Police to search for guns in homes

Discussion in 'Legal and Activism' started by bkt, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. bkt

    bkt New Member

    Curious what y'all think about this.

    Police to search for guns in homes
    By Maria Cramer
    Globe Staff / November 17, 2007

    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.

    The program was unveiled yesterday by Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis in a meeting with several community leaders.

    "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."

    But some activists questioned whether the program would reduce the number of weapons on the street.

    A criminal whose gun is seized can quickly obtain another, said Jorge Martinez, executive director of Project Right, who Davis briefed on the program earlier this week.

    "There is still an individual who is an impact player who is not going to change because you've taken the gun from the household," he said.

    The program will focus on juveniles 17 and younger and is modeled on an effort started in 1994 by the St. Louis Police Department, which stopped the program in 1999 partly because funding ran out.

    Police said they will not search the homes of teenagers they suspect have been involved in shootings or homicides and who investigators are trying to prosecute.

    "In a case where we have investigative leads or there is an impact player that we know has been involved in serious criminal activity, we will pursue investigative leads against them and attempt to get into that house with a search warrant, so we can hold them accountable," Davis said.

    Police will rely primarily on tips from neighbors. They will also follow tips from the department's anonymous hot line and investigators' own intelligence to decide what doors to knock on. A team of about 12 officers will visit homes in four Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods: Grove Hall, Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue, Franklin Hill and Franklin Field, and Egleston Square.

    If drugs are found, it will be up to the officers' discretion whether to make an arrest, but police said modest amounts of drugs like marijuana will simply be confiscated and will not lead to charges.

    "A kilo of cocaine would not be considered modest," said Elaine Driscoll, Davis's spokeswoman. "The officers that have been trained have been taught discretion."

    The program will target young people whose parents are either afraid to confront them or unaware that they might be stashing weapons, said Davis, who has been trying to gain support from community leaders for the past several weeks.

    One of the first to back him was the Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, cofounder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, who attended yesterday's meeting.

    "What I like about this program is it really is a tool to empower the parent," he said. "It's a way in which they can get a hold of the household and say, 'I don't want that in my house.' "

    Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, whose support was crucial for police to guarantee there would be no prosecution, also agreed to back the initiative. "To me it's a preventive tool," he said.

    Boston police officials touted the success of the St. Louis program's first year, when 98 percent of people approached gave consent and St. Louis police seized guns from about half of the homes they searched.

    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.

    "We had parents that invited us back, and a couple of them nearly insisted that we take keys to their house and come back anytime we wanted," he said.

    But the number of people who gave consent plunged in the next four years, as the police chief who spearheaded the effort left and department support fell, according to a report published by the National Institute of Justice.

    Support might also have flagged because over time police began to rely more on their own intelligence than on neighborhood tips, the report said.

    Heimberger said the program also suffered after clergy leaders who were supposed to offer help to parents never appeared.

    "I became frustrated when I'd get the second, or third, or fourth phone call from someone who said, 'No one has come to talk to me,' " he said. Residents "lost faith in the program and that hurt us."

    Boston police plan to hold neighborhood meetings to inform the public about the program. Police are also promising follow-up visits from clergy or social workers, and they plan to allow the same scrutiny that St. Louis did.

    "We want the community to know what we're doing," Driscoll said.

    Ronald Odom - whose son, Steven, 13, was fatally shot last month as he walked home from basketball practice - was at yesterday's meeting and said the program is a step in the right direction. "Everyone talks about curbing violence," he said, following the meeting. ". . . This is definitely a head start."
  2. opaww

    opaww New Member

    I see this is just a small stepping stone to bigger things

  3. allmons

    allmons New Member


    This is proactive "policing", reminiscent of "1984". Will we NEVER learn? Whoever proposed this program should be arrested for sedition!

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2007
  4. Chuck

    Chuck Guest

    At the very least, tarred and feathered. I'll bet Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, and the rest of the Sons of Liberty are rolling in their graves.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2007
  5. pioneer461

    pioneer461 New Member

    This is a terrible idea. I was a cop for 30 years, and I would never give the police permission to search without a warrant. The 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, and there have been cases, depending on circumstances, where it was ruled that the parents can not give permission to search a child's room.
  6. bkt

    bkt New Member

    I agree with everyone so far.

    What do you think of people who would give up their rights whether out of fear, intimidation or ignorance? Got any sympathy for those folks?
  7. Chuck

    Chuck Guest

    None. It is Darwinian and they are at the bottom of the food chain.
  8. hillbilly68

    hillbilly68 New Member

    Oh this is just wonderful. What is happening to us? :mad: (Informed)Consent to search is one thing... WHen I first started to read the article I thought the program was going to be predicated on requests from parents asking for the searches, not a "knock, knock, hi we are here to search your house, you mind?" If it works like it does on the highway, a "no" simply delays the process. Since most of us are law abiding and are guilty of nothing more than not having the fortitude to say "no" because it may be perceived that we are "hiding something" we consent without a second thought. Its like the man said, this is just the beginning. Cradle to grave, the "state" will provide....EVERYTHING.

