Law Enforcement

In every state with an ERPO law, law enforcement may petition the court to issue an ERPO to temporarily restrict an individual’s access to firearms when they are behaving dangerously or when they are at an elevated risk of harm to self or others.  In most states, law enforcement are also responsible for serving the ERPO petition and removing the firearms from ERPO respondents’ possession.

Law enforcement play a critical role in the ERPO process. In every state with an ERPO law, law enforcement can petition the court for ERPOs, and usually remove firearms from ERPO respondents. Other law enforcement responsibilities in the ERPO process may include:

  • Investigating potential ERPO cases;
  • Completing a Sworn Affidavit/filing for an ERPO petition and testifying before a judicial officer regarding existing threats;
  • Coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to mitigate any risks that are presented by a respondent;
  • Serving the respondent with a copy of the ex parte and/or final ERPO;
  • Dispossessing the respondent of any firearms to which they have access;
  • Safely and securely storing the surrendered firearms and returning them once the ERPO expires;
  • Ensuring compliance with the ERPO;
  • Appearing at any subsequent hearings;
  • Collaborating with social services or others to monitor the respondent’s progress;
  • With good cause shown, possibly filing for a renewal of the ERPO.

Law enforcement often coordinate closely with many other partners in their work on ERPOs: prosecutors’ offices, other community groups, and co-responders. These collaborative efforts allow law enforcement to engage other key supports to help mitigate risks and support the respondent.

To use ERPO effectively, law enforcement must have training to help recognize dangerous behaviors that can be indicative of violence and empower them to use ERPO as a tool. ERPO training can be built into the police academy and law enforcement can receive additional guidance at ongoing roll call trainings.