Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee

Justia.com Opinion Summary: A psychiatrist, called 911 to report that Sutterfield had just left her office, indicating that she had received some bad news, and had remarked, “I guess I’ll go home and blow my brains out.” She informed officers that Sutterfield had worn an empty gun holster, from which she surmised that Sutterfield owned a gun. Officers were unable to locate Sutterfield. Hours later, the doctor told officers that Sutterfield had called minutes earlier stating that she did not need assistance, but did not indicate that Sutterfield no longer posed a danger to herself. Hours later, Sutterfield answered her door but would only state that she had “called off” the police. Officers concluded that they would have to enter forcibly. Sutterfield called 911. After informing Sutterfield of his intention to open the storm door forcibly, an officer yanked the door open and entered. A struggle ensued. Sutterfield can be heard on the 911 recording demanding that the officers let go of her and leave. Officers conducted a protective sweep and observed a compact disc carrying case in plain view. The soft-sided case was locked. An officer surmised from its feel and weight that there might be a firearm inside. He forced the case open and discovered a handgun and concealed-carry licenses from other jurisdictions. They also discovered a BB gun made to realistically resemble a handgun. They seized the guns and transported Sutterfield to a psychiatric hospital. Sutterfield sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court rejected the claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Warrantless entry was justified by exigent circumstances; even if the officers exceeded constitutional boundaries in searching the closed container and seizing the guns, they are protected by qualified immunity.



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In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit No. 12-2272 KRYSTA SUTTERFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF MILWAUKEE, et al., Defendants-Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 11-C-0486 â J. P. Stadtmueller, Judge. ARGUED OCTOBER 25, 2012 â DECIDED MAY 9, 2014 Before FLAUM, MANION, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges. ROVNER, Circuit Judge. Krysta Sutterfield sued the City of Milwaukee and several of its police officers after the officers forcibly entered her home to effectuate an emergency detention for purposes of a mental health evaluation, opened a locked container, and seized for safekeeping the gun and concealedcarry licenses they found inside. She contends that officers violated her rights under the Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth 2 No. 12-2272 Amendments in doing so. We conclude that the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home was justified under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendmentâs warrant requirement, as the defendant officers had a reasonable basis to believe that Sutterfield posed an imminent danger of harm to herself. We shall assume, as the district court did, that the search of a closed container for a gun, and the ensuing seizure of that gun, violated Sutterfieldâs Fourth Amendment rights. But we agree with the district court that even if the officers did exceed constitutional boundaries, they are protected by qualified immunity. See Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee, 870 F. Supp. 2d 633 (E.D. Wis. 2012). We therefore affirm the district courtâs decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the defendants. I. At around noon on March 22, 2011, Dr. Michelle Bentle, a psychiatrist at Columbia/St. Maryâs Hospital in Milwaukee, placed a 911 call to report that Sutterfield had just left an outpatient appointment in her office after expressing suicidal thoughts.1 Milwaukee police officers Clifton Stephens and Timothy Powers were tasked to respond to the report. They contacted Dr. Bentle, who advised them that Sutterfield, after indicating that she had received some bad news, had remarked, âI guess Iâll go home and blow my brains out.â Dr. Bentle indicated she was concerned for Sutterfieldâs safety and that police intervention was warranted. She also informed the 1 Sutterfield disputes the accuracy of the report, but accepts that this is what the defendant officers were told. No. 12-2272 3 officers that Sutterfield had worn an empty gun holster to her appointment, from which she had surmised that Sutterfield owned a gun. Over the next few hours, Stephens and Powers were unable to locate Sutterfield. They visited her home, knocked on the front door, but received no response. A neighbor advised them that Sutterfield had left her home that morning in her car and had not returned. The officers checked her garage and the street in front of Sutterfieldâs residence but did not see the type of car that her neighbor had described. At 2:45 p.m., Dr. Bentle telephoned the officers to advise them that Sutterfield had called her some minutes earlier stating that she was not in need of assistance and that the doctor should âcall offâ the police search for her. According to the officers, Dr. Bentle did not indicate that Sutterfield no longer posed a danger to herself. With the end of their shift approaching, Stephens and Powers prepared a Statement of Emergency Detention by Law Enforcement Officer (âstatement of detentionâ) pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes section 51.15. In relevant part, section 51.15 provides that a law enforcement officer may take a person into custody when he has cause to believe that the person is mentally ill and evidences â[a] substantial probability of physical harm to himself or herself as manifested by evidence of recent threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm.â § 51.15(1)(a)(1). The statute specifies a set of procedures that must be followed in effectuating such a detention. In Milwaukee County, the law enforcement officer must sign a statement of detention which, inter alia, âshall provide detailed 4 No. 12-2272 specific information concerning the recent overt act, attempt, or threat to act or omission on which the belief under sub[sectio]n (1) [here, that the person poses a danger to himself] is based and the names of the persons observing or reporting the recent overt act, attempt, or threat to act or omission.â § 51.15(4)(a). Signing such a statement knowing the information contained therein to be false is deemed a felony offense. § 51.15(12). Upon presenting the individualâalong with the statement of detentionâ to an appropriate treatment facility, the treatment director of that facility (or his designee) must determine within 24 hours whether the individual should be detained for a period of up to 72 hours. § 51.15(4)(b). If the facility determines that the person does not meet the criteria set forth in section 51.20(1)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes to detain an individual for purposes of an in-patient mental health evaluation (the first step in the involuntary commitment process),2 the person must be released immediately. Id. If the facility director decides to detain the individual, the director may supplement in writing the statement of detention prepared by the law enforcement officer and include other pertinent information indicating that the individual meets the criteria for commitment; the director also must designate whether the individual is, inter alia, mentally ill. Id. The director must promptly file the original statement, including any 2 In relevant part, section 52.20(1)(a) requires that a petition seeking such an evaluation allege that the person is mentally ill, drug dependent, or developmentally disabled, and that there is a substantial probability that he may harm himself, as evidenced by recent threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm. No. 12-2272 5 supplement, along with a notice of detention, with the local probate court. Id. The statement of detention prepared by Stephens and Powers documented the pertinent information that Dr. Bentle had shared with them about Sutterfield and noted their