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  1. #1
    McCrackhd's Avatar
    McCrackhd is offline Master Officer
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    Property Disputes

    In your agencies, how do you handle civil property disputes (i.e. bf/gf moving out, roommates, husband and wife seperating)? I really, really hate dealing with these because there is no clear cut way to handle it, and they are just STUPID complaints waiting to happen. We have to respond to them and are supposed to stand by to keep the peace. The problem is, we can't enforce who gets what and what stays or goes. We generally tell people that if the other party contests any of the property, like a tv, they have to go to court to settle it. Thing is, we can't actually stop anyone from taking the tv or couch. But, if we let them, the other person will complain. We don't make the determination as to who owns what. It just always ends up being a big mess.

    The County's Civil Division can enforce property issues with standing court orders, but we don't get involved whatsoever.

    I think I'm just gonna start telling people that I'm not going to the residence with them, and if they have problems with the other party over the property, they have to take the issue to court.

    I'm posting this here, instead of the LEO section, because I think some of the answers may be educational for the civies. And to also get the civies responses on what they think we should and should not be able to do.
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  2. #2
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    We tell them up front we are not there to determine who gets what, just to keep the peace. If I have more important things to do I will go do them. If either side gets stupid, then we hook for whatever law was broken. I also hate these calls, waste of my time because of the immaturity of people.

    Covman

  3. #3
    Five-0's Avatar
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    We DO NOT escort people to get property, exchange children ect period. The only exception is for a court order, escorting DHR, serving a Protection From Abuse Order (Court Order where people are removed and excluded from locations). When people ask us why we don't escort we tell them that is looks like we are taking a side of the person we are escorting. I tell people all the time that this is what court is for, and that they should not knowingly put themselves in a bad situation. 99 times of 100 the person wanting the escort is the problem, and they want the cops to sanction their actions.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    We DO NOT escort people to get property, exchange children ect period. The only exception is for a court order, escorting DHR, serving a Protection From Abuse Order (Court Order where people are removed and excluded from locations). When people ask us why we don't escort we tell them that is looks like we are taking a side of the person we are escorting. I tell people all the time that this is what court is for, and that they should not knowingly put themselves in a bad situation. 99 times of 100 the person wanting the escort is the problem, and they want the cops to sanction their actions.
    ^^^When we used to go, I have actually been asked if I was escorting/allowing him/her to get "my" stuff...It was and is a no-win situation.
    Job security...

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  5. #5
    A3148's Avatar
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    We deal with that alot and have the same issue, we can't say what goes. For the most part if they can not agree it doesn't leave the house. We will stand by and make sure no one fights but we also tell them up front that if they start to argue over everything we just make them leave and deal with it in court. By law we have to let them get some stuff during a domestic, but outside of the very few items they can get we make them do this stuff during the day only never at night because of the safety issues.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    We DO NOT escort people to get property, exchange children ect period. The only exception is for a court order, escorting DHR, serving a Protection From Abuse Order (Court Order where people are removed and excluded from locations). When people ask us why we don't escort we tell them that is looks like we are taking a side of the person we are escorting. I tell people all the time that this is what court is for, and that they should not knowingly put themselves in a bad situation. 99 times of 100 the person wanting the escort is the problem, and they want the cops to sanction their actions.

    This is our policy, pretty much the same.
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  7. #7
    jmur5074's Avatar
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    We occasionally do civil stand bys, and like every agency, we deal with civil disputes.


    To give an example, lets say two roommates separated ways, and roommate 1 wants police to stand by while he get's his stuff out of his old apt. where roommate 2 is.

    In the course of collecting his things, roommate 1 says he's taking "his" tv, and roommate 2 says it's HIS tv. I tell them both the tv is in the apartment, and unless roommate 1 has a sales receipt or some other proof of ownership, the tv is staying right where it is.


