Baltimore Considering Becoming A Police State

[ Posted Thursday, May 17th, 2007 – 14:30 UTC ]

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


In these days of Alberto Gonzales and the National Security Agency, I thought I'd begin with that review. But, unlike the massive and widespread trampling of the Fourth Amendment by both Gonzales and the NSA, I would like to draw your attention to a smaller and more limited attempted abuse of the Bill of Rights.

When I first read the story, I had to check to see that I wasn't reading The Onion. But, no, this story is straight from the Associated Press.

It seems a member of the Baltimore City Council would like his city to be run by the police. As City Council Vice President Robert W. Curran originally told The Baltimore Sun, "Desperate measures are needed when we're in desperate situations."

Here is his proposal, from the AP article:

Under Curran's plan, the mayor could declare "public safety act zones," which would allow police to close liquor stores and bars, limit the number of people on city sidewalks, and halt traffic during two-week intervals.

Police would be encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk individuals in those zones to search for weapons and drugs.

Later in the article, he explains where he got the idea:

Curran said he modeled his plan after an approach advocated by Philadelphia mayoral candidate Michael Nutter, who won the Democratic nomination Tuesday. Nutter has called for declarations of a "state of emergency" in high-crime neighborhoods, where police would conduct aggressive stop-and-frisk searches and impose curfews.

[Feel free to make your own gratuitous jokes about Nutter's last name here.]

Perhaps these two gentlemen are merely misunderstood. Maybe the idea comes across better in the original German, I don't know.

But at least there seems to be some Baltimore politicians who remember that the Fourth Amendment doesn't say "except in Baltimore," and are willing to inject a bit of sanity into the debate:

Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a mayoral hopeful, said Curran's idea was an interesting concept but it raised questions about civil liberties.

"We have to make sure we're not declaring martial law," he said.

Yeah, that pesky Bill of Rights does have a way of making it impossible to declare your city a police state, doesn't it?

Good thing, too, with Curran and Nutter trying to run things their way.


[Cross-posted at the Huffington Post.]

One Comment on “Baltimore Considering Becoming A Police State”

  1. [1] 
    Michael Gass wrote:


    Oh man! Tell me they aren't! Unbelievable!

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