inability to locate her. Both officers signed the statement. At 4:00 p.m., Stephens and Powers went off duty. Officer Jamie Hewitt of the Sensitive Crimes Division subsequently was assigned to locate Sutterfield. After spending several hours reviewing the paperwork, tracking down information regarding Sutterfieldâs automobile and having that information issued to Milwaukee patrol officers, and checking with local hospitals to see whether Sutterfield had been admitted, Hewitt and several other officers returned to Sutterfieldâs residence. Hewittâs intent was to execute the statement of detention if and when she located Sutterfield. Arriving on Sutterfieldâs doorstep at approximately 8:30 p.m., Hewitt and the other officers found her at home. Sutterfield answered Hewittâs knock at the front door but would not engage with her, except to state repeatedly that she had âcalled offâ the police and to keep shutting the door on Hewitt. Sutterfield would not admit Hewitt to the residence, and during the exchange kept the outer storm door closed and locked. Unable to gain admittance to the house, Hewitt concluded that the police would have to enter it forcibly. Consistent with police department procedure, Hewitt requested that a supervisory officer be dispatched to the house. Sergeant Aaron Berken arrived at approximately 9:00 p.m. After Hewitt brought him up to speed on the situation, Berken 6 No. 12-2272 knocked at the front door and identified himself as a police officer. As she had with Hewitt, Sutterfield opened the inner door of the house but not the locked storm door; she refused to admit Berken or any other officer into the residence. Sutterfield called 911 in an effort to have the officers leave; as a result of that call, the ensuing events were recorded by the emergency call center. Sutterfield can be heard on the recording telling the officers that she was fine and that she did not want anyone to enter her residence. After informing Sutterfield of his intention to open the storm door forcibly if she did not unlock it herself, Berken yanked the door open and entered the house with the other officers to take custody of Sutterfield pursuant to the statement of detention. A brief struggle ensued. Sutterfield can be heard on the 911 recording demanding both that the officers let go of her and that they leave her home. (Sutterfield would later say that the officers tackled her.) Sutterfield was handcuffed and placed in the officersâ custody. At that point the officers conducted a protective sweep of the home. In the kitchen, officer James Floriani observed a compact disc carrying case in plain view.3 He picked up the soft-sided case, which was locked, and surmised from the feel and weight of its contents that there might be a firearm inside. He then forced the case open and discovered a semi-automatic 3 Sutterfield avers that the case was not actually in plain view but instead was within an opaque bag. The district court determined that she had not preserved a dispute of fact on this point in responding to the defendantsâ statement of material facts below. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 636 n.1. Sutterfield concedes the point for purposes of this appeal. No. 12-2272 7 handgun inside; a yellow smiley-face sticker was affixed to the barrel of the gun, covering the muzzle. Also inside the case were concealed-carry firearm licenses from multiple jurisdictions other than Wisconsin. Elsewhere in the kitchen the officers discovered a BB gun made to realistically resemble a Glock 29 handgun. The contents of the case were seized along with the BB gun and placed into police inventory for safekeeping. Berken would later state that he authorized the seizure of the handgun in order to keep them out of the hands of a juvenile, should a juvenile enter the house unaccompanied by an adult while Sutterfield remained in the hospital. (The police knew that Sutterfield had a son, whom they believed to be a juvenile, although his specific age was unknown.) Floriani would later testify that he believed it appropriate to take both the handgun and BB gun into custody so that Sutterfield, when released from the hospital, would not be able to use the handgun to commit suicide or the BB gun to provoke a police officer to shoot her. Floriani and another officer subsequently transported Sutterfield to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, a psychiatric hospital which, among other things, provides short-term in-patient and crisis management care for persons in mental distress. What occurred there is not part of the record and, in any event, is not relevant to the claims made in this litigation. Sutterfield filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city and the individual officers involved in the incident, challenging the warrantless entry into her home, the seizure of 8 No. 12-2272 her person, the search of the case containing the gun, and the seizure of the gun itself along with the concealed-carry licenses. She contends that these acts violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment (as made applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment), and that the seizure of the revolver additionally violated her rights under the Second Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment to the officers on these claims in a thoughtful opinion. 870 F. Supp. 2d 633. Believing that Sutterfield was not contesting the seizure of her person, see id. at 643, the court focused its attention on the warrantless entry into her home, the search of the locked case, and the ensuing seizure of Sutterfieldâs handgun. Id. at 637. The court treated the entry into Sutterfieldâs home as presumptively invalid, as the police had no warrant. Id. at 63738. It proceeded to consider whether the entry was nonetheless justified under either the community caretaking or exigent circumstances exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. The court determined that the community caretaker exception, on which the defendants primarily relied, did not justify the entry. Id. at 640. The court reasoned that although the Wisconsin courts had deemed that exception applicable in a âbroad swath of situations,â id., the Seventh Circuit had not done so. Indeed, in United States v. Pichany, 687 F.2d 204, 208-09 (7th Cir. 1982), we had expressly rejected the governmentâs effort to apply the exception beyond the automobile context. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 640. No. 12-2272 9 The court thought that the exigent circumstances exception might justify the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home, although it ultimately abstained from a decision on that point. The court noted at the outset that this exception required the authorities to make âa fairly strong showing that the surrounding circumstances were so severe as to justify a departure from the warrant requirement.â Id. at 638 (citing United States v. Patino, 830 F.2d 1413, 1415 (7th Cir. 1987)). In Patino, this court had cited a 30-minute wait for backup before effectuating a warrantless entry into a residence as evidence that there was no exigency, as the waiting officers could have sought a search and/or arrest warrant during that time period. Id. at 1415-16. In this case, more than nine hours had transpired after the police were first notified of the suicide threat before the officers entered Sutterfieldâs home. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 638. On the other hand, they were also executing a section 51.15 statement authorizing Sutterfieldâs detention for a mental health evaluation, and the court understood that statement to function as a quasi-arrest warrant. Id. at 639. Even if a statement of detention cannot fulfill the role of a warrant given the lack of judicial involvement, the court reasoned, the officers could have thought that the statement authorized them to take such actions as were necessary to detain Sutterfield, including entering her home. Id. Moreover, the officers were acting to protect life or to forestall serious injury, an interest that the court recognized can justify police action which would otherwise be illegal absent an exigency or emergency. Id. (citing Brigham City, Utah v. Stuart, 547 U.S. 398, 403, 126 S. Ct. 1943, 1947 (2006)). The district court ultimately concluded that it was unnecessary to decide whether the warrantless entry 10 No. 12-2272 into Sutterfieldâs home was constitutionally permissible, given its subsequent conclusion that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on the unlawful entry claim. Id. at 639-40. Turning to the search of Sutterfieldâs home, the court reasoned that a cursory sweep of the premises, which brought the compact disc case to the officersâ attention, was legally permissible notwithstanding the lack of a search warrant. The court relied on Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325, 110 S. Ct. 1093 (1990), which authorizes officers making an in-home arrest to conduct a protective sweep of the premises to determine whether other persons are present. Here, the officers were present in Sutterfieldâs home as the result of her doctorâs 911 call. Sutterfield had not answered the officers when she was asked whether anyone else was present in the home. (The inquiry, and Sutterfieldâs lack of response, can be heard on the 911 recording of the encounter.) Moreover, as a result of the information provided by her physician, the officers believed that she had a gun. And the overall encounter was, in the courtâs word, âtense.â 870 F. Supp. 2d at 640. Under these circumstances, the court deemed it appropriate for the officers to make a cursory inspection of the premises to determine if someone else might be present. Id. at 640-41. That permissible search led to the discovery of the compact disc case in the kitchen, which was in plain sight. Id. at 641. The search of that case, and the ensuing seizure of the gun inside, was â[o]f much greater concernâ to the court. Id. The limited search authorized by Buie did not extend to the contents of a locked case. Although Floriani indicated that when he picked up the case, it felt as if it might contain a gun, No. 12-2272 11 the court pointed out that the case could have held âpractically anything.â Id. As the search of the case was unauthorized, the court acknowledged that both the opening of the case and the seizure of the gun found inside likely constituted violations of Sutterfieldâs Fourth Amendment rights. Id. The court rejected Sutterfieldâs contention that the seizure of the gun and concealed-carry licenses also constituted a violation of her Second Amendment rights on the facts of this case. In the courtâs view, neither McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010), nor Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), forecloses the possibility that an individualâs firearm may be seized by the police for certain purposes. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 642. Otherwise, the court reasoned, any seizure of a gun by the authoritiesâif taken as evidence, for exampleâmight constitute a Second Amendment violation. Id. Although the court had found it âlikelyâ that Sutterfieldâs Fourth Amendment rights had been violated, the court discerned no basis to hold Milwaukee liable for the violation. Id. at 642-43. Sutterfield had identified no municipal policy, custom, or practice as necessary to support a claim against the city under Monell v. Depât of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978). The court theorized that Sutterfield perhaps could argue that it was an unconstitutional practice for the city to follow section 51.15 by requiring that the subject of a section 51.15 statement be taken into custody no matter the circum- 12 No. 12-2272 stances,4 but Sutterfield had not made such an argument. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 643. Consequently, only the individual officers had any prospective liability. (Sutterfield has not challenged this aspect of the district courtâs decision.) The court concluded that the officers, assuming they had violated Sutterfieldâs Fourth Amendment rights, were entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 643-44. The only aspect of the encounter over which they may have lacked discretion was the decision to detain Sutterfield, which the court believed she had not contested. Id. at 643. The court noted that the circumstances of the encounter, if they did not qualify as exigent, were nearly so; and the boundaries separating exigent from non-exigent circumstances were not so clear as to have placed the officers on notice that their conduct exceeded the bounds of the exigent circumstances exception. Id. at 644. At the same time, given the breadth that the Wisconsin courts had attributed to the community caretaker exception, the officers could have thought that this exception allowed them to enter Sutterfieldâs home, to perform a warrantless search of the premises, including the compact disc case, and to seize the gun they found inside of that case. Id. While the Seventh Circuit has refused to read the Community Care[taker] exemption nearly as expansively as Wisconsin, and would thus seem to bind this 4 Both Hewitt and Berken indicated in their depositions that they understood department policy to essentially require them to execute the 51.15 statement by taking Sutterfield into custody regardless of what transpired at her home, suggesting that the decision to seize her person was not a discretionary call on their part. No. 12-2272 13 Court to find that such an exemption clearly does not apply, the Court cannot expect that police officers are schooled in the nuances of the law as it differs by jurisdiction. The police must be able to act decisively to prevent injury to citizens, especially when they are acting upon information from a third party whom it seems reasonable to believe is telling the truth, such as Dr. Bentle in this case. By entering Ms. Sutterfieldâs home, searching it, and seizing the items that they believed to pose a danger to both Ms. Sutterfield and members of the community who may (though it was unlikely) happen upon those items, the officers acted in that decisive, though discretionary way; and, under the laws of Wisconsin, doing so was not clearly unlawful. Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). II. Sutterfield challenges each aspect of the district courtâs summary judgment decision, save for the courtâs determination that the record lacked evidence sufficient to hold Milwaukee liable under Monell for any of the constitutional violations asserted in this case. So only the liability of the individual oficers is at issue. Sutterfield contends, in sum, that the police officersâ warrantless entry into her home, the seizure of her person, the search of the locked compact disc case, and the seizure of the revolver and the concealed carry licenses discovered therein all violated her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that the seizure of the gun and licenses also violated her rights under the Second Amendment. She further contends that because these rights were clearly 14 No. 12-2272 established (in her view), the officers do not enjoy qualified immunity from suit. Before we turn to the merits of Sutterfieldâs claims, we feel compelled to say a few words about the importance of the competing interests at stake in this case. The intrusions upon Sutterfieldâs privacy were profound. At the core of the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be let alone in oneâs home. See, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 31, 121 S. Ct. 2038, 2041-42 (2001) (citing Silverman v. United States , 365 U.S. 505, 511, 81 S. Ct. 679, 683 (1961)); Payton v. N.Y., 445 U.S. 573, 589-90, 100 S. Ct. 1371, 1381-82 (1980). In this case, police entered Sutterfieldâs home forcibly and without a warrant, against her express wishes. Once inside of her home, they seized her person, again employing force because she resisted. They then searched the premises of the house, discovered the locked compact disc case, broke it open, and seized her gun and concealed carry licenses, all without a search warrant. Finally, pursuant to section 51.15, they took Sutterfield to the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex for an (involuntary) evaluation. Although the officers took each