Code Enforcement: Safety Issues

Code enforcement officers face more and more difficult situations when it comes to carrying out their responsibilities. Unfortunately, the job of code enforcement comes with a lot of risks, which leaves officers feeling overwhelmed and stressed. 

Risks of Code Enforcement Work

Code compliance officers can face dangerous and combative property owners when conducting inspections or issuing violation notices. 


Recently, The California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO) released a “survival guide” to help officers understand industry risks and how to stay safe. The survival guide explains that even though CEOs have a right to be physically safe during the execution of their responsibilities, they may face bullying, intimidation, and threats from irate individuals. 


Risks include:

  • Threats
  • Assault and battery
  • Stalking
  • Bullying behavior

A troubling example of violent behavior against code enforcement officers occurred in Tracy, California. A CEO performing his duties during a park clean-up was struck by an angry driver. The officer survived, but the driver was charged with attempted homicide. 


Sadly, these attacks can even be fatal. In 2020, code enforcement officer Charles “Chip” Case was shot and killed when he was trying to enforce the tax commissioner’s orders regarding unpaid taxes at a home in Augusta, Georgia. 


Officer Michael Walker was taking photos of a property that had been reported for code violations when the property owner’s son emerged from the home and confronted Walker. The son then retrieved a gun from the home and shot and killed the officer. 


These are senseless crimes that demonstrate the intense risk that code enforcement officers face every day. Unfortunately, these aren’t even rare stories, and there are even more incidents every day that are violent but not life-threatening or fatal. 


Sadly, these stories go back for years. In 2012, an enforcement officer was wounded in a shooting when he went to serve a warrant for a code inspection at a property in Long Beach. 


CACEO explains that there are many psychological and social reasons for these attacks. One important takeaway from the survival guide is that every officer has a right to be safe at work, and the California legal framework is designed to protect them from violent threats. The unpredictability of human beings is a complicating factor in code compliance work. 


Do code compliance workers have any recourse when it comes to doing their jobs safely? 

Code Enforcement & Receiverships

In some circumstances, code enforcement can be supported by a court-appointed receiver.


A health and safety receivership is an arrangement by which control of a building or property is temporarily given to a court-appointed receiver. This is used to address abandoned and distressed properties that are owned by someone with a history of non-compliance, especially related to code enforcement. 


Receiverships can also be initiated when there is an emergency situation that poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of any individual, including occupants of the property, community members, or code enforcement officers. 


When a property owner has habitually refused to comply with instructions related to code violations, a judge can step in to remove that owner’s authority over the property. Now, because the property is under the control of the receiver, it can be cleaned up, renovated, and returned to a habitable, safe condition. 

Does a Property in Your Community Need a Receiver?

Abandoned and distressed properties are a risk to your community. They are often accompanied by high rates of crime and lowered property values. They are also a risk to our code enforcement officers, who have to deal with responding to code violations and violent, aggressive property owners and tenants. 


If you are concerned about a property in your community, contact Griswold Law. Richardson “Red” Griswold has served as a court-appointed receiver in countless legal cases throughout the state of California. 

Contact us today to learn more about how code enforcement officers may be supported by the additional legal force of a court-appointed receiver.

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.


See all

Recent Posts