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.”
This article by John Hammer blends issues that do not correlate. POLICE can still protect, increase in population and effectively do their job without having to have ability to search without warrants.. Warrants provide order and hold police accountable to not just recklessly assume and violate some of the same citizens they are hired to protect. John Hammer article is one sided and Only speaks from one veiw point which is typical of someone uneducated on issue.
Having the ability to search does not take the gun or
badge from police. They still have the power and law on their side. They still have the courts and law backing their actions. Therefore them NOT Having ability to search without warrant only holds Police accountable to do their job with integrity and order. Many times cops assume guilt and for the one person they get their are many others they violate, homes and cars are violated all from police being prejudice, having no order, and working off assumptions rather than due diligence.
I have had my vehicle search, rammaged through, seats tore out All for cops to NOT FIND ANYTHING. This doesn’t happen to citizens who look like John Hammer so he Wouldn’t KNOW. I am a minority citizen with a bachelor and master’s degree and work at a bank but when I’m driving around the city to Most Cops I’m just criminal.
Police can still protect neighborhood, increase presents without having an UNLAWFUL RIGHT to Violate personal property and ASSUME GUILT. To have ability to search without warrant is lawless, gives the citizens who cops are to protect the adversary. Which is the same systematically institutional Jim Crow mindset. I challenge you to Watch the movie documentary 13 on Netflix Mr. Hammer. Its informative and about the 13th amendment.
Ummmm….with your education, you don’t know the difference between a consent search (signed or verbal) and a search warrant?
This article has NOTHING to do with search warrants.
Wow Gary. Those are some really good points. I especially like how you went ahead and assumed that “most cops” think you are a criminal and by your other implications are also racist. Your assumptions about an entire group of people based off of your limited interactions with a few members of that group reminds me of something…I just can’t place it. Oh wait, of course… it is bigotry, racism’s close cousin. Very enlightened point of view sir! I can see that your masters degree is neither in grammar, nor in constitutional law. So let me help you out on the constitutional end.
Searching without a warrant is neither “lawless”, nor racist, nor criminal and it is certainly nothing new. It has been upheld by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions for a variety of reasons, including “consent searches”. If a police officer asks you if they can search and you say yes, then they are going to search. If you say no, then they will not unless they have reasonable suspicion or probable cause, and often times they do. They just ask to search as a courtesy. If they think you are armed and dangerous, they can pat you down for weapons without arresting you and without a warrant. If you are out in public and in a car, and they have probable cause, they still do not need a warrant because of another ruling upheld by the Supreme Court called the Carroll Doctrine. Another way you can be searched without a warrant is through exigency (it means emergency). It is neither safe nor practical to require a police officer to go and get a search warrant every time they believe someone has a gun on them illegally or is involved in criminal activity, especially violent criminal activity which is plaguing the city today. (34+ murders and counting) Additionally, the person they are seeking the warrant on would have to sit detained for hours on end while the officer goes to apply for the warrant. Once again, that is not practical.
Similarly, requiring an officer to pull out a form and get in signed in similar circumstances is equally impractical. The officers’ body cameras are recording the interaction and so if any of your “lawless”, “racist” cops are up to no good, it will all be filmed. If they bully you or trick you into consenting, it’s on film. If they tear your car apart, it will be filmed. If they fail to turn on their cameras, they will get in trouble for not filming.
Are there bad cops out in the world or even in Greensboro? Sure there are. One just got charged with assaulting someone the other day. But you know what? He got fired for that. The cops, just like you, are not perfect. Sometimes a police officer is a bad person, but when they get found out, they are removed form office just like the one the other day. More often, when a cop messes up, they are doing their best and just end up being wrong about whether or not someone is a suspect. It happens and there are remedies for it. It does not make them racist, just like you messing up some spelling and grammar does not necessarily make you an idiot. Honest mistakes do happen, even with the police.
Nothing to do with warrents here bud…
I wonder if Council member Abuzuaiter’s husbands stop and search by GPD that produced a illegally purchased and concealed handgun would have happened? Also Rossabi is shameless (at best) and I can’t believe the GPOA would retain him.
Isnt that the same guy that defended Hinson having group homes in 2012? Then in 2019, he wrote about how unfair it was for Hinson to not be suspended once the DHSR of NC found that Hinson hired a known child molester with no driver’s licsense to work at his group home. I guess its simply about a check for this guy. A paid hit man with no soul. Yeah, he is credible.
Ben, Ben, Ben, you’re not supposed to have a memory that is so long my man. Rossabi defended both Hinson and James during their troubles with the GPD and the Rhino eons ago. As Rossabi says “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.” The question, based on what you (and I) know of James’ past, is what “job” did they hire him to do, and why does the GPOA feel that filling out a Consent Search Form interfere with that job?
Nothing new here, other than requiring a signature to search rather than having verbal consent.
He was hired to reduce crime, specifically violent crime, which is hitting record numbers this year. Consent forms interfere with that job in that a lot of people, who would otherwise be very cooperative, are reluctant to sign their name to a form. Additionally, pulling out a form in the middle of an interaction disrupts the flow of what the police are doing. Gaining consent and building rapport is an art. Until the deed is done, building rapport is a very fragile thing and once a form is pulled out and slid in front of someone, all that work is wasted.
