Refuse Police Searches… Even if Innocent

I’m sharing this info about police searches because most of the people I know think that they MUST submit to a police search when asked, even if they have nothing to hide. This author give 5 GOOD reasons to tell them, “No.”

By Scott Morgan

“Do you know what your rights are when a police officer asks to search you? If you’re like most people I’ve met in my eight years working to educate the public on this topic, then you probably don’t.
It’s a subject that a lot of people think they understand, but too often our perception of police power is distorted by fictional TV dramas, sensational media stories, silly urban myths, and the unfortunate fact that police themselves are legally allowed to lie to us.

It wouldn’t even be such a big deal, I suppose, if our laws all made sense and our public servants always treated us as citizens first and suspects second. But thanks to the War on Drugs, nothing is ever that easy. When something as stupid as stopping people from possessing marijuana came to be considered a critical law enforcement function, innocence ceased to protect people against police harassment. From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation’s Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias, incompetence, and corruption that the drug war delivers on a daily basis.

Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Let’s take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying “no” to police searches, and here are some reasons why:

1. It’s your constitutional right.

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless police have strong evidence (probable cause) to believe you’re involved in criminal activity, they need your permission to perform a search of you or your property.

You have the right to refuse random police searches anywhere and anytime, so long as you aren’t crossing a border checkpoint or entering a secure facility like an airport. Don’t be shy about standing up for your own privacy rights, especially when police are looking for evidence that could put you behind bars.

2. Refusing a search protects you if you end up in court.

It’s always possible that police might search you anyway when you refuse to give consent, but that’s no reason to say “yes” to the search. Basically, if there’s any chance of evidence being found, agreeing to a search is like committing legal suicide, because it kills your case before you even get to court.

If you refuse a search, however, the officer will have to prove in court that there was probable cause to do a warrantless search. This will give your lawyer a good chance to win your case, but this only works if you said “no” to the search.

3. Saying “no” can prevent a search altogether.

Data on police searches are interesting, but they don’t show how many searches didn’t happen because a citizen said no. A non-search is a non-event that goes unrecorded, giving rise to a widespread misconception that police will always search with or without permission.

I know refusing searches works because I’ve been collecting stories from real police encounters. The reality is that police routinely ask for permission to search when they have absolutely no evidence of an actual crime. If you remain calm and say no, there’s a good chance they’ll back down, because it’s a waste of time to do searches that won’t hold up in court anyway.

4. Searches can waste your time and damage your property.

Do you have time to sit around while police rifle through your belongings? Police often spend 30 minutes or more on vehicle searches and even longer searching homes. You certainly can’t count on officers to be careful with valuables or to put everything back where they found it. If you waive your 4th Amendment rights by agreeing to be searched, you will have few legal options if any property is damaged or missing after the search.

5. You never know what they’ll find.

Are you 100 percent certain there’s nothing illegal in your home or vehicle? You can never be too sure. A joint roach could stick to your shoe on the street and wind up on the floorboard. A careless acquaintance could have dropped a baggie behind the seat. Try telling a cop it isn’t yours, and they’ll just laugh and tell you to put your hands behind your back. If you agreed to the search, you can’t challenge the evidence. But if you’re innocent and you refused the search, your lawyer has a winnable case.

Remember that knowing your rights will help you protect yourself, but no amount of preparation can guarantee a good outcome in a bad situation. Your attitude and your choices before, during, and after the encounter will usually matter more than your knowledge of the law. Stay calm no matter what happens, and remember that you can always report misconduct after things settle down.

Finally, please don’t be shy about sharing this information with your friends and family. Understanding and asserting your rights isn’t about getting away with anything, and it isn’t about disrespecting police either. These rights are the foundation of freedom in America, and they get weaker whenever we fail to exercise them.”

Scott Morgan is Associate Director of and co-creator of the film 10 Rules for Dealing with Police.





I’ve added a few more photos to the Remodel project at Mt. Ellis.

The last 13 photos and their captions explain the problems that I’m running into with leveling the house.

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is  1Corinthians 13, so I built this photo of its highlights.

Never Take Love for Granted

My reading this morning took me to Proverbs. So I thought that I’d share a portion from The Message version.

Proverbs 5

15-16 Do you know the saying, “Drink from your own rain barrel,
draw water from your own spring-fed well”?
It’s true. Otherwise, you may one day come home
and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.

17-20 Your spring water is for you and you only,
not to be passed around among strangers.
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
 Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose—
   don’t ever quit taking delight in her body.
   Never take her love for granted!
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore?
for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?

21-23 Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make;
he’s aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.”

One Hundred and Thirty Posts

One hundred thirty of ’em so far this year.

There have been 4 Bald Eagles hanging around or near our campus this Winter. I got to thinking, “Since the mascot of the school is a Bald Eagle, wouldn’t it be cool if we could lure a pair into nesting on-campus?”

So I proposed the idea to the Principal of planting a tall power poll with a platform on top with maybe some outrigger arms for roosting. Afterward I wondered, “Why not equip the pole with a video cam for live feeds into the Ad building, Science Room and foyer?” We could even bait the platform with fresh food from a rope and pulley arrangement.

We could perhaps get a local utility company to donate the equipment and labor of setting the pole. I’ll donate the first $100 toward the effort.

Time Spent… Shopping?

I spent several hours yesterday shopping for a wireless video camera that would do a reasonably good job of recording what is taking place in the Magpie nest. I settled on a wireless color camera sold by GE. It’s stated purpose is home security. It seemed like a good choice, but the quality if video beyond about 3-4 feet is terrible. I have no idea how an intruder could be identified beyond that range.

Needles to say, it’s going back to Lowe’s. Another option in the same price range is a JVC video cam. It could be zoomed in from a greater distance and produce a better quality picture. The problems here are, will I be able to control it remotely and how do I retrieve video from it … easily? I would also like to be able to broadcast to signal to the ‘net so that others can watch. But with my slow connection I don’t think this would be possible and I would be limited to editing the feed sharply and posting to this Blog or Vimeo or YouTube.

So the search goes on for an affordable solution. ANY IDEAS OUT THERE?