What To Do When Stopped by Police

Published On May 24, 2012 | By Davy V. | Articles

By DAVY V.

As a Filmmaker, the majority of my work has centered around exposing Police Brutality and Misconduct. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been approached or contacted by people who know my work, and they go into these very disturbing stories of being harassed or in some cases, even physically assaulted by the Police. And every time, when they finish recounting their experiences, I always ask the same question: “Ok, what did you do about it?” And every time, I get pretty much the same answer: “Well, nothing.” or sometimes, there may be a slight variation to the answer I get, such as: “I didn’t know what to do.” or “I felt like since they’re cops, they would automatically take their side and nothing would be done, or even worse, the cops who abused or mistreated me would retaliate against me, for filing a report against them.”

It is very sad, but true: There is an overwhelming percentage of people who either don’t know what to do if they have been a victim of Police Brutality or Misconduct, or they simply are too afraid to do anything! The result: Countless Police Brutality and Misconduct incidents go unreported, giving these rogue cops, the same ones who took an oath to “Serve and Protect”, a “free pass” to continue abusing innocent people!

I want to share with you something very important which everyone should know: Your rights, and what to do if you are stopped by the police, and what to do if you become a victim of police brutality or misconduct.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE:

YOUR RIGHTS:

– You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.

– You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.

– If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.

– You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.

– Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES:

– Do stay calm and be polite.

– Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.

– Do not lie or give false documents.

– Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.

– Do remember the details of the encounter.

– Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR QUESTIONING:

Stay calm.

Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why. You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions.

If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.

You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR:

Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible.

Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window half way and place your hands on the steering wheel.

Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. If an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search.

Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent.

* ALWAYS TRY TO WRITE DOWN THE OFFICER’S NAME, BADGE NUMBER OR CAR NUMBER AND THE TIME YOU WERE STOPPED. PREFERABLY ALL FOUR.

Davy V.
[email protected]
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About The Author

Davy V. is a Cuban-American Filmmaker, Video Producer, Photographer and Freelance Writer, best known for using the power of video and film to expose Police Brutality, Corruption and Misconduct. The son of the late Mario Vara, a community activist who for years fought against Police Brutality and Misconduct in Rochester, New York, Davy V. got his start in Television and Video by tagging along and working camera for his father's cable access television show, "La Voz Del Pueblo" (The Voice of The People). Davy V. later went on to produce and host "KEEP IT ON THE REEL", a cable access TV show with a mix of Hip Hop as well as issues affecting African-Americans and Latinos in Rochester, NY, such as Police Brutality and Misconduct. Some guests on the show included Treach, KayGee and Vinnie of Naughty by Nature, Method Man, Funkdoobiest, Da Youngstas, and the Rottin' Razkals. Davy V. won the U.S. ACM Video Festival Award for his Documentary, "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" about the Rochester, New York Police Department and their long history of misconduct, corruption and unnecessary killings of unarmed innocent citizens. "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" and Davy V.'s follow up, "R.P.D.: Badges of DISHONOR, CORRUPTION and MURDER!" were both screened at the National Hip Hop Political Convention at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Davy V.'s work has been featured in publications such as THE SOURCE Hip Hop Magazine, URBAN AMERICA Magazine, The Ave. Magazine, Insider Magazine, La Voz Newspaper, Minority Reporter Newspaper, CNY LATINO Newspaper, DOWN Magazine, as well as on television news stations, and programs such as CNN and Inside Edition. In addition to his freelance writing, Davy V. also writes a monthly Op/Ed Column for LA VOZ Magazine and Minority Reporter Newspaper. In June 2012, Davy V. joined Cop Block as a regular contributor.
  • HONORYOUROATH

    He forgot….turn on your camera and record everything!
    This article veries slighty from what the police recommend! The following comes from the Green Cove Springs Florida Police. Gotta love the part about answering all questions honestly never hurts.
    In direct response to the traffic concerns of the community, the Green Cove Springs Police Department has directed its police officers to address the following traffic concerns throughout out community.
    Speed (excessive)
    Aggressive driving
    Red light/stop sign running
    Road rage
    To best address these community concerns, the Police Department will be proactively patrolling our roadways and strictly enforcing the traffic laws within the City of Green Cove Springs.

