Do Not Sign On The Dotted Line

July 24, 2012


Beginning in August, in order for an APD officer to search your person or your vehicle, they will need to obtain your written permission.  Chief Art Acevedo announced the policy changes at City Hall on Thursday last week.


On the same day, the Austin Police Monitor’s report was released regarding disciplinary action and complaints against the Austin Police Department in 2011.  The report indicates that more African-Americans were searched than any other ethnic group with one in eight being searched.  One out of every 10 Hispanics were searched.  White people fared the best with only one out of every 28 being searched.  Chief Acevedo said that the numbers don’t tell the whole story in crime fighting.  


Chief Acevedo said, “Number one, it’s going to ensure that when people give consent, it is better informed consent.  Secondly, just as importantly, in those cases where we do make an arrest, and we have a suppression hearing in the court of law, it strengthens the police department’s position on behalf of the people that we serve.”


The forms will be available in English and in Spanish and will be used by APD beginning August 1 through August 15.  


So why make the State’s job easier for them?  Furthermore, individuals have a constitutional right to say no to an officer’s request to search.  You do not have to give that right up because an officer makes the request and asks for your signature.  It is important to bear in mind that an officer can obtain a search warrant if he has probable cause.  You should still exercise your right and refuse a search.  


Chief Acevedo stated that by using the forms people will be giving “better informed” consent.  Is that the same thing as better informed right to refuse?