"Respectfully officer, I don't have to answer that."
August 14, 2014 10:52 AM   Subscribe

 
"Respectfully officer, I don't have to answer that. But I imagine that if I choose to be non-compliant that you might make my life as difficult as possible and this may or may not lead to me being arrested and/or much much worse."
posted by Fizz at 10:59 AM on August 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


Recommended soundtrack for this post (and for this week in general): "Yes, Officer" by Greg Ginn.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:01 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


DARE/Police Decals are warning signs? Heh.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:03 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Never: Answer Questions

Seriously?
posted by craven_morhead at 11:04 AM on August 14, 2014


Seriously.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:07 AM on August 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


> Seriously?

Yes, Never
posted by Gev at 11:07 AM on August 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


If anyone else was wondering why a slim jim would be paraphernalia (I originally thought it was a joke about stoners...): slim jim is also the name for a tool used to open locked car doors.
posted by myelin sheath at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


This isn't totally accurate. Since Missouri v. McNeely blood draws can only be done without a warrant in cases of exigent circumstances. You can, however, expect most police forces to have a judge on duty who will sign off on electronic warrants in short order.

Also, at least for California, the summary on when you have to show your id is simplified to the point of uselessness.
posted by bswinburn at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Craven: Seriously.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:09 AM on August 14, 2014


I appreciate what people are trying to accomplish with these things, but I feel like there is a lot of "know your rights" advice that, in any given encounter I've had with a cop, would have led immediately to an escalation and a potentially much worse outcome instead of to me just driving/walking away a few minutes later.

I know this is in part because I'm a white dude, and because (despite looking like a dirty hippie) I haven't run into a cop determined that I'm a good candidate for a drug bust. Still, I'm a little conflicted about how to feel about this and what to do in an actual talking-to-the-police situation.
posted by brennen at 11:10 AM on August 14, 2014 [17 favorites]


I just get by with an MP3 of The Clash's "Know Your Rights" on my iPhone.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:11 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seriously?

Yes. Watch Gev's link.
posted by odinsdream at 11:12 AM on August 14, 2014


Also, this is a completely confusing "infographic". It's more a pile of bulletpoints arranged in some weird-ass way that adds no new information.
posted by odinsdream at 11:13 AM on August 14, 2014 [44 favorites]


this is in part because I'm a white dude

Then you needn't worry! Don't answer questions even if it means a little crappier outcome for you this one time in order to help normalize citizen defensiveness with police in general. Get those fuckers used to people flexing their rights, train them.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on August 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


Officer, you want the truth? You can't HANDLE THE TRUTH. Probably because the truth is an idea, not a phyiscal object, which prevents you from handling it. I rest my case.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:14 AM on August 14, 2014 [37 favorites]


Bill de Blasio: "When a police officer comes to the decision that it’s time to arrest someone, that individual is obligated to submit to arrest."
posted by frijole at 11:18 AM on August 14, 2014


What your rights actually were at the time will be figured out after the fact in court.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:20 AM on August 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Obligatory: Dale Carson's Arrest-Proof Yourself [Amazon link]

Quoting myself from elsewhere:
In the US since the late 1980's, getting arrested for any (and no) reason has become a huge socioeconomic problem as many employers, including low-tier employers, run background checks on prospective employees that flag subjects in the Federal NCIC database which records all arrests regardless of conviction, acquittal, guilt, or innocence.

As a result, many people (but especially black males and LNWI's, or Low Net Worth Individuals) are relegated to a lifetime of poor employment prospects, unable to land jobs even as burger-flippers. This is true even if these arrestees are innocent!

Dale Carson, a criminal defense attorney with experience as a police officer and an FBI agent, has written a book called "Arrest-Proof Yourself" which basically makes the argument that individuals should do anything they can (within the law) to avoid arrest for the simple fact that in the United States being arrested will bring incalculable financial harm to people who find themselves arrested for any reason.

The book is enlightening and can be profitably be read by almost everyone, even if one's risk of arrest is low.

posted by mistersquid at 11:21 AM on August 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


I feel like there is a lot of "know your rights" advice that, in any given encounter I've had with a cop, would have led immediately to an escalation and a potentially much worse outcome instead of to me just driving/walking away a few minutes later.

I'm going to go ahead and say that the officer who escalates based on somebody standing up for their rights is likely to escalate based on anything; it's a no-win situation. These are all recommendations based on protecting the individual from self-incriminating, even accidentally, even when they have done nothing wrong.

Some officers overreact. Some are just wired wrong. Some know that being aggressive and bullying is a great way to get people to stop standing up for their own rights, and so it is a tactic. These suggestions will work better for some people than others, obviously, as we have seen that some police are willing to execute Americans simply because of the color of their skin. But how may people of the same color are in jail, serving time, because they didn't stand up for themselves?