of these actions for benevolent reasons, from Sutterfieldâs perspectiveâand from the perspective of anyone in a similar situation who did not wish assistanceâthese were serious intrusions upon the sanctity of her home and her person. On the other hand, courts from the United States Supreme Court on down have long recognized the important role that police play in safeguarding individuals from dangers posed to themselves and othersâa role that will, in appropriate circumstances, permit searches and seizures made without the judicial sanction of a warrant. See, e.g., Brigham City, Utah v. No. 12-2272 15 Stuart, supra, 547 U.S. at 403-04, 126 S. Ct. at 1947 (collecting cases); Mincey v. Ariz., 437 U.S. 385, 392 & nn.6-7, 98 S. Ct. 2408, 2413 & nn.6-7 (1978) (same). Here, the Milwaukee police had been contacted by Sutterfieldâs physician with a concern that Sutterfield might harm herself. Wisconsin law sets forth an emergency detention procedure to deal with precisely this sort of situation. Pursuant to section 51.15, a statement authorizing Sutterfieldâs emergency detention was prepared, and police executed that statement when they entered Sutterfieldâs home and took her into their custody. They looked for, discovered, and seized her firearm out of concern for Sutterfieldâs safety and that of any minor who might enter her home in her absence. There is no suggestion that they acted for any reason other than to protect Sutterfield from harm. This case therefore requires us to balance Sutterfieldâs privacy interests, as protected by the Fourth Amendment, against a community interestâand frankly Sutterfieldâs own interestâin protecting her from harm, including self-inflicted harm. Aside from the importance of these competing interests, several circumstances make our job more difficult. First, the parties have given us virtually no information as to the alternatives other than emergency detention pursuant to section 51.15 that were available to the Milwaukee police in this situation. Sutterfield, for example, frequently speaks about the lack of a warrant but has not addressed what type of warrant, if any, would have been appropriate and available in the circumstances confronting the police. Her briefs seem to view the case through the lens of criminal law enforcement when the case plainly does not fit that model. Moreover, as we shall discuss, there also persists a lack of clarity in Fourth 16 No. 12-2272 Amendment case law as to the appropriate legal framework that should be applied to warrantless intrusions motivated by purposes other than law enforcement and evidence-gathering. It will no doubt be frustrating to Sutterfield and to the reader that we do not reach firm conclusions as to the merits of all of the claims she has asserted and instead, like the district court, resolve the case in part based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. We recognize the significant role that resolving the merits of each claim plays in the development of precedent and clarifying the boundaries of constitutional rights. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236, 129 S. Ct. 808, 818 (2009). But given the importance of the interests at stake, the lack of clarity in the case law, and the shallowness of the briefing as to the alternatives available to the police on the facts presented here, we believe that the tentative nature of some of our analysis is appropriate. We now turn to the merits of Sutterfieldâs claims. A. Detention of Sutterfield Our discussion of the first claim may be brief. Although Sutterfield insists that, contrary to the district courtâs belief, she has challenged the defendantsâ seizure of her person as being contrary to the Fourth Amendment, she has not adequately developed any such argument. She does not contest that her physician reported that she had threatened to do herself harm. Further, there is no dispute that, in light of the doctorâs report, there was a valid basis to pursue an emergency detention of Sutterfield under section 51.15, that the police complied with the requirements of that statute, or that the statute (and the statement completed by officers Stephens and Powers) No. 12-2272 17 authorized the seizure of Sutterfield. Sutterfield suggests that the statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it permits the seizure of a person without the authorization of a judicial officer. But she fails to support her contention with any citation of authority or legal analysis. We note that Sutterfieldâs position presumes that prior judicial approval is required when a person is detained not because she is suspected of a crime but rather because she is believed to pose a danger to herself. In that respect, she makes no distinction between the law enforcement and community caretaking functions of the police. Her argument, moreover, calls into question the constitutionality not only of Wisconsinâs section 51.15, but a host of comparable provisions found in other state codes. Many if not most states have provisions authorizing the emergency detention of individuals based on information indicating that they pose a danger to themselves or others. See Treatment Advocacy Center, Emergency Hospitalization for EvaluationâAssisted Psychiatric Treatment Standards by State (June 2011), available at http://treatmentadvocacy center.org/storage/documents/Emergency_Hospitalization_ for_Evaluation.pdf (last visited May 9, 2014). Although the specifics of such statutes vary, they commonly do not require prior judicial approval of the emergency detention. See, e.g., 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/3-601 - 5/3-603 (authorizing involuntary admission of person to mental health facility when adult presents petition to facility indicating admission is necessary to protect self or others from harm, detailing signs or symptoms of mental illness, and describing relevant acts, threats, behavior, and so forth; petition must be accompanied by statement of qualified expert and if none immediately available, person 18 No. 12-2272 may be detained for purposes of examination by such expert); Indiana Code § 12-26-5-1 (authorizing detention of person for no more than 72 hours on written application of individual setting forth belief admitted person is mentally ill or dangerous and in need of immediate restraint, together with statement of at least one physician indicating person may be mentally ill or dangerous). Our point is not to suggest that the sort of emergency detention authorized by section 51.15 and similar statutes in other states necessarily is constitutional. Our point, instead, is that given the ubiquity of such statutes, and the legitimacy of the interests in both personal and public safety underlying such statutes, a contention that an emergency detention is per se unconstitutional without prior judicial authorization demands much more than a conclusory argument to that effect. Sutterfield has waived any claim that her detention was unlawful absent the prior approval of a judge. See, e.g., Fluker v. Cnty. of Kankakee, 741 F.3d 787, 795 (7th Cir. 2013) (perfunctory and undeveloped arguments waived). See also In re Commitment of Louise M., 555 N.W.2d 807, 810 (Wis. 1996) (finding that procedures for involuntary detention set forth in section 51.15 satisfy the requirements of due process). B. Entry into Sutterfieldâs Home The district court, as noted, found that the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home might be justified on the basis of the exigent circumstances doctrine. Sutterfield focuses the bulk of her argument on this possibility, contending that in view of the passage of nine hours between her physicianâs initial phone call to the police and the point at which police sought entry No. 12-2272 19 into her home, the circumstances cannot be desribed as exigent, as there was ample opportunity for the police to obtain a warrant. She adds that her own conduct in refusing to open the door to her home and admit the police cannot be said to have created an exigency where none otherwise existed. There are three doctrines or exceptions to the warrant requirement that have been raised at one point or another in this case as possible justifications for the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home: the community caretaking doctrine, the emergency aid doctrine, and the exigent circumstances doctrine. For the reasons that follow, we believe that the entry into Sutterfieldâs home was justified by the emergency aid doctrine, which the Supreme Court has deemed a subset of the exigent circumstances doctrine. But as there is some degree of overlap between the doctrines, the distinctions between them are not always clear, and all three doctrines are, to some degree, implicated in this case, we begin with a short discussion of each.5 5 Scholars have frequently remarked on the lack of clarity in judicial articulation and application of the three doctrines. See, e.g., Megan Pauline Marinos, Comment, Breaking and Entering or Community Caretaking? A Solution to the Overbroad Expansion of the Inventory Search, 22 GEO. MASON U. CIVIL RIGHTS L. J. 249, 261 (2012) (âOver the years, state and federal courts have muddled the distinction between the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement and the community caretaking exception to the probable cause and warrant requirements.