The video above was sent to CopBlock.org via the submission tab. According to the YouTube description attached to the video:
Got pulled over for speeding, by orange park police department, in orange park fl, on wells rd @approximately 10:30pm , although that was never brought up, clearly we had an explanation for the “odor” , however we weren’t completely trained in how to handle cops so they happen to get the better end of this video… For now…
I would be willing to bet that these young men were targeted by Orange Park Police officers due to their location and age. As noted above they were stopped for speeding but that was never addressed in the video. Instead the officer immediately went into investigative mode by asking those in the car several questions. Most of which pertained to the alleged smell of marijuana. This is textbook fishing that cops do when they feel they’ll find something in a person’s car. Even if the cop doesn’t actually smell pot they claim to as justification for (il)legally searching the car.
The occupants of the car could have done a few things to keep these cops from violating their rights. I can tell they were nervous and I don’t blame them for how the stop when down. It’s difficult to react properly when men with guns are on a mission to violate your rights. Nevertheless, below are a few tips these guys could have done to keep from being victimized by the police.
First, they could have had the phone in the open and recording as the officer rolled up. While there is no guarantee that this would have kept them safe, it’s my experience that the video camera being clearly visible has kept more than one cop from going ‘thug life’ on me. You notice that in this video the officer has the upper hand, asking the questions and dictating the flow of conversation. Many times the mere presence of a camera sets the cop back and throws them off their usual pattern. This causes them to conduct their business and get on their way ASAP.
Second, they could have talked less. I know most people who answer all cops questions feel they have nothing to hide and that their logical responses should be accepted by the police. Yet, that’s not the reality. The ONLY PERSON TO SPEAK DURING A TRAFFIC STOP SHOULD BE THE DRIVER. Anyone else in the car should simply ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” The passengers are not suspected of committing a crime (in this case speeding) and therefore have no legal obligation to answer any questions of the officer.
Furthermore, you have no idea what the officers real intentions are and by speaking you could find yourself in more trouble. It’s always best to tell the police that you do not answer questions. Whether your a passenger or driver it doesn’t matter. The driver has to provide certain state documents and, at times, sign certain paperwork but you are under no obligation to answer questions. So don’t offer up any information, even if you think it’s harmless.
Lastly, listen to what the officer is saying and, if you must, answer police questions with questions. The best example in this video is when the officer says, “Do me a favor and step out of the car.” Had these young men been listening, or had visited the CopBlock.org Resources page, than they might have realized that such statement is a request, not a lawful order. The proper response to such request would have been, “No thank you officer, I’d like to stay in my vehicle and I do NOT consent to searches of my persons or property.”
Of course the cop would have just stated he had probably cause, due to the alleged smell, and legally asked them to step out but that might not be the case when you’re stopped. It’s very important to understand your rights when stopped by police. It’s also something that should be practiced before the situation arises. I highly recommend taking such steps to ensure your safety. You can find tips, tactics and videos highlight good and bad ways to CopBlock at several of the subpages listed here.
Yet, the most important is to record the encounter because you can know all the keywords and phrase but without video it’s still your word against a cops. You don’t want to leave your life in those kind of odds.
PULLED OVER (for comparision):