    I think in this case, since the tv is in a space previously occupied by both tenants, and no one can prove ownership, it stays where it is until a court can settle it.
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  8. #8
    Cidp24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post

    To give an example, lets say two roommates separated ways, and roommate 1 wants police to stand by while he get's his stuff out of his old apt. where roommate 2 is.

    In the course of collecting his things, roommate 1 says he's taking "his" tv, and roommate 2 says it's HIS tv. I tell them both the tv is in the apartment, and unless roommate 1 has a sales receipt or some other proof of ownership, the tv is staying right where it is.


    I think in this case, since the tv is in a space previously occupied by both tenants, and no one can prove ownership, it stays where it is until a court can settle it.

    Not downing what y'all do but this is exactly why we don't do it without papers. We have no business as a municipal police department deciding what goes with who.
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  9. #9
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    Our "keep the peace" calls have to be approved by a supervisor. I make it well known up front that nothing disputed will be going with them. They can take items that are plainly theirs, clothes, toiletries, or if they are roommates, anything in THEIR room. Anything remotely disputed will not be going with them unless they have a receipt for the item with them, and if they say they do, I make them show it to me right then and there.

    I also make it clear that if they start any disturbance, either by just plain starting one, or by trying to take something disputed, will end the call right then and there.

    Haven't had a problem yet using that method.
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  10. #10
    Ducky's Avatar
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    If I may chime in? And mods, if it's not appropriate, feel free to do whatever. But I was in a situation over a dozen years ago like this. I was leaving my (then) husband and needed to get some stuff. I had a friend go with me because I didn't think he'd try anything with a witness there. Yes, it was an abusive relationship. When my friend was in the next room, my soon to be ex tried to take my keys from me, then threw me into a wall. I only got a broken finger so I count myself lucky. He said that EVERYTHING we had was jointly owned, including my personal feminine hygiene products, and I couldn't take anything at all without his approval. He also told me that if I so much as moved his car out of the way in order to get mine out of the driveway, he'd have me arrested for theft. I was so beaten down that I not only believed him, but I didn't go to the hospital for my hand, either. If I'd been able to document the abuse, the divorce would have been done within 3 months. As is, it wound up taking nearly two years. As much as you guys dislike this duty in particular, I can't help but think if I'd had a police escort, there would be some memories (and a finger that aches in cold, wet weather) that I wouldn't have to live with.

    I know you guys have a hard, nasty, thankless job. But you guys mean the world to those of us who've been there. Thank you.
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  11. #11
    Xiphos's Avatar
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    Everywhere I've worked, we refuse to get involved with the disposition of property. I don't care if you have a receipt, I'm not getting involved. Go to court.

    People can get a "Writ of Assistance" from the court which authorizes us to accompany someone to a residence so they can get their stuff. The order specifically states what they are allowed to get and take with them.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    If I may chime in? And mods, if it's not appropriate, feel free to do whatever. But I was in a situation over a dozen years ago like this. I was leaving my (then) husband and needed to get some stuff. I had a friend go with me because I didn't think he'd try anything with a witness there. Yes, it was an abusive relationship. When my friend was in the next room, my soon to be ex tried to take my keys from me, then threw me into a wall. I only got a broken finger so I count myself lucky. He said that EVERYTHING we had was jointly owned, including my personal feminine hygiene products, and I couldn't take anything at all without his approval. He also told me that if I so much as moved his car out of the way in order to get mine out of the driveway, he'd have me arrested for theft. I was so beaten down that I not only believed him, but I didn't go to the hospital for my hand, either. If I'd been able to document the abuse, the divorce would have been done within 3 months. As is, it wound up taking nearly two years. As much as you guys dislike this duty in particular, I can't help but think if I'd had a police escort, there would be some memories (and a finger that aches in cold, wet weather) that I wouldn't have to live with.

    I know you guys have a hard, nasty, thankless job. But you guys mean the world to those of us who've been there. Thank you.
    Incidents like that are the reason we still go out on these types of calls. We are there just to make sure something like that doesn't happen or worse.

