Two stories on the same page of the March 12 issue of the Morning Sentinel caught my eye. First, Dana Wilde, “What lies beyond,” wrote that the long-range satellite, New Horizon, will soon transmit photos, temperature and chemical analysis data from Pluto some 3 billion miles away. It’s simply amazing the technology man has achieved.

Yet, in Skowhegan, the Chief of Police, Ted Blais, doesn’t possess the social skills to see what is clearly right in front of him, “Skowhegan police arrest 3 at shelter.” Blais seems to believe that because three arrest warrants were served at the men’s shelter on McLellan Street then the shelter must be bringing crime to town. News flash, Chief. Of the 57 residents at the shelter, three (none of whom appeared to be violent criminals) were arrested. The other 54 were poor people in great need. Would Blais condemn them, as well?

The story also revealed that the shelter operator turned in the names of all residents on a weekly basis. The police then ran those names. Omigosh. And police found three “bad guys.” I’m sure that if all the area landlords, motel owners and property tax recorders turned in the names of all those on their lists, the police would get far more than three potential arrests. Of course, if police went “fishing” to that extent, I’m sure they would immediately be chastised on constitutional grounds.

If the police demand that weekly list of names from the shelter, I suggest that they read the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, particularly the Fourth Amendment on illegal search and seizure.

If the shelter operator volunteers those names, I suggest he withhold them in the future to protect the vast majority of innocent whose names are sullied by the inference that they are criminal.

Peter P. Sirois

Madison


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