Welfare checks are requests for the police to check on an individual due to concern for their safety or well-being. Reasons for such requests vary widely but might include, for example, not hearing from an individual for an extended period of time, knowledge of health concerns that pose a risk to another's safety, a suspected mental health crisis, or threat of suicidal behavior. Requests for welfare checks are quite common, although estimates of their frequencies vary.
Since the circumstances of a welfare check can vary so drastically, and the information initially provided may be vague, officer discretion is often required. However, a lack of direction in how to conduct welfare checks has raised concerns over discriminatory application and the potential for increased harm to the subject of the welfare check. Thus, providing policy for response to welfare checks can help provide parameters for officer discretion, facilitating police efforts to keep individuals and the community safe.