LONGMONT, COLO. - Longmont is changing its handling of the warrant-less searches of low-income homes from essentially "nothing-to-see here" to calling for an outside investigation.
The Housing Authority cheerfully told us the searches were good training for the drug dogs, and police originally vowed to keep doing the searches, but then backed off, all the while insisting they were constitutional. Now, it looks like Longmont wants another police agency to vouch for that.
Friday, Longmont said they're looking for a police agency outside of Boulder County to review what happened:
Today, the Longmont City Manager, after consultation with the City Council and Public Safety Department, initiated an independent investigation on the actions that occurred at the Suites Supportive Housing Development. At this time, staff is contacting public safety agencies outside of Boulder County to request assistance. It is important that the investigation be fair, thorough and impartial. As such, it is difficult to estimate a date of completion. Until this investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further.
The original notices to tenants at the Suites in Longmont made no mention that they were being asked to give up a constitutional rights. It said management would enter apartments for inspections; that's legal and in the lease.
The note also said police and a drug dog might come along; that stipulation is not in the lease - and not legal - unless the tenant agrees to waive their 4th Amendment right and consent to the warrantless search.
It's not happening anymore, not because its constitutionally questionable, but because the searches became public knowledge.
One specific claim, made to 9NEWS by resident Tamika McClure this week, adds a whole new level of issues for Longmont.
"I refused to let the cops in, but one of the owners said I had to," she explained. "I had to step outside, while they were searching with the K-9."
City Council has put out a statement of support for the police department but didn't mention the Longmont Housing Authority, which initially invited police to come along on their searches. They did one round before this week.
A spokesman for the City Council said they didn't mention the Housing Authority because it's not a city entity, however, the head of the Housing Authority says she won't talk to Next because her organization is a city entity.
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