Police want to look for someone on association property – let them in?

During a recent livestream I asked the panel: 

If the police want to look for someone on association property, should management let them in?

Important: I’m summarizing from my perspective and not offering any form of professional advice. Always seek your own professional advice from licensed professionals.

The police show up at the front desk and they want to check out the pool area for “Bob”. He has some outstanding tickets and he’s been spray painting graffiti all over the neighborhood. The police really want to get their hands on him.

When we polled the audience 76% said that the manager should allow the police access and 24% said that they should not.

Keep in mind, this is the police asking for permission to enter association property. Obviously, if they were in pursuit or if they had a warrant or someone was in danger they would just enter with or without the manager’s permission.

Our attorney panel had some varied perspectives:

First here’s what they agreed on – association property is private property.

But attorneys did communicate:
  • Unless they are actively in pursuit of the suspect and they chase them there, they’re not going to have rights to just enter the property, and they are going to have to get permission to enter
  • If law enforcement is trying to find a suspect that potentially committed a crime, I would consider consent. But, I would ensure that the manager has the ability to give that consent from the board
  • Without any documentation, I’m a little bit uncomfortable with it.

The audience communicated that the manager was in an awkward position:

  • You don’t really want to get crossways what the police department as you might need their help with some other situation
  • Residents are probably going to be upset if you start allowing the police in to just look around

Some had commented that the police may have some form of documentation. But a manager is not qualified to evaluate the documentation.

Quite simply, if the police have a right to enter they’re going to enter. If they don’t they’re going to ask for permission. If they are asking for permission, it’s management’s cue to consider consulting with legal counsel.

-Raymond Dickey