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WUNC reports from Greensboro about Guilford County and surrounding area.

Greensboro Considering Stricter Requirements For Searches By Police

Greensboro Police Cruiser  
Credit Namerifrats29 via Flickr /

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The Greensboro City Council will consider stricter requirements for police officers to conduct searches when they do not have probable cause.

The Greensboro Police Department already requires at least verbal consent in such searches, but the proposed changes would also require written consent, and officers would still have to explain why they asked for consent in an incident report.

Some advocacy groups have pushed for the move, arguing it would help eliminate racial disparities in traffic stops and searches.

At this week's meeting, council member Goldie Wells said she supported requests for consent documented on body-worn cameras.

“Somebody should say it to them,” Wells said. “On the camera, you should hear the officer say, 'You can refuse this. Is this your property? Do you have the right for it to be (consented) to search?' And then we see it.”

But Wells and some other council members questioned whether requiring written consent would help eliminate racial discrepancies in traffic stops. Durham and Asheville's police departments have written consent forms, but do not require them to be signed for all consent searches.

“They want to see us work together and to get rid of some of these racist things that are happening to us in the community,” Wells said. “But I don't think this is the thing that will change that.”

Greensboro's city staff members are writing a formal proposal to present to the council next month.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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