Who Would Consent to This?

Guns and illicit drugs have a lot of things in common in the District. They're both illegal. They're both highly valued by their owner. And they tend to be expensive. One who owns a handgun or some crack or weed is not going to want to part ways with his/her prized possessions.

So I don't really understand what the the city is trying to accomplish with the "Safe Homes Initiative." DC police officers are asking to search homes and seize guns and drugs with no warrant in exchange for amnesty. (If a seized gun has been used in a crime, then the amnesty no longer applies.)

Let me be perfectly clear about something. I have no guns and no drugs in my domicile. If a police officer asks me for permission to search my house, I am going to tell him to fuck himself. There is no way come Hell or high water that any one is going through my shit without probable cause. I value my civil liberties too much to let some cops monkey around in my closets.

Furthermore, what good do Mayor Fenty and Chief Lanier think this is going to do? If I am particularly attached to my gun or my crack (and I am because I probably went through hoops to get them), why would I just give those up to the police? And if I had used my handgun in a crime, I certainly wouldn't just give my gun, and thus myself, up to the police.

So, again I ask you, who would consent to this? Only people who have nothing to hide. I hate the people who have nothing to hide. Because they give everyone else a presumption of guilt. I have nothing to hide either. I just don't like it when authority figures feel the need to circumvent the Fourth Amendment.

I can't wait for the day when the police view certain houses and apartments as suspect because they never got permission to search there.

Ronald Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association, questioned the Washington effort. As a lifelong D.C. resident and a former police officer, he said, he would not consent to his house being searched.

"They haven't earned that level of access or respect from the community," Hampton said. "I just can't believe they're trying to do that. I've never heard of anything like that in my life."

Good work, Mr. Hampton. Unfortunately, and in all fairness to DC, Boston and Philadelphia are also trying to implement similar programs.

Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the program is "a very bad idea." He said officers might act so aggressively that residents feel coerced into letting them in.

"It sends the message to the public that the police ought to be able to search your house anytime for any reason," Spitzer said. "People will be intimidated. That cheapens civil liberties and privacy for everyone."

Mr. Spitzer is absolutely right. The message that's being sent is that either you have something to hide or you're clean. There's no in between. Any token respect given to civil liberties is being ignored.

The program is scheduled to start March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington. Officers will go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons. Police later plan to visit other areas, including sections of Columbia Heights in Northwest and Eckington in Northeast.

We can stop this. We can go door-to-door before March 24th and urge residents and tenants not to consent to these ridiculous searches. I don't know how many Washington Highlands and Eckington readers I have, but I'm positive that I have some readers in Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights. I know this for a fact. (By the way, did any of you catch the fire last night? I have never seen more fire engines in my life. Over 20 on a block. That was wild. And my prayers are with those that were displaced.)

It wouldn't be hard to distribute fliers. Or to get word of mouth going. These searches are the worst kind of bullshit. A civil liberties disaster in sheep's clothing. We should not stand for it. We should not feel guilty or be perceived as guilty if we don't want Big Brother searching under our mattresses.

Guns are bad. Addictive drugs are bad. But civil liberties are more important. Sacrificing them for a plan that will not work is the worst kind of initiative. We can not allow this to happen.


  1. i like this blog, but sometimes your cynicism blinds you.

    not every drug user and illegal gun owner live on their own. in fact, most probably don't. given the average age of drug dealers in the district and the cost of living, i'd argue that most of these criminals live with their parents. thus this initiative isn't targeting the pushers directly but their parents. perhaps their parents want to help their child without throwing them behind bars. getting their gun and drugs taken away is probably a good way to do that. and perhaps there are enough parents out there who are genuinely concerned while not overly skeptical of the police to actually invite these officers into their home.

    the cops around here are clearly desperate as they should be. if you think this is a waste of money, you're probably right, but so is the usual routine.

  2. M’kay, kids, you shouldn’t do drugs, m’kay, drugs are bad. You see, I was at the bottom of the barrel, I was a wreck. Why, I didn’t even care about money. I was wasting my life… You boys need to listen up, m’kay, what I’m talking about might save your life some day… Drugs are bad. You shouldn’t do drugs. If you do them, you’re bad, because drugs are bad. It’s a bad thing to do drugs, so don’t be bad by doing drugs, m’kay, that’d be bad.

  3. mc lean, I absolutely do not buy that. If parents are concerned then they should go through their kids' stuff themselves. The police don't need to be involved.

  4. A. Guns aren't "bad."

    B. We're governed by simpletons and boobs, and always will be in this city.

    C. Going door-to-door in southeast to "warn" people about this? Ummm, you first.

    D. We "cannot allow this to happen."

    I certainly can and will. You see, here in DC there are so many cockamamie government schemes, they all kind of suck whatever community-minded motivation I may have had. At this point, most of the people I know here have submitted, with little more than a dull blend of cynicism and apathy filling the void created by the DC leviathon.

