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THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A GUIDE FOR THE COMMUNITY THIS IS NOT A LEGAL ADVISOR. FOR LEGAL ADVISE PLEASE CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY!

What to do when stopped by the police

B-CAP was founded as a grassroots organization committed to protecting and serving the people. The fact that police violence has reached epidemic proportions has lead to a need for a workshop which advises the citizens of this country, especially young people how to reduce their chances of being victims of police violence. Just imagine this scenario:

Where are you going?
Where do you live?
Who do you think you are?

The police frequently ask these types of questions. It is the answer to these questions coupled with the presence of a police officer that can create major problems for the police officer and you. Many times there is a reason for the officer to question you, even when it doesn't seem like it. The officer could be responding to area complaints or answering a dispatched call regarding a crime recently committed in the area. You may be the suspect, have information or the officer may believe that you need assistance.

Regardless of the reason for the police contact, you may feel that the way that the police officer has detained, questioned or interacted with you is a violation of your right! It very well may be. However, overreacting to the officer's may result in an escalation of the situation.

Hopefully, this information will teach some of us how to determine a "war" from a "battle." So that we learn where and how to respond when stopped by the police.

The Stop On The Street Corner

Many citizens complain that the police officer stopped them for no apparent reason. If the police officer stops you, he/she believes that they have a good reason (probable cause) to stop you. This is the "battle" that does not have to become a "war." If you believe that you are being stopped for no good reason. Do not debate the issue on the street.

Take a deep breath and develop your strategy, which will be used later when you file your complaint. Remain calm. Take notes on the following:

   The officer's name
   badge & car number
   physical description
   witnesses
   time of day
   location.

Here are some of the variables that the police may consider before stopping or questioning you:

  • You appear to be suspicious (walk, talk, balk).
  • Your crew (crowd) is dirty (breaking the law).
  • You are running for no reason.
  • You happen to be visiting an abandoned house (hello! Is anybody home?).
  • Your possessions are hot (stolen) car, bike.
  • You refuse to provide basic info like, your name, if in a car, vehicle credentials, or while on a bike you don't know where you are going.
  • A witness identifies you as a suspect, even if you know that you are not. You will get your day in court.
  • You call the police officer everything except officer.
  • You fit a radio broadcast description.

Despite all of this you still do not have to answer questions which may incriminate you. The police officer must respect this.

The Motor Vehicle Stop

The police officer can pull you over at any time. We recommend that you follow the police officer's directions. Again, if it becomes a "battle" remain calm. By law, you are required to produce you driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance card. Failure to produce either can result in a ticket or possibly arrest.

To avoid any mistakes upon pulling over turn on the interior light. Power down your windows, especially if they are tinted, back and front, hopefully, this will put the officer at ease. Lastly, keep both hands on the steering wheel until told otherwise by the police officer.

If the officer is going to write you a ticket, save the complaint for the courtroom. Don't get a ticket because you escalated the situation.

The Police Knock At The Front Door

You do not have to let the police in your home unless they have a warrant, which is signed by the proper authority, usually, a judge or a magistrate. Request to see the warrant. If the warrant is legitimate, you must let the police officers in. Ensure that the warrant has the correct name and address. If it is a search warrant, make certain that there is a list of items that they are searching for.

If there is no warrant, attempt to resolve the matter. If you doubt that the people at your door are the police ask to see their badges and identification card. You may consider calling the police station for a supervisor. Don't allow a search of your home if there is no warrant and you object.

If the police search anyhow, document everything. It will become important when you file your complaint. If they take property, get a receipt.

If a person is arrested in your home, the officers can do a warrantless search of the person arrested and the area where the person was arrested.

Remember, if there is an emergency in your home/apartment i.e. someone is being assaulted and needs assistance, domestic violence or if someone is pursued into your home, the police officers in pursuit can search for the suspect.

  • If the police are questioning you, they must believe that they have a right to. If you believe that they do not, follow the guidelines.
  • Stay calm, cool and collected.
  • You can talk your way into or out of a bad situation, if you remain calm and remember what to do when stopped by the police.
  • Remember that a "battle" is a fight that you can afford to walk away from, hide from, run from and live to fight another day. A "war" is when you risk losing everything including your life.

Think everything through because the life you save may be your own.

Where have you seen Sergeant Delacy Davis?

  • Oprah
  • Maury Povitch
  • Ricki Lake
  • Nightline

  • Tavis Smiley
  • Hardball
  • Fox Files
  • CBS Morning Show
What should you do when stopped by the police? To make a donation, schedule a workshop or seminar in your community, contact Sergeant Davis at:

Black Cops Against Police Brutality B-CAP
P.O. Box 4256
East Orange, New Jersey 07019
(973)926-5717

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