â); Michael R. Dimino, Sr., Police Paternalism: Community Caretaking, Assistance Searches, and Fourth Amendment Reasonableness, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. 1485, 1494 (2009) (âThe vagueness surrounding the definition of the community-caretaking category and the different standards governing the constitutionality of (continued...) 20 No. 12-2272 The community caretaking doctrine recognizes that police sometimes take actions not for any criminal law enforcement purpose but rather to protect members of the public; searches (including home entries) conducted for the latter purpose are deemed exempt from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. The doctrine was first recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433, 93 S. Ct. 2523 (1973), which sustained the warrantless search of an automobile in police custody that was conducted as a matter of routine for a purpose âtotally divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to the violation of a criminal statute,â id. at 441, 93 S. Ct. at 2528. As we shall see, state and federal courts have divided over the scope of the community caretaking doctrine recognized in Cady. This court, taking the narrow view, has confined the doctrine to automobile searches. United State v. Pichany, supra, 687 F.2d at 207-09. Pichany rules out the community caretaker doctrine as a basis which might justify the warrantless entry into 5 (...continued) different types of community-caretaking searches indicate that more precision is needed. There is not a single community-caretaking doctrine. Rather, there are several different community-caretaking doctrines, but courts have not clarified the constitutional interests affected by those different kinds of searches.â); Deborah Tuerkheimer, Exigency, 49 ARIZ. L. REV. 801, 812 n. 60 (2007) (âthe state of the case law in this area is remarkably confusedâ); Mary Elizabeth Naumann, Note, The Community Caretaker Doctrine: Yet Another Fourth Amendment Exception, 26 AM. J. CRIM. L. 325, 365 (1999) (âA review of both federal and state case law reveals a lack of consistency in the definition and boundaries of the community caretaker doctrine that control the judgment exercised by the officers in these situations.â). No. 12-2272 21 Sutterfieldâs home, as the district court recognized. But because the Wisconsin courtsâwhich, like the court, possess the authority and indeed the obligation to interpret and apply the Fourth Amendment, see Burgess v. Lowery, 201 F.3d 942, 945-46 (7th Cir. 2000)âhave accorded a much broader sweep to the community caretaker doctrine, and this would have given the defendants reason to believe that the entry was justified, a more detailed discussion of Cady and its progeny is called for. In Cady, Wisconsin police officers searched the trunk of a rented automobile that had been disabled in a one-car accident. The obviously intoxicated driver of the car, Dombrowski, had informed the officers that he was a Chicago policeman. Believing that Chicago police officers were required to carry their service revolvers with them at all times, the Wisconsin police looked for a gun on Dombrowskiâs person and in the glove compartment and front seat of the car, but they did not find one. The car was towed to a local (private) garage and Dombrowski was taken into custody for drunken driving. Later that night, an officer visited the garage to search the car again for Dombrowskiâs revolver; the search was described as a matter of routine practice within the local police department. When the officer opened the locked trunk of the car, he discovered clothing and other items with blood on them. When Dombrowski was confronted with those items, he directed police to a body on his brotherâs farm. Dombrowski was ultimately charged with murder, and the items discovered in the trunk of the car were admitted at trial as evidence. Dombrowski was convicted. On habeas review, this court agreed with Dombrowski that the search of the car trunk violated his Fourth Amendment rights, as there was no 22 No. 12-2272 exigency that might have justified a warrantless search. Dombrowski v. Cady, 471 F.2d 280, 283-84 (7th Cir. 1972) (2-1 decision). The Supreme Court reversed. The Court in Cady sustained the search of car trunk as a legitimate exercise of the police forceâs community caretaking function. After first noting that the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is âreasonableness,â id. at 439, 93 S. Ct. at 2527, the Court pointed out that it had long distinguished automobile searches from searches of the home, both because cars are inherently mobile, lending greater justification to warrantless searches, and because the highly-regulated status of motor vehicles brings the police into frequent contact with automobilesâand any contents, including contraband, which are in plain viewâfor reasons unrelated to the investigation of crime. Id. at 440-42, 93 S. Ct. at 2527-28. In this case, the police had been compelled to assume custody of Dombrowskiâs rental car because Dombrowski himself was unable to drive and because the wrecked vehicle otherwise presented a nuisance upon the roadway. Id. at 442-43, 93 S. Ct. at 2529. After they took custody of the car, police had followed what the lower courts had determined to be standard operating procedure in searching the car for Dombrowskiâs service revolver. That search was conducted not for evidence-gathering purposes but rather for safety reasons: the car had been towed to a garage lot which was not secured, leaving any gun inside accessible to vandals. Id. at 443, 448, 93 S. Ct. at 2529, 2531. Thus, the search, although unsupported by a warrant, constituted a legitimate exercise of the police forceâs community caretaking function. Id. at 447-48, 93 S. Ct. at 2531. No. 12-2272 23 Cadyâs holding has since evolved into a rule authorizing a routine, warrantless inventory search of an automobile lawfully impounded by the police. In South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 96 S. Ct. 3092 (1976), for example, the Court sustained the search of a car which had been impounded by police after it was left parked illegally in a restricted zone; the search had unearthed marijuana in the vehicleâs glove compartment. After reiterating Cadyâs rationale and adding that the individual has a lesser expectation of privacy in the automobile than in the home, id. at 367-69, 96 S. Ct. at 3096, the Court noted that a routine inventory search of an impounded vehicle serves multiple needs: protection of the ownerâs property, protection of the police against allegations of lost or stolen property, and protection of the police from potential danger, id. at 369, 96 S. Ct. at 3097. The search, conducted for legitimate caretaking reasons and not as a pretext for evidence-gathering, therefore met the Fourth Amendmentâs reasonableness standard. Id. at 375-76, 96 S. Ct. at 3100; see also, e.g., United States v. Jackson, 189 F.3d 502, 508-09 (7th Cir. 1999). Opperman, as it turned out, marked the last time that the Supreme Court relied to any meaningful degree on the community caretaking function of the police in evaluating the reasonableness of searching automobiles and other items impounded by the police; subsequent cases have rested on Oppermanâs description of the search as a routine âinventoryâ search. See, e.g., Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 371, 107 S. Ct. 738, 741 (1987) (âinventory searches are now a well-defined exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendmentâ); see also Marinos, supra n.5, 22 GEO. MASON U. CIVIL RTS. L. J. at 251 n.11, 259. 