Boston police plan to ask parents in high-crime neighborhoods to allow detectives into their homes, without a warrant, to search for guns in their children’s bedrooms, the Boston Globe reports. 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, police officers 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 will not charge the teenager with unlawful gun possession, unless the firearm is linked to a shooting or homicide. The program was unveiled by Police Commissioner Edward Davis in a meeting with community leaders. Critics 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 of the American Civil Liberties Union. “People might not understand the implications of weapons being tested or any contraband being found.” Davis said the point of the program, dubbed Safe Homes, is to make streets safer, not to incarcerate people.