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View Full Version : Cops In N.J. Town Given Keys To Homes


ChuckBooty
03-24-2010, 6:23 PM
It's a novel program designed to improve the safety of senior citizens in New Jersey.

The program would allow police quick access into a home to help anyone having a medical emergency – without having the break down the door.

Marilyn Chesner is a retired music teacher and a widow. Living alone, the 79-year-old recently had a close call.

"I was standing there, and next thing I know I was on the floor," Chesner said.

That moment – passing out in the bathroom – made her think about things.

"I wondered what would happen if something happened, and I couldn't get out of bed or move. How could someone get into the house?" Chesner said.

That's why the grandmother was the first person to join "Operation Blue Angel" run by the Franklin Township Police Department.

Now Chesner has a lockbox with a spare key inside, similar to the one realtors use, which allows police to get into her home in the event of an emergency.

"Hopefully I will never need them, but it does give me an extra sense of security," Chesner said.

The lockbox has a combination that opens up the compartment with the spare key. Police first knock on the door, and if they don't get a response, they unlock the door and go in.

"No matter who you are, God forbid you get sick, we can respond immediately," Franklin Township Police Chief Craig Novick said.

Chief Novick came up with the idea after one of the area's huge snowstorms.

"What if we had to respond to the house where the keyholder couldn't respond because they were snowed-in? What would we do?" Chief Novick said.

Since the program started a week ago, 20 seniors and people with medical conditions have signed up. It provides peace of mind for their children.

"They can call us to send police to the house, to make sure their mother or father are alright," Deputy Chief Larry Roberts said.

"I'm just sorry they didn't start this a long time ago, and hope people take advantage of it," Chesner said.

Chesner said he understands that the little box could mean the difference between life or death.

Operation Blue Angel is funded completely by money seized during drug busts. While the program is intended for people with medical conditions or those 55 or older, anyone can sign up.

http://wcbstv.com/local/senior.safety.nj.2.1587632.html

Over my DEAD body!

Gray Peterson
03-24-2010, 6:27 PM
Over my DEAD body!

Over yours. Remember, these folks willfully joined the program, which is something I think about 99 percent of gun owners would NOT do.

Texas Boy
03-24-2010, 6:32 PM
Actually, this sounds like a good idea. The program is voluntary and is designed for older people who might need medical assistance.

I have a friend who recently suffered a stroke. He had the presence to recognize the stroke and call 911. He was also lucid enough to tell 911 that his neighbors had a key. Not having to wait for police to bust the door down not only saved him the repair, it might have saved his life - and certainly it enabled the paramedics to get to him faster and administer drugs that reduced the damage caused by the stroke.

For a healthy, non-elderly person this would obviously be a non starter, but it doesn't appear that is who they are targeting with this program.

ChuckBooty
03-24-2010, 6:32 PM
Over yours. Remember, these folks willfully joined the program, which is something I think about 99 percent of gun owners would NOT do.

Very true. Geeze..it just FLOORS me sometimes the faith that people have in their government. Don't they realize that cops are people too? They have flaws and yes, some of them might even commit crimes. So to just give a stranger a key to your house is crazy!

raycm2
03-24-2010, 6:32 PM
I don't think this is necessarily a bad idea. If you don't like it, don't sign up but for someone who has relatives in another state and either the relatives or the individual needs this type of confirmation, great! This is not 'break down the door' invasion, this is reasonable monitoring by request.

odysseus
03-24-2010, 6:34 PM
If it's 100% voluntary and doesn't burden the tax payer further, I don't see an issue.

JaMail
03-24-2010, 6:38 PM
all for it for older people that opt in to this..

mjukis
03-24-2010, 6:41 PM
Very true. Geeze..it just FLOORS me sometimes the faith that people have in their government. Don't they realize that cops are people too? They have flaws and yes, some of them might even commit crimes. So to just give a stranger a key to your house is crazy!

Not feeling the same way you do about the value of being able to receive help versus the risk of being burgled by a police officer in a small town, does not qualify a person as crazy. It qualifies them as more worried about dying while waiting for help than about their privacy and personal possessions. If they feel that way, that's up to them.

monkezuncle
03-24-2010, 6:54 PM
Guys... in most states this is something 100% of the business and many residents do. It's usually called a Knox Box and allows Fire/EMS to have a key placed in an outside location so we don't have to break down the door.

Now, I do have some reservations about allowing the cops to have access to it but the concept itself is pretty old (and I can say from experience works pretty well). We're also under really strict guidelines about when we can access it.

yellowfin
03-24-2010, 7:13 PM
It normalizes totalitarianism. NJ is probably the worst state to authorize the cops for this.

tyrist
03-24-2010, 7:21 PM
If grandma or your elderly parents live a distance away it's not necessarily bad. Police get lots of calls for welfare checks on the elderly/disabled so keep that in mind.