24 No. 12-2272 This court, as we have mentioned, has limited the community caretaker doctrine to automobile searches. Pichany, 687 F.2d at 207-09. Our decision in Pichany addressed the warrantless search of a commercial warehouse. Police officers had arrived early for a meeting at an industrial park with a business owner who had reported a burglary of his warehouse. While looking for the owner, the officers wandered into the defendantâs nearby warehouse, which was both unlocked and unmarkedâbut which was not the warehouse reported burglarized. There they discovered several stolen tractors, which resulted in the defendant being charged with theft. After the district court suppressed the evidence discovered in the warehouse, the government appealed, seeking to justify the warrantless entry into the defendantâs warehouse on the basis of the community caretaker doctrine. The government argued that when the officers entered the defendantâs warehouse, they were not investigating the defendantâs possible involvement in a crime but simply looking for the individual who had reported a burglary. We rejected the invitation to extend Cadyâs community caretaking rationale beyond the automobile context. âNone of the factors which the Court found characterized the community caretaking function are present here.â 687 F.2d at 207. We pointed out that, in contrast to the situation in Cady, the police had not exercised control or dominion over the defendantâs warehouse, nor was there any threat of damage or theft that might have triggered a duty on the part of the officers to secure his warehouse. Id. at 207-08. More fundamentally, the Court in Cady, by stressing the circumstances that differentiated cars from houses and other things that might be searched, had indicated that its holding âextended only to No. 12-2272 25 automobiles temporarily in police custody.â id. at 208. âConsequently, the plain import from the language of the Cady decision is that the Supreme Court did not intend to create a broad exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement to apply whenever the police are acting in an âinvestigative,â [i.e., community caretaking] rather than a âcriminalâ function.â Id. at 208-09 (quoting Cady, 413 U.S. at 453, 93 S. Ct. at 2534) (Brennan, J., dissenting)). The other circuits are divided on the question of whether the community caretaker exception applies outside of the automobile context, and in particular to warrantless searches of the home. In addition to this circuit, the Third, Ninth, and Tenth circuits have confined the community caretaking exception to the automobile context. See Ray v. Tp. of Warren, 626 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2010); United States v. Bute, 43 F.3d 531, 535 (10th Cir. 1994) (2-1 decision); United States v. Erickson, 991 F.2d 529, 531-33 (9th Cir. 1993).6 In contrast, the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth circuits have relied on the community caretaking exception to justify warrantless searches of the home. See United States v. Quezada, 448 F.3d 1005, 1007-08 (8th Cir. 2006); United States v. Rohrig, 98 F.3d 1506, 1521-25 (6th Cir. 1996) (2-1 decision); United States v. York, 895 F.2d 1026, 1029-30 (5th Cir. 6 More recently, the Ninth Circuit found that a warrantless entry into a home was justified when police entered the home in a community caretaking role while responding to a perceived emergency; the court emphasized that the circumstances must present a genuine emergency in order for such an entry to be justified. See United States v. Stafford, 416 F.3d 1068, 1073-75 (9th Cir. 2005). Despite the references to community caretaking, the decision is probably best characterized as relying on the emergency aid doctrine rather than the community caretaking doctrine. 26 No. 12-2272 1990) (framed as an exigent circumstances decision, but stressing community caretaking role of police in abating noise disturbance). However, the Sixth Circuit more recently has expressed doubt that the community caretaking doctrine would generally authorize the warrantless entry into a home, see United States v. Williams, 354 F.3d 497, 508 (6th Cir. 2003), although its decision in that case ultimately rested on the fact that police were motivated by a suspicion of criminal wrongdoing in addition to community caretaking purposes, id. Finally, the Fourth Circuit has indicated that the community caretaking exception may justify a warrantless residential search when, as in Cady, the search is conducted pursuant to routine procedure and not for purposes of criminal evidencegathering. Hunsberger v. Wood, 570 F.3d 546, 554 (4th Cir. 2009) (Wilkinson, J.). See also MacDonald v. Town of Eastham, 2014 WL 944707, at *4-*6 (1st Cir. Mar. 12, 2014) (noting disarray in cases and leaving question open); United States v. McGough, 412 F.3d 1232, 1238-39 (11th Cir. 2005) (noting that âwe have never explicitly held that the community caretaking functions of a police officer permit the warrantless entry into a homeâ; court goes on to find that in any event facts did not warrant application of the exception in that case). A similar division exists at the state level. See Gregory T. Helding, Comment, Stop Hammering Fourth Amendment Rights: Reshaping the Community Caretaking Exception With the Physicial Intrusion Standard, 97 MARQUETTE L. REV. 123, 143-48 (2013) (collecting cases extending community caretaking exception beyond the automobile context); Naumann, supra n.5, 26 AM. J. CRIM. L. at 352-57 (surveying different approaches employed by state courts). No. 12-2272 27 As the district court noted, the Wisconsin courts in particular have extended the community caretaking doctrine to searches of homes. We reserve our discussion of the Wisconsin precedents for our qualified immunity analysis below. For now, it is sufficient to express our agreement with the district court that, given our decision in Pichany, the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home cannot be sustained on the basis of the community caretaker doctrine. The exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement constitutes a second ground on which the warrantless entry into Sutterfieldâs home potentially could be justified. Pursuant to this exception, a warrantless entry into a dwelling may be lawful when there is a pressing need for the police to enter but no time for them to secure a warrant. Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 509, 98 S. Ct. 1942, 1949 (1978); see also, e.g., Fitzgerald v. Santoro, 707 F.3d 725, 730 (7th Cir. 2013). Recognized exigencies include situations in which the occupant of a residence is injured or is in danger of imminent injury, Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 47-48, 130 S. Ct. 546, 54849 (2009); Brigham City, Utah v. Stuart, supra, 547 U.S. at 403-04, 126 S. Ct. at 1947; see, e.g., Fitzgerald, 707 F.3d at 731-32) (danger of suicide); when there is a danger posed to others by the occupant of a dwelling, as when the occupant is armed and might shoot at the police or other persons, e.g., United States v. Kempf, 400 F.3d 501, 503 (7th Cir. 2005); when police are in âhot pursuitâ of a fleeing suspect, United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38, 42-43, 96 S. Ct. 2406, 2409-10 (1976) (citing Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 87 S. Ct. 1642 (1967)), or there is a risk that the suspect may escape, see Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91, 100, 110 S. Ct. 1684, 1690 (1990); and to prevent the imminent 28 No. 12-2272 destruction of evidence, Kentucky v. King, 131 S. Ct. 1849, 185657 (2011). Whether the exigent circumstances exception justifies warrantless action is judged by an objective standard: we ask whether it was reasonable for the police officers on the scene to believe, in light of the circumstances they faced, that there was a compelling need to act and no time to obtain a warrant. See Tyler, 436 U.S. at 509, 98 S. Ct. at 1949; e.g., Fitzgerald, 707 F.3d at 730. There must be a genuine need to forego the warrant process; and in assessing that need, we must focus not only on the moment that police made the decision to make the warrantless entry, but rather âappraise the agents' conduct during the entire period after they had a right to obtain a warrant and not merely from the moment when they knocked at the front door.