Boston Police plan to search homes for firearms...

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Thread: Boston Police plan to search homes for firearms...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    Boston Police plan to search homes for firearms...

    This, my friends, I find quite scary.
    Gonzo


    Police to search for guns in homes
    City program depends on parental consent

    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."
    "Skin that smokewagon!".

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  3. #2
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    Wow

    "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."

    They searched two houses..

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    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    wow...just...speechless...

    I don't know where to start.
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    Member Array pappy's Avatar
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    why don't the parents just go search the room themselves, it is their house.

    The report said half the houses last year had guns seized. But in the first few lines they also said that they pick and choose. Probably ones they know likely will have guns from past experience with the kids. The report made it sound like half the town had guns seized.

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    Senior Member Array jualdeaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pappy View Post
    why don't the parents just go search the room themselves, it is their house.
    I was thinking the same exact thing.

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    There is nothing illegal or new about this, no new laws needed.

    It does make me mad from the angle that the parents are not willing/able to do this on their own, and instead lean on the Gubment to do it for them.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    *sigh* does this mean the kids cant hide guns in their rooms? Maybe now they will have to stash it in the bathroom, or behind the fridge ?

    Heck was it only 20 years ago that Boston did the stop&search on the local utes?


    Boy, I wonder what the heck is in Mumbles' skull. Old rags? Sawdust? Empty space? Or a post-it note "I.O.U. one brain - God"

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    Distinguished Member Array BIG E's Avatar
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    I can search for myself.

    What about the drugs that are found? Do they just put em back or are the kids not charged with that either?
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    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Go go nanny state. Sadly, not surprising coming from Boston.
    ...He suggested that "every American citizen" should own a rifle and train with it on firing ranges "at every courthouse." -Chesty Puller

  11. #10
    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    There is nothing illegal or new about this, no new laws needed.
    I realize that. What I find frightening is the parent's desire to have the City of Boston do their "parenting" and the City of Boston's willingness to do so.
    Gonzo
    "Skin that smokewagon!".

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    Senior Member Array cwblanco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pappy View Post
    Why don't the parents just go search the room themselves, it is their house.
    I am confident that responsible parents do conduct searches where they believe that they have a reason to. Most likely many kids on the suspect search list are the ones who have irresponsible parents or parents who are felons themselves.

    Also, in the final analysis it is like the publicized drug programs, they can "Just say no."

    Considering myself a responsible parent/grand parent, I probably would just say no -- mainly because I would not want anyone going through clothes closets and dumping my drawers or going through my drawers (literally). On the other hand, if I had a thug kid by whom I was intimidated, I probably would gleefully say "yes, yes, yes!"

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Duisburg's Avatar
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    I'd tell them hell no and anybody who comes barging in gets three free bullets :) chest, upperchest/neck, head
    I am sworn to protect the Constitution of the U.S.A. from all threats both foreign and domestic.

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    it is no surprise that people in these "high crime" neighborhoods would be stupid enough to allow such actions. Most of these people that live there have probably been on welfare for generations and are not educated enough to know any better.

    What a sad situation.
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    If the parent or gaurdian gives them the ok, I see nothing wrong with it. From reading the article it appears that the majority of the cases are single parent households with a woman trying to head the house. If they have a teenaged boy who is bigger than them and defiant as a child, maybe they are in need of some help. It would appear that the officers from the local schools would be best suited to make the judgement as to whom would be more likely to be participating in activities that would lead them to having illegal weapons.

    We must face the facts that in some areas of society things are out of control, and if the citizens are willing to work with police in a manner that is within the law, we should not condemn them for doing it. There are parents out there that are unable to control their children, whether it be because they have gotten involved in gang activities, or maybe because they are bad parents. But if they have made a choice to try to change things now, why not help them out. One way or another the police are going to be involved with the youth sometime, catch it early if you can. If it weren't guns, if it were drugs would anyone object? Personally I think they should be doing both during the search. If the kids are under 18 isn't it just as illegal for them to be in possesion of a firearm as it is to be in possesion of drugs?
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Member Array Wolf357's Avatar
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    If the parents involved voluntarily open their homes to gubment snoopers, that's fine with me. But I would tell the boys with badges to take a hike. If my kid - if I had one, or a dozen - had a firearm hidden in their room, I'd want to take possession of it for my own
    use.
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