(ThyBlackMan.com) This article is to help you and your family. But I will tell you right now, if you want to debate this topic with me, I cannot help you. As a former detective, training instructor and executive protection agent, I am going to tell you in this article how to handle the police when they stop or approach you. And as a family and relationship counselor, mediator and life coach, I am also going to take you inside the mind of most police officers. My experience and knowledge of psychology, sociology and spirituality will help me to help you make the best (smartest) decision if you are approached by a law enforcement officer.
Your first thought or objective must be to walk away from the encounter without being arrested, attacked, injured or worse.
Self-preservation must therefore be accompanied by intellect, not by feeling like you have to fight for your life. In other words, use your head to make sure the encounter places you at little or no risk. Most police officers are stable-minded and they know tensions are high. Likewise, when an officer stops or approaches you – you have no idea what he/she may have just encountered an hour ago. Though that had nothing to do with you, it can shape an officers attitude or approach as he/she deals with the next situation – you.
Comply with the officer’s instructions.
This does not say you agree with his/her actions. This says you want to leave the encounter in the best way possible, again with little or no risk to you. Whether it is the late Sandra Bland, Eric Garner or the young girl outside of the pool party, too many African Americans seem determined not to comply with the police officer’s instructions. Look at those incidents on video in light of what I just told you and you may see what the police officer is seeing. Does that make the actions of the officer justified? In some cases, yes, like it or not. Am I taking sides? No, I am telling you what the law and the court system will uphold so use this knowledge to guide your actions wisely.
If the police officer is wrong, there are several legal and effective ways to deal with him/her later. But for now, you need to comply.
The ego of the citizen and the ego, days experiences or hormones of the officer make for a very volatile mix. And you do not fight fire with fire (at least not at that moment). You fight fire with water. Ask any firefighter. There will be time later to address the behavior of an officer if you believe your rights were violated. But you have to make it to later, ideally without injury, incarceration or worse.
Sadly, I am seeing citizens who do not know how to respond, police departments who are not putting out literature to address interaction with law enforcement and officers who have no idea how you are about to respond in an encounter. Aside from issues like poor training, screening and psychological exams for police officers, the other areas I just mentioned are big problems, very big problems. While the citizen wants to blame the police officer and the officer wants to blame the citizen – I want to solve the problem at its core.
I see too many African Americans trying to stand for their rights but using the wrong approach to do so. If you challenge an officer physically or verbally, expect him/her to respond by escalating to control the situation. This is called the Escalation of Force Continuum and it is how most officers are taught. I must admit, as I have told numerous police officers, detectives and supervisors, there is a huge gulf or divide between what the officer is doing and what the citizen thinks is happening. This is not to blame either side (except for rogue officers), but rather to look at what is going wrong in many encounters that turn confrontational.
Answer questions with specific and direct responses then close your mouth.
The encounter is not a battle of wits so you neither want to start one nor get lured into one. Keep your conversation polite and to a minimum. Some matters must be resolved in court, not on the side of the highway. Therefore don’t waste your time trying to talk the officer out of giving you a ticket etc. These are methods that work and most police officers will agree.
Do not challenge the officer verbally or physically. Many of you are unaware that the officer can arrest you instead of giving you a citation. Or he/she can charge you with disorderly conduct. If you use profane language towards an officer, in many states, that is actually grounds for you to be arrested. In Georgia, for example, Georgia code 16-11-39 authorizes the officer to take action if you use obscene, vulgar, abusive or profane language. An officer knowledgeable in state code could also arrest you in Georgia if you violate code section 16-5-25 (opprobrious or abusive language). He/she can then charge you with simple assault or simple battery. So while you may think you can use profane language and be covered under the First Amendment freedom of speech, that is not true in many cases.
Know your rights and articulate them calmly and respectfully.
But do not try to bluff the officers by saying you know your rights if you do not know them. People (police officer or private citizen) do what they know to do. Therefore allow me to increase your database of options and alternative solutions. Hopefully, if you know you have other options, you will choose those instead of confronting the police officer – even when he/she is wrong.
If you are approached by a police officer, stay calm and do not make any sudden moves.
Be respectful, even if he/she is not. Do NOT reach for anything until you are instructed to do so. If the officer asks you to do something simple (like putting out your cigarette), just do it so you can leave the encounter peacefully and as soon as possible. Being placed in handcuffs does not mean you are automatically under arrest and how you handle things from that point can often make all the difference. Do not try to hide evidence, but likewise you do not have to do or say anything that may incriminate you. Silence is not an automatic sign of guilt but silence with an attitude raises suspicion.
Though I have knowledge and experience, I am not an attorney so I have to preface this information by saying it is for information purposes only and you should always seek qualified legal counsel in your state.
If you feel your rights have been violated, you can get an attorney and file suit against the police department, the city or even the officer in many cases. Remember badge numbers, names, dates, times and patrol car numbers. You can file a complaint with his or her department of internal affairs. You can file a complaint with the Peace Officer’s Council which usually regulates all police officer certifications in that state. You can go back and round up witnesses. You can go to the media or use the power of social media. You can report the incident to citizen organizations that watch police activity. You can learn your constitutional rights and your rights under the laws of your state. And finally, you can research other legal, lawful solutions online. Just be careful that you do not practice homemade methods created by some citizen on Youtube.
This information is being provided to you based on interviews with over a hundred police officers as well as my direct knowledge and experience. Nothing works every time but at least I have given you a plan. Please share this article with every person you know, especially our youth. Good luck.
Staff Writer; Trevo Craw
A Free Thinker, who loves to talk about Politics, etc. Also, all about uplifting the Black Community even if it doesn’t fit your mindset. One may hit me up at; [email protected].