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Durham Council Members Want To Require Written Consent For Police Vehicle Search

Photo: The Durham City Council debated night to require police officers get written consent from drivers before being able to search a vehicle.
Jorge Valencia

In Durham, members of the city council want to require police to get written consent from drivers before searching a vehicle.

The debate over vehicle searches stems from complaints that some Durham officers have unfairly targeted minorities.

Some residents and community groups say black men are often arbitrarily stopped and searched.

Tuesday night was the first time the city's council members and Mayor Bill Bell expressed interest in getting written consent for searches. Bell says requiring officers to get written consent for vehicle searches will not adversely affect patrol officers.

"In fact," Bell said, "I think requiring a written consent request, before searching a vehicle, in my opinion, will only further strengthen the desire of the city manager, as he has stated, to signal the repairing and rebuilding of a trusting relationship between the police department and all segments of the Durham community."

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield has presented the council with recommendations to improve the relationship between police and some community groups. Council members have not yet voted, but could take action as early as Thursday.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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