A Simple Strategy
A “knock and talk” refers to strategy narcotics detectives employ to initiate contact with an individual suspected of selling illegal drugs from a residence. The detectives objective is to catch the individual selling drugs off guard, question him about their suspicions, and obtain permission to search the premises.
The Specifics of a “Knock and Talk”
Once these detectives receive a tip or uncover evidence of drug selling, they summons additional officers or detectives and approach the residence. Before knocking, they will usually listen closely to any voices or noise coming from within the residence to gauge: 1) the number of people present; 2) the identities of the individuals present; 3) if the individuals present are aware of they (the police) are outside the door; 4) if the individuals present are destroying any evidence; and, 5) whether the individuals present are armed or dangerous.
A detective will then knock at the door. When an individual opens the door, the detectives immediately inform him that they have received information that someone is dealing drugs from the residence. The detectives scrutinize the individual for any apparent anxiety and listen carefully to his answers. Obviously, if he admits to selling drugs from the residence, the police will either obtain his permission to search it or secure the premises while they seek a search warrant. If he denies selling drugs, the detectives will ask him for permission to search the residence. The individual is now in a bit of a quandary: if he denies the detectives permission to search, he fears he will appear guilty; if there are drugs or drug related contraband (notes, scale, packaging materials, money, etc.) within the residence, he risks their discovery and seizure by allowing the police to search.
While the individual is speaking with them, the detectives listen for any noise coming from within the apartment consistent with someone destroying evidence, look through the doorway for any evidence in “plain view,” and try to detect any odors consistent with fresh marijuana, burnt or burning marijuana, burning cocaine or crack, and any other odors they, from their experience and training, associate with drug dealing.
If the individual permits the police to search the residence, most courts will regard the ensuing search and any seizure of any contraband or evidence as constitutional.