Community caretaking

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Community caretaking is a fallacious doctrine under which governments claim an inherent power to infringe upon individual liberty in the interest of community safety.


Community caretaking first entered United States law in the federal case of Cady v. Dombrowski. [1] In that case, police seized a gun from the trunk of a vehicle in the police pound. The Supreme Court held that the seizure was permissible because the officers were performing a "community caretaking" function only. In this case the government argued that vandals might break into the trunk, take the gun, and use it to commit a crime.[2]

Contemporary jurisprudence

At the time of this writing, "community caretaking" will come before the Supreme Court again. The case (Caniglia v. Strom[3]) began when a wife called police after her husband played a joke during an argument. He placed an unloaded gun on the table between them and told her to shoot him. When police arrived, they encouraged the husband to take an ambulance ride to hospital for psychiatric evaluation. But they also told the wife the husband had just consented to a search of their home for more guns. She told them he kept two guns in his home. They seized them.

The husband sued the city because the police lied to his wife when he couldn’t correct the lie, and took his guns. And the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit sided with the police. They applied the “community caretaking” standard.


  1. Moore SC, "Fourth Amendment: The Community Caretaker Exception," Law Offices of Samuel C. Moore PLLC. Retrieved 13 February 2021. <>
  2. Gertsmann E, "Supreme Court will decide whether police can enter a home to seize guns without a warrant," Forbes, 5 February 2021. <>
  3. See the case citation, <>.