Monday while out with my brother, a Fresno police officer pulled up and detained a man who was walking down the sidewalk. As usual I pulled out my phone and started to record the interaction. His detainment was short and ended after another person showed up and spoke briefly with the officer who initiated the stop.
I took a minute to ask him if he was being detained and to advise him of the fact that he was not required to hang around and interact with the officer unless he was being detained. Often times people feel they are required to stop and interact with the police, whenever they are asked to, but that is untrue.
Regardless of the length, ALL police interactions are hostage situations. Don’t believe me? Try leaving and see what happens. I guarantee an end result of violence, caging and potentially death. In this case the man being detained was only inconvenienced and not arrested or brutalized, still watching state actors demand someone’s papers never sits well with me.
The police aren’t your friends. They aren’t interested making small talk with you. What you did last week or what movie you saw last night are the furthest things from their mind. All they care about is extracting information that may lead to your potential conviction – even if you aren’t guilty of anything.
The best advice I can offer you when you find yourself interacting with the police is…
- Remain silent. As I stated above the police are not your friends and are only interested in incriminating you.
- Ask if you are being detained or if you are free to go? The police have to tell you if you are being detained. They do not have to tell you if you are not.
- Film the police. Preferably live stream. Even when detained you have the right to film the police and doing so can and will protect you from overzealous police who feel entitled by their badge.