Recently, I conducted a survey of municipal code enforcement officers in central Ohio. I posed the question, "What are the procedures followed to gain access onto a private property?"

To the Editor:

Recently, I conducted a survey of municipal code enforcement officers in central Ohio. I posed the question, "What are the procedures followed to gain access onto a private property?"

Unanimously, they responded that they would knock on the door and get permission from the owner. The one exception was that if there was a "No Trespassing" sign posted, they would not even go to the door. If there was no one at home or the owner refused access, then a warrant would be required to go onto any private property, they said.

U.S. Supreme Court case Camera v Municipal (1967) in part states: "In view of the growing nationwide importance of the problem, we noted probable jurisdiction in this case ... to re-examine whether administrative inspection programs, as presently authorized and conducted, violate Fourth Amendment rights as those rights are enforced against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. The basic purpose of the Fourth Amendment through its prohibition of 'unreasonable' searches and seizures is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by governmental officials. With certain carefully defined exceptions, an unconsented warrantless search of private property is 'unreasonable.' Fourth Amendment interests are not merely 'peripheral' where municipal fire, health and housing inspection programs are involved whose purpose is to determine the existence of physical conditions not complying with local ordinances. Warrantless administrative searches cannot be justified on the grounds that they make minimal demands on occupants; that warrants in such cases are unfeasible; or that area inspection programs could not function under reasonable search-warrant requirements."

Whitehall code enforcement officers have been trespassing on private property without consent or warrant for years now. It's time to put a stop to this illegal activity.

Jacquelyn K. Thompson
Whitehall