9 News has a story about Democrats making racial profiling illegal again in response to the various stories of white on black cop action. I think it’s an overreaction given that racial profiling is already illegal but there was an interesting sentence in the story that was almost a throw away line.
The bill would also bar officers from asking for permission to search a person they stop, unless there’s reasonable suspicion.
This, unlike the other, is actually a good idea. Cops tend to make asking for a search a habit during a stop just in case the suspect might have something they shouldn’t. Legally, the suspect can tell the copper “No” but many (most?) people get a bit intimidated by the badge on her chest or the gun on her hip and let her search. Unfortunately, many cops encourage that intimidation.
Let’s face it, cops want you to be intimidated. Sure, they want you to come to them for help but that’s secondary. Cops want everyone around them to fear them enough to obey any orders given immediately and without argument. Part of that is for your safety and part of that is for the safety of the cop. Heck, most of it is for safety reasons. Unfortunately, there are cops who get off on having power and making sure that others acknowledge that power.
Too often, cops will use a search to harass citizens because they fit some sort of profile or to flex their role power. While I believe that profiling can be a useful tool in the police arsenal, too often the profile can become a cover for racism. More importantly, these unwarranted searches violate the personal liberty of citizens to be free from random searches by the police.
Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about putting an end to search suspects when they are arrested or vehicles when they are impounded. That’s a safety issue for everyone involved. I’m talking about the search that seems to get tacked on to everything else. Stuff like: “I’ve pulled you over for a broken tail light, may I search your car?” and “Welcome to the Denver Police Sobriety Checkpoint, may I search your car?” Those types of searches, where there is no reasonable suspicion of wrong doing, need to end.