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*Sensationalist* Montville, N.J. Plan Would Allow Searches Without Warrants For Underage Drinking

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posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:03 PM
Montville, N.J. Plan Would Allow Searches Without Warrants For Underage Drinking

A proposed ordinance in Montville, New Jersey could give police officers broad powers – including entering private property – if underage drinking is even suspected.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the proposal has some people questioning just how far police should be allowed to go.

Residents value their privacy in the upscale community of Montville in Morris County. But the proposed ordinance could change all of that.

Police officers under the ordinance could search homes with probable cause, and without a warrant, if they suspect underage drinking.

“I am not in favor of them just coming into the homes, because there – other people have said – there are children that do make mistakes on various occasions, and that’s more of a parent responsibility rather than a police responsibility,” said Anna Marie Cecire of Montville.

The proposal is so controversial that when it was heard in a local committee room, a vote was postponed until members could hear from the police chief.

But another aspect of the plan does appeal to residents. While teens caught drinking face criminal charges under state law, officers under the Montville proposal could choose to let underage drinkers face lesser penalties.

“They are kids, and kids make mistakes, and they need to understand the consequences, but I don’t think it needs to be on their college application or somehow affect them in the future,” said guidance counselor Debbie Meenan.

Despite that, some 17-year-olds in Montville said the proposed ordinance gives police too much discretion.

“I just feel that it’s not really their business to be going into people’s houses,” said high school senior Brendan Zevits. “If you want to do that, you need to get a warrant.”

“Just coming in our houses searching – eventually, it’s going to turn into hunches and all that, and once you base it on a hunch, then it’s all downhill from there,” said high school senior Stephen McManus.

The mayor, committee members and the police chief do not appear to want to talk about the proposal, Sloan reported. None of them returned CBS 2’s calls.

One town official said the ordinance, which also imposes fines of up to $350, is vague in some areas. For that reason, it will be heard again on Sept. 23.

Ordinance (PDF) in discussion.
Audio of meeting discussing the ordinance which starts at 52:42 timestamp where the council discusses its intent to stop under age parties and possible consequences discussed in the news article. They also address the good aspects, curbing under age drinking, preventing adult hosted parties with/for under age kids who did not have permission from their parents. They also discuss implementing it on a trial basis to monitor its effectiveness as well as unintended consequences. The council seems well aware of the potential consequence and seem to have considered it but seem unsure of themselves ... I think all but one counsel was in support that seems half there, a citizen even notes that sentiment.

At 1:14:20 timestamp a citizen comments start and are concerned with the ordinance being in violation of the 4th Amendment.

I am going to wave total opinion on this matter for now until the kinks are ironed out and the ordinance is approved, which it still has a ways, it needs to be introduced and a public hearing still. I think it is too early to freak out and I don't see the actual scare in the text and think the news article is a little sensationalist but serving the public debate on the matter. Issues and concerns definitely need to be addressed. If the consequences exist, are real, and happen where it would allow a search without a warrant ... what!!!???

Kudos to these kids for being civically engaged on such an issue though!

My state (MT) allows drinking with parents and family as well. Additionally, when I was in high school cops told us all the time they sit down the road and watch our parties every now and then but they weren't looking to bust us unless we drove off ... they let us be kids knowing we were going to be kids no matter what while keeping us safe.
edit on 9/18/2014 by AllSourceIntel because: spelling & grammar

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:11 PM
What a ridiculous ordinance, hope the townspeople don't let it happen.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:25 PM
Lawsuits will abound and will prevail. If it is passed, it will be very short lived and very costly to the county. Local ordinances do not trump the Constitution and anyone who sues under that merit would win.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:26 PM
It will pass and make a precedent for other rural towns to do the same.

Looking like Footloose rhetoric to me.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:31 PM

originally posted by: Helious
Lawsuits will abound and will prevail. If it is passed, it will be very short lived and very costly to the county. Local ordinances do not trump the Constitution and anyone who sues under that merit would win.

If passed and the fear becomes reality, absolutely, a hands down win in a lawsuit.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 07:32 PM
Too intrusive and pointless in my opinion. The root of this is the fact that young people will try substances, in this case alcohol. Usually the long term effects aren't considered, or they're shrugged off. If used in excess alcohol damages the body like everything else. Freedom of choice.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 09:07 PM
And I bet a majority of the officers that would be doing these searches will have done their fair share of underage drinking.
Especially if they were former service members that joined out of high school

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 09:50 PM
a reply to: AllSourceIntel

They use probable cause to do asset forfeiture searches on cars just think if they could enter ones home as easily.

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