  9. crossfire

    crossfire Member


    Observation of possible contraban (weapons or drugs) by a third person plus "suspicious or unusual behavior" (which can mean simply saying no) of the person answering the door is grounds enough for the police to enter and search your property under "probable cause". Anything seized can't be used against you in any legal process due to lack of a warrant, but you'll play hell getting it back. It's surprising how often the line "if you don't have anything to hide, you shouldn't object" is used.
    This isn't a slam on the police; they do a tough job that frankly I wouldn't do. They are just following procedure and enforcing laws passed by the politicians.
  10. MarkoPo

    MarkoPo New Member

    Parents need to man up and search their own kid's room. If I thought my son had an illegal gun you can be sure I would tear his room apart myself, same with any illegal drugs. IF these parents are too scared to enter their children's room, they are the ones who need help. First the authorities search lockers, then backpacks, then came the metal detectors. Oh and don't forget give a friend an aspirin for a headache you will get expelled. Now let's go to their homes and go through their rooms? I would almost place a wager that the corrupt school systems are behind this outrage in some way.
  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter


    That is just the problem, parents do not want to be parents. They will give up all kinds of rights because they are too spineless to do the right thing. The nanny state is wittling away at our rights with "reasonable" intrusions in exchange for increased security. Parents man up? 90% cannot/will not man up to anything.
  12. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills New Member

    This should work out OK for the poorer side of town, gonna be real funny when it is tried on someone who can afford a good attorney!
  13. jeepcreep927

    jeepcreep927 Active Member

    A new "community policing" tecnique to circumvent the 4th amendment, or taking responsibility off the parent and making the police raise someone else's kids? I wonder if there's anyone involved in this program that thinks it's a good idea. By involved I don't mean any of he politicians or adminstrators. If the police have more "tips" on what a kid is doing than the parents do, maybe it's time for the parents wake up.

    WILDCATT Guest

    Search ??

    ONCE YOU OPEN DOOR EVEN, YOU HAVE GIVEN UP YOUR RIGHTS.sooner or later the bars being down the police will move forward to the next stage.
    parents dont disipline their kids because social service will bring in police against parents for abuse. more problems arise because of social agencies interfearance. :) :confused: :( :)
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2008
  15. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills New Member

  16. jeepejeep

    jeepejeep New Member

    They'll do it until they run up against someone willing to really fight for their 2nd Amendment rights and they have a shootout. Then of course it will be a horrible gun nut killing cops. Hmmmm is this really what they want? Remember it's Boston, home of the Liberal gun grabbers!
  17. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills New Member


    Come On, they do No-Knock Search Warrants all the time, people exchange gun fire and the Police don't really give a damn. I remember a no-knock served on an elderly lady last year, she heard somebody kicking in her front door, started shooting, right through the door! Cops returned fire and killed Grandma!
    Stupid&Desperate for the Cops to believe a criminal who is desperate to get off and then swears that he or she Knows Something- Seems to get a lot of innocent people hurt or killed. WTF would an Authority Figure (Cop) believe a lying Sack of Sh&t Criminal in the first place??!!
  18. crossfire

    crossfire Member

    wish it were possible

    Firearms in possession during the commission of a felony, including brandishing or threatening...automatic 10 year sentence tacked on to the penalty for the crime.

    Firearms fired during the commission of a felony, only if the shots did not injure any victims...automatic 20 years added.

    Firearms used to injure during a felony...automatic life sentence.

    Fireams used to take a life during a felony....well, you know what that should be.

    No plea bargains, no early parole.

    On the flip side, legal possession of fireams of any type made available to those responsible individuals who wish to possess them for their own use with the owners made responsible for the security and use of that weapon.
  19. bangbanggunns

    bangbanggunns Guest

    Now I might get a lot of **** for this, especially because I'm new, but i have a slightly different opinion.

    Many of my friends don't like guns, and I always argue that a) its my right to own a gun b) that its my responsibility to own a gun and c) that we should not worry about responsible gun owners we should worry about irresponsible gun owners.

    To expand on my last point I always tell my friends that a large percent of gun crimes are committed with illegal firearms by criminals. My thought is that the solution should be relaxed gun laws with very harsh gun sentencing for criminals.

    Frankly, I see taking the guns out of the ghettos as a good thing. I want my rights, and I think this a bit overboard but I think they are trying to do the right thing.

