Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Now comes (as they say in court) an interesting story (to which my attention was drawn by the conservative blog "The Stiletto"). The story revolves around a proposal in Boston where police with parental consent will search bedrooms of kids to look for firearms. The story also involves the fourth amendment and the second amendment and the ACLU seemingly fighting to protect some people's right to firearms because of their concern over search and seizure.

It strikes me as funny...the notion of the ACLU fighting under whatever circumstances for the right of kids to keep and bear arms.


I mean, I'm the last guy who wants to give the police increased powers to search us, but this attempt by the city of Boston to disarm "youngsters" and to cut down on crime doesn't really do that.

Still in these days of the Patriot Act and all I worry about people becoming complacent to increasing police powers. I mean if we accept this why not do the same thing with drugs...or whatever?

The blogger Red Pills described the proposal thusly, "The police of a section of Boston are endeavoring to do an end run around the Constitution. This is occurring in Boston, Massachusetts, site of America’s greatest tea party. How far we have fallen."

Under this program, if the parents of the kids who live with them in their home or apartment consent to allow the cops to search the kids room for guns, the the cops come in and do it. Of course, cops have always had the right to search with consent. That hasn't change.

The cops say if they find any guns they'll confiscate them but they "promise" not to charge anyone with anything...unless the gun is connected to "a shooting, homicide, or other crime..." If ballistics analysis reveals that the gun has been used in a homicide or shooting, an investigation will determine who was responsible for the crime say the cops.

Police claim if they happen upon a small amount of drugs they won't prosecute. Of course, what's small and what will they do? They say they'll keep it confidential. And when was the last time you trusted your local police to keep their promises?

Now I admit if I were a kid I'd be pissed about my parents letting the cops search my room. And I wouldn't buy the whole "we'll keep it confidential" thing.

But then I don't live in a neighborhood where gunshots are common and kids (and others) are getting killed. I don't live in a neighborhood run by gangs. I didn't grow up in a time when we parents didn't know their kids has an arsenal in their room.

The cops in fact say they're just trying to help out embattled parents. “We have conversations with single mothers who express frustration in dealing with teenagers who are uncontrollable,” said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “In a community policing context, knocking on a door and asking . . . if they would allow us to check their kids’ rooms for firearms may give them an out.”

The Boston Globe reports that The Safe Homes project is based upon a police-community collaboration in St. Louis during the mid-1990s. That program, it says, resulted in the recovery of 510 guns from juveniles over an 18-month period. St. Louis police officers received voluntary consent to search homes from 98 percent of the parents approached and recovered at least one gun in 50 percent of their searches.

St. Louis police reassured skeptics by letting them observe searches, said Robert Heimberger, a retired St. Louis police sergeant who was part of the program.

Support for that initiative decreased after the police chief who spearheaded the effort left the force and clergy leaders failed to follow up with their promised support to parents.

I wonder what the NRA thinks about all this?

I can tell you I checked out one rabid (and I'm trying to be nice with that description) pro-gun site called Free Republic. Those commenting on the proposal were overwhelmingly against it. Many spent their time venting very thinly veiled racist comments about the parents. You can imagine.

ACLU and right wing gun yoyos all on the same side. It enough to make me crazy.

What do y'a think...a step toward fascism as several left sites I looked at said...or a way to cut back on gun violence?

Whatever you think, rest assured more and more plans like this will be popping up and if you don't like them then you'd better start thinking of other ways to curb violent crime and gang activity that you do (and today, not "after the revolution").

A whale of a lot of folks out there are sick of all the gunfire. They want something done.

The following is from the Boston Globe.

Police, activists battle over city antigun effort

Civil liberties activists fanned out through Dorchester and Roxbury yesterday, warning people that a police proposal to ask residents to let their houses be searched for guns could violate constitutional rights.

But Robin Jeffreys, who regularly hears gunshots outside her Geneva Avenue home, in Dorchester said she would not hesitate to let police in without a warrant.

"I understand people are worried about being violated and their privacy," she said, as she stood on Geneva Avenue waiting for the bus with her 9-year-old son, Tyreece. "But when it comes down to it, anybody would give up anything to save a life, to save your child, or another child."

As the American Civil Liberties Union passed out fliers yesterday decrying the "Safe Homes" initiative, police prepared to launch a campaign to reassure residents about the program. In the coming weeks, they plan to pass out brochures explaining the proposal and to hold community meetings to persuade residents that the program is a well-intentioned attempt to remove guns from the street.

Police will focus the effort in four neighborhoods - Egleston Square, Franklin Hill and Franklin Field, Geneva Avenue and Bowdoin Street, and Grove Hall - that have been plagued by shootings.

Some Boston parents said they will need little convincing to buy into the police proposal.

"There are a lot of shootings out there, and it involves kids," said Carmen Thompson, 23, as she shopped for diapers for her 5-month-old son at a pharmacy on Bowdoin Street in Dorchester. "I feel as if the police need to do something. I think it's a great idea. I think it's about time."

The program, which Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis unveiled last week to several community leaders, will let police go to houses where they believe teenagers have hidden guns, ask the parent or legal guardian to sign a form giving them permission to search the child's room, and take the weapon away. If the gun is not connected to a shooting, homicide, or other crime, police said they will not prosecute the child.

But the proposal has set off a debate about whether police are circumventing the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure and sparked fears that parents may be so desperate to get a gun out of the house that they will allow police in without considering the child may be arrested if the weapon is linked to a crime.

ACLU members walked through the neighborhoods police plan to target, passing out fliers that read, "Know Your Rights."

"We just want to make people understand that they have a right to not give consent," said Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU, in a telephone interview. "When you waive your rights and invite the police to search your home, you're waiving the rights of everyone in the household."

Thomas Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who now teaches criminology at Boston University says, "I just have a queasy feeling anytime the police try to do an end run around the Constitution. 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.”

Police Commissioner Davis said police do not intend to use the program to make arrests, but to help parents.

"I don't want people to be frightened by this program," he said. "This is an attempt to help families that may be in crisis around the issue of gang activity. We intend to do a significant amount of outreach and follow-up in support of the families. . . . I find it odd that the ACLU would be so averse to a program that doesn't focus on prosecution. It's only focused on making a house safe."

Davis said the Constitution does not forbid officers from asking for access into a home or a homeowner from granting it.

Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard Law professor, said that police do not have a right to "conduct random, warrantless, general searches."

"This is a decision that, if approved, the community will come to regret it," he said.

Last night, police officials gathered at the William Monroe Trotter Elementary School in Grove Hall to discuss the program with a small group of residents.

During a calm, hourlong discussion, residents asked several questions, including what kind of guarantees police could make against prosecution and whether officers who found drugs during the search would report the discovery to public housing authorities, who might decide to evict the family. Police said the discovery of small amounts of drugs would most likely remain confidential.

Deputy Superintendent Gary French told the audience the department wants to form an advisory council made up of residents in the neighborhoods police will focus on. Community leaders have suggested that religious or neighborhood activists accompany police on the searches so residents feel less intimidated, he said.

"We're trying to be as informative and as transparent about this program as we possibly can be," he said.

One young woman asked whether tips would remain confidential. French said they would.

Rose said she also is concerned that the program, which will rely primarily on tips from the community, will create hostility in neighborhoods if people suspect that a neighbor tipped off police about a gun in their house.

But Thompson said she has more pressing concerns than her neighbor's opinion.

"If it gets guns off the street, if it cuts down the sirens at night, if it keeps peace in the city, yes," she said, "I will definitely say something."

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