There's really no good way to deal with a bad cop. All we have to protect us at all are our constitutionally mandated rights.
posted by maxsparber at 11:22 AM on August 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


I just really dislike these things in practice although in principle they are great. I'm not ever going to lecture someone non-white about how they should know their rights and argue about it vs not getting beaten to death on the side of the road in front of their kids.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on August 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


While we're talking soundtracks, my preferred one is the excellent informative and instructive song by the original DIY punk band, the Desperate Bicycles: "Advice on Arrest." Unfortunately UK-specific and probably rather dated at this point, but some stuff in there is still good.
posted by koeselitz at 11:26 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm understanding the "DRUG CHECKPOINT 1 MILE" thing. Are they saying that if I see a sign for an upcoming drug checkpoint, and I choose to exit the road before that checkpoint, the cops will pull me over for... exiting the road?
posted by Flunkie at 11:26 AM on August 14, 2014


I just really dislike these things in practice although in principle they are great. I'm not ever going to lecture someone non-white about how they should know their rights and argue about it vs not getting beaten to death on the side of the road in front of their kids.

I agree with this -- I think this information is helpful for people (like me) who don't have that much experience with the cops for the same reasons (skin color, socioeconomic privilege, whatever) that it is much safer for them to stand up for their rights. I think that if this is the first time you're hearing about any of this stuff it might well be safe, if scary, to do it, and you should if you can, but if you're reading this advice and thinking "that won't work for me" you're probably right and I trust you to know your position in relationship to law enforcement better than I do.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:27 AM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is it just me, or are there sections of that graphic that make no sense? It's all in this terse, abbreviated bullet-point-english that seems to render a lot of it incomprehensible. The whole thing hits me as if I had walked-in in the middle of the discussion.

That said, most of the stuff I did understand were firmly in the "yeah...saying this will get my ass kicked" column.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:27 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm understanding the "DRUG CHECKPOINT 1 MILE" thing. Are they saying that if I see a sign for an upcoming drug checkpoint, and I choose to exit the road before that checkpoint, the cops will pull me over for... exiting the road?

Whenever I've seen those, there aren't any more exits before the drug checkpoint, so to get off the road, you have to do something illegal. Then they pull you over for driving across the median or your ill-advised U-turn and look for drugs while they have you. Whereas if you just keep going and act calm, there's a decent chance you'll get waved through with a cursory glance. (Well, that's what happens to white, middle-aged pastors and college professors. YMMV.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2014


If you just say the right words in the right order to the cop, he'll be forced to not abuse his power!
posted by anazgnos at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2014 [27 favorites]


It's slightly wrong in that the "investigative detention" level of stop allows for frisking, where the officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that you may be armed, and the frisk can only be to search for weapons. If a search for weapons turns up something else that is clearly contraband that contraband is admissible as evidence(plain feel exception).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:38 AM on August 14, 2014


I agree with you, elizardbits.

I (a white woman) used to teach a Constitutional law class for graduate students at a predominately black university. Invariably, during my "driving your car is the greatest threat to your civil rights and liberties" lectures about various 4th Amendment stuff, we'd get into the disconnect between what is Constitutionally or legally right and true (both the absolute Constitutionally-protected rights and the more fuzzy Constitutionally-guaranteed privileges and liberties) and what is the actual fact of being a young black man driving around the modern American world. Mostly, I shut up and listened during those classes, particularly the night one of the better students was over 45 minutes late to class, pulled over for supposedly rolling a stop sign and having his entire car searched. He specifically talked about how what he knew from class kept clashing with what he knew about keeping himself safe.

And this was a clean-cut, good-looking, well-educated young man of color, driving through a part of town not known for problems and not really categorized as an specific ethnicity's "part of town".

It's all very well and good to know what is right and expect people to hold police accountable to every citizen's right and privilege to be let alone by police--outside of reasonable articulable suspicion and exigent circumstance. But I can't ask other people to die for that, knowing that I--a middle-aged, middle-class white woman in expensive shoes--will never be stopped or harassed or menaced by a police officer when I'm just trying to get where I am going.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:38 AM on August 14, 2014 [59 favorites]


The infographic telling you what a police officer has the power to do, his or your legal rights aside, is a lot simpler.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:39 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So... you are obliged to carry ID at all times in the US? If so... bloody hell. The only times I carry ID here in the UK is when I'm travelling abroad and need my passport.
posted by Decani at 11:40 AM on August 14, 2014


Decani: You are required to have your driver's license on you if you're driving, but otherwise no.
posted by JDHarper at 11:42 AM on August 14, 2014


you are obliged to carry ID at all times in the US?

Where I live - no. Only if I'm driving (because I have to show proof that I have a valid driving licence) or using public transport (plane, train, bus). Just riding my bike to work - no way.

