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Knock, Knock. Who's There? MPD

District residents, police and District Council members last night debated the merits of MPD's controversial Safe Homes initiative, in which officers will offer to search homes for guns with the permission of the property owners.

During a council hearing, several members warned that the initiative could violate residents' rights. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups also have raised concerns and have been informing residents about their rights.

Police had planned to start going door-to-door last month in high-crime neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to do the searches as part of a new amnesty program meant to get weapons off the streets. But they held off after civil liberties questions were raised. Police say they now plan to start the searches in June, and only if residents call to set up appointments.

Last night at the hearing Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) were among those expressing reservations.

Cheh, who just happens to also be a lawyer, said she wouldn't allow police to search her home.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she hoped to dispel confusion about the program, which she said is part of a larger effort to reduce gun violence.

"Just one gun removed from the hands of a young person could mean fewer lives touched by tragedy," she said.

Allison Klein

By Marcia Davis  |  April 8, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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