Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard points to an article in the Boston Globe about a new policy in that city that will allow police officers to enter private homes in high-crime neighborhoods to search for guns -- without a warrant. Supposedly the police will ask permission to enter, and leave if the parents say no, but the obvious concern is that many if not most families will be scared to say no:
Boston police are launching a program that will call upon parents in high-crime neighborhoods to allow detectives into their homes, without a warrant, to search for guns in their children's bedrooms.
The program, which is already raising questions about civil liberties, is based on the premise that parents are so fearful of gun violence and the possibility that their own teenagers will be caught up in it that they will turn to police for help, even in their own households.
In the next two weeks, Boston police officers who are assigned to schools will begin going to homes where they believe teenagers might have guns. The officers will travel in groups of three, dress in plainclothes to avoid attracting negative attention, and ask the teenager's parent or legal guardian for permission to search. If the parents say no, police said, the officers will leave.
If officers find a gun, police said, they will not charge the teenager with unlawful gun possession, unless the firearm is linked to a shooting or homicide.
"I just have a queasy feeling anytime the police try to do an end run around the Constitution," said Thomas Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who now teaches criminology at Boston University. "The police have restrictions on their authority and ability to conduct searches. The Constitution was written with a very specific intent, and that was to keep the law out of private homes unless there is a written document signed by a judge and based on probable cause. Here, you don't have that."
Critics said they worry that some residents will be too intimidated by a police presence on their doorstep to say no to a search.
"Our biggest concern is the notion of informed consent," said Amy Reichbach, a racial justice advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union. "People might not understand the implications of weapons being tested or any contraband being found."
But Davis said the point of the program, dubbed Safe Homes, is to make streets safer, not to incarcerate people.
"This isn't evidence that we're going to present in a criminal case," said Davis, who met with community leaders yesterday to get feedback on the program. "This is a seizing of a very dangerous object. . . .
"I understand people's concerns about this, but the mothers of the young men who have been arrested with firearms that I've talked to are in a quandary," he said. "They don't know what to do when faced with the problem of dealing with a teenage boy in possession of a firearm. We're giving them an option in that case."
An option to give up their constitutional protections. Some option.
Gaius is scathing:
Regardless of whether you are pro or anti-gun, you should be outraged by this. Period. That it is being proposed in the city that once held a rather famous tea party and was a hotbed of Liberty only makes it more disgusting. The patriots who fought and died to secure Liberty for this nation have got to be spinning in their graves up in Boston right now. ...
I could not agree more.