D.C. Voluntary Home Weapons Searches: By Appointment Only


Washington, D.C., police have scaled back plans to go door-to-door asking residents in high-crime neighborhoods whether officers can search their homes for guns as part of a new amnesty program aimed at getting weapons off the streets, reports the Washington Post. The Safe Homes program instead will be offered by appointment only at residents’ request, said Chief Cathy Lanier. The program was supposed to begin last month but was delayed after a backlash from residents, city council members, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Critics said some residents could feel pressured or intimidated by officers asking to enter their homes.

“I should have realized that the program needed to go out with a whole lot more information,” Lanier said. “I should have put it out with very clear facts.” The new start date is mid-June, which will give the department time to train officers to conduct the searches and gather more input from the community. Safe Homes targets those who know or suspect that their children or other relatives have guns. It asks residents to call police, set up appointments for officers to visit, and sign a consent-to-search form. Officers would check the homes for guns, with no risk of immediate arrests. The amnesty offer applies to drugs that turn up during the searches. The searches will be performed by members of a team of 18 officers trained to conduct them. They are mostly officers who walk beats or work in schools, with the idea that they would be familiar to many residents.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040304541.html

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