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Threats to code enforcement inspectors

November 17th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I was recently contacted by a student doing a study about how code enforcement officers handle interactions with anti-government extremists. I’m fortunate that I haven’t encountered this type of threat very often but I promised her I would reach out to my readers to see if anyone has had to deal with this sort of problem. How have you handled it?

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  1. Roy Fyffe
    November 18th, 2011 at 12:29 | #1

    It is incumbent on the code enforcement officer to investigate not only the alleged violation, but the property ownership thoroughly. If you know that your jurisdiction has a radical group residing there, checking in with the local Sheriff Department or PD is often helpful in ascertaining if there is the potential for an incident prior to going out to investigate a complaint more thoroughly. Needless to say, there will come a time when the code officer will be confronted by these extremists without any prior knowledge. When it happens, and God forbid that it does, do your absolute best to stay calm, level-headed, and avoid confrontation at all costs. Easy to say, but even more difficult to do is to remember the inter-personal communication training you may have received on how to verbally respond when threatened. Everyone reacts to these situations differently. If there is any doubts in the code officers mind concerning personal safety issues, please coordinate with the local law enforcement to have someone go with you on your investagation. While it may appear to be unmanly to do this, it is a better approach than the code officer becoming the center of attention for a homicide or assault investigation.

  2. November 22nd, 2011 at 09:50 | #2

    My city actually has had some Posse Comitatus members post signs advising government agents that they are not welcome or allowed to trespass on their property. We have also had the common issues of possible gang or criminally involved property owners in the urban setting. I am lucky in that I work as a uniformed civilian officer in the Public Safety/Police Department and I have direct access to some danger alerts through our Computer Aided Dispatch system, and we keep alerts in our computerized property maintenance system as well. If we know there is an alert on a property we take a Police Officer with us when we make contact and follow our normal procedures for inspection, notification, enforcement and prosecution. There are the usual roadblocks of keeping up the alerts in the database, especially today in the foreclosure environment with rapid property turnover and possible squatters.

  3. Al Putnam
    November 22nd, 2011 at 18:44 | #3

    had an owner of a property with a gun, drunk, and was “looking for me” at a fire scene. The police took his gun and told him to go home, gave his gun back a couple days later. I still look over my shoulder almost everyday. (I do have a license to carry, and do now). The question I raise again, why are building officials, and property code enforcement folks not considered “Public Safety” with all the protections that come with those classifications?

  4. Sandra Stine
    November 26th, 2011 at 13:47 | #4

    Thank you all for your comments. I am working on incorporating your feedback into my report. One common theme that I will highlight is the wisdom of taking a law enforcement officer along if there is any hint of trouble. There are other leads in your comments as well that I plan to follow. I appreciate that you took the time to respond, and for the knowledge you passed on to me. 🙂

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