â United States v. Patino, supra, 830 F.2d at 1416 (quoting United States v. Rosselli, 506 F.2d 627, 630 (7th Cir.1974) (footnote omitted) (Stevens, J.)). Related to both of the foregoing exceptions to the warrant requirement is the emergency or emergency aid doctrine, which recognizes that a warrantless entry into the home may be appropriate when police enter for an urgent purpose other than to arrest a suspect or to look for evidence of a crime. See Mincey v. Ariz., supra, 437 U.S. at 392-93, 98 S. Ct. at 2413; Hanson v. Dane Cnty., Wis., 608 F.3d 335, 337-38 (7th Cir. 2010); United States v. Richardson, 208 F.3d 626, 630 (7th Cir. 2000); United States v. Salava, 978 F.2d 320, 324-25 (7th Cir. 1992). Like the community caretaker exception to the warrant requirement, this doctrine recognizes that police play a service and protective role in addition to a law enforcement role. See SheikAbdi v. McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1244 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing United States v. Moss, 963 F.2d 673, 678 (4th Cir. 1992)). In the No. 12-2272 29 former capacities, police officers may sometimes need to enter a dwelling in order to render aid to an occupant whom they believe to be in distress and in immediate need of their assistance. Id. The test for this exception is also objective: the question is whether the police, given the facts confronting them, reasonably believed that it was necessary to enter a home in order to ârender assistance or prevent harm to persons or property within.â Id. (quoting Moss, 963 F.2d at 678); see also United States v. Jenkins, 329 F.3d 579, 581-82 (7th Cir. 2003). Although we had understood the emergency aid doctrine to be separate from (albeit related to) the exigent circumstances exception, see Sheik-Abdi, 37 F.3d at 1244, see also Hopkins v. Bonvicino, 573 F.3d 752, 763 (9th Cir. 2009); John F. Decker, Emergency Circumstances, Police Responses, and Fourth Amendment Restrictions, 89 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 433, 441-45 (1999), the Supreme Court in Brigham City effectively made the former a subset of the latter. 547 U.S. at 403-4, 126 S. Ct. at 1947; see Tuerkheimer, supra n.5, 49 ARIZ. L. REV. at 812-13 & n.60. The police in Brigham City had responded to a 3:00 a.m. call complaining of a loud party at a residence. On arrival at the residence, the officers heard shouting from inside of the house, walked down the driveway, saw two juveniles drinking beer in the backyard, and from there noticed an altercation taking place in the kitchen of the home. Through a screen door, they saw four adults attempting to restrain a juvenile, who was able to break free and strike one of the adults, drawing blood. As the struggle continued, one of the officers opened the door to 30 No. 12-2272 the kitchen, announced himself, and then entered. At that point, the altercation ceased. The police ultimately arrested the adults for, inter alia, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and disorderly conduct. At issue before the Supreme Court was the lawfulness of the police officersâ entry into the residence. The Court determined that the interest in preventing injury to an occupant of the home justified a warrantless entry by the police. The Court recognized that the need to assist a person who is seriously injured or who is threatened with such an injury is one type of exigency that obviates the need to obtain a warrant: âThe need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury is justification for what would be otherwise illegal absent an exigency or emergency.â 547 U.S. at 403, 126 S. Ct. at 1947 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). âAccordingly, law enforcement officers may enter a home without a warrant to render emergency assistance to an injured occupant or to protect an occupant from imminent injury.â Ibid. The officersâ subjective motive for the entryâbe it to quell violence or to make an arrest, for exampleâis irrelevant; what matters is whether the facts, viewed objectively, justified the action taken by the police. Id. at 404-05, 126 S. Ct. at 1948. In this case, the officers witnessed a fracas ongoing within the home that had already resulted in injury to one of the occupants. The officers consequently had reason to believe both that the person who had been struck might need help and that the fight might continue without intervention. The entry into the home was therefore reasonable. Id. at 406, 126 S. Ct. at 1949. We relied on Brigham Cityâs exigency rationale in Fitzgerald, 707 F.3d 725, to sustain a warrantless entry into a home where No. 12-2272 31 police had reason to believe that the occupant might harm herself. The police in Fitzgerald were summoned to the plaintiffâs home after she had a telephone conversation with a police officer that caused that officer to be concerned that she might be suicidal. At the conclusion of a stressful, aggravating day, the plaintiff, who had been drinking, attempted to contact a local help line but instead found herself speaking to the desk sergeant at a local police station. Although she denied entertaining suicidal thoughts, the sergeant, while remaining on the line with her, dispatched officers to her home, reporting that she was highly depressed, intoxicated, and possibly suicidal. As the officers were approaching the plaintiffâs condominium, they learned that the plaintiff had just abruptly hung up on the desk sergeant. At that point, the officers made a forced, warrantless entry into the plaintiffâs home. After speaking with her for a period of 30 minutes, the officers ultimately took the plaintiff into custody against her will for evaluation at a hospital. She later filed suit, contending among other things that the warrantless intrusion into her home violated the Fourth Amendment. We concluded that the entry was justified based on the exigent circumstances exception. Given the information available to the officers, it was objectively reasonable for them to believe at the time they entered the home that the occupant was in need of immediate assistance. See id. at 731(quoting United States v. Arch, 7 F.3d 1300, 1304 (7th Cir. 1993)). The fact that the officers who arrived on the plaintiffâs doorstep had not personally observed any suicidal behavior was not dispositive. They were reasonably relying on information provided to them by the desk sergeant, who had conveyed to them that the 32 No. 12-2272 plaintiff had called the police station, that she sounded both intoxicated and suicidal, and had abruptly hung up as officers approached her home. This case fits snugly within our precedents holding that police officers and other emergency personnel must be âable to assist persons in danger or otherwise in need of assistance.â Richardson, 208 F.3d at 630. â[W]hen police are acting in a swiftly developing situation ⦠a court must not indulge in unrealistic second-guessing.â Leaf v. Shelnutt, 400 F.3d 1070, 1092 (7th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). We apply that maxim again today. 