  13. #13
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    When we go on these, our sole purpose is to keep the peace. I don't care and I don't get into who gets what; if there's any question or argument, they need an attorney. Occasionally we get stuck taking a theft report where one party accuses the other of stealing the item...
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  14. #14
    jmur5074's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cidp24 View Post
    Not downing what y'all do but this is exactly why we don't do it without papers. We have no business as a municipal police department deciding what goes with who.

    I just go with the flow. Dispatch sends me, the bosses don't stop me, so I go. It's not a common call for us to handle, but common enough that it's fairly routine.


    Take whats yours, anything that's up for debate is staying, and you can argue it in court. Pretty simple.
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  15. #15
    Pudge's Avatar
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    We do those type of calls here. It's called a Civil Standby here, but I refer to it as "Harassing your Ex with the cops". I despise those calls. 9 out of 10 are usually just to try to intimidate the other party with our presence. Every now and then there will be a legit concern or reason for us to go.

    I've worked out a pretty decent system, and my dispatchers know from experience that if I'm working, they inform the caller to meet in the PD lot and I will follow them to the residence. Once I meet them at the PD I make it clear to them that any disputed property stays right where its at and they have to file in small claims court. I also tell them that I'm not there to be on anyone's side, and if they start acting a fool I'll shut them down just as quick as anyone else. I tell them that one smartass remark and the call is over and they are on their way, and I don't care if they got what they came for or not.

    After that speech, I follow them to the house. I've had too many in the past want to meet at the house, meanwhile they are talking shit for 5 minutes before I get there and I roll into a shit storm.

    Once at the house I make them stay on the curb, in their car, whatever while I contact the occupant. I inform the occupant why I'm there, my role in the exchange, and ask if they are willing to let the other party pick up the items. They also get the same speech as above. Once it's perfectly clear to both parties, the caller is contacted and escorted through the house while they get their stuff if the other party allows them in.

    I've had to shut several down, turn people away when we get there and even made an arrest during one, regardless of laying down the rules beforehand.
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  16. #16
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    Civil standbys suck everywhere, but they have to get done.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post
    Take whats yours, anything that's up for debate is staying, and you can argue it in court. Pretty simple.
    Pretty much how I handle it.

    We also have a civil division that will schedule civil standbys and they charge $. If I get a call when they are not working, I will do a standby to keep the peace for no more then 15-20min. If they argue about a piece of property I tell them it stays.

  18. #18
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    We get a call, we go. It's usually called in as a domestic already in progress because they didn't call or it's an escort. Either way we try and go at least 2 deep if possible and everyone is watched and the party escorted goes no where in the house without an officer. The person escorted is allowed to retrieve personal items or anything that is agreed to. Out side of that it's a go to court issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    When my friend was in the next room, my soon to be ex tried to take my keys from me, then threw me into a wall. I only got a broken finger so I count myself lucky.
    He would have regretted that.
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  19. #19
    mavriktu's Avatar
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    We handle it pretty much like Pudge does,I tell them toilitries,clothing,personal effects,thats it,small undisputed items sometimes.You want to empty the house and the other party doesn't dispute?if you can do it in 10 minutes,if not hire a detail (off duty) officer.I also hate these with a passion and only get 1 or 2 a day,Sundays are usually spent with civil "child exchange" imaturity,"he was supposed to have the kid back at 6:00,it is now 6:05 I want him arrested,"uhhhhh screw you ,want in one hand and crap in the other and see which fills up faster

    Below quote sums it up in a nutshell.

    waste of my time because of the immaturity of people.

    Covman

  20. #20
    Pudge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mavriktu View Post
    ,Sundays are usually spent with civil "child exchange" imaturity,"he was supposed to have the kid back at 6:00,it is now 6:05 I want him arrested,"uhhhhh screw you ,want in one hand and crap in the other and see which fills up faster

    Below quote sums it up in a nutshell.
    Ya know, I used to call Sunday and every day after whatever holiday, "Baby Exchange Day" but our calls for these have slowed lately.

    Crap, I just jinxed myself.
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