I was at a Hutchinson Human Relations Commission meeting this week and Darrell Pope, the local NAACP president, handed out the NAACP Real World Guide to Interacting with Law Enforcement Guide.
I grabbed one immediately.
No matter the color of your skin, I think a lot of us are…trepidatious when it comes to interacting with law enforcement. While I do fine as a reporter working with police, I self-destruct as a civilian. I’ve been pulled over three times and I’ve cried each time (it’s a character flaw, I know). And while I’ve never been arrested (knock on wood), I’ve seen enough people at first appearances be totally confused about the process, or have statements made to the police immediately upon arrest be used against them.
So, I thought we could all use a little briefer. Here are a few of the NAACP’s highlights for interacting with law enforcement. They have a lot of tips in the brochure, so click here to read it all.
In your car
- If you are suspected of drunk driving and refuse to take a sobriety test, the police may arrest you or seize your license.
- You have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle.
- If the police state they have probable cause, they may begin to search your car without consent. Don’t interfere, but clearly state you do not consent to the search and ask for the basis of the search.
- If you’re given a ticket, sign it. You can always fight it later.
If you’re arrested
- Do ask for a lawyer immediately upon being arrested or placed into custody. You have the right to a court appointed attorney.
- Don’t make statements about the incident without first having spoken to an attorney. Anything you say can, and probably will, be used against you.
- After being arrested, you must be given the opportunity to make one local phone call that the police may not listen in on. Know beforehand who you’re going to call.
-Kayla Regan, Current Conditions