A new Dallas police policy that requires officers to obtain recorded or written consent for consensual searches could be in place within two weeks, Chief David Brown said Monday, according to the Dallas Morning News. The policy is one of several initiatives that Brown announced last summer after a string of shootings involving police, including a fatal shooting of a suspected drug dealer that nearly sparked a riot.
Brown told a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting yesterday that many of the racial profiling complaints the department receives each year are tied to traffic stops involving a search. He said that even though fewer than 5 percent of all traffic stops result in a search, “perception-wise, racial profiling really boils down to a person wanting to know, 'Why did I have to be searched given I was just stopped for a traffic stop?'” The policy will apply to all forms of consensual searches without warrants, though it is likely that it will more commonly come into play in cases involving vehicle searches. Officers do not need a person's consent to search under certain circumstances. For example, in cases involving vehicles, they can search if they smell marijuana or see a gun, or in cases in which there is a warrant for the person's arrest and the vehicle is impounded.