    People want to welcome cops into their homes to search for contraband? Whatever. I'm moving to Boise.

  5. I am from California and have been here 4 years. I can not believe the level of crap that the DC government perpetrates on it's citizenry. This latest bit is the biggest crock of "we're going to sell you perfume covered turds and call them air fresheners" crap that I have ever seen.

    Slowly but surely, the DC government and the government in general is getting you used to the ever increasing invasion of your life...one morning, you are going to wake up to a police state and wonder how it happened... and why it doesn't seem to bother you....

  6. What are the odds that the cops might, um, not be too clear and residents might be confused that they have a choice not to invite them into their homes?

  7. my advice if they knock on your door, don't tell them to fuck themselves, they can come back with a warrant -- just my two cents............

    the idea is stupid though, most drug dealers and the bad gun owners aren't going to put their items in plain view and will be hidden so well, that you will have to come back with a warrant to perform the thorough search.

  8. "If a police officer asks me for permission to search my house, I am going to tell him to fuck himself"

    Dsmn right.

  9. "my advice if they knock on your door, don't tell them to fuck themselves, they can come back with a warrant -- just my two cents............"

    They could maybe ticket me for profanity. But they wouldn't have any probably cause for guns or drugs.

  10. True Rusty, but why give them any reason to start to develop probable cause and to start investigation it further.

    My advice, the more polite you are the better, same goes if you get pulled over for a ticket.

  11. Rusty, very glad you wrote about this. I was very disturbed by this story. This is still America right? I’m SURE no racial or socio-economic profiling will be used in selecting these search sites either (you think they would execute these searches in Georgetown??). The city will be sued to death, and rightfully so, if they proceed with this plan. Fenty needs to go. Each day that passes I increasingly wonder what goes through that fucker’s head. Not much, I assume.

    McLean: With all due respect (none), clearly you never graduated school or you would be aware of the Fourth Fucking Amendment in your Bill of Rights. You should really read the Constitution sometime. And please tell me you have no procreated. People like you should be required to get a permit.

  12. City Officials and Police are proverbially shooting themselves in the foot. When it comes to crime, a lot of residents from certain neighborhoods will simply NOT talk to police. If the city is intent on going through with this program, then that problem will simply get worse.

    I want guns and drugs off the street as well as out of the homes of criminals just as much as the next guy... but this type of project will just feed the fire of distrust between citizens and the state.

  13. The WP story does mention that the initiative is "aimed at parents and guardians who know or suspect that their children or other relatives have guns." So in that respect I think mc lean's comment isn't that far off-base.

    That being said, this initiative is still a horrible idea. If you live in D.C. and you "know or suspect" that your children have guns, try this idea on for size: find them yourself! Do NOT let the police in to find them for you.

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  15. Oh Rusty.... Do you really think police officers are going to abuse their latitude in a predominatantly poor black community? Pshaw! That NEVER happens!

    This door-to-door approach shouldn't be limited to guns either. Police should be knocking on everyone's door, white and black, asking to search for the following:

    Carmen Sandiego
    My missing sock
    The Free Credit Report band kids

  16. 20210: Yeah, because not giving cops a reason to obtain a search warrant is way better than using my Constitutional rights.

  17. I'm beyond pissed about this and won't go into a rant about why it's beyond ludicrous. Rather, I'd like to propose an idea. I am seriously interested in passing out flyers around Columbia Heights and Washington Heights informing citizens (in English and Spanish) of their 4th Amendment rights. Would anyone be interested in helping? email me at letsfixdc (at) gmail (dot) com

  18. Actually, Mc lean has a good point. When they did the gun amnesty program 7 or 8 years ago, I remember a line of folks all the way around the block. Most were parents turning in their kids' guns. (Of course, all I could think was, if a fight breaks out, everyone in this line is strapped). Yes, it's the parents' job, not the cops, to go through their childrens' things. That said, what would they do if they found a gun? They're not going to turn it in and have their children arrested! Yes, this idea isn't well thought out and gives the police way too much power, but the concept is based on possibly good principles.

  19. That is downright scary. An offer of amnesty...unless any serious laws have been broken.

    If DC would actually convict (and not parole) criminals who use guns in a crime, as per existing law, it would be a lot more effective than this. How about this - if you commit a crime with a gun, they you go to jail...FOREVER. Oh, but then DC and the Feds would have to pony up another jail, instead of wasting taxpayer money on $100,000 salaries for city employees.

    I feel really bad for street cops. What the hell are they supposed to do, when the court system refuses to keep criminals off the street?

  20. 20210......a warrant for WHAT? Not cleaning the kitty litter?

  21. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    Rusty is a douche ...