The Asheville City Council has voted to make three changes to how police can search drivers or pedestrians. The most significant requires that police receive written permission before they search someone, unless they have “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed. Additionally, the grounds for valid searches were restricted, and regulatory stops like traffic stops were de-emphasized.
While advocates hope that these changes will help curb stops on innocent drivers, law enforcement advocates caution that it could limit effectiveness of police in the midst of a drug epidemic. Advocates in favor of the changes also have pointed to data that clearly shows a racial disparity in traffic stops in Asheville. The changes come in the wake of a Black pedestrian being beaten by a police officer in Asheville, an event that has caused friction locally and garnered national attention.