How to Handle being Approached by Law Enforcement as a POC?
This year alone has caused a whirlwind of controversy and divide with the killings and brutality regarding people of color. Video evidence shows that despite corporations, several have lost their lives. People of color statistically have significantly different interactions with law enforcement than those not of color.
As someone who is a person of color, I feel as though there is a specific protocol that we need to follow. So I am here to give you my tips on how to handle law enforcement as a person of color to avoid the worst-case scenario.
- First things first, Remain calm. This is a MUST. Remaining calm and listening not only ensures you understand your rights but it can help to prevent an altercation.
- Never run or resist any kind of arrest. Even if you’re afraid. Black and brown people have been known to be shot while running. The Andrew Brown case is a prime example of what happens when you turn your back to law enforcement. Resisting arrest can lead to “accidental” death as we’ve seen in the George Floyd case as well as Daniel Prude.
- One of those most difficult things to do is restrain from talking back. But one thing you can say is “I want to remain silent.“ Refusing to remain silent, legally will not result in arrest or detainment. Instead of talking back to the officer, you can actively choose to follow instructions and report misconduct later. When reporting misconduct, make sure to include as much detail as possible.
- When being searched or asked if you can be searched, you can respectfully decline by stating “I do not consent to a search”. If the police proceed to search you, remain calm and try not to reach for your waistband or anything below the waist. You don’t want to do anything that gives the cops a reason to subdue you.
- If anything, ask for a lawyer. Never make hasty decisions.
- Keep interactions as brief as possible. For example, if the cops ask you for anything other than your name, keep it private. Revealing too much can lead to unnecessary questions or go as far as giving a false confession under duress. It goes hand-in-hand with remaining silent. The less you say and the more you cooperate, the quicker you can remove yourself from that situation.
- Most importantly, always remember your rights! Anything you say can and will be used against you. Never speak without a lawyer present if brought into the station. Doing so can be used against you. But if you didn’t do anything wrong, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
- Keep your hands above the waist and in plain sight at all times. This will ensure that the officer knows what you’re doing and can prevent any altercation.
There are various ways to go about handling the police whether you get stopped in your car, being physically brought into the station, or simply walking, these are some basic protocols to help ensure your safety, The world we currently live in is a scary place and for people of color to always be on guard is tiring. But at the end of the day, it is important to know how to handle law enforcement as a POC and limit your chances of becoming another statistic.
Source (s): Hupy and Abraham, S.C. (n.d.). 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. https://www.hupy.com/library/10-rules-for-dealing-with-police.cfm
ProPublica. (2020, February 13). Deadly Force, in Black and White. https://www.propublica.org/article/deadly-force-in-black-and-white