The City Council’s Disastrous Consent to Search Bill: Not Actually as Disastrous as Most Cops Think

The current New York CIty Council appears to be dangerously liberal. They also don’t seem very experienced about the world, or the city. Their latest foray into making a cop’s job harder is a bill that would require officers to give notice and obtain consent for certain searches. The press has picked up on this lately and most cops are screaming foul. This bill is a disaster, but it is not as bad as everyone thinks. I read the bill and here is what it does or doesn’t do.

Most importantly, this law would not change when a police officer can search someone without their consent. The bill very clearly states that it does not apply if the officer has a warrant, an exception to the warrant requirement (like hot pursuit or exigent circumstances), probable cause, or reasonable suspicion that a person has a weapon during a Terry stop. So officers would still be able to search people, without their consent, the same as they could right now.

What the law does change though, is that when an officer already needed to ask for consent to search, he must now inform the person that they have a right to refuse the search. Further, where simple verbal consent was previously allowed, the officer must now get a signed consent or an audio recording of a verbal consent. This limits an officer’s ability to use trickery, which is currently allowed. It could also affect things like transit bag searches and events in which the police screen members of the public for admission to the event or area.