Ignoring Best Practices, Using PR Gimmicks, Repeating Past Mistakes

ACLU-NCA Executive Director Johnny Barnes testifed before the D.C. Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Jdiciary on June 16, 2008, that the Fenty Administration was engaging in a series of so-called anti-crime initiatives that both violated the constitutional rights of law-abiding District residents and failed to address the problem of crime in the District.

Barnes address the so-called Safe Homes Initiative, which originally would have had MPD officers knocking on doors seeking permission for a "voluntary" search of people's homes for guns. The ACLU-NCA sparked a massive public education campaign to ensure that residents knew they had a right to say no to the police "requent." Eventually, MPD changed the program to involve only officers responding to an individual request made in advance.

Barnes also criticized the so-called Neighborhood Safety Initiative, the program announced by Mayor Fenty and Police Chief Lanier to require people to show ID and to permit only those who have “proper” reasons for driving to or through any neighborhood designated a “high-crime area.” The program was initiated when the police claimed confidential information that people outside the Trinidad neighborhood were going to drive into the neighborhood and continue the spike in killings. When the number of killings fell off, the police claimed success on keeping the murderous outsiders out. However, the police later arrested Trinidad residents for the killings. (Where were the outsiders?) The NCA monitored the program on the streets and challenged it in the media.

In the Video Interoperability for Public Safety Program, the Fenty Administration sought to turn what it claimed were 5,000 D.C. Government cameras into a Big-Brother surveillance program.

View the testimony (PDF).

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