Sitting there on the couch, three armed police officers with arms crossed, looking down at me. My poor Kona was beside me, ears down, tail tucked, damp from wetting himself, and I had gotten over the shock enough to be astounded that this is where I was tonight.
Flashback to the initial startlement, in a deep, drunken sleep on the couch with Kona, House of Cards playing in the background when the front door is POUNDED on. I sit up, bewildered, and look out in the back yard and I see three officers all crouched and creeping up toward my back door. Kona is hop-barking madly at the officers who are walking cautiously toward the back door and I just have no clue what is going on. Chaos, and a scene from a movie? Is this a new nightmare? I usually replay the same old ones every night. But no, this…this can’t be a nightmare – it’s too loud.
I get up to open the back door and officer one is speaking into a shoulder mic, the other two have their hands on their sidearms. Kona races into the yard, running circles around them and barking. Someone is still pounding on the front door, and I just do not know what to do. Everything is so big and frightening and I DO NOT want my dog to bite these officers, that would be so so bad. I try to get Kona to slow down, and the officers tell me several times to put him in a room. I try to grab him, and when I do, so does an officer as Kona whizzes past, which TERRIFIES Kona.
See here’s the thing, my boy acts all big and tough but he’s a very well-trained dog – when he is approached by a new person in what he considers a dominant manner, he tinkles. He knows people are boss, and I think he knew that they weren’t there to hurt me, but he has NO CLUE what’s going on and he can read MY anxiety and confusion and if the Boss is confused, THINGS MUST BE BAD. So I feel a warm fountain on my foot and he squirrels out of both our grips, racing through the kitchen and back around into the living room. I’m ordering Kona in Mandarin, which gets me some side-eye from the officers, and Kona hops up on the couch, tail tucked, feets tucked. I’m not even worried about the pee he’s inevitably getting on the couch. I sit down next to him, and he inches closer, looking up at me every few moments, anxious, looking back t the officers, and back to me again, gauging what he thinks he should do. My poor pee-soiled dog doing his bestest to protect mama, but there’s so many of them with such dominant body language, and yeah he peed himself but he’ll still do anything he thinks is necessary to protect mama. He just doesn’t want to have to.
I haven’t experienced something this chaotic and with so many weapons since I called the cops to arrest my mother’s ex as he tried to beat her to death with a shovel on the floor of the garage. One guy went through the whole house, opening every door, looking into every room, and out into the garage. I didn’t know this at the time, but he’d opened the garage door and the door to the garage, and left them both wide open. Officer 1 starts talking to me, and I’m still so dazed, and yeah, I was drinking but guess what? I was home on the couch. I’m trying to remember the order of the conversation, but I kinda didn’t take notes, so it comes back to me in fragments.
Officer 1 notes that I have been drinking and asks me if I took any pills with that liquor, and Officer 2 is now standing beside him, Officer 3 standing behind me. O1 asks me if I know why they’re there, and I laugh sharply. No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. He asks me if I have been talking to anybody tonight, if there’s someone who might be worried about me, and it starts to dawn on me that I just might know who he’s talking about. The one that surprised me with the fact of his engagement.
“Is it ████?”
“Do you think it was?”
God, with the constant questions. I know he’s trying to put me off-kilter so I’ll say what I actually believe, like a confused suspect in an interrogation. I know this tactic. But it was so difficult to process that the officers cared about me. Like, at all. I’m feeling attacked, unsafe and now uncertain if I should even speak, but afraid not to. I have a very solid position on #blacklivesmatter, and I know what can happen if you resist the police, especially when they think you’re being “rowdy”.
He looked through my phone at the messages, and I’m answering all of these questions, and after about an hour, O1 says, “Is there someone you can call to come over and take care of you? Because if not, we’re gonna have to take you to the hospital.” I was like HELL no, I’m not gonna bother someone for this shit show! I can take care of my damn self.
So they started wrapping up, and exiting through the front door, and O3, he of the house search, said, Oh, a few of your cats are out in the garage. I couldn’t get them to come back in.”
I race to the garage and realize with horror that the garage door is wide open. Tesla skitters back into the house, scardiest of all, and Pig is looking dazed out in the middle of the driveway. I know to go for Tablo, my escaped convict, first, and pray I can find Eefs. I tuck Tabs under my arm like a football and he starts that spastic panic hiss which makes Eefs start panic-hissing, too. I’m starting to wonder how to get a hold of her as I’m Emmitt-Smithing Tablo, and fortunately he’s not losing his ever-loving mind. I lunge and scoop her up and go to the now-closed door into the house. And it’s locked.
Of course it’s locked.
I carry these two hissy hairballs to the front door and use the keypad to get in, and Ko comes tearing up to me, still shaken, and obviously grateful I came back. I sat down on the couch and cried my eyes out, so traumatized, and he tucked his feet under his body like he used to when he as a baby, leaned himself against me with his head on my lap to console me. Went immediately to bed, exhausted.
I know that there is a time and a place for welfare checks, and they’re helpful and essential, and sometimes lifesaving. I live alone and I’m one bad accident away from NEEDING a welfare check. I have sympathy for officers who have to enter into uncertain situations, and while I do not have a gun, they don’t know that.
For me, with my last police encounter having been one of the worst moments of my life, I was deeply affected by this one. I was humiliated, especially when O2 handed me a Sephora package that was on the front porch and said, “Here, maybe this will make you feel better…” I’m a proud person, and I had been lying on the couch, with quite a few drinks in me, in my nightgown, which is not that good at covering me up, while three men with crossed arms question me and make me feel incredibly vulnerable. I was confused, scared, and I have no idea why he’d called the police to check on me.
Googling “welfare checks” provides you with a lot of information that I’m so glad I didn’t have last night about welfare checks that ended in death and injury and arrest for some. I’m just lucky I didn’t have my elephant tusk collection lying about.
This is the most neutral content I could find on this process:
The first step is to get in contact with local law enforcement authorities. You may call 911 if you have reason to believe that there may be an emergency situation in progress. However, you can also contact the police through a non-emergency phone number. If you live in the local area where the welfare check will be conducted, you may be permitted to accompany the authorities. It is also possible to request a welfare check in another jurisdiction. For instance, if a relative living in another state has not responded to your attempts to contact them for some time, you may want to ask for a welfare check at their residence.
It is important to proceed with caution. You’ll want to be reasonably certain that your relative’s behavior is out of character and have reason to believe that something is truly amiss before calling the police…
No court order is required for the police to conduct a welfare check. Essentially, as long as they have reasonable grounds to believe that an inhabitant in a residence in endangered, they can legally enter the premises. They typically knock on the door and await a response before announcing their law enforcement affiliation. If they still receive no response, they may enter the property. This is particularly useful when someone inside the house is unconscious or otherwise unable to respond. The ability to enter the property without permission means that emergency aid can be rendered. In some cases, this is a life saving intervention.