Wednesday, March 26, 2008

MPD Police Seek to Perform Consent Searches of Residences

News reports yesterday in the Washington Times and The Examiner state that police officers are planning to go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons and drugs in Southeast, Columbia Heights, and our neighborhood, Eckington. The Washington Post first reported this development on March 13.

I've left messages for our local police to find out what is in store for Eckington, perhaps they are not in the loop either. There are many serious concerns posed by this scheme, but two concerns obviate the issue of gun control.

First, this initative is bad for police-citizen relations. Officers should be knocking on doors, but the reason should be to introduce themselves and offer helpful anti-crime hints. Police have said on numerous occasions that it is critical that they receive information from citizens about crimes, that is how crimes are solved. Knocking on doors and asking citizens to waive their Fourth Amendment rights does not promote a positive relationship leading to the exchange of information.

Second, anyone who is not single-and-living-alone should take a moment to assess his or her personal situation. The general rule under the Fourth Amendment (consult your favorite attorney for how the law specifically applies in the District) is that anyone who has rights to the same living space you do (roommates, spouse/partner, older children, landlords, and girlfriends/boyfriends) can permit police officers to search your home. The general rule is that you would have no right to contest that search later in Court because consent is a waiver of constitutional rights.

Now is the time to sit down with your spouse, roommate or partner and talk about what should happen if the police knock on the door. It would also be a good opportunity to develop a general crisis plan (see the Be Ready D.C. program for more details) if you haven't done so already. And if the police do knock, do take a moment to thank him or her for the efforts made to fight crime in the District.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Luciana Cafe Now Open, Customers Needed

As I reported in a post on January 11, Luciana Cafe is the latest addition to our neighborhood restaurant. The restaurant opened a few days ago, so check it out.

And while you are chatting with Reinaldo and Frank (shown in the photo here), let them know you are hoping for a sit-down restaurant. If enough people indicate interest, they will move in that direction. As it is, the protective glass is not fully up and a face-to-face conversation can be had with the new owners.

Restaurant hours are seven days a week, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Dunbar High School Deserves Maintenance

Caution: This entry contains graphic bathroom photos (no foot-tapping though).

Tonight I briefly spoke to the Dunbar High School Parent Teacher Student Association (Dunbar PTSA). Dunbar is located within the boundaries of my district. I told the audience that we faced walls where we didn't want them (barriers between the community and the school) even as we lacked walls where we needed them (within the school itself).

Most classrooms at Dunbar have no walls separating classes, it is a failed 1970s education experiment. I half-joked that the PTSA should act fast to obtain walls or build a new school building before some historical preservationist group sought to preserve the school as an architectual wonder. A woman spoke up and said they are ready for the preservationists.

The PTSA is currently circulating a petition, which I signed. In addition to the need for walls was a need for renovation of the bathrooms. They are not being picky about this....
I visited the restroom on the way out and found one commode out of service, no toilet paper, no soap, a disabled paper towel dispenser, and graffiti--the triple crown of bathroom disorder (okay, given that I listed five, pick your favorite three).