Police aren't just out patrolling the streets looking for people doing bad things. Most people aren't aware that police are out in their own community and are available to conduct welfare checks. This is an essential function in law enforcement and goes a long way towards building safe communities.
What is a Welfare Check?
Important social contacts include friends, neighbours and family. They likely regularly check in with loved ones and know how they are doing. If a loved one doesn't respond, the police can be contacted and asked to conduct a welfare check. As an example, if a nephew has been trying to reach his older uncle for a few days and has been unable to through phone calls or a knock at the door, the nephew can contact the police in the area of the uncle and ask them to perform a welfare check at his uncle's house.
How to Ask for a Welfare Check
Your first step is to contact the local law enforcement authorities in the area where the person you are concerned about is. If you believe there is an emergency situation, you can call 911 - but remember - 911 goes to your local police - so if the person you are concerned about is in a different city, contacting their police department may be faster. You can also use a non-emergency phone number to contact the police. If you live close to the area where the police will be doing the welfare check, you may be able to attend with the authorities. You can also request a welfare check in another area, town or state (jurisdiction). If you had a relative living in another state, and were unable to contact them for some time, you may ask for a welfare check at their residence. You will want to proceed with caution and be fairly certain that your relative's behaviour is not normal and have some reason to believe that something is wrong before contacting the police.
A court order is not required to have the police conduct a welfare check. As long as the police have reasonable grounds to believe that someone inside the residence is endangered, they can enter the premises, legally. Police will typically knock at the door and wait for a response before announcing that they are law enforcement. If they receive no response after that, they can generally enter the property. This is helpful if the person in the house is unconscious or unable to respond for any other reason. This ability to enter the house allows them to render emergency aid should it be required. In some cases, this intervention can save lives.