanding community care, emergency aid and exigent circumstances will help officers make better legal and tactical decisions


The Shift Briefing Series is designed to provide law enforcement officers with short training videos that will help make them smarter, safer and more efficient in daily operations and when responding to critical incidents. The videos address key components of the Top 20 Concepts, a class I created and have presented around the country since 2011. The class addresses 20 foundational concepts in law enforcement that are based in law, policy and ethics, are repeatable and defensible, and assist with critical incident decision-making. Group discussion questions are listed after each video to help solidify the topics and ensure the application is in line with your department’s mission and values. Submit your questions for consideration using the form below.  

This video explores the concepts behind police welfare checks and "duty to protect." These concepts are foundational to police response to suicidal subjects and other types of welfare checks.

Understanding the community care doctrine, emergency aid doctrine and exigent circumstances will help officers make better legal and tactical decisions when responding on these difficult calls.

Questions to consider

1. When might community care give you a reason to enter a home and when should community care stop at the door?

2. Why is having reasons, approximating probable cause, for using emergency aid important to understand for law enforcement?

3. During a community care contact, once you realize the person is OK, what do you need to exercise any authority from that point forward?

4. Why is knowing whether community care or emergency aid is covered under exigent circumstances important?

5. Why is understanding the limits on “duty to care” important in daily law enforcement efforts?

Reader-submitted questions

What are some reasons or criteria that police should have EMS co-respond on a welfare check?

An EMS professional can often assist with getting medical clearance for a person so they can bypass the hospital and go to a treatment/assessment center. This prevents emergency department personnel from getting tied up and a police officer getting held up waiting for a doctor to clear the subject.

What questions do you have regarding police welfare checks? Complete the form below. 

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