However, your experience may differ in other states or if you are a different ethnicity than I am.
posted by anastasiav at 11:42 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Non-US question: What does 'Paper Tag' as warning sign mean?
posted by biffa at 11:46 AM on August 14, 2014


A few commenters are saying things like "none of this makes sense and I'd probably have bad results if I tried this". These presumptions are meaningless without being put to the test of an actual encounter with a police officer.

Responding by refusing to divulge information (in a cooperative and respectful way!) is only possible if the cop interviewing you is stupid and corrupt, in which case forget it. But most cops understand that people are afraid of police and stating so (which Carson recommends in his book) goes a long way reaffirming a cop's power (trip), which psychologically is mostly all they're looking for. (Be advised, busting your ass is also a confirmation of their power and if they can do so and get a legit arrest, they'll go for it.)

In his book, Carson discusses about how to be civil, polite, and to let the officer know you know your rights under the law. This tells the cop that in addition to being respectful/fearful, you are probably law-abiding AND knowledgeable and cops will stop fucking with you at that point.

If they keep hassling you, Carson details other strategies.

In any case, when I read bullet points like the ones in the infographic, I read them like I'm reading a Rule Book for a board game called "Arrest the detainee" where I am the detainee and the cop is the inscrutable opponent. The bullets make a lot of sense when viewed that way.

That is, cops want to bust someone, anyone. The bigger the bust (white collar, well-earning, upright-seeming citizen) the better. The reality, though, is that it's easier to bust a bunch of small fry (poor, mentally ill, LNWI's with few resources and little dignity).

Hopefully, you may never find yourself needing to exercise your memory of what that infographic you read back in August 2014 off Metafilter said. But if you ever DO need that advice to avoid being arrested, getting your head out of that bubble of privilege which says "I'm white, law-abiding, and have nothing to hide and these suggestions don't make sense *huff*" will help you out.
posted by mistersquid at 11:47 AM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some states require you to identify yourself, i.e. provide your name, address, and date of birth to an officer if requested. These laws vary from state to state, but I'm not sure if any require you to provide a physical ID.

One of my all time favorite Fourth Amendment violation stories from my days doing criminal defense is of an officer who, on the filmiest of pretenses, stopped my client, conducted a frisk and finding what she believed to be a wallet took it out to discover it to be marijuana. It was like a law school exam question: She didn't have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop him, she had no reason to do think he was armed, so no frisk, she explicitly thought the item she felt was a wallet, which is neither contraband nor a weapon. This all made its way into the police report, too. It was crazy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:47 AM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Non-US question: What does 'Paper Tag' as warning sign mean?

If your license tag is stolen, people will often make a handmade version until they can get it sorted out at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:50 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


So... you are obliged to carry ID at all times in the US?

The infographic does point out that this varies from state to state. You can however, be "detained" for a temporary period while the police verify your identity, or (more likely if it has gotten to this point), figure out some sort of infraction to arrest you for.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:51 AM on August 14, 2014


Non-US question: What does 'Paper Tag' as warning sign mean?

A paper tag, a.k.a. a slap tag, is a piece of graffiti prepared on a self-adhesive label which can be applied at the user's discretion.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:52 AM on August 14, 2014


Just look 'em straight in the eye and calmly say these words: "These aren't the droids you're looking for, officer."

Works for me every time.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:52 AM on August 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm understanding the "DRUG CHECKPOINT 1 MILE" thing.

I encountered one of these signs while moving from LA to DC about 10 or so years ago. It was placed just before an exit (like 10-20 feet), and since I had some "herbal remedies" with me I was tempted to pull off. There was another sign at that exit that said No Services, and I quickly realized that pulling off there would look very suspicious. Figured I'd just keep my fingers crossed when I got to the checkpoint.

There was no checkpoint - they'd put the sign there 100% to convince people like me to try and avoid it. I'm sure I would been pulled over immediately and asked where I was headed. As I had no idea where that road went, that would have been enough probable cause to search my car.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:53 AM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah I was driving in LA once late on a Saturday night and they had a big DRUNK DRIVER CHECKPOINT sign right before this red light that'd let you make a left into a parking lot for an empty store. The parking lot is, obviously, where most of the cops were waiting, the actual checkpoint was one bored cop waving people through.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:55 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you just say the right words in the right order to the cop, he'll be forced to not abuse his power!

Especially when he realizes you're a sovereign nation!
posted by yoink at 11:57 AM on August 14, 2014 [24 favorites]


When you drive on I70 from Colorado (where marijuana is legal) into Kansas (where it is not), there are signs warning of roadblocks with drug-sniffing dogs. They're a bluff. Creeepy. Such a roadblock would not be constitutional. I had some Colorado agricultural product with me, pulled off where there was a sign for a store, a cop came and questioned me, but I am a gray-haired female and didn't get searched. My handicapped relative appreciated the gift from Colorado.

I got pulled over for speeding in Nevada, and I think I was driving well below the 60 the cop claimed, because I was pulling over to have lunch. The cop tried