D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.
Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.
Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her “All Hands on Deck” weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.
Under today’s proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains.
Here’s my favorite part:
Peter Nickles, the city’s interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have “a narrow focus.”
“This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities,” Nickles told The Examiner. “I’m not worried about the constitutionality of it.”
Last week, I received the following email:
I live in Eckington, a “transitional” neighborhood in northeast DC. I got a knock on the door this morning from a guy with ACORN (looks like a lefty community group that I’d never heard of) saying that DC police would be coming around shortly asking to search homes in the neighborhood for guns, and explaining we had the constitutional right to refuse, etc. He added that anything the police find they can use against you because “you never know what a friend of a friend might have left in your house” Not sure if he told me this because I had just gotten out of bed and had answered the door in my bathrobe looking disoriented, but I digress. He was handing out a packet of info from the ACLU including a nifty doorhanger you can put out that says “NO CONSENT TO SEARCH OUR HOME”. One of my neighbors told me the guy told them they were only doing this in poor black neighborhoods, and this notice from the ACLU that I found online seems to bear this out.
I know it’s not exactly a wrong-door no-knock raid, but I am concerned because while I certainly don’t want the police (or any other strangers) rummaging through my junk, I’m kind of afraid of what would happen if I refuse the search. I already live on one of those streets with the surveillance cams installed. Does my address get ‘marked’ for being uncooperative or suspicious? I should mention of course that I don’t own any guns and have never touched anything more powerful than a bb gun.
You are free to refuse the searches. But if a regular reader of this site feels uncomfortable asserting that right, you can imagine how other people subject to these searches might feel. Despite the promises of amnesty, I have a hard time believing you’re going to get off if you allow the police into your home and they find significant amounts of drugs or weapons.