Boston police are trying to get guns off the streets by asking parents in high-crime areas to let detectives come into their homes without a warrant and search their children's bedrooms.
There has been considerable controversy over the program. For example, former Boston police lieutenant Thomas Nolan, who now teaches criminology at Boston University, complained that "I just have a queasy feeling anytime the police try to do an end run around the Constitution. ... The police have restrictions on their authority and ability to conduct searches. The Constitution was written with a very specific intent, and that was to keep the law out of private homes unless there is a written document signed by a judge and based on probable cause. Here, you don't have that."
Jack Cafferty discussed the controversy on his CNN show Monday, highlighting the objections by civil liberties advocates that parents "may be too intimidated to say no to the police or may not understand the consequences if they say yes."
Cafferty also noted that Boston police say a similar program in St. Louis was highly successful, finding guns in half the homes that were searched, and have promised that they would never abuse the program to gain access to the homes of people under suspicion or make arrests for small amounts of marijuana.
However, the St. Louis program was effective only during a brief period in 1994-95, when youth violence was at a peak and community support high. It later switched over to a focus on traditional warrants and arrests and was ultimately discontinued.
Cafferty then asked his viewers to respond to the question, "Should Boston police be able to enter private homes without a warrant to search for guns?" He read excerpts from the responses during a follow-up segment.
Although one viewer suggested that "concerned parents would welcome this," the general reaction appeared to be strongly negative, to the point where Cafferty suggested it might be because the question had not contained the phrase "with permission." He apologized repeatedly for that omission, both before and after reading from viewers' comments.
One viewer wrote in warning about "the slippery slope to a police state." Another insisted "absolutely no entry without a warrant ... no fishing expeditions." Yet another wanted to know, "Since when did Boston secede from the U.S. and the constitutional safeguards against illegal searches?"
And one raised the specter of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking, "Did someone make Gonzo the Boston Police Commissioner? Why would anybody in their right mind invite the police into their home to conduct an illegal search for illegal guns?"
The following video is from CNN's Cafferty File with Jack Cafferty, broadcast on November 19, 2007
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