707 F.3d at 732. Fitzgerald, we believe, guides us to a particular result in this case; but before we turn back to the particular facts before us, several points deserve making as to the three doctrines we have just discussed. All three doctrines, to the extent they authorize the police to make a warrantless entry into a dwelling in order to render aid to a member of the publicâsometimes described as an âassistance search,â see Dimino, supra n.5, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. at 1488âare speaking to the community caretaking function of police officers, see id. at 1494. There are, nonetheless, important differences in both the doctrines and how courts apply them that present challenges in deciding which of them governs a particular set of facts. Exigency, for example, is defined by a time-urgent need to act that makes resort to the warrant process impractical. See id. at 1508; see also, e.g., Tyler, 439 U.S. at 509, 98 S. Ct. at 1949; No. 12-2272 33 United States v. Foxworth, 8 F.3d 540, 544-45 (7th Cir. 1993). If, on the other hand, there is time for the police to seek a warrant, then one must be sought: see, for example, our decision in Patino, 830 F.2d at 1416-17, which the district court discussed. 870 F. Supp. 2d at 638; see also, e.g., United States v. Talkington, 843 F.2d 1041, 1046 (7th Cir. 1988) (remanding for determination of whether agents had time to procure warrant). But the focus on the standard warrant process presumes that there is reason to believe that something criminal is afoot. Exigency cases thus typically speak either of there being probable cause to believe a crime is being or has been committed or of the need to act in order to fulfill the probable cause requirement, as by preventing a suspect from fleeing or preserving evidence that might otherwise be destroyed. See Marinos, 22 GEO. MASON U. CIVIL RTS. L. J. at 262; Debra Livingston, Police, Community Caretaking, and the Fourth Amendment, 1998 U. CHI. LEGAL FORUM 261, 274-77 (1998); Brigham City, 547 U.S. at 402, 126 S. Ct. at 1946 (discussing and quoting from decision of court below, Brigham City v. Stuart, 122 P.3d 506, 5014 (Utah 2005)); Sheehan v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco, 743 F.3d 1211, 1221 (9th Cir. 2014); Hogan v. Cunningham, 722 F.3d 725, 731-32 (5th Cir. 2013); Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244, 1251 (11th Cir. 2013); Storey v. Taylor, 696 F.3d 987, 992 (10th Cir. 2012); United States v. Watson, 489 F. Appâx 922, 925 (6th Cir. 2012) (unpublished); Cisneros v. Gutierrez, 598 F.3d 997, 1004 (8th Cir. 2010); United States v. Coles, 437 F.3d 361, 365-66 (3d Cir. 2006); United States v. Cephas, 254 F.3d 488, 494-95 (4th Cir. 2001); United States v. Tibolt, 72 F.3d 965, 969 (1st Cir. 1995); United States v. Dawkins, 17 F.3d 399, 403 (D.C. Cir. 1994). In this respect, the exigent circumstances doctrine, as it has 34 No. 12-2272 traditionally been understood, is ill-suited to assistance searches like the one in this case, where there was no reason to suspect anyone of committing a crime. See Dimino, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. at 1512 (âAll community-caretaking cases are incompatible with Fourth Amendment requirements of warrants and probable cause.â); see also id. at 1494, 1508-09, 1512-13; Livingston, 1998 U. CHI. LEGAL FORUM at 277 (âFor community caretaking intrusions, ⦠the exigency concept is considerably less straightforward.â); Sheik-Abdi, 37 F.3d at 1244 (citing Moss, 963 F.2d at 678) (noting that whether warrantless entry effectuated for law enforcement purpose or service/protective purpose may distinguish exigent circumstances doctrine from emergency aid doctrine). The emergency aid doctrine logically is a better fit in this regard, its defining characteristic being urgency, see Dimino, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. at 1505-06, and there being no logical need to additionally consider probable cause and the availability of a standard criminal warrant. See Decker, 89 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINALITY at 439, 455; Livingston, 1998 U. CHI. LEGAL FORUM at 277. And that appears to be true notwithstanding the Supreme Courtâs decision in Brigham City to place the emergency aid doctrine within the exigent circumstances framework. See United States v. Gordon, 741 F.3d 64, 70 (10th Cir. 2014) (âOfficers do not need probable cause if they face exigent circumstances in an emergency.â) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); United States v. Timmann, 741 F.3d 1170, 1178 & n.4 (11th Cir. 2013); Hunsberger v. Wood, supra, 570 F.3d at 555; United States v. Huffman, 461 F.3d 777, 783 (6th Cir. 2006); United States v. Stafford, supra n.6, 416 F.3d at 1075. But, as we discuss below, the real difficulty with applying the No. 12-2272 35 emergency aid doctrine to a case like this one may be the passage of a substantial amount of time between the point at which the police are on notice that someone requires their aid and the point at which they make a warrantless entry into that personâs home. The doctrine may not require that action be taken immediately in order for it to be characterized as âemergencyâ aid, see Dimino, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. at 1507 (delays may be tolerable if they are explained) (citing Decker, 89 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY at 508), but at some point, the passage of time will undermine the notion that emergency aid was required, id. at 1506-07. The community caretaking doctrine has a more expansive temporal reach, in that its primary focus is on the purpose of police action rather than on its urgency. See Livingston, 1998 U. CHI. LEGAL FORUM at 277 (âthe relevance of time as a limiting principle in the exigency equation seems less apparent in these community caretaking intrusionsâsince police could not have obtained a traditional warrant in any eventâ); see also Marinos, 22 GEO. MASON U. CIVIL RTS. L. J. at 280; Dimino, 66 WASH. & LEE L. REV. at 1506. Moreover, as we have already mentioned and as we shall discuss further, because this doctrine presumes that the police are not acting for any law enforcement purpose, whether or not there is time to seek a traditional criminal warrant is immaterial (although, as we also discuss, a different type of warrant could be envisioned). As a matter of doctrine, then, the community caretaking doctrine would potentially be the best fit for this case, in that it captures the beneficent purpose for which police entered Sutterfieldâs home and leaves more room for the delay that preceded it than the emergency aid doctrine otherwise might. 36 No. 12-2272 And because there is no suggestion that police had any law enforcement motive in entering the home, there would be a ready basis on which to distinguish criminal cases like Patino, which demand a search warrant when there is, in fact, time in which to seek one. Yet, our decision in Pichany obviously forecloses reliance on the community caretaking doctrine here. Although the defendants invoked the community caretaking doctrine below, they have not pursued it on appeal, let alone asked us to reconsider Pichany. And the division among the federal circuits as to the appropriate scope of the community caretaking doctrine makes clear that there is no obvious answer as to whether it is appropriate to extend that doctrine beyond the automobile setting that the Supreme Court dealt with in Cady. The defendants have chosen instead to rely on the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement and, in particular, the emergency aid exception that Brigham City places within the exigency framework, as the justification for their entry into their home. And ultimately, given the Courtâs decision in Brigham City and our own decision in Fitzgerald, we believe they are right on that score. As in Fitzgerald, the officers in this case had objectively reasonable grounds on which to believe that Sutterfield might harm herself. The police had been advised by Sutterfieldâs physician that she had threatened to take her own life. Based on that report, they had completed a statement of emergency detention that authorized officers to take Suttefield into custody for a mental health evaluation. When officers arrived at Sutterfieldâs home that evening and tried to talk to her, she No. 12-2272 37 would not allow them into her home. Sutterfield contends that she was not acting âerratically,â as the district court put it, but simply wished to be left alone. Perhaps so. But t