Desperate to stop the youth-on-youth violence permeating the city, the Boston Police Department (BPD) unveiled the Safe Homes Initiative (Safe Homes) in November 2007—a program designed to reduce the number of weapons available to at-risk youth by confiscating firearms from juveniles without prosecuting them for illegal possession. Under Safe Homes, the police targeted four neighborhoods in which they planned to seek consent from parents to search homes for illegal weapons. Safe Homes is a community policing based initiative that requires both participation and cooperation from members of the local communities. However, the program was met with strong opposition from the communities it targets. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been especially vocal about its concerns, citing constitutional issues as well as its apprehension about the negative consequences that are likely to result from this program.
This Note analyzes whether Safe Homes, as it was originally proposed by the BPD, is compatible with the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Part II.A details Safe Homes, the program it was modeled after, and similar programs initiated in other cities. Part II.B provides an overview of the Fourth Amendment principles applicable to Safe Homes. Part III analyzes Safe Homes to determine whether it comports with constitutional standards and whether the constitutional standards adequately protect residents targeted by Safe Homes. Next, this Note explores both the negative and positive consequences likely to result from Safe Home and argues that the initiative will not work without the support of the Boston community. Further, even with community support, there are changes that could be made to ensure Safe Homes is conducted properly. . .