CPD talks effectiveness, concerns with consent to search cards

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COLUMBIA - Nearly one year after their implementation, Columbia police shared an update on effectiveness and raised questions about consent to search cards Wednesday. 

The cards are one of four ways officers can get permission to perform a search. 

The other three ways are to inventory a car after it has been towed, if the officer has reasonable suspicion or if the officer has probable cause. 

The cards can be used when police do not have another reason justifying their search. The person being subjected to the search signs the card acknowledging he or she has consented to the search.

Columbia Police Deputy Chief John Gordon spoke about the cards in front of The Citizens Police Review Board. 

Gordon said the department received 64 cards in 2016 and 117 so far in 2017. 

He said the policy has been more complicated than CPD thought it would be, and that the department needs to figure out if the cards are the best policy for recording consent.

One concern Wilson shared about the cards is the fact that they are not numbered, which makes tracking how many the department takes in a challenge. 

He also said some of his officers have questioned the cards as well, saying they are just one more paper form the officers need to worry about. Wilson said some officers only ask to perform a consent search once a year, making it hard for officers to remember to use the cards once a year.

Review board member Cornellia Williams said she is not currently a fan of the cards, and that she wants to see two things happen when the cards are used: that the officer used proper conduct in using the cards and asking for consent, and that people know their constitutional right to say yes or no to a search. 

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