    I have lived in both Massachusetts and Florida. I think about getting a job in Boston and shiver when I think about all the hassle I will have to go through to get permits and licenses and blah blah blah. Every trip home I drive by a big anti-gun billboard that reads, "we have your congress and your president - nra." i grit my teeth and then! i get a huge **** eating grin. haha.

    now on the other hand im currently living in Florida. Here I just walk into a gun shop and there you go, I have a new gun. Lax gun laws but the crime rate is much higher. Last week one person was killed on my block and a police officer was gunned down about 4 blocks away from me. It was all over the news, I'm sure you saw.

    I just don't know where I stand on gun control sometimes. I may be naive, but I think I stand somewhere in the middle.
  20. bkt

    bkt New Member


    Police limit searches for guns
    Opposition from residents is strong; Invited into homes without warrants
    Globe Staff / March 25, 2008

    Boston police officials, surprised by intense opposition from residents, have significantly scaled back and delayed the start of a program that would allow officers to go into people's homes and search for guns without a warrant.
    more stories like this

    The program, dubbed Safe Homes, was supposed to start in December, but has been delayed at least three times because of misgivings in the community. March 1 was the latest missed start date.

    One community group has been circulating a petition against the plan. Police officials trying to assuage residents' fears have been drowned out by criticism at some meetings with residents and elected officials.

    Officers may begin knocking on doors this week, officials said yesterday, but instead of heading into four troubled neighborhoods, as they had planned, officers will target only one, Egleston Square in Jamaica Plain, where police said they have received the most support.

    Police would ask parents or legal guardians for permission to search homes where juveniles ages 17 and under are believed to be holding illegal guns. Police would only enter homes into which they have been invited and, once inside, would only search the rooms of the juveniles.

    The goal, said Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department, would be getting weapons off the streets, rather than making arrests.

    But critics say that the searches are unconstitutional and that police will not guarantee that residents would face no criminal charges if guns or drugs were found.

    Commissioner Edward F. Davis has been taken aback by the criticism. Davis promoted Safe Homes as a voluntary program that would help overwhelmed, frightened parents and guardians by removing guns from their homes without fear of prosecution.

    "I would say that the police commissioner has been a bit surprised by those that are not in favor," Driscoll said. "We're genuinely trying to save lives."

    But for many of the 100 people who packed the Roxbury Family YMCA last Thursday to talk about the plan, the goal of the program was overshadowed by tactics they called invasive and misleading.

    "Police are like vampires. They shouldn't be invited into your homes," said Jamarhl Crawford, chairman of the New Black Panther Party in Roxbury, who moderated the meeting.

    "Vampires are polite; they're smooth," he said in an interview the following day. "But once they get in, the door closes. Havoc ensues."

    Other comparisons have been no more favorable.

    "The community doesn't want this," Lisa Thurau-Gray, managing director of the Juvenile Justice Center at Suffolk University Law School, said at the meeting. She likened the police persistence to a sexual aggressor who refuses to stop assaulting a victim despite her pleas. "What part of no don't they understand?" she said.

    Police officials have said the searches would be based on tips from the community, including neighbors, school officials, and even the parents of the child. The officers searching homes would be members of units that patrol schools and who have visited the houses of teenagers as part of Operation Homefront, which is meant to help build better relationships between troubled children and their families.

    If police were to find a gun in a home, they would keep the discovery confidential under most circumstances, police have said.
    more stories like this

    Officers would not tell officials at the child's school or public housing authorities, unless they believed the discovery amounted to a "public safety emergency," which Driscoll said would happen if police found a plan to use the gun at school or a hit list.

    A child would not be charged with gun possession if a firearm were found. But police have said that if the firearm were connected to a crime, charges against the child could be filed.

    Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who has attended meetings about the plan, said those warnings are unnerving.

    "People on the street may say: 'This is great. I'm letting them in,' " she said. "But those are the people I'm concerned about, because they haven't been educated about the hazards."

    She said residents of public housing could risk losing their homes if police reported finding a firearm to housing authorities.

    Supporters of the program said they are fully aware of the risks of the program and frustrated by the critics, who they believe are misinforming the public.

    Police "would support any family that cooperated with the police and oppose their eviction," said Bob Francis, chairman of the Academy/Bromley/Egleston Safety Task Force, a neighborhood group that represents parts of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.

    "There wouldn't be any report that that gun was found on the property," he said.

    True-See Allah, a former gang member who now works for the Nation of Islam, said people who worry that their children may face a jail sentence if a gun is found should consider the alternatives.

    "It's one year to 18 months versus trips to Mount Hope Cemetery every year," said Allah. "Eighteen-month sentence versus death."

    His organization supports the program as long as police are honest about their motives, said Allah, assistant to Don Muhammad, minister of Muhammad's Mosque Number 11 in Dorchester.

    Allah acknowledged that his group is in the minority within the community. "Sometimes doing the right thing is unpopular and I think that's where we are today," he said.