For Years we have been facing a lot of issues with our police forces. Most of these issues could have been avoided if only the victims had a little understanding and knowledge of their basic Constitutional Rights. The reason why I chose this topic was because many of us just like myself didn’t pay attention to these things or simply didn’t care until it happened to me. That´s why I want to take this opportunity to inform you about why it is crucial that you know your rights and how to protect yourselves. In this discussion I will talk about what to say and what not to say whenever you are confronted by a Police Officer. How to Audio or Video Record the Police when you are stopped and why, and last but not least, when to question their Authority and why.
After the Boston Marathon Bombings on April 15th, 2013, America turned more into a Police State than ever before. Martial Law was enforced in order to capture the last surviving terrorist known as Dzhokar Tsarnaeve . A complete Locked down was ordered all around Boston. Many would say it was a necessary by Special Forces to capture a 19 year old Terrorist, but many others do not agree. The majority of American citizens are outraged at the fact that these procedures were conducted at Gunpoint and most importantly; these citizens were dragged out of their own homes without a Warrant. I am pretty sure many of you have had a situation in which the police have searched your vehicle, homes or property without a warrant singed by a Court Judge. Those of you who haven’t yet experienced that I will be teaching you a few rules as to what to say and not to say when a situation like that presents itself.
When Driving a Vehicle and you are stopped by a Police Office, you should always keep your cool. In other words, never disrespect an officer even if you know you didn’t do anything wrong. Clearly and calmly ask the officer why you were stopped, and provide them with ID when asked. Believe it or not, there are a few good officers out there who are doing their jobs. That’s why you shouldn’t disrespect them in anyway and let them do their job. If the Police asks you to search your vehicle, you should always state ¨I do not consent to searches¨. In order to search your vehicle an Officer needs to have a warrant. In many cases these simple words might not be enough to stop an officer from searching your vehicle if she-he believes you are in any suspicion of criminal activities. However if she or he damages anything in that vehicle for instance your work laptop, or clothing, etc… The State will be responsible to pay for the damages when you take this case to court.
Another common issue many of us have encountered is when a Police Officer breaks into your homes with no Warrants. Some of them come in when they please or some of them will politely ask you to let them in your homes to inform you about a police program, etc. Once you let them in your homes there is nothing you could do if they find any illegal substances or weapons or anything they might consider illegal. They will arrest you even if it isn’t yours. If they knock on your doors, always tell them the following ¨I cant let you in without a Warrant¨
Peoples rights are violated every day for no particular reason. Some of you might not even know it. It could be while you are walking down the streets, going to school or a simple Border Patrol Check. What many of us are not aware about is that some of these stops are illegal. You are protected Under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution which clearly states that ¨The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…¨ If you have been stopped by a Police Officer and asked to provide ID you could always refuse to do so. It is your right under New York State Law not to provide ID if you are not doing anything wrong or illegal or not driving a vehicle. Please Note’ that in some cases this might lead an Officer to ask more questions that you do not need to answer. Do not answer any questions you do not feel comfortable with. In this case the Officer has to two options. Either to detain you, or let you leave. You should always ask the Officer ¨ Are you detaining me or am I free to go?¨ Since the officer has no reason to detain you he will let you go. However some bad cops like to trick you into believing that the only way of getting away from the situation is if you cooperate and answer their questions. Do not fall for that. Some will tell you that you are detained. If you are not involved in any criminal activity there is no reason why a cop should detain you. You are protected by the 5th Amendment which states ¨No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be Deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of Law¨. Always ask for the Officer´s name and badge number and ask to speak to his supervisor immediately . It is his obligation by law to provide you with that information. If the problem escalates to another level and the Officer gets aggressive, always Audio or Video Record their behavior. Before you start recording make sure you let them know that you will be either Audio or Video Recording them. Be advised, some of these bad cops do not like to be recorded and will threaten to arrest you if you do not turn the audio or camera off. It is not against the law to record a Police officer. Under the Wire Tap Law in NYS, you are protected by law to record a person if ¨One party to the conversation Consent in this case, yourself. If you are a bystander walking by and witness a Police Officer abusing a person's rights, you can always record them as long as the victim consents. This will help the victim or yourself with proof in court.
This new Generation of Officers or Rookies just join the Police Force and don’t know what they are doing. Some of them just like to abuse their Authority. If you are experiencing these types of treatments by a Police Officer you should always question their Authority. Letting them know that you know your rights, might have them be extra cautious about violating them. If you are pulled over and you have to sign a summons, it is always recommended to sign the document or your could be subject to arrest. But you always have the right to question them about what you are signing and what could happen if you don’t sign. By law the Officer needs to explain in details what it is exactly that you are signing and why. In some instances some Officer will threaten you to sign the paper just because they want to intimidate you. If you are ever forced to sign a Summons or any documentations you should always sign them Under Duress. This means that you are signing those documents because you were threaten and not because you had a choice. This could be very useful in case you need to fight the case in court. Some instances these Officers don’t really care if you know your rights or not and will arrest you for not cooperating. Do not fight an arrest. Always do as you are told, and never confront an Officer. Many of us have been victims of Police Brutality because we do not know how to keep our mouths shot. If you say things that you are not supposed to, this might lead into another level or even be hard for your lawyer to fight your case.
Anything you say could be and will be held against you in a court of law. Many of us don’t understand what the words ¨You have the right to remain silent really means . Always Note that you have the right to remain silent and have the right to an Attorney under the 6th Amendment which states ¨ In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to have the assistance of Counsel for his or her Defense¨
If you know your constitutional Rights, confronting a Police Officer will be a lot easier. Knowing what to say and what not to say will help you manage the situation appropriately in order to prevent the situation from escalating into another level. Providing Audio or Video footage of the confrontation will help bring those abusive Cops to justice and will be fundamental for your case when presenting it to court. Also, knowing when to question their Authority will make them extra cautious about abusing your rights as an individual.
To find out more about The Bill of Rights, Boston Lockdown, The Wire Tap Law, and Police Brutality go to the following websites’
Wire Tap Law ‘ Google ‘
Police Brutality ‘Google’
Constitution of Bill Of Rights ´Google´
Boston Lockdown ´Google´
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