Window_Seat
03-24-2010, 7:27 PM
I could see this becoming a precursor to a requirement. If they can force you to buy stuff...

Google Earth has sure come a long way...

Erik.

VW*Mike
03-24-2010, 8:19 PM
If your old and can't take care of yourself and refuse a live in helper, or a medic alert bracelet, fine. Its at your discretion.

In my personal opinion, the cops are good at kicking doors down, they like to do so, why take that away from them?

chrisw
03-24-2010, 8:21 PM
I don't see a problem with it as long as it's voluntary, but I'll be singing a different tune when obama mandates it.

Aleksandr Mravinsky
03-24-2010, 9:15 PM
Don't you call the fire department for medical emergencies? Other than that, it seems like an alright program. It is voluntary, and if it becomes compulsory then it would probably be struck down as unconstitutional and illegal.

Seesm
03-24-2010, 9:25 PM
Hellz no... My key is for me only... Just let me die...

RomanDad
03-25-2010, 6:24 AM
Ive got no problem with it.... When I lived in Hollywood, the 88 year old blind, diabetic woman who lived across the street went out for dinner and forgot to take her "life alert" thingy with her.... The system had some sort failsafe where if she didnt push a button every so often, it alerted the paramedics. They call her... No answer... Call her ICE number.... No answer... Paramedics show up, they cant get in.... Banging on the door... No response... They come over to my place to see if I have a key.... I dont... Me, Two paramedics, a Haligan, a sledge hammer and the biggest circular saw I've ever seen, spend the next 20 minutes ripping her steal security door to shreds... (It never did give in... I went around to the back and found an unlocked window with a big enough space in the security bars that I could reach my hand through and and unlock the release mechanism....) Finally get in there, and shes no where to be found...

She comes home from a wonderful evening out to find her door destroyed... And she totally understood... Because she knew we all thought she was in there on the floor... It actually seemed to make her happy somebody WOULD try to help her.

Old people who live alone have too much real stuff to worry about to worry that the police are able to get into their house too easily....

sepiid
03-25-2010, 6:54 AM
honestly i would make them install a knox box instead of providing a key to them.

Window_Seat
03-25-2010, 6:56 AM
Old people who live alone have too much real stuff to worry about to worry that the police are able to get into their house too easily....

Agreed, but this is how Govt would take full advantage when it comes to blatant infringements of life & property. I could see it in the future, a requirement for new tenants to sign a contract that says the local LEA WILL have access for "your safety". I could see this becoming a strict requirement in HOA contracts in the name of "the war on crime", and I bet SCOTUS would be ready to pounce all over it if we had the right justices when (not if) the time comes.

The history of unconstitutional infringement is way too clear, and the DFP is made much too obscure when they are involved in any deal. This is exactly what President Reagan described as "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help".

The PD WCs here are alright, but that's as far as it needs to go.

Erik.

bigcalidave
03-25-2010, 9:32 AM
Hmmm, a combination lock, where all the houses have the same combination?? So a criminal would have access to all these houses after spending half an hour decoding the first lock they got their hands on? Great idea!!

gunn
03-25-2010, 10:04 AM
This reminds me of Texas where they have a program called HEAT which allows cops to stop your car at any time to verify ownership between 1AM-5AM anywhere in Texas.

Would most calgunners sign up for such a program? Not hardly.
https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DPS_WEB/Heat/index.aspx

Is this program useful for some people - perhaps old people who go to sleep @ 8PM? Yup.


-g

Decoligny
03-25-2010, 11:14 AM
Very true. Geeze..it just FLOORS me sometimes the faith that people have in their government. Don't they realize that cops are people too? They have flaws and yes, some of them might even commit crimes. So to just give a stranger a key to your house is crazy!

Not just A stranger, but possibly a whole group of strangers that could be 15, 20, or 50 individuals. Are all the lockboxes on the same combination? Are there any checks and balances in the system to prevent abuse? All it would take is one bad cop to rob 30 or 40 homes.

Ron-Solo
03-25-2010, 3:42 PM
Don't you call the fire department for medical emergencies?

Most 911 primary answering points are the LE agency that covers the area where the call is placed. The LE adds the appropriate resources to the call and everyone rolls.

FYI, LE will generally be first on scene, since we're already in the field driving around, rather than in a station doing whatever (TV, sleep, equipment maintainance, training) depending on the time of day. We are all trained in first aid and CPR. Many are also EMTs and carry defibrilators. When your loved one is lying on the floor not breathing, would you want to wait an extra 3-4 minutes for some aid to be initiated. We can help sustain life until paramedics arrive.

