Fayetteville's City Council has taken steps to address a perception of racial bias in its police force. Civil rights groups have complained about a greater frequency of police searches on black residents than white ones. The Council voted Monday night to require at least one documented reason for asking for a consent search. Drivers and occupants still will have the right to refuse. City Manager Dale Iman says it's still up to each officer to determine what's a reasonable pretext to ask to search someone. But Iman says they have to document that reason now.
Dale Iman: "The law states that the officer has the right, the legal right, to ask for a consent search. We're doing something above and beyond to give a level of comfort to members of the community that are still a little concerned about our practices possibly."
Some Council members wanted police to obtain written permission in the form of consent forms. That was voted down. Police will also begin installing 63 additional cameras for police cars, and begin logging the addresses and times of consent searches. Iman says he's pleased with the steps taken.
Iman: "This is a real balancing act and it's a difficult one at that. But we want to do everything we can to keep crime out of our lives, and at the same time protect the constitutional rights of everyone. And I think the Council did a good job of that."