Monday, December 21, 2009

Protect yourself this holiday season


To File A Police Misconduct Complaint:
Contact the Civilian Complaint Review Board
by calling 311 or by visiting

1. What you say to the police is always important. What you say can and will be used against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest you, especially if you bad-mouth a police officer.

2. You don’t have to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your house. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, use the phrase “I do not consent to this search.”

3. Do not interfere with or obstruct the police—you can be arrested for it.


1. Upon request, show the police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant. To protect yourself later, you should state that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for
refusing to consent to a search.

2. If you’re given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested. You can always fight the case in court later.

3. If you’re suspected of drunk driving (DWI) you will be asked to take a breath-alcohol and coordination test. If you fail the tests, or if you refuse to take them, you will be arrested, your driver’s license may be suspended and your car may be taken away.


1. Police may stop and detain you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing or are about to commit a crime.

2. You can ask if you are under arrest or free to leave. If you are arrested, you have a right to know why.

3. Police can't lawfully require that you identify yourself or produce ID if they don't reasonably suspect you of a crime. But use your judgment — refusal could lead to your arrest even if unjustified.

4. If police reasonably suspect you pose a danger to them or others, they may pat down your outer clothing. Don’t physically resist, but say you don’t consent to the search. If an officer asks you to empty your pockets before he pats you down—even if he says you won’t get in trouble—
decline to do so. Use the phrase “I do not consent to this search.”


1. You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Don’t tell the police anything except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and
your lawyer decide is best.

2. If you have a lawyer, ask to see your lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have a right to a free one once your case goes to court. You can ask the police how to contact a lawyer. Don’t say anything without a lawyer.

3. Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, you should ask the police to contact a family member or friend. If you are permitted to make a phone call, anything you say at the precinct may be recorded or listened to. Be very careful. Never talk about the facts of your
case over the telephone.

4. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.


1. The police can enter your home without permission if they have a warrant or if it is an emergency situation. If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it. They must show it to you when they are able to do so safely.

2. If you are arrested in your home or office, the police can search you and the area immediately surrounding you or where evidence of criminal activity is in plain view. If You Have A Police Encounter, You Can Protect Yourself.

5. Don’t bad-mouth a police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.


Flmkarl said...

I like the ACLU and that sounds good and all. But take a look at the Black detective who pull a gun a those white kids in Washington dc. Had it been a bunch of Black kids and a white cop. U can bet your bottom dollars that the Black kids would have been arrested for disordely contuct and assaulted a police officer. 2 of the favorited trumped up charges levied at Black youth. I saw on that video white kids screaming and yelling at that Black cop and none of them got arrested. I guees you have to be a Black harvard professor screaming in your own house to a white cop to get those types of charges.

kwame said...

Sound advice. I would also caution to always carry a small audio recorder or a camera phone. If you don't or can't afford, a good way to protect yourself is to call your voicemail on your cell phone and record everything if you are ever stopped by the police. Have your voicemail on speedial if you have to.

jason said...

Does anyone else see the irony in having to read about protecting yourself from the police? How sad is that?