Saturday, April 07, 2007

I Smell a Gat

Behold, the latest PR campaign, disguised as a crime-fighting initiative, to be unveiled in Boston.

Police, agents use dogs to sniff out hidden guns

Local police and federal agents accompanied by about 15 dogs went to four Boston neighborhoods that have been plagued by gun violence yesterday to sniff out guns that may be hidden in public spaces.

OK, for the record, if this proves successful at getting these community guns off the streets, I'll be the first to congratulate the Mayor and the Police Commissioner for finally coming up with a plan that actually impacts the ability of the scumbags in these neighborhoods to arm themselves.

But, read on, and color me skeptical.

Davis said the sweeps -- which created a spectacle along Blue Hill Avenue during rush hour as commuters passed dozens of officers on motorcycles and holding dogs -- are meant to show criminals that police are in control and to make residents feel more secure.

Just like the creation of the welfare state was meant to reduce poverty, prohibition was meant to reduce the consumption of alcohol, and the billions spent fighting the "war on drugs" was meant to get illegal drugs off the streets. Feel free to insert your own examples here.

And, by his own admission, Commissioner Davis is telling the people of Boston that this plan is more about making them feeeeeeeel more secure, than about actually making them be more secure.

Davis acknowledged that officials elsewhere have not found many guns during the sweeps...

Given the lack of press conferences and mayoral photo ops announcing what a "major success" this program has been - which would have taken place within seconds of the first gun being recovered - I have to infer that the actual number of guns sniffed out to date is holding steady at zero.

...but said the initiative is about more than just uncovering weapons.

Yeah, it's about making people and politicians feeeeeel good. We covered that already, Ed.

He pledged to continue the gun sweeps sporadically over the next few months, though he noted that law enforcement will only search public spaces and will not enter private property unless a homeowner asks them to.

Gee, that's awfully big of you, Ed. It's nice to see the Constitutional rights of suspected gang members and drug dealers in Boston still take precedent over the Constitutional rights of proven, law-abiding citizens.

Why am I not even a teeny, tiny bit surprised?

"Even if we don't pick up any handguns tonight, at least ... the people who are resorting to these weapons know that we're out here in force," he said. "This is a step in the direction of letting them know that we're in control."

Deputy Superintendent Thomas Lee, who commands the Special Operations Unit, said the tactic has been used successfully in New Bedford and Chicago.

Lee said officers and dogs would spend five to six hours combing neighborhoods where gun violence has been particularly common and will search hiding places.

Seems to me, any success this program might have will be rooted more in the fact that the police are getting out of their cruisers and walking the streets in the city's crime-ridden neighborhoods with more than a dozen German Shepherds close at hand.

I'd be on my best behavior too.