Once upon a time the average person had very little, if any, interaction with police.
But in a police state – like the kind found in many parts of the world today – the average person almost can’t avoid it.
Here are the 5 must-do’s for every police interaction:
During all interactions – whether you’re on the street, in a vehicle, or in a home – film the police. Create an objective record of the incident.
If you see someone else stopped by police, be a good neighbor and film. You know you’d appreciate it if it were you.
Time and again we’ve seen that government courts side with police almost no matter the circumstance.
When you capture and publish video, you take your case to a more just court – the court of public opinion.
Pro Tip: Become familiar with your camera or a streaming app like Bambuser today, so you’ll be confident with it during tense police interactions
2. Get names and badge numbers.
Far too often, the individuals who violate the rights of others aren’t named, but are instead simply called “The NYPD” or “The Kern County Sheriff’s Office”. But police outfits don’t commit aggression, individuals do.
Focusing attention on the individual responsible will deter future rights-violators and make it more likely that other police employees will speak out from behind the thin blue line.
Pro Tip: Spell the employee’s name aloud and zoom your camera in on their name plate.
3. If spoken to, ask “Am I being detained?”
You may have to ask multiple times, as police employees will often try to elicit information from you. Don’t become agitated. Remain cool and collected.
If you are told “No” – that you’re not being detained – leave the scene.
A person with a badge has no more right than any other stranger to hinder your freedom of movement.
Pro Tip: Leave your camera running until you’re well away from the scene, in case foul play arises as you leave.
4. Don’t answer questions.
Not only are police incentivized to lie to you, they’re trained to do so. They’ll say almost anything to get you to incriminate yourself or to share information that can be used against someone else.
Police employees will tell you that if you just cooperate, it will make things easier. But cooperating only makes things easier for them – more property for them to steal or ransom notes to issue.
The best course of action for most situations is to state “I don’t answer questions” and remain silent.
Pro Tip: Depending on your comfort level, you can also choose to ask questions – ask the police employee to identify a victim, or to clarify what it would be called if you stopped a stranger and demanded their compliance.
5. Refuse searches.
If a police employee ever mentions searching your person or property – whether they ask permission to or not – firmly, and repeatedly, state “I do not consent to any searches”
Pro Tip: Say it loudly enough for bystanders to hear.
These five steps – Record, Get Names & Badge Numbers, ask “Am I Being Detained?”, Decline Questions and Refuse Searches – will help you protect your rights and the rights of others during police encounters.
This message is not anti-cop, it is pro-peace.
Remember: Badges don’t grant extra rights.