Pubdate: Tue, 07 May 2002
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2002 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Susan Goering
Note: The writer is executive director of the Maryland ACLU.
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


The war on drugs in Baltimore has been waged disproportionately against 
black Americans, who are sent to prison on drug charges at more than 10 
times the rate of white men - most of the time for nonviolent offenses.

Thus many blacks in Baltimore, or their close friends or relatives, have 
encountered the police in this "zero tolerance" world. That may account for 
the way City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer challenged the legality of 
the police action ("O'Malley stands behind solicitor in row with police," 
May 2).

But here's an even more basic question: What were police officers doing in 
a citizen's home without a warrant?

Our nation's founders, victims of abusive British searches themselves, 
wrote the Bill of Rights to protect our "persons, houses, papers, and 
effects" against "unreasonable searches and seizures." The Constitution 
usually requires police officers to obtain a search warrant from a judge 
before barging into our homes.

When Mr. Zollicoffer's sister demanded that the police leave her home, the 
law required that they go.

If the police engaged in such heavy-handed tactics in a high-visibility 
case, what do they do when they think no one is watching?

Susan Goering

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