Even if you’re following the law, being detained by the police is a stressful encounter. Although police are here to serve and protect, you also need to look out for yourself. If a police officer is suspicious of you, they’re fully capable and willing to lie to you and trick you in order to gather evidence.
If you want to experience police encounters with the least amount of stress as possible while also protecting your rights, read on to learn our top 7 tips on what to do when you’re detained by police.
Table of Contents
1. Behavior and Appearance
In any encounter with police, be aware of your behavior and appearance. While it’s ultimately out of your control how a police officer treats you, you can increase the chances of making the encounter easier. Remain calm, respectful, and polite. Don’t give the police officer any concrete reason to establish their authority or control.
Make sure that your hands are visible at all times, especially during traffic stops, and never touch a police officer, even in a non-threatening manner. If you do need to use your hands, inform the officer of what you’re doing. “Officer, I’m going to reach into my glovebox to get my insurance information.”
2. Awareness of Surroundings
In any encounter, be aware of your surroundings. See if there are any witnesses around you if you feel that the encounter is escalating. Ask for the officer’s name and badge number, especially if the officer is in plain clothes.
You’re also within your rights to record your encounter with the police officer, which is recommended if you feel that your rights are being infringed on and there aren’t any witnesses. Simply tell the officer in a polite manner that you’re recording for your own peace of mind.
3. Exercise Your Rights
If you’re not under arrest, you’re free to go. However, police won’t always make this apparent as they try to collect more evidence. Ask the officer if you’re free to go.
If the officer continues to ask questions, especially if they make you uncomfortable, remember that anything you say and do can be used against you. It’s better to invoke your right to silence and right to an attorney.
If the officer continues to ask questions, simply state in a polite manner, “I want to be silent, and I want to speak with an attorney.” They may not be happy with this answer, but they’ll understand it.
Remember that if the officer states that you’re being detained, you’re required to give your name, address, and date of birth. This is all you’re required to give.
4. Don’t Consent to Searches
If an officer conducts a traffic stop and asks if they can search your car, you are under no obligation or requirement to oblige them. Respond, “I don’t consent to a search. I respect my privacy.” If the officer consists on searching your car or starts to search it without your consent, make sure you get their name and badge number. However, don’t escalate the situation by getting out of your car, raising your voice, or trying to drive away.
5. Identifying Officers
Women may feel cautious when being pulled over by a cop, especially when they’re in an unmarked vehicle. Although it’s an extremely rare occurrence when someone is impersonating a police officer, if you want to make sure, turn on your hazard lights and slow down, but keep your window rolled up and your door locked.
As you drive towards a public place, such as a parking lot or gas station, call 911 and inform the dispatcher of your suspicion. Ask them if a unit is following your car and give your license plate number and vehicle description.
6. The Vampire Rule
Think of police officers as vampires. The popular myth is that vampires are unable to enter your home or private property if you don’t invite them in. Police operate under the same rules.
Ask the officer through the door what they want. If they need to talk to you, step outside and close your door. If the officer doesn’t have a warrant, they can’t enter your home. Simply state in a polite and friendly manner, “I value my privacy and don’t give you permission to enter my home.”
7. Cops Can Lie
Remember that cops aren’t required to tell you the truth. If they believe that lying to you or tricking to you will advance their evidence gathering process, they will without hesitation – it’s what they’re trained to do.
One of the most common things they’ll say is that things will go easier for you if you comply with all their requests and answer all their questions. This is a lie – it will be easier for them, and harder for you.
Protect Your Rights When Detained by Police
Protecting your rights and also having a peaceful, civil encounter while you’re being detained by police isn’t impossible. By remaining courteous, keeping your hands visible, asking pertinent questions, and exercising your rights by remaining silent and not consenting to searches, you can retain control and continue with your day peacefully.
It may seem easier and more polite to answer all their questions, allow them to search your car, and allow them to hold you up, but you can still protect your rights while presenting a polite demeanor. How the officer response is out of your control – but you have their name, badge number, and the witness of other people or a recording if things go awry.
Want to learn about more ways to protect your rights? Keep reading our blog for more informative articles!