What To Do When Stopped by Police
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:
- 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.
- 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:
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.
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.