D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.
Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.
Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her “All Hands on Deck” weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.
So warrantless searches are too illegal, so set up check points? Arrest people because they're driving down the wrong street?
Peter Nickles, the city’s interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have “a narrow focus.”
“This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities,” Nickles told The Examiner. “I’m not worried about the constitutionality of it.”
Which other cities? Perhaps some in the former Soviet Union?
For once, I agree with the ACLU:
Shelley Broderick, president of the D.C.-area American Civil Liberties Union and the dean of the University of the District of Columbia’s law school, said the plan was “cockamamie.”
“I think they tried this in Russia and it failed,” she said. “It’s just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.”
Treating everyone like a criminal only seems to create more criminals. If the population is trained, by police actions, to not trust the police then the job of enforcement becomes harder, if not impossible.
It's the same mentality that says people don't have the right to defend themselves, and deserves the same response.