Anytime the police ask you if they can look around your car/house/body, they aren’t being polite. They need your consent and you don’t have to give it. Every police officer has a personal style to the question, but their goal is to make it seem like they are just politely asking permission to do something they could do anyway. However, you have the right to refuse, but once you consent to a search, you have given up your constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches.
This is a common theme of my blog, but even my close friends have a difficult time remembering this. This past weekend, the subject of police searches came up, and I had to remind my friends that they can tell an officer that they don’t want them to snooping around their car.
Some people are afraid of being rude, but it’s easy to politely but firmly tell an officer, “no.” To get you in the right mindset, think of the request to search your car/house/body as a rude request. For example, if a new friend came over to your house and said to you, “Do you mind if I look around your medicine cabinet? I just want to know what kind of person you are.” No matter how politely the friend said it, most of us would be flabbergasted. That’s really how you should think of any request to search you. They are asking to snoop around our private effects, and it’s within our rights to refuse. Regardless of whether the police will find anything illegal, I don’t like strangers rummaging through my personal belongings.