Polling Booth: Voluntary Police Searches
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Polling Booth: Voluntary Police Searches

It’s been two months since Mariam Makhniashvili disappeared without a trace, and Toronto police are attempting a new tactic in their search for clues: peeking into thousands of homes around the Bathurst and Eglinton area. Sixty officers began knocking on doors this week, asking for residents to let them in to root around, scouting for possible evidence. They hope to cover about six-thousand houses and apartments, and although homeowners are not legally obligated to let officers inside without a warrant, denying the request is bound to make some people feel like automatic suspects, possibly subjecting themselves to further scrutiny. As for the motivation of the Toronto Police Service, some would say that canvassing neighbourhoods has worked before, while the more cynical might wonder if the force is attempting to improve the optics of the case, given that any leads seem to have run dry. However, by knocking on doors and asking to be invited in, the police are asking the community to waive its right to privacy, albeit for an important reason. “The innocent have nothing to fear,” goes the mantra, yet one of the cornerstones of human rights is the protection of privacy and prevention of arbitrary interference and intimidation. Keep calm and carry on?