Conducting Search & Seizure: Lessons Learned Recommendations from Civil Rights Litigation

Strive for professional, courteous, fair, and productive contacts with the community

Baltimore, MD          Newark, NJ          Seattle, WA   

Obtain approval of a supervisor on scene prior to conducting a search of an individual or a home, based upon consent

Ensure that the consent to search form includes: 

  • Signature line for officers to certify they have advised the subject of the right to refuse a search
  • Signature line for the subject to affirm that they understand that right

Conduct a “frisk for weapons” or “pat down” during a search of an individual. 

  • Except when there are specific and articulable facts that indicate that a person is armed with a dangerous and deadly weapon

Avoid the following when determining whether to initiate a search and/or seizure: 

  • Relying on information known to be false or incorrect
  • Using a subject’s demographic characteristics to determine probable cause to conduct a search (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

Baltimore, MD           Cleveland, OH          Los Angeles County, CA          Newark, NJ          Yonkers, NY           

The information provided above has come directly from the consent decree language, which can be accessed by clicking on each corresponding city’s consent decree. This information is intended to guide departments on decisions and actions to improve their Constitutional policing practices. Additional resources and information may be needed to implement these recommendations successfully. For assistance in implementing recommendations, contact the Knowledge Lab team.