by Dr. Chenelle Jones
The police should treat all people fairly and with respect but in some cases (such as the one involving Dr. Ersula Ore), cops misuse their authority and abuse their power. As such, people should know their rights and responsibilities when dealing with the police. The following list offers tips for interacting with the police.
- When you notice the police car and the officer is signaling for you to pull over, DON’T RUN! Running will lead to a chase, which will eventually end in either 1) an arrest, 2) an excessive force and/or brutality case, or 3) a fatality. The best way to handle the situation is to pull over in a safe, well lit location.
- Keep your hands visible and don’t get out of the car unless the officer asks. Most officers are trained to expect the worse, so if your hands are hidden or you get out of the car against the officer’s request, they may think you are reaching for a weapon and are attempting to harm them. This may prompt the officer to draw his/her weapon on you and the last thing we need is another unarmed person getting killed by the police.
- Only show your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration upon request. If the officer doesn’t ask for it, don’t offer it. Keep in mind however, that some states require you to have an I.D., in those cases, if the police officer asks for your identification, please show it or else you can be arrested.
- Be respectful! Getting stopped by the police is a frustrating experience but stay calm and don’t argue, even if you believe you are innocent. Remember the police are people too and the nicer you are, the more likely you will have a less confrontational encounter.
- Don’t cuss out the cops! Remember you have the right to remain silent. You do not want to say anything that the police can use against you. If they ask you questions about what you are doing, where you are going, why you are in a particular area, etc., DON’T RESPOND. It’s really none of their business.
- Always speak with an attorney first! If for some reason you decide to speak to an officer and/or state your case, always do so after speaking with an attorney.
- Don’t consent to a search. Police officers can be tricky and if they say something like “you wouldn’t mind if I looked in your vehicle would you?” Always say NO! If they want to search your things (including cell phones), they can get a warrant.At this point, the burden of proof is on them, not you, let them do their job.
- If you are stopped, questioned, or frisked, ask the officer if you are under arrest. Typically, a person is stopped because the police officer has reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. Ask the officer if you are under arrest, if the officer says “no, you are not under arrest,” then you are free to leave. WALK AWAY!
- If you are arrested, DO NOT RESIST! Resisting will only escalate the situation. If you believe you are being arrested unfairly, comply and state your case later in court.
- Get the officer’s badge number! If you believe there was excessive force or police misconduct during your stop, document EVERYTHING! Write down the officer’s badge number, identify individuals who may have witnessed the event, take pictures of any injuries that were incurred during the stop, and file an official complaint with the department’s internal affairs division.