Inside Bay Area
April 10, 2008
A six-month pilot program where Oakland police officers would knock on doors and ask permission to search homes for guns got the green light from the City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday night.
It goes to the full council Tuesday, when the council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.
The consent-to-search program, as it is called, is based closely on a similar effort launched in St. Louis in 1994 and on ongoing programs in Boston and Washington, D.C. The idea is simple: To ask parents for permission to search their homes for weapons their children may be hiding.
Under the program, officers would request permission to search homes for guns. Guns would be taken away, but officers would not pursue prosecution unless the weapon was tied to a crime.
The St. Louis effort fizzled after initial success, but Oakland’s Deputy Police Chief David Kozicki said that in Washington, police officers say they cannot keep up with requests from parents to search their homes. Such is the interest in the program, he said.
Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown), who is on the public safety committee, said she was surprised to hear that and hoped Oakland might see the same results.
“I think it’s worth trying and seeing what the community reaction is,” she said. “If it’s embraced as a way to get guns off the street, great. If people don’t want to cooperate, then we don’t continue the program.’
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