Columbia, Mo., police officers will soon need your written permission to search your car if they don’t have a warrant or probable cause, reports the Missourian. A new department policy will require police officers to fill out a consent-to-search form and ask the driver to sign it. If the driver declines to consent, that will be noted on the form and the officer will need to request a warrant from the court. Current policy allows officers to search vehicles with the driver’s verbal permission. Otherwise they need probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton declined to talk about the change, but a spokesman said recently that the department was in the process of getting the consent forms into patrol cars. Attorney David Tyson Smith said they new policy will be “good for citizens” because officers who say they have received consent to search are often contradicted by defendants.