Friday, June 6, 2008

Police State In DC - Is This What It's Coming To?

Your papers please.
It is downright shocking.
[They have created] so-called "Neighborhood Safety Zones" which would serve to partially seal off certain parts of the city. D.C. Police would set-up checkpoints in targeted areas, demand to see ID and refuse admittance to people who don't live there, work there or have a “legitimate reason” to be there.
When crime is so rampant that drastic measures like this are felt necessary by law enforcement and city leaders to be put in place, people tend to accept it because...well... the thought is "what else is there that they can do"? I agree with one commenter on the article linked above: I think the real problem is people saying, "hey, this is really not a big deal, so what if we are losing some civil liberties, this fixes a problem, and if it curbs crime then they ought to do this".

Should we toss away civil liberties for a feeling or illusion of security? It looks as if "We the People" have come to accept the premise that policies like that are ok.

I think perhaps the root of the problem is that when the criminals are caught they are just let back out on the street, or the people won't come out and testify against them so they have to be let go. The root of the problem is to find out why there is crime there, and to try to fix that problem. Supposedly there is much crime as a result of the lucrative drug money between Virginia and Maryland. But, it seems is just easier to take away people's personal freedom to come and go as they please and to demand their papers, etc. then it is to actually do something about the source of the crime problem to begin with.

I know they've done this sort of thing before in places like New York City and so on, but it is still so much against what our Constitution and what America is supposed be all about.

For what it's worth - here is the text of the Mayor's press release:
The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative has been developed to help increase security for those who live in high-crime areas around the city and to help residents reclaim their communities. The program will authorize the Metropolitan Police Department to set up public safety checks to help safeguard community members and create safer neighborhoods in the District by increasing police presence aimed at deterring crime.

The safety zones will be established only upon request by a District Commander where there is evidence to support the existence of neighborhood violent crime, such as intelligence, violent crime data, police reports and feedback and concerns from the affected community.

Potential Neighborhood Safety Zones must be approved by the Chief of Police, and will be in effect for a maximum of 10 days. Public safety checks will be established along the main thoroughfares of the established neighborhoods. Anyone driving into a designated area may be asked to show valid identification with a home address in that neighborhood, or to provide an explanation for entering the NSZ, such as attending church, a doctor’s appointment or visiting friends or relatives. Pedestrians will not be subject to the public safety checks.

“The Neighborhood Safety Zones is just another tool MPD will employ to stop crime before it happens. The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative will help residents terrorized by violent crime to take back their neighborhoods,” said Chief Lanier.

Initiatives such as the Neighborhood Safety Zones have been accepted by federal courts as a legitimate law enforcement practice in keeping with the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The constitutionality of the NSZ initiative has been reviewed by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.

The NSZ will be launched next week in the Trinidad area.

Of course the nagging question is this: How will the police really determine who should be there legitimately and who might be a possible perpetrator of a crime? How would they know someone isn't lying about their purpose there?

This whole thing is just very disturbing on so many levels.

MyWay posted an article.

The Washington Post had an article about it too.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Attributed to Benjamin Franklin

(H/T Chad T)