The City of Boston is set to begin the so called Safe Home Initiative. This program, run by the Boston police, will allow the police to conduct warrantless searches the bedrooms of people under the age of 17 for illegal guns provided the police have the parents consent. At this point the police are vowing not to make arrests for possession of the guns but stated if the gun was used in a violent crime the youth may be charged. The police have setup a toll free number so that callers can request a search of someone’s room.
Speaking in support of the Safe Home Initiative Police Commissioner Ed Davis said “we have to take every step that is legal and constitutional to make a difference.”
I cannot think of anything more unconstitutional than this program. First, it begins with a call, probably an anonymous call claiming that a youth has a gun. Then a group of clergy and police is dispatched to the house and a request of the parent is made to search the room. The youth has no say in whether he or she consents to this search.
Simply based on a phone call to a toll free number the police are dispatching a search team to someone’s house, asking the parents to sign a waiver allowing the police to search a bedroom and promising not to take out criminal charges. Although Mr. Davis claims to be taking every step that is legal and constitutional he seems to be ignoring many. The right to confront witnesses is one of the most important rights given to us in our state and our country. If Mr. Davis was serious about protecting people’s constitutional rights than he ought not implement this program.
The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, (or as it is better known as the Massachusetts Constitution) and the United States Constitution protects all citizens regardless of age or ownership from warrantless searches. Here, the Boston Police are making there own rules. In Massachusetts, if there is credible information from a known source the police may apply for a warrant in the court where the crime is alleged to have occurred. The Police simply fill out an application and attach an affidavit. A clerk magistrate will review the application and decide on the merits whether to issue the warrant. This has been and is our system. The same system used in every city and town in Massachusetts, with no exception. Yet, today the Boston Police believe they have a better way.
No one disputes the fact that youths with guns are a major problem in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, however if Mr. Davis truly believed what he said today he would not be in command of such a program.
If you or someone you know contact Boston Criminal Lawyer Patrick Donovan at 617 479-1800.