Saturday, September 24, 2016

Missouri city to require written consent to search a vehicle

Columbia, Missouri police officers will soon need your written permission to search your car if they don't have a warrant or probable cause, reported the Missourian.
A new department policy will require police officers to fill out a consent-to-search form and ask the driver to sign it. If the driver declines to consent, that will be noted on the form and the officer will need to request a warrant from the court.
Current policy allows officers to search vehicles with the driver's verbal permission. Otherwise they need probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge.
Saying implementation of the new policy isn't quite complete, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton declined to talk about the change.
Officers who say they have received consent to search are often contradicted by defendants, said David Tyson Smith, a lawyer at Smith and Parnell LLC. He said the new policy will be “good for the citizens.”
Smith declined to speak about specific cases, citing his clients’ privacy, but he said he has handled cases where consent was called into question. Videotape is not always helpful, Smith said, due to occasional audio issues or poor camera angles.
The new policy should also help the police force verify that consent was given, Smith said.

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