    If you are stopped while driving a motor vehicle, you may feel confused, anxious or even angry. These are natural feelings we all feel when stopped by a police officer, but remember, traffic stops can also be stressful and dangerous for the police officer. Each year, a significant number of law enforcement officers are killed or seriously injured while making “routine” traffic stops and that police officers are especially vulnerable during the hours of darkness. This is why many times a second patrol vehicle will arrive on scene during a traffic stop.
    Questions – Compliments – Complaints – If you have a question about procedures or a complaint about your treatment, contact the Police Department and ask to speak with an on duty supervisor. You may also send a COMPLIMENTARY letter is you feel the officer was particularly helpful in your situation.
    There are many different reasons why the police might stop you, but whatever the reason, the officer needs your cooperation during the traffic stop.
    ALWAYS REMEMBER: In all cases, a citizen is required to cooperate with police.

    With this in mind, there are things that you, the motoring public, can do to help lessen the unpleasantness of the experience.
     A police officer may stop you at any time for a traffic offense or police investigation.
    When you see the overhead lights and/or hear the siren, remain calm and safely pull over parallel to the right side of the road.
    Remain in your vehicle unless the officer advises otherwise.
    Keep your hands on the steering wheel so the officer cam see them at all times.
    Avoid any sudden movements, especially toward the the floorboard, rear seat or passenger side of the vehicle.
    Do not immediately reach for your license or other documents until the officer requests them. Florida Law requires drivers to show their license, registration and insurance card upon the presence of a law enforcement officer.
    If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them.
    If the stop occurs during darkness, put on your dome light or interior lights so the officer can easily see that all is in order.
    If there are passengers in your vehicle, encourage them to remain quiet and cooperate with instructions. You, as the operator, are solely responsible for the vehicle and its occupants.
    The officer may issue you a traffic citation. Avoid becoming argumentative, as arguing will not change the officer’s mind. If you choose to contest the citation, you will have an opportunity to address the matter in court.
    Be honest with the officer. If you really didn’t see the stop sign, or were unaware of the speed limit, let the officer know. Being honest about any situation never hurts.
    The Green Cove Springs Police Department generally operates one-officer patrol cars, and it is normal to see additional police officers at a routine traffic stop.
    Finally, if you receive a traffic citation “ticket”, accept it calmly. By signing the traffic citation, it is not an admission of guilt, only that you will comply with the instructions given to you by the officer if you wish to contest the traffic citation in a court of law.
     

     
    Serving with S.P.I.R.I.T.
    Safety, Professionalism, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, Training

  • certain

    “ALWAYS REMEMBER: In all cases, a citizen is required to cooperate with police.”

    WRONG. In very few cases is a citizen required to cooperate with police.

  • deepelemblues

    What to do when stopped by police… turn on your camera and pray that the cop doesn’t already have the intent to bend you over or develops that intent during the encounter, as if he does there’s fuck-all you can do about it at the time.

  • Hey

    You have to underline “Always remain calm and polite” since you do not know if you are dealing with a psycho thug cop/s which is likely to happen.

  • PSOSGT

    It is very sad, but true: There is an overwhelming percentage of people who either don’t know what to do if they have been a victim of Police Brutality or Misconduct, or they simply are too afraid to do anything

    What is that percentage again????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Or we pulling shit out of our asses again?

    “If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why” Correct, at arraignement. There is no law that says I need to tell you what your under arrest for while I’m putting handcuffs on you.

  • t.

    You list looks pretty good. The only part you missed on was an investigative stop / detention. You still have the right to remain silent (you always do) although, very contrary to the advice usually given on this site, in don’t recommend it (your silence may / will lengthen the time of the detention and remember, if only one side of a situation gets voiced, and you choose to not tell your side, don’t bitch).

  • http://whentennesseepigsfly.wordpress.com/ WhenTennesseePigsFly

    Some simple advice I get to people shot hint hat talking to the police is actually wise. Or those foolish enough tooth ink they can actually talk their way out of police “suspicion”…

    If you don’t talk to the police, you will probably go to jail… if you talk to the police you will probably go to prison.

  • http://whentennesseepigsfly.wordpress.com/ WhenTennesseePigsFly

    WTF!?!?

    I have no idea why my post turned out the way it did… here is how it should of read…

    Some simple advice I give to people who think that talking to the police is actually wise. Or to those foolish enough to think they can actually talk their way out of police “suspicion”…

    If you don’t talk to the police, you will probably go to jail… if you talk to the police you will probably go to prison.

  • Otto Maddox

    @PSOSGT: There may be no LAW that requires you to tell someone why they are being arrested but I would be interested to know if the department you work for has a POLICY that says you have to tell a person why they are being arrested.

