Those most affected by the Greensboro City Council’s decision to require police officers to use written consent search forms, the police officers, are decidedly against the policy.
This City Council constantly talks about getting input from stakeholders, but in this case not only were police officers, who are out in the streets and will have to deal with the effect of this decision, not consulted by the City Council, Police Chief Brian James was barely allowed to speak at the City Council virtual work session where the decision was made.
The official vote on requiring police officers to have consent search forms signed by the person giving the consent will likely be in September, but the City Council held a straw vote on Aug. 11 that passed 6-3 to instruct City Manager David Parrish to prepare a resolution for the City Council to pass.
Amiel Rossabi, the attorney for the Greensboro Police Officers Association (GPOA) sent a letter to Mayor Nancy Vaughan and all the councilmembers expressing in no uncertain terms the opposition of the GPOA to this initiative.
In the letter Rossabi states, “I am advised that the discussions by the City Council, alarmingly, did not focus on the safety of law-abiding citizens or on the deterrence and prevention of crimes or on the safety of GPD officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect citizens. Instead, the City Council chose a politically motivated and harmful gesture in order to cater to a relatively small, but vocal, group of anti-police activists.”
Rossabi notes that when James, shortly after being named chief, held community meetings across the city, “the community members who attended these meetings overwhelmingly requested MORE police presence in their neighborhoods.”
He states, “In direct contrast to the recognition by citizens and the City Council of the value of more and better policing, your vote to require written consents is a measure that will increase crime and endanger the community.”
Rossabi also notes that after a national search James was hired as the new police chief and “from the standpoint of the GPOA, we have not seen a more qualified Chief of Police in more than twenty (20) years.” But that this “ineffective and harmful police policy” was interfering with James doing the job he was hired to do.
Rossabi states that the written consent policy “will increase crime and endanger the community. The experience, research and actual evidence from agencies around the country who have attempted to implement a written consent to search policy has already proven that this type of policy restricts the ability of police officers’ to address emergent crime by decreasing the large quantity of illegal firearms that are regularly seized during lawful, consensual searches.”
Finally, Rossabi notes that members of the City Council have not been in law enforcement or taken Basic Law Enforcement Training and asks if councilmembers had researched the “actual impact of your vote.”