What To Do When The Cops Are Involved
This is a follow up to How Not To Get The Cops Involved where I discussed (not surprisingly) how to avoid getting the police involved in your situation.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the cops get involved. Maybe someone else called the cops, maybe you felt the situation warranted their involvement, or maybe they showed up at the scene. However they got involved, they’re not going to go away just because you don’t want to deal with them so it’s time to use your head.
A few years ago, I would have said that the first rule in dealing with the cops is to remain calm, keep your cool and don’t lose your temper. Now that’s rule number 2. With the ubiquity of recording devices that we all carry around in our pockets (cell phones), the first rule when dealing with the police is to RECORD EVERYTHING! If you’re in a public place, the police have no expectation of privacy so you can record them (except in Illinois). Check your state and local laws, but in general, you’re allowed to record. The police will tell you that you can’t record but we all know the police will lie to you. If you can, have your recording streamed to one of the several on line services available; that’s even better. And obviously video and audio are better than just audio; but take what you can get.
The second rule in dealing with the police is to STAY CALM, keep your cool and don’t lose your temper. No matter how right you are, losing your temper is likely to result in getting cuffed, pepper sprayed, beat, shot, arrested or some combination of all of those. Don’t yell at them, swear at them, give them the finger, or provoke them. Treat them as you would a business client you don’t like. That’s not to say that in order to avoid their wrath you need to compromise anything but if you do end up being caged, there’s a better likelihood that your arrest for “contempt of cop” will not result in any charges sticking if you can substantiate a claim of not guilty of disorderly conduct (which is usually just contempt of cop). Remaining calm and being peaceful is no guarantee that you’re not going to be the victim of abuse; however, you’re more likely to prevail if you don’t act out of anger.
The third rule is, NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE. You should never say anything to them that is not absolutely required by law. It is NEVER in your best interest to give them information. Rather than explain further, I would like to insist that you watch Part I and Part II of this video. Watch the whole thing, it’s worth your time. This rule would have been number one, but if you don’t follow the first two rules, this one could be moot. If you lose your temper with the cops, you’re going to say things that could be used against you later. Furthermore, without a recording, they can falsify your statements.
The fourth rule is, NEVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH. It doesn’t matter if you have nothing to hide. Refusing to consent to a search is your right and court after court has ruled that refusing a search is not probable cause for a search. If the cops tell you to empty your pockets, ask if you’re being detained. If not, you are free to go; just walk away. Unless I’m mistaken, you are never required to empty your pockets, although if they place you under arrest, they might empty them for you. The point is, consenting to a search only opens you up to more trouble. The cops reading this of course will tell you that if you have nothing to hide, consenting to search only helps the process, removes suspicion and moves them on their way faster. Remember, cops lie. Sometimes, if you don’t consent to a search, they’ll bring in the drug sniffing dogs and then signal them to “alert” which means they’ve found something. Then they will search your car claiming probable cause. They will do this to harass you and waste your time. If they’re going to waste your time though, you can waste theirs by demanding that a supervisor comes to the scene. When you do this, a supervisor must come and they cannot leave until that time. Complain to the supervisor about being harassed without probable cause.
The fifth rule is to LEAVE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Ask if you’re being detained; if you’re not, leave. Also, familiarize yourself with the Terry Stop rules. The longer you stick around, the higher the probability is that you will be the victim of some police misconduct, even if you were the one that called the cops.
The sixth rule is, NEVER LET THEM IN YOUR HOUSE without a warrant. In fact, without a warrant, you’re not even required to open the door or say anything at all to them. Just tell them you have nothing to say to them and you would prefer that they leave. Once you invite them in, you have opened your home to a search.
The seventh and last rule is KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. The more your know your rights and assert them (calmly) to the police, the more likely they are to leave you alone. They are bullies and bullies pick on weak, frightened, easily intimidated people. Don’t be one of them. Stay in tune with CopBlock.org and other sources that report on police misconduct and your civil liberties.
These rules not only apply to the police, they apply to any government agent that decides to interfere in your life. If Child Protective Services comes to your door and demands to speak to your children or inspect your home, tell them to leave unless they have a warrant. In fact, feel free to be a little more rude to them than the cops since they don’t have arrest powers.
Also, these are general rules that apply to almost every situation. There are probably dozens of rules related to much more specific situations. If you can think of a few more general rules, please leave them in the comments.
Difster is a Christian, libertarian, economist, anti-cop, blogger currently living in Mexico. You can find his oft neglected blog here.