We’ve heard the following advice when dealing with police officers. Keep your hands on the wheel. Tell them when you have a weapon in the car. Don’t make sudden movements. Say yes sir or no sir. With recent events, we’re starting to see this advice isn’t working. Consequently, black men and black women who are pulled over by the cops no longer remain are calm like they once were. For some people, it’s rebellion. For others, they’re nervous for their lives. However, it’s important we all know our rights when we encounter law enforcement regardless of your opinion.
When you encounter a police officer on the street, what can you do?
- if you aren’t under arrest or being detained, you’re not required to answer questions. You can walk away from a police officer or ask, “Am I free to go?”
- If you’re being detained, a police officer has a right to pat you down outside of your clothing. If they try to search you more than that, you have the right to say, “I do not consent to a search.”
When you encounter a police officer on the street, what can’t you do?
- Although you don’t have to answer questions, it’s against the law to refuse to provide your name in certain states. This is known as “failure to ID.”
- You cannot run away from a police officer or resist, even if they are illegally searching you.
When you encounter a police officer in a car, what can you do?
- You have the right to not give consent to an officer who asks to search your car.
- You have a right to not answer questions.
When you encounter a police officer in a car, what can’t you do?
- You cannot refuse a search if there is probable cause.
- You cannot refuse to show your driver’s license, registration, and proof of documents.
- You cannot refuse to step outside of your car if requested
When arrested what should happen?
- The police officer must state your right to an attorney, to remain silent, and to have an attorney appointed to you if you cannot afford one.
- You should ask to see a lawyer immediately. Do not answer any questions until your lawyer is present, even if you know you didn’t commit a crime.
- You are guaranteed a phone call during a reasonable amount of time. Remember officers cannot listen to your phone call with lawyers. This doesn’t apply to family and friends.
If an officer mistreats you, how should you handle the situation?
- Get the officer’s name and his badge number. You can also attempt to get the number located on the car if there’s one.
- You should also get the contact information of any witnesses.
- If the situation results in injury, please seek medical attention and document the injuries with pictures and video.
- Call a lawyer or contact the local ACLU office.
Although these are great tips, they don’t always guarantee the safety of African Americans. However, this knowledge provides with the information to make sure you’re carrying yourself in the best way when you encounter an officer. For more tips or to report mistreatment from a cop visit, ACLU. Share your personal experience about your encounter with officers!