By Samuel Lee Reid II, Assistant Director — Civilian Review Authority
Summer is quickly approaching, and while summer is the time for barbecues, hanging out at the park, and just being outside with friends it’s also a time when the Civilian Review Authority receives the majority of its complaints.
Below are some tips compiled from the organization 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care, that citizens should consider if they have an encounter with the police while outside enjoying the summer.
If Stopped in the Street by Police…
- Remain calm.
- Do not reach into your pockets.
- Ask why you are being stopped.
You Can Be Stopped If…
- You are running and a crime has just been reported in the area.
- You are hanging around with some people who are under police investigation.
- You are near an area where a crime has just been reported.
- You are somewhere where an officer thinks people have no reason to be at that time of day or night.
- You are acting in a way that appears to the officer to be very suspicious, and…
- You act even more suspicious when the officer sees you have spotted her/him.
- An officer thinks that you have stolen property in your possession.
- An officer stops you walking and you refuse to answer simple questions, give false or evasive answers or make contradicting statements.
- Someone has pointed you out to an officer.
- You begin to bad-mouth an officer.
Depending upon the circumstances, officers may think they have probable cause to stop you… and some officers will use any excuse to harass you.
If you feel like the officer is in the wrong, do not become loud or aggressive towards the officer. Badmouthing an officer is not necessarily a crime but it can cause an officer to ratchet up his/her intensity in dealing with you.
- Always have a legitimate form of identification on you.
- Remain silent. You have the right of silence, use it.
- You always have the right for legal representation – never speak without a witness being present.
If you have any questions about officers’ actions, do not debate or argue the point with the officer – rarely will you win that argument! Instead, document the situation by writing it down right away, or recording it, and then contact the Civilian Review Authority or Internal Affairs Unit.
Stay safe, have fun, and stay tuned for Volume 2.