Having a key means we don't have to bust down the door causing a lot of expensive damage. Most doors are easily defeated, but some take a little longer.

Many fire departments will wait until LE arrives before making a forced entry if we are not on scene already. Some will not make the forced entry at all, leaving it to us. I don't mind, but I don't get any thrills over it either.

And for those of you who think giving a key to LE will make it easier for them to violate your rights you are mistaken and the reference is insulting. If we have legal reason to enter, forcibly or not, we're coming in. If we don't have legal reason to enter, we're not coming in. Period. If there is a dishonest cop (yes, sadly, they do exist) who wants to violate your rights do you really think he needs a key to do that, or cares if he has one?

C'mon, remember what this program was designed for and leave the conspiracy theories and cop bashing out of it. It is beneath the dignity of CalGuns. It is designed for seniors and individuals with significant medical problems where the likelihood of an emergency response would be high, not every homeowner in town.

Ron-Solo
03-25-2010, 3:44 PM
This reminds me of Texas where they have a program called HEAT which allows cops to stop your car at any time to verify ownership between 1AM-5AM anywhere in Texas.

Would most calgunners sign up for such a program? Not hardly.
https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DPS_WEB/Heat/index.aspx

Is this program useful for some people - perhaps old people who go to sleep @ 8PM? Yup.


-g

I've recovered over a dozen stolen cars based on a similar program. If you don't drive during those hours except on a very rare occasion, it works well. If you're out late all the time, it doesn't.

hnoppenberger
03-25-2010, 3:58 PM
yea, its voluntary. that makes it ok. i dont have a problem with that, it sounds good. most cops are not like our doj and actually want to help people.

Ron-Solo
03-25-2010, 4:06 PM
yea, its voluntary. that makes it ok. i dont have a problem with that, it sounds good. most cops are not like our doj and actually want to help people.

Please don't throw DOJ into the "cops" group. They may have peace officer powers, but they're not out there bustin their humps rain or shine..... :cool:

tyrist
03-25-2010, 6:57 PM
If we have a legal reason we are coming in key or not. The key just prevents property damage.

yellowfin
03-25-2010, 7:02 PM
NJ cops don't need the reason to be legal.

Satex
03-25-2010, 7:43 PM
Hmmm, a combination lock, where all the houses have the same combination?? So a criminal would have access to all these houses after spending half an hour decoding the first lock they got their hands on? Great idea!!

It's only a matter of time until someone gains entry by obtaining the lockbox codes. Then we'll see how good of an idea that was.

Synergy
03-25-2010, 7:52 PM
I didn't read all the posts but I got the gist of the responses.

As a firefighter paramedic. I have done serious damage to homes to gain access to find a down and injured elderly adult. Its a choice of the homeowner. You want your door or window damaged? Or give us a key in case of emergencies. Just FYI my agency doesn't cover damage that we incur. What would you pick for your parents?

It's only a matter of time until someone gains entry by obtaining the lockbox codes. Then we'll see how good of an idea that was.

At work we have a key box system called a Knox Box. It is a bombproof mechanical lock box. The PD doesn't have the keys to it. Only FD. If I was to implement a system this is what I would use. Since Fire gets there long before Police.

dfletcher
03-25-2010, 7:59 PM
It's probably the same in other cities, in San Francisco we put up fireman key boxes on the outside of office building to allow SFFD entry to answer an alarm when no one is at the building. A few enterprising crooks pound the hell out of the lock box, get the key and enter the building - I assume sooner or later the same thing will happen with a private residence, a not so able older person alone at home makes for a pretty good target.

And who pays for the door on a false alarm?

jaymz
03-26-2010, 4:56 AM
"What if they're snowed in?" wouldn't that mean that the cops are snowed OUT?

Hozr
03-26-2010, 7:17 AM
It's probably the same in other cities, in San Francisco we put up fireman key boxes on the outside of office building to allow SFFD entry to answer an alarm when no one is at the building. A few enterprising crooks pound the hell out of the lock box, get the key and enter the building - I assume sooner or later the same thing will happen with a private residence, a not so able older person alone at home makes for a pretty good target.

And who pays for the door on a false alarm?

The best installation of a Knox Box is a flush mount where the box is framed into the construction and only the door is accessible. They really are nearly indestructible. A cutting torch would be the only reasonable way to get into the box and it is so small you would destroy anything inside.

As for paying for the door on a false alarm, it depends on the circumstances. If you have an alarm system that calls (like lifeline) you or your insurance will be held responsible. If a neighbor calls it's up in the air. We always use due diligence before just kicking in someones door. We check all the windows and look for the least expensive way to get into a house. There are instances where the dept. has paid for unnecessary damage to a home.

Breaking things is fun though....

Side note, most of those Metal Security Screen doors you see at Home Depot take all of 5 seconds to get into without any tools! They make great screen doors but have ZERO security value.

hnoppenberger
03-26-2010, 10:37 AM
Please don't throw DOJ into the "cops" group. They may have peace officer powers, but they're not out there bustin their humps rain or shine..... :cool:

i totally agree, and I dont see see how my post made you think i would associate street cops and the entity known as the DOJ.

gbp
03-26-2010, 10:44 AM
i hope one day to retire in an area where i don't need locks on the doors
getting far and few between though

1 SIG fan
03-26-2010, 11:23 AM
Hmmm, a combination lock, where all the houses have the same combination?? So a criminal would have access to all these houses after spending half an hour decoding the first lock they got their hands on? Great idea!!

EXACTELY.. like codes won't get out. Now imagine the liability of the PD and the possible increase in home invasions or robberies with not signs of forced entry. or rapes.....

Meplat
03-26-2010, 1:23 PM
Assume you are a bad cop and you are burgling homes. To hit only homes with lock boxes, and use those boxes to gain entry, would greatly reduce the suspect pool.

I would rather die than give the government my keys, but I doubt a voluntary program is going to lead to an epidemic of roue cops ripping off granny. :TFH:

P. S. If I’m in trouble, send me a fireman every time. That or the Coast Guard, or the National Guard. I know we have a lot of LEOs on this list that are part of the solution, and I have all the respect in the world for you guys, but you do have a huge image problem.



Not just A stranger, but possibly a whole group of strangers that could be 15, 20, or 50 individuals. Are all the lockboxes on the same combination? Are there any checks and balances in the system to prevent abuse? All it would take is one bad cop to rob 30 or 40 homes.

SteveH
03-26-2010, 1:59 PM
Don't you call the fire department for medical emergencies? Other than that, it seems like an alright program. It is voluntary, and if it becomes compulsory then it would probably be struck down as unconstitutional and illegal.

Many fire departments have the police respond to any call that may require forced entry and any medical aid call that they are unsure of the circumstances of the medical emergency. such as accidental Rx drug overdoses and diabetics who get angry/agressive when their blood sugar is off.

Meplat
03-26-2010, 9:47 PM
Many fire departments have the police respond to any call that may require forced entry and any medical aid call that they are unsure of the circumstances of the medical emergency. such as accidental Rx drug overdoses and diabetics who get angry/agressive when their blood sugar is off.



The policy differences between fire and police in our community have led to some interesting incidents. I remember a few years ago listening on scanner and watching on local TV as a totally embarrassing incident for the local PD went down.

A local prostitute filed an assault charge (later proven bogus) against her landlord who had evicted her because of her drug dealings. The SWAT teem surrounded the house and began about an 18hr. “standoff”. Well, about daybreak the next morning the perp had not surrendered despite teargas canisters being fired into his house. They decided they were going in. Several flash-bangs were fired into the house but the entry teems backed off because one of the flash-bangs had started a fire.

We were treated to live television coverage of our PDs finest hiding behind trees, walls, and cars, as the local firemen deployed their hoses in the front yard, in the open, in broad daylight, and put out the fire, to save surrounding structures! As is said in an old interservice rivalry joke: Now that takes guts!

Turns out that the guy was not home in the first place. He left to go to a friends’ house to watch a ball game and was treated to a news bulletin in which he saw his home being attacked by SWAT. He got hold of his lawyer and arraigned to turn himself in. The charges were dropped. He was compensated generously by the city.

The only causalities of the affair were his small dog, and the neighbors’ guard dog that was shot buy the swat teem. His dog succumbed to the smoke. I personally heard one of the SWAT snipers on the scanner saying that he had a visual of a gun barrel poking through the curtains, and ask if he should fire. He was told to hold his fire. That was later determined to have been the small dog’s nose. :)

N6ATF
03-26-2010, 11:41 PM
As long as you're in one of the biggest SNAFU known to man, you might as well euthanize the dog before it asphyxiates...

dreslinger
03-27-2010, 1:23 PM
I personally heard one of the SWAT snipers on the scanner saying that he had a visual of a gun barrel poking through the curtains, and ask if he should fire. He was told to hold his fire. That was later determined to have been the small dog’s nose. :)

Was the nose loaded?

Seriously, I can see how this could be a slippery slope but it is not harmful. If you are worried about someone breaking into the key box, then you might as well sit and worry about them breaking into your home through a window or door. I personally like this idea and would want my elderly parents or relatives to use it if available. It is not for me or my family. Until it becomes mandatory or considered for law, I would give it it's just do. good for someone, just not me.

Meplat
03-27-2010, 1:41 PM
Was the nose loaded?


Probably: Have you ever been the victim of a dog sneeze?;)