Witnessing police searches

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
46,484
33,758
Toronto
#1
Just curious about something.

What is the procedure in the US for police searching people, homes, cars, their persons?

Specifically, are they required to bring random members of the public over as Witnesses?

In Russia, believe it or not, it's the law. I was just reminded of it, was looking through some old posts on a Russian forum and came across a guy (at left in photo below) recounting how a traffic cop pulled him over, back in 2016, with his wife, because he was searching this other dude and his taxi cab, reportedly the fellow had illegal drugs on him or something, and he needed them as Witnesses

This is mandatory there. Cops must get a couple civilians, and their job is to observe the search and later, if needed, testify that they did not see the police do anything illegal or such.

It does get abused, for example, in many cases I've seen, police would come to search offices of Opposition activists, with members of pro-Kremlin organizations acting as Witnesses lol All of whom just randomly happened to be in the area lmao ;)

But, yeah, that's a big rule for searches there. Normally, if they search an apartment, with a warrant or whatever, they get some neighbors to Witness. Though, some crooked cops bring own Witnesses to lie and cover for them, that does happen...

Here in Canada, it's not like that, I believe, cops here don't need Witnesses at searches.
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
75,837
44,748
Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#2
Just curious about something.

What is the procedure in the US for police searching people, homes, cars, their persons?

Specifically, are they required to bring random members of the public over as Witnesses?
No. In fact, the police would rather people keep out of the way, and for reasons probably obvious from the news they probably do not want witnesses anyway. Observe, for example, the times when some random person attempts to get a video of police activities, wherein the police attempt to get the person to stop based on being in their way or interfering (when the person is nowhere near them). Many officers and departments consider the 4th Amendment to be an inconvenience. Prior to some SCOTUS rulings, the police routinely ignored the federal constitution in this and various other regards. They are still angry about enforcement of constitutional restraints.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
46,484
33,758
Toronto
#3
No. In fact, the police would rather people keep out of the way, and for reasons probably obvious from the news they probably do not want witnesses anyway. Observe, for example, the times when some random person attempts to get a video of police activities, wherein the police attempt to get the person to stop based on being in their way or interfering (when the person is nowhere near them). Many officers and departments consider the 4th Amendment to be an inconvenience. Prior to some SCOTUS rulings, the police routinely ignored the federal constitution in this and various other regards. They are still angry about enforcement of constitutional restraints.
Sounds like your police need lots and lots of reforming...
 
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HCProf

Moderator
Council Hall
Sep 2014
28,345
17,738
USA
#5
Yes, indeed. You know its bad when Russia is better on a civil rights issue than the U.S. (Unless there is more I do not know about, of course.)
Don't you think a civilian audience during a search and seizure would be a breach of privacy? I would not be too happy about that if a cop asked a person to come over while he was searching my car. That seems weird to me.
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
75,837
44,748
Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#6
Don't you think a civilian audience during a search and seizure would be a breach of privacy? I would not be too happy about that if a cop asked a person to come over while he was searching my car. That seems weird to me.
It does seem weird. Yet it allows for oversight of the police by the public. If the police are searching your car, or whatever, warrant or no warrant, they are NOT on your side no matter what they may try to tell you. It is a way of having witnesses your attorney can call in a suppression hearing. Otherwise, it is your word against the police in most cases, and if the stories conflict you are probably SOL unless you can show the office is lying (and it still may not help).
 
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Jun 2014
61,324
35,570
Cleveland, Ohio
#7
No. In fact, the police would rather people keep out of the way, and for reasons probably obvious from the news they probably do not want witnesses anyway. Observe, for example, the times when some random person attempts to get a video of police activities, wherein the police attempt to get the person to stop based on being in their way or interfering (when the person is nowhere near them). Many officers and departments consider the 4th Amendment to be an inconvenience. Prior to some SCOTUS rulings, the police routinely ignored the federal constitution in this and various other regards. They are still angry about enforcement of constitutional restraints.
True, plus civilians contaminate crime scenes, disturb evidence and cast doubt on the chain of custody.

It's difficult to imagine what due process Russians expect witnesses to searches will produce.
 
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Jun 2014
61,324
35,570
Cleveland, Ohio
#8
Don't you think a civilian audience during a search and seizure would be a breach of privacy? I would not be too happy about that if a cop asked a person to come over while he was searching my car. That seems weird to me.
Obviously. It's not a particularly efficient way to protect against planted evidence (or whatever Russians hope to achieve.)
 

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
46,484
33,758
Toronto
#9
Don't you think a civilian audience during a search and seizure would be a breach of privacy? I would not be too happy about that if a cop asked a person to come over while he was searching my car. That seems weird to me.
Privacy doesn't mean quite as much to Russians. Direct civilian oversight of the police, which they see as crucial to deter and prevent corruption and abuse of authority, is much more valued.

Another good of example of this are those dashboard cameras most drivers there have in their cars

People have them for insurance purposes, for accidents and such.

You can find compilations of crazy driving and road rage incidents in Russia, thanks to those.

Hell, when a meteor fell from space near the city of Chelyabinsk in 2013, scientists were able to study it's trajectory from all the dash cam footage
[video=youtube;EhNL-YJFxOM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhNL-YJFxOM[/video]
:D

But, most importantly, these cameras are the people's powerful tool and weapon against bad traffic cops


This is a fight that has gone on for years over there. The DPS, the traffic police authority, has long attempted to prohibit drivers from filming their personnel. And the drivers have just as long maintained that it is their right. It was fought all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the drivers. And then the Internal Affairs Ministry, which is in charge of all police, also reaffirmed that people are entitled to film their interaction with DPS.

DPS are notoriously crooked, corrupt, always demanding bribes on the roads. They are not all bad, but, majority are...

Just this year, for example, dash cam footage captured and exposed this DPS cop in Voronezh region, I believe

He physically assaulted the civilian driver, and then drew his pistol on the unarmed man, when he fought back. Thanks to the footage, he was fired and faced criminal charges for his conduct!

It always had fascinated me, overall, as I pointed out in this thread, Russians, despite having essentially no history of real democracy or liberty, but rather one of warlords, Mongol domination and slavery, and more slavery under serfdom, and more terror and subjugation under Lenin and Stalin, etc, coming from that, from GULags and all that crap, they are FAR less likely to put up with crap for their police than are Americans. They do not, majority, like their police, perhaps because of the extensive history of incarceration and such, they have an ingrained dislike and distrust of anyone in uniform. And they are far less afraid to challenge cops than we are over here...

I see a lot of (conservative) posters here automatically jumping to defend police, when they shoot black people or something; and it disgusts me precisely because I see folks over there, under dictatorship, and they are not afraid; and here you are, in the free world, being a fucking bootlicker...

I don't know, maybe I am wrong...
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
46,484
33,758
Toronto
#10
True, plus civilians contaminate crime scenes, disturb evidence and cast doubt on the chain of custody.

It's difficult to imagine what due process Russians expect witnesses to searches will produce.
Just an independent and impartial (in theory, at least) set of eyes watching the cops, supposed to deter them from, as you say, planting crap, etc...
 
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