This may not sit well with some of our law enforcement friends, by we at GSL strongly recommend you never, ever consent to a police search of your person, your car or your home. NOTHING GOOD can come of consenting to a search, but it comes with plenty of potential downsides.
What are we talking about? Why do we, as ardent supporters of law-and-order and our police officers, expressing extremism in the pursuit of defending your Constitutional Rights? This slide sums it up:
A case out of Bloomington, Minnesota (not Illinois!) illustrates that perfectly.
In that case, a clean-cut yet heavily tattooed professional black man was stopped for going five miles an hour under the limit on a highway in Minnesota winter weather (in other words with a wind chill of about zero degrees at night). So a cop pulls him over “to make sure you’re good to drive.” Perhaps he thought he potentially had a DUI driver.
Instead he had a professional, articulate black man who didn’t like getting a hundred questions after hearing of the dubious nature of the stop. He didn’t slur his words. There was no booze or drugs in plain view.
But the cop, seeing a picture of the man with tats all over his head and neck was 100% sure the man had something illegal going on. Cough profiling cough. Yep, Mr. Bloomington cop was sure the driver had dope in the car when the man started to bristle at the long string of questions from the cop. Eventually, the cop insisted the man get out of the car (sans a coat) and stand on the side of the road as the cop let the cold weather wear down the man’s refusal to allow a search.
The cop also threatened to bring a dog for a sniff of the vehicle AFTER he told the driver he had no intention of writing any tickets. (That’s against court precedent, by the way).
Eventually the man relented to the search and the cop tossed the entire interior of the car, leaving it a hot mess. The found nothing but some unidentified pills in a bottle. The cops then continued to keep the man standing on the road in the freezing cold while they struggled to identify pills found in a bottle. Turns out they were vitamins, but the cops seemed sure they had something illicit and searched and searched (and searched some more for good measure) on their phones for a match of the pills. The driver said they were vitamins, but he was a black man and the cops weren’t going to listen to a word he said.
Eventually, despite their best efforts to jam the guy up for something – ANYTHING – they let the man go.
But he filed complaints, got police bodycams and is now looking for a civil rights attorney to file a 1983 Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Color of Authority against the officers involved.
Here are a couple of videos of incident and the offer analysis of the legalities (or lack thereof) of the officers involved. (Nice job at violating rights there, BPD!)
Do not consent to a search of your person or your car! NOTHING good can come from it.
Let’s talk your home.
Unless law enforcement has a warrant or they are in pursuit of a fleeing felon or similar circumstances, they may only enter the curtilage of your property to do a “knock and talk.” That’s where they approach your door, knock and if the resident answers the door and is willing to talk, they may ask questions and make observations of what they can see.
If the homeowner doesn’t answer they may be able to walk around back if they have reason to believe another door may be the main entrance or they believe the homeowner may be working outside in the rear (and even that is getting into the gray area of things). If the person inside the residence of the “knock and talk” approach tells the officers to leave, then the police must leave.
Now, in most cases, they won’t leave. But what they uncover in subsequent searches will likely be deemed inadmissible in court.
For more on this, here’s the attorney John Bryant from The Civil Rights channel on YouTube discussing it.
Here’s an example of how it can go very wrong for a homeowner.
And another. Like the police bodycam videos at Police Activity, these videos provide valuable insight into handling search “requests.”
And a classic video on why you should never talk with police.
This guy is hilarious, too.
And look! He’s back with another video a few years later… Your right to remain innocent.