Government demands keys to your kingdom
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The government of a Midwest college town is now requiring the city’s businesses and apartment buildings to post their keys outside, so authorities can enter the properties “in case of emergency.”
According to the Cedar Falls City Council, the plan to require property owners to post keys in designated lockboxes – that city officials can open with a master key – is a justified way to allow the fire department and other authorities access without breaking down doors, especially in cases of false alarms.
To many Cedar Falls citizens, however, giving the city keys to their businesses and homes is a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment’s private property rights and a plan fraught with potential for abuse.
“What gives you guys the right?” asked resident Judd Saul at a May 23 public hearing on the plan. “This opens a big can of worms into the intrusion of our private property and our rights.”
“Apparently this box is going to be universal, and that’s going to have everyone’s apartment keys,” posited an unidentified citizen.
The discussion led resident Carol Hanson to ask, “What if a key is stolen?”
The unfunded mandate, known as City Ordinance 2740, had already been approved in two of the three council votes needed to enact it, and was given final approval tonight by a 6-1 vote.
Councilman Nick Taiber, the lone dissenting vote in the last meeting, explained his objection: “I think that we have not duly considered all the privacy and Fourth Amendment issues that come along with having the keys of your business or to your home on the front of your property.”
Saul, a leading opponent of the proposed ordinance, told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier he believes the measure is unconstitutional and, “If it does pass, we are going to file a lawsuit.”