Being pulled over, detained or questioned by law enforcement can be an intimidating experience. Have you thought about how to keep yourself safe, should you find yourself in such a situation? Let us go over some tips to follow to help ensure interactions with law enforcement are safe.
The number one rule for safety may be to stop, when asked to. This can apply whether you are walking down a street, riding a bike, or driving a car. If you are in a car, pull over and turn the car off.
It can be equally important to keep your hands visible at all times. Any sudden movements, including reaching for your license or opening the glove compartment to retrieve the registration could be misconstrued. If you are driving a car, place your hands on the steering wheel or wherever you are told by the officers. Wait until you are directed by the officer to retrieve your license or registration and then, clearly communicate all of your movements. Make it a habit to always carry a current license on you and keep a current registration in your car. Being able to identify yourself will assist you in being permitted to go free sooner.
No matter what, be respectful. Even if you are being disrespected, not raising your voice, arguing or calling the officer names will likely assist in preventing the situation from escalating. If you are being mistreated, focus on noting as many details as possible, including the officer’s name and badge number. Once safely released from the scene, you can use this information to file a complaint.
Know your legal rights. You have the right to remain silent. You can calmly say I am electing to remain silent. You do need to identify yourself, but you do not need to answer questions about your immigration status. The officers have the right to pat you down for a weapon, but not to search. Do not offer to empty pockets. You do not have to consent to a search of your car.
Do not resist arrest. If you are under arrest, you have the right to request a lawyer and should absolutely do so. Do not answer any questions, until you have a lawyer.
If you are not under arrest, you can leave. Confirm this by asking, if you are free to go. If the officer says yes, walk away quietly without saying anything further.
Keeping in mind that safety should be your number one priority, following the above tips should ensure a safe interaction with law enforcement.
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