    Lots of departments do have such policies regarding detentions and arrests. And sometimes it is the department’s own policies that can get a police officer in trouble regardles of what the law says.

    But help me understand something.. why wouldn’t a police officer want to tell someone what they are being arrested for? I’d love to hear your answer. I can only think of a couple reasons. They either don’t have a real charge, or they feel like being a dick.

    But I’m hoping I’m wrong.

  • WOLF

    THE FIRST RULE OF WHEN YOU ARE STOPPED.

    SAY NOTHING..

    REFUSE TO BE SEARCHED OR HAVE YOUR VEHICLE SEARCHED.

    DEMAND AN ATTORNEY

    REMEMBER, COPS ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND…

  • DKSuddeth

    PSO, I have every right to resist your unlawful arrest as well. If I have to kill you to do so, i’m within my rights to do so as the USSC and several courts have decided.

  • t.

    Suddeth: You are again, kind of right. BUT just because YOU don’t think you should be arrested, and just because YOU think someone is lying about you to have you arrested, doesn’t mean that it is an UNLAWFUL ARREST. If I determine that there is probable cause to believe you have committed a crime that is an arrestable offense, and I either identify myself to you as a police officer or am ready recognizable as a police officer (due to my costume. – that one is for all the retards whom say that on this site), and then say the magic words….your right resist legally resist ends. Do some research. That is all the elements I need to make it a legal arrest. That’s why people get charged all the time, they don’t think they should be arrested. It doesn’t matter what YOUmthink. The officer is the one that has to present that probable cause to whatever judicial official.

  • DKSuddeth

    t, i’ve done the research, and despite there being a law that tells me i’m not allowed to resist once I know you are an officer of the state, that does not negate my right. The USSC has opined that I do have the right to resist an unlawful arrest. Simply stating or showing me that you’re a cop doesn’t negate that right. As a ‘reasonable’ person, If you give me a lawful reason WHY i’m arrested, I will comply, but to believe that I must comply simply because you say so????? I do not think so. the legislature, the courts, nor you are allowed or empowered to tell me when I can and cannot think. That is for we the people to tell you. that icky constitution thing and all. A law is not recognized as a law if it is contrary to the constitution or infringes upon my rights. that is all.

  • t.

    Suddeth: I’ll just say good luck to you then and hope neither you or any officer gets hurt.

  • DKSuddeth

    t, as long as the cop follows the law, we should have no problem.

  • t.

    suddeth: No, I’ve already explained the legal requirements and you said you’d resist with deadly force anyway. Hope the officer is quicker so that is just another “waistband” shooting and not an officer injured because of you.

  • WOLF

    @SUDDETH: You better watch out now. T has set the stage for you to be murdered by the Gov’t Sanctioned Gestapo in the pretty blue monkey suits.

    COPS ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND. THEY ARE AMERICA’S LARGEST STREET GANG AND GOV’T SANCTIONED KILLERS…

  • DKSuddeth

    t, you’ve explained that you’re wrong. YOU are not above the law. YOU must also follow the law. end of story. I’ve already told you, as long as the officer follows the law with me, i’m reasonable enough to comply. It’s when the hotshot officer thinks he doesn’t have to follow the law, just do what he feels is ‘necessary’, that’s when he’s going to have a problem with me.

  • t.

    And what explained to you is what it takes for it to be legal. You want something other than that.

  • DKSuddeth

    t is showing everyone the mindset of the average cop. the written law, no matter how flagrantly wrong or unconstitutional, is always ‘legal’. ‘legal’ gives him unrestricted power to do whatever the ‘law’ tells him he can do. unfortunately it could end in his death.

  • B

    @SUDDETH. THINGS ARE “LEGAL” BECAUSE THE COURTS AND/OR THE CONSTITUTION SAYS SO. IF YOU THINK THINGS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, THEN YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING TO HELP FIX THAT, BUT UNTILL THEN YOU MUST FOLLOW THE LAW REGUARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT. T EXPLAINED TO YOU THE THINGS THE COP MUST DO TO MAKE IT LEGAL.

    @WOLF IT IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT GIVE PEOPLE COPS BAD NAMES. SURE, YOU HAVE YOUR SELECT FEW THAT DO THINGS THEY SHOULDN’T, BUT THEY’RE ARE WAY MORE THAT RISK THEIR LIVES EVERYDAY JUST TO PROTECT YOU!