Imagine they just spent 40 minutes building rapport with a rape suspect that they think committed a series of savage sexual crimes, but they do not quite have enough probable cause to get a search warrant for his house. They use their verbal skills to get him to agree to let them search his house, but wait… hang on there pal. I have to run to my car and get this form that I need to read to you and spell out for you that you can change your mind, and sign here on the dotted line, and here’s your copy, and …what? You won’t let us search now? Raper goes free.
In a time when we need the police the most, it seems that city council is set on hindering the police rather than helping them. Thanks city council.
Did they consider requiring clear, recorded verbal consent instead? They all have body cams now, no?
Gary: have you ever taken a grammar, spelling, or language arts class? I’m guessing not. If you cannot write a simple declarative sentence using words in their proper context, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously? I’m sure having your car “rammaged” and “seat tore out” was horrible but how you look had nothing to do with it. What is rammaging, anyway? And what is with the ALL CAPS? I’m guessing you do not look like John – who writes clearly and concisely as he is paid to do. As for the GPOA attorney, in this one instance he is doing his job well. He missed the boat with Hinson (a black cop of course), but he was under political pressure to do so.
Written consent forms stifle crime fighting momentum. If you do bot believe me, ask the officers who have to stop in the middle of a line of questioning or interaction in order to pull out a form, tell the person what it is and then have them sign it. Those who support it, do not have public safety in mind. and it is not surprising that the only ones who do, are the same leftist politicians who side with the mob. Ask those officers in Durham who have to deal with this since they implemented it several years ago. Proactive police work has tanked and from the news today, its one shooting after another. But you get what you paid for.
Just working against now what will be under staffed officers with defunding. Just putting their lives in a little more danger. Sounds like they might as well not even try to search a car for instance. Too much trouble. Paperwork and time and the more time spent with a possible suspect in a car I imagine would be more dangerous. Defunding police WILL cut back on officer presence and response times. Single parent people living in high crime neighborhoods needing to have police quickly for instance to respond to gang shootings and violence will be the ones to suffer the most. Good luck officers. My sympathies to you guys who already have a dangerous and stressful job.
Idiots on the city council. With all the illegal gun and drug trafficking problems we have in Greensboro alone, I want every car searched if the police suspect a problem.
So the question becomes not whether the police can protect us, it is will our elected officials allow them to protect us.
It amazes me that people in this town actually believe that the members of Nancy”s garden club can actually usurp Supreme Court rulings and case law. This is a stupid decision and anyone that has not been a law enforcement officer and understands the reasons behind the court decisions aren’t qualified to even speak on it.
Requiring a signature does not negatively affect officers doing their job at all. Nor, does it affect their safety. All it does is help protect the rights of those they stop. Many people are allowing police to search their cars, while not knowing they have the right to refuse.
Will someone share the data to support Rossabi’s claims? Will you, Mr. Rossabi?
Rossabi asserts that crime rates are rising (or have increased) in areas where similar policy has been implemented. What about the areas where similar policy has been implemented and crime rates have dropped? Did you check into that, too? I did. Check out Texas. Now exactly why the crime rate has dropped and whether this is a direct result of new policy— I question that as much as I question a direct relationship of the policy with an increase in crime. I need to see the results and research design on paper— from reputable sources. Also, I need to consult with and hear from people who are experts in research design — because it is an incredibly specialized field. I am not qualified- I doubt any people responding in this thread are- including Rossabi.
Another question for Rossabi- What about police officers who prefer written consent to search? Do they exist and in what scenario may this occur? Has this occurred in court cases? I am not taking about warrants.
As for Rossabi’s argument that an officer won’t be able to access their gun if both hands are occupied by a form… when is the last time you were issued a speeding ticket? I don’t know about you, but for me in almost every instance an officer goes back to their car to complete paperwork and do whatever else needs to be done. Later, they return with the citation, point to areas of it, and explain and/or hand it to me- often using both hands to complete various steps of the process. Some have written on the citation right there, while standing next to my car, looking down at the form, again using both hands to compete the task. Perhaps this is against protocol. I have no idea.
Perhaps the consent form could be electronic, and it could be recited from memory as in Miranda rights (standardized language), then the civilian can read the device and initial by the consent clause —using their finger or an audible verbal consent recorded by the device (not a body worn camera). This is not high tech I am talking about.
We are asked to retrieve our license and registration… so extending our hand to initial an electronic pad held in one hand by an officer doesn’t seem like risky business.
Along with what readers report hearing from friends and family—and what they feel will happen if a policy for written consent is implemented in Greensboro, I appreciate data from both sides of the fence— from reputable sources. I also appreciate considering the possibility that written consent may be helpful alongside considerations that it may be harmful or ineffective.
Another question and thought…
Currently, if an officer doesn’t speak the same language as a civilian— what happens? In Instances of reading rights and during any other kind of communication? Do they call in another officer who is multi lingual? Or do they use a translation app? Again, a simple electronic device could assist with this process- much like it could with a consent to search form. Perhaps, by reducing the language barrier, there will be less tension between the officer and civilian and the encounter will end sooner- saving everyone time.