'Police Are Like Vampires'

As they wait to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that the District of Columbia's firearm restrictions are unconstitutional, D.C. police are grabbing guns while they can. Under a program scheduled to begin in a couple weeks in the Washington Highlands neighborhood, police will go door to door, asking for permission to search. Any guns they discover will be confiscated and destroyed, unless they are linked to a crime. The police are promising "amnesty" for violations of the city's gun ban and for any other crimes they happen to find evidence of during the searches. This is hard to believe on its face: If they find a few kilos of heroin, piles of cash, or a severed head, they're not going to ask any questions? Even if they make no immediate arrests, what guarantee is there that they won't be back later, with a warrant ostensibly based on an independent source of information? Not surprisingly, residents are suspicious:

"Bad idea," said D.C. School Board member William Lockridge. "I think the people should not open your doors under any circumstances, don't even crack your door, unless someone has a warrant for your arrest."

Ron Hampton, of the Black Police Officers Association, said he doesn't expect many in the community to comply.

"This is one of those communities where the police even have problems getting information about crimes that are going on in the community, so to suggest, now, that the police have enough community capital in their hand that the community is going to cooperate with them, I'm not so sure that's a good idea," Hampton said.

In Boston, meanwhile, police have scaled back plans for a similar gun hunt in "four troubled neighborhoods" after unexpected resistance from the community. They promise to search only the rooms of minors, with permission from their parents or guardians, and "keep the discovery [of a gun] confidential under most circumstances." An ACLU attorney notes that public housing residents could be evicted for having guns, to which a local advocate of the searches responds by suggesting that police "would support any family that cooperated with the police and oppose their eviction." The Boston Globe says critics complain that "police will not guarantee that residents would face no criminal charges if guns or drugs were found":

"Police are like vampires. They shouldn't be invited into your homes," said Jamarhl Crawford, chairman of the New Black Panther Party in Roxbury, who moderated the meeting [of 100 residents at the Roxbury Family YMCA].

"Vampires are polite; they're smooth," he said in an interview the following day. "But once they get in, the door closes. Havoc ensues."

If you are wondering why anyone would consent to a search of his home when there's evidence of a crime there, there are two main explanations: 1) The person who consents may not know about, say, the bag of marijuana in the dresser drawer, and 2) people are intimidated by the police and may feel constrained to say yes even when they know it will get them into trouble. They may think that police will find a pretext to do the search anyway, in which case they will be angrier, more destructive, and possibly violent. In neighborhoods where residents tend to view police as an occupying force rather than peace officers there to assist them, that reaction may be especially likely.

[Thanks to John Kluge and Brett Wallis for the tip.]

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  • highnumber||

    What the hell? I live in a community where I know and trust the police and I would never invite them in to search my home. What next - will they send open invitations for residents to wear wires just in case they hear something criminal?

  • ||

    Many gun rights supporters have said for years registration will lead to the taking of guns.I guess they were wrong.They'll just check everyone.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    ...2) people are intimidated by the police and may feel constrained to say yes even when they know it will get them into trouble. They may think that police will find a pretext to do the search anyway, in which case they will be angrier, more destructive, and possibly violent.



    I bet at least half of all Americans would let the police into their house without a warrant. People don't understand that, in the eyes of the law, it doesn't officially look guilty to prohibit a search of your person a property. Practically, it seems like you have something to hide, and this perception is I bet what would drive most people's decisions.

  • some guy||

    "This is one of those communities where the police even have problems getting information about crimes that are going on in the community, so to suggest, now, that the police have enough community capital in their hand that the community is going to cooperate with them, I'm not so sure that's a good idea," Hampton said.

    I believe that's a new record for most "communities" in one sentence. By "community" he seems to suggest a monolithic, like-minded tribe. Is he correct? Do DC inhabitants subscribe to the "no-snitches" philosphy?

  • ||

    police will go door to door, asking for permission to search.

    Will they have cool red-white-and-black armbands, and shiny tall boots to complement their black uniforms with death's head buttons?

  • J.R.||

    So I should build some sort of creek or moat to keep them out?

  • ||

    A real tragedy in this is that the police by being assholes destroy any hope of having any trust from the community and give ammunition to people like the new black panthers. The people in these neighborhoods are the ones most in need of police protection and who would benifit most from an honest trustworthy police force. Everytime the police do garbage like this or conduct no knock drug raids, they just make the community more mistrustful and their jobs that much harder to do, which in turn raises crime rates and gives the police more justification for their failed tactics. Who suffers for that? The honest people who live in these neighborhoods.

  • Abdul||

    So I should build some sort of creek or moat to keep them out?

    According to the New Black Panther Party in Roxbury, a good supply of garlic should do the trick.

    But seriously, from a community-oriented-policing point of view, this seems like a bad idea for the cops. Beat cops spend time in neighborhoods to build relationships and win the public over. That all goes down the toilet with these door-to-door annoyance tactics.

  • Colin||

    How long will it be before all big cities follow suit?

    If you own a gun -- legal or not -- it's time to buy some thick metal gates.

  • ||

    D.C. should do it the right way: buy people's guns, or offer them Nikes or something.

  • Episiarch||

    The only responses one should give the police (not counting "hello, officer" and basic traffic stop info) are:

    1. I'd like a lawyer, please.
    2. Do you have a warrant?
    3. Do you have probable cause?

    Depending on situation, of course.

  • Ben||

    "Police are like vampires. They shouldn't be invited into your homes," said Jamarhl Crawford, chairman of the New Black Panther Party in Roxbury, who moderated the meeting [of 100 residents at the Roxbury Family YMCA].

    "Vampires are polite; they're smooth," he said in an interview the following day. "But once they get in, the door closes. Havoc ensues."

    What an amazing line. Bravo. I think I would trust vampires more than police. At least with vampires I know exactly what they want and how to stop them.

  • Other Matt||

    D.C. should do it the right way: buy people's guns, or offer them Nikes or something.

    They do that already. I just missed an opportunity to turn in an old Jennings that cost me $75, they were giving out $150/handgun.

  • MattXIV||

    Police are like vampires.



    And THAT is how you know when you have a community relations problem.

  • ||

    I agree with those who think that this will be a step backwards as far as community relations with the police are concerned. However, it's already pretty clear that a lot of police departments would rather intimidate you and have you step out of line so they can bust your ass than to actually have peace and order.

  • Other Matt||

    However, it's already pretty clear that a lot of police departments would rather intimidate you and have you step out of line so they can bust your ass than to actually have peace and order.

    I tend to view it more suspiciously yet, by compiling a list of those people that refused entry, they have their harrassment list in place for the future.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Why don't the police give up their guns first?

  • lunchstealer||

  • ||

    1) The person who consents may not know about, say, the bag of marijuana in the dresser drawer, and 2) people are intimidated by the police and may feel constrained to say yes even when they know it will get them into trouble.



    And, of course, there's 3) the cops bring the evidence of the crime in with them, which is probably more common than either 1) or 2).

  • ||

    But seriously, from a community-oriented-policing point of view, this seems like a bad idea for the cops.

    And you can see in the way that the Boston PD - led by the guy who more or less founded community policing - is scaling back their plans and taking the public's concerns so seriously.

    I've seen Ed David talk to community groups, and he is somebody who understands that having the law-abiding majority on his side is the police department's most important asset.

    Washington MPD? Uhhhhh...not so much.

  • Abdul||

    I seem to remember a study done by police going door-to-door asking residents to allow a consensual search to see how many people would comply. I can't find that one, but I did find a similar study of consensual searches of cars:

    Illya Lichtenberg randomly sampled a group of citizens who had been asked for their consent to search their car after they were stopped for traffic violations on Ohio interstates between 1995 and 1997 and interviewed them about their experiences. An overwhelming majority (49 out of the 54 respondents) agreed to let the police the search; five refused.

    Cars are different from homes in that people are more protective of their house and people travelling may feel more inclined to consent to a search just so they can get on with their journey, while a person sitting at home can take the time to politely and repeatedly say no. Still a pretty surprisingly high amount of consent.

  • ||

    "What next - will they send open invitations for residents to wear wires just in case they hear something criminal?"

    Maybe,...after all, it's only a brief stop over to the involuntary chip implantation, so they can monitor you 24/7 for incorrect thinking and activities.

  • Kolohe||

    Strange days we live in, when 'Black Panther Party' and 'moderated' are used together (and accurately) in a sentence.

  • Other Matt||

    Still a pretty surprisingly high amount of consent.

    Because people still believe that "I haven't done anything I have nothing to worry about" thing, sorry fools.

  • Dave W.||

    When I was in Toronto, they would use the consensual door to door search trick whenever there was an especially brutal murder. I didn't like it, but fortunately they never came to my apartment.

  • Bernd||

    J.R.: Apparently, a moat filled with holy water might work best. Unless the cops are in their bat form. What a new perspective on the decidedly cop-ish knight of Gotham...

  • ||

    But seriously, from a community-oriented-policing point of view, this seems like a bad idea for the cops. Beat cops spend time in neighborhoods to build relationships and win the public over. That all goes down the toilet with these door-to-door annoyance tactics.

    The story at boston.com does not seem to describe a door-to-door search; it claims that if police believe there is a weapon in a home, they will approach the residents and ask for permission to search the room of a minor.

    That's obviously legal. Whether it's helpful might be something for individual residents, rather than "the community" to decide.

    I wouldn't let the cops search my kid's room without a warrant. But if I were a worried parent of a teenager who seemed out-of-control, and my own attempts to intervene weren't helping, I might welcome a program that would send the police in with some assurance that if they found a bag of weed, rather than a pistol, my son wouldn't go to jail. (And that even if they did find a pistol, my son still might not go to jail.)

    But again, just like it shouldn't be the cop's call, it shouldn't be the community's call either.

  • ||

    If they come for your guns, be sure to give them the ammo first!

  • ||

    Utterly ridiculous.

  • J. P. Carlo||

    They may think that police will find a pretext to do the search anyway, in which case they will be angrier, more destructive, and possibly violent.

    I find it interesting that right above this H&R post is another by Radley Balko suggesting that (at least for APD, and perhaps HPD also) this is exactly what happens in practice.

    They'll just dredge up an "informant," which is probably some gang-banger who wants a reduced sentence, or claim that they heard screaming (heard from the street to come from an empty apartment, no less), or saw "in plain sight" that crack pipe that they ended up finding wrapped in a paper bag under a pile of underwear in a closed dresser drawer.

  • Nobody special||

    They have time to do nonsense like this? Seems like there are too many cops looking for an excuse to get paid. Glad I'm not a DC taxpayer.

  • ||

    Over the past ten years I have asked people a various assortment of questions to see if they understand that if a police officer "asks" to search them, they can say no.

    About 90% didn't know they had the right to decline. And education, unless it was law, didn't seem to influence anything, and even then I've had two (corporate property lawyers) say you have to let them search.

    If anything, growing up in affluent circumstances increased the lack of correct understanding (prolly because it was presented so often that they had no rights in school).

    But the most interesting things that came out of my asking this question randomly of acquaintances was that in at least half the cases where someone says they knew they "could" say no, and had occasion to, the police searched anyway, and in one case, they searched, the judge allowed and the person plead guilty to misdemeanor pot possession.

    Ho hum. I am so grateful that that paragon of small government, Ronald Reagan, started the present phase of the drug war. Those small government conservatives are always watching out for us.

    Or is that always watching us?

    Thank jod that those small gov conservatives are in control of the drug war, can you imagine the alternative? Freedom. Nah, small government conservative authority is much more important than freedom.

  • Rhywun||

    About 90% didn't know they had the right to decline.

    I get rude stares when I decline to give out my phone number at The Container Store. I can only imagine the look I'd get from some pig if I refuse to allow him entry to my home--fortunately the occasion has never come up. This makes me wonder how they get away with the random bag searches at train stations. Basically, if you say "No" you are presumed guilty and not allowed to enter.

  • JLE||

    Who makes these illegal decisions on the part of law enforcement?

  • KenK||

    The police are exactly like Vampires.

    They can't come in unless invited.

    Unless they have a warrant, in which case they can break down your door and shoot you dead.

  • KenK||

    I don't think that Vampires can get warrants, so I guess the police are more dangerous.

  • ||

    Wow Boston Globe, way to go with the obscure vampire lore. Good job! It's a little known fact that cops are also compelled to pick up mustard seeds scattered on the ground.

  • T||

    It's a little known fact that cops are also compelled to pick up mustard seeds scattered on the ground.

    They're not compelled, they just figure they can claim it's drug paraphernalia and get a warrant based on it.

  • Ska||

    Police Are Like Vampires sounds like the title of a song by the Scientist.

  • ||

    In neighborhoods where residents tend to view police as an occupying force rather than peace officers there to assist them, that reaction may be especially likely.

    I lurk at cop blogs from time to time. LEOs generally don't understand why whole neighborhoods have an animosity to the police. I've yet to find a thread discussin the LEO community failures in public relations.

    I've seen a few complaining about lack of respect, but no self examination on why that might be.

  • ||

    J sub, care to name any said cop blogs? I'd be interested in trolling at one.

  • highnumber||

    sage!

    Instead of trolling, why don't you be yourself? Ask hard, honest questions. Demand thoughtful answers.

    I'm sure that's what you really meant, but I wanted to be all huffy and indignant so no LEOs get the wrong idea.

  • ||

    That is what I meant, highnumber. But don't think I won't get a kick out of raising their blood pressure a bit. :-)

  • KenK||

    Warrants for link clickers!

    ***

    Quick as a link, you're in the clink!

    http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2008/03/quick_as_a_link.html

  • ||

    J sub, care to name any said cop blogs? I'd be interested in trolling at one.

    Officer.com
    Policelink.com

    I'm registered at one under a different handle. I'm just a lurker for now. I really don't need to get in a psing contest with them. That's what H&R is for.

  • ||

    psing - pissing

  • ||

    psing - pissing

    Oh, that's okay, then. If you had meant "posing" you would be in trouble; those guys get the really good steroids, and unless you spend a ton of time in the gym, you wouldn't stand a chance.

  • ||

    I get rude stares when I decline to give out my phone number at The Container Store.

    I always give 382-5968 (or in letters, FUCK YOU).

  • Mad Max||

    Quoting a spokesperson for the New Black Panther Party? Just because they've latched on to a legitimate issue doesn't mean *they* are legitimate.

    The New Black Panthers are the guys who came to the Duke University campus during the Lacrosse rape hoax, with their lawyer-leader screaming "guilty!" to describe the victims.

    I wouldn't mind at all if the police one day decided to treat the New Black Panthers the way the Chicago cops treated the old Black Panthers.

    Well, OK, I'd mind, but I'd have to work hard at it.

  • Mad Max||

    Ten-point program of the New Black Panther Party:

    http://www.newblackpanther.com/10pointplatform.html

  • Mad Max||

    (They just hate vampires because the vampires' skin is so pale.)

  • Lost in Paradise||

    Remember the helpful local police officer your parents told you to trust and confide in? He is no longer there. I agree with the rest of you, police should be regarded with suspicion, as they can not be trusted to have your best interests at heart.

  • ||

    I've never seen a cop with fangs. Then again, I've never seen a vampire with a gun.

  • ||

    """I've seen a few complaining about lack of respect, but no self examination on why that might be."""

    You don't need self examination when you're never wrong. Lynch, the head of the NYC PBA actually defended the cops in the Loumia plunger incident, by trying to place the blame on the victim. Some people have no shame.

  • ||

    Correction, not the NYC PBA, but the NYPD PBA (the police union)

  • ||

    Now this is rich...and poetic justice. The early DrugWarriors considered drug users and drug addicts to be like like vampires. The DrugWarriors were supposed to be the 'Van Helsing's of the world.

    Now, thanks to the (inevitable) reactions of treating one's fellow citizens like sub-humans, courtesy of the DrugWar, it's the police that are seen as the vampires.

    It may take time, but the worm always turns, and the biters get bit.

    But what's worse for the those in power is that this will force Joe and Josephine Sixpack to start taking their rights seriously enough to know them. The DrugWar is dependent upon supine acceptance of borderline (and, all too often, totally) un-Constitutional behavior by police conducted against the average citizen. A very smooth running machine has been constructed for railroading people thanks to that. When enough people begin to know their rights, and begin to demand that police respect them, the friction will lead to some very sad episodes on the cop's part, possibly even to the point of killing civilians. Then all Hell could break loose.

    This is a dumb idea, but, hey, that was brought up whenever a substance prohibition is (foolishly and stupidly) allowed to float up in the public consciousness without being smacked down hard enough. There's always some 'idjit' who thinks they can get away with it...

  • ||

    MORE proof of the denial of the Sheriff's Office to take our complaints and requests! My God, they CANNOT get away with this!!!
    Undeliverable: Mr Croft's death
    "System Administrator" ..


    Your message

    To: Sheriff
    Subject: Mr Croft's death
    Sent: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 17:14:05 -0400

    did not reach the following recipient(s):

    Buchanan, Ricky on Sat, 15 Mar 2008 17:17:35 -0400
    Could not deliver the message in the time limit specified. Please retry
    or contact your administrator.
    dcsnet01. DurhamSheriff. net 4.4.7

    Where is our civil rights?!?!
    Rhonda Fleming
    Durham SURVIVOR

    http://www.heraldsun.com/state/6-937904.cfm

    Report: Easley press office ordered e-mails deleted
    Mar 29, 2008

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- State government public information officers were instructed by Gov. Mike Easley's press office to delete e-mails to and from the governor's office, according to notes released Saturday by the governor's office.

    The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that Andrew A. Vanore Jr., a lawyer who works for Easley, produced notes made by two public information officers. The notes showed that they and others were told at a meeting on May 29, 2007, to destroy e-mails. A third public information officer said he also recalled those instructions.

    But Vanore said the notes don't mean what they say. He also said the instructions were not followed.

    Easley's chief legal counsel, Reuben F. Young, has been vacationing with his family in China and could not be reached for comment. Deputy press secretary Seth Effron has been instructed by Vanore not to comment.

    Questions about the way the Easley administration handles e-mails arose after publication of an N&O series, "Mental Disorder: The Failure of Reform." The series reported on an ill-conceived and poorly executed mental health reform plan on which the state has wasted at least $400 million.

    Two days after the series ended, Easley ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to fire its public information officer, Debbie Crane. Later that day, Crane told The N&O that the governor's press office had directed that e-mails be deleted to bypass the state's public records law.

    Young and Effron quickly denied that such instructions had been given.

    Julia Jarema, public information officer at the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, recorded this note for the meeting in question: "Public records request -- increasing careful of email delete emails to/from gov. office every day."

    Diana Kees, public information officer at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, recorded this note: "emails - more & more public records requests (blogs?) be careful w/emails; delete emails to and from gov office every day."

    Vanore said he did not know what the notes meant.

    "It could be interpreted a number of different ways, and the only way to properly interpret it would be to talk to the individual who took the note," he said. But he said he had instructed all of the employees not to talk about that issue because the newspaper may file a lawsuit.

    Vanore said the e-mail messages to and from the governor's press office were clear and irrefutable proof that there was no systematic intent to destroy e-mail.

    Hugh Stevens, an attorney who represents The N&O, said the notes made by Jarema and Kees confirmed Crane's allegation.

    "This sounds to me as though there was a concerted and willful attempt to evade the public records law by deleting the e-mails," he said. "I don't see how you can interpret it any other way."


    Guess whose e-mails were deleted? OURS! I have had numerous people write to both Easley, and the Sheriff, for our case, and after being "blacklisted" from the county website and willingly negligent, here is more PROOF of the deliberate abuse of powers in public offices to purposely deny the public RIGHTS, and to perform MORE illegal and unconstitutional tactics to prevent being "OUTED!"

    WE DEMAND JUSTICE NOW!

    Rhonda Fleming
    Durham SURVIVOR!

    11:20 AM


    Anonymous said...
    Hello NC Courts, now what are YOU going to do about this little MISHAP?!?!

    The TRUTHS will come forward!

    3:38 PM


    Anonymous said...
    204.152.2.80 (North Carolina Adminstrative Office Of The Courts)

    North Carolina, Raleigh, United States, 17 returning visits

    Date Time WebPage
    30th March 2008 15:35:11

    LieStoppers
    30th March 2008 15:36:01

    LieStoppers
    30th March 2008 15:36:29

    LieStoppers
    30th March 2008 15:37:02
    LieStoppers

    Why don't you join the board and DO something instead of just watching! BASTARDS!

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