“True public safety requires collaboration between law enforcement and the community.”
-Betsy Hodges

Police work is a high-risk job that requires handling emergencies and violent individuals. It is vital to be compliant but also aware of your rights while interacting with police. Keeping car registration up-to-date, having legal documents accessible, and maintaining a respectful tone are all ways to promote successful interactions.

 

Tips

    • To avoid being charged with resisting arrest: remain calm, do not run or assist someone in hiding, offer legal ID when requested to, and do not struggle if they insist on arresting you (Lewis and Laws.)
    • If you have a concealed weapon, make sure to use a signal indicator to show you plan to stop your car. Also, keep your hands on the wheel and windows open to show you are cooperating, do not offer your registration until requested, and never put your hands on the gun unless asked (National Rife Association Family.)
    • It is essential to know your rights. You have the right to ask, “Am I free to go?” and to inquire why the police officer stopped you. (ACLU Northern California)
    • Officers tend to do more thorough checks of cars with open wine or beer bottles, and roach clips (Nolo.)

Statistics

    • Offenders killed 89 officers in the line of duty in 2019. Forty-eight of these were from felonious acts and 41 were from accidents (Federal Bureau of Investigation.)
    • In the last ten years, roughly 30,000 cops lost their peace officer certifications due to misconduct (Criminal Legal News.)
    • There were 1,004 individuals fatally wounded by the police in 2019 (Statista.)

Take action

    • The National Unemployment Law Project offers an extensive Q&A on your rights when approached by the police. You can check it out here.
    • USA Today has put together a resource of up-to-date policy violations. To check out if a specific police officer has violated rights before using this database.
    • The American Bar Association has a list of schools that offer pro-bono representation for victims of the criminal justice system. If you feel you were wrongly accused reach out to one of the directors of these organizations to see if they will represent you.