  • t.

    Suddeth: it is constitutional. Again, good luck. Have a good attorney on retainer.

  • Spec4

    Qoute,DKSuddeth “A law is not recognized as a law if it is contrary to the constitution or infringes upon my rights”
    This right here is the underlying truth, the more people that know and believe this the better.

  • DKSuddeth

    t, besides the wholly wrongful USSC decision that says legislation must be presumed constitutional, point us to the part of the constitution that says you, as a cop, have the right to arrest me for any cause without telling me.

  • t.

    Suddeth: My bad. The supreme court has it wrong. I should have known better than to follow their lead.

    What a tool. You have now been placed into the Legion of Fools due to your repeated foolishness.

  • DKSuddeth

    right t, unlike you and the rest of the sheeple, I see when the USSC gets it wrong. Like Kelo v. new london, but i’m sure you think that’s absolutely the right decision. or the very latest BS decision concerning Alex Blueford, where they ruled that even though the jury acquitted him of murder, because the judge didn’t fill out the verdict paperwork correctly, the state can now retry him. Clearly a double jeopardy situation, but obviously the USSC got it right in your mind. I believe YOU are the one placed in the legion of fools for not being able to think for yourself.

  • http://www.davidjohansen.net david

    “If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why” Correct, at arraignement. There is no law that says I need to tell you what your under arrest for while I’m putting handcuffs on you.

    well, if you tried that with me i will defend myself against your criminal intentions.

    “An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.”

    State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260

    “Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.”

    State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100

  • t.

    Again, good luck with that line of think. Hope your nurses are nice.

  • DKSuddeth

    well, t. with that sort of respect for the rule of law and judicial precedent, why should any of us bother with cops like you?

  • t.

    Suddeth: It’s clearly not me with the lack of respect for the law. Wasn’t you that said the the USSC got it wrong and that you know better.

  • DKSuddeth

    yes t, I did say that because i’m right. written laws can be null and void if they violate the constiution. denying my right to be free from assault by the state with a ‘law’ is unconstitutional, therefore invalid. numerous court cases bear this out, as has been posted in this and other forums.

  • t.

    Suddeth: last I checked….the constitution is WRITTEN law. But, i’m glad you know better.

  • s

    Suddeth, if I have probable cause to arrest you, I’m not gonna spend 2 hours on the side of the road risking both of our safety arguing with you about whether you think the arrest is unlawful or interpreting the constitution. Since you clearly have numerous law degrees you know that your best course of action would just be to wait for court and create your own case law. This way neither of us gets hurt and the judge can settle the score. Who knows maybe you’ll “have my badge” but I wouldn’t bet on it. I know my job better than you do.

  • s

    Also I understand your point with resisting unlawful arrests, the problem with that is that most people (like you) aren’t aware of what is or is not lawful. Ignorance is generally not an effective defense.

  • Tslaughter

    Problem with to many Cops is they do infringe on laws because of their badge. No COP knows all the laws if they did they wouldn’t be cops. The system needs an overhaul but that won’t matter once Martial law is activated anyway. Then the local PD will understand just how citizens feel when they have no power when the Military comes into town.

    Best of luck to you all.

  • dawn

    Oh wow …
    So much needless anger.
    This all makes me so sad.
    I have always worked WITH the cops and have shared SO much mutual respect with them … until a recent incident.

    An officer whom I THOUGHT was a friend and who helped me through a difficult sitch with my teenage suicidal kid a few years ago “copped an attitude” when he pulled me over (he didn’t recognize me!!) and … well. The whole situation escalated beyond anything I would or could have ever imagined. As it turns out: He has a history of being an asshole to women. It makes me extremely sad … Now I must clear my name (easily done, as I have not even had so much as a parking ticket … and I’m 56 years old !! :) … but I cannot, knowing that he DOES THIS, allow it to go unheeded. I have talked to FOUR WOMEN who were also mistreated by him; and the Doctor, the X-ray technician, and 4 other staff members at the Emergency Room the day after I was released from Jail (!!! – don’t ask !!) ALSO recognized his name and said “GO GET HIM ~ PLEASE”.

    That is NOT what I WANT TO DO. That’s NOT MY STYLE. I don’t “go get” ANY one … I protect and mentor and help. I protect. (Isn’t that, also, part of HIS job?) But I WILL tell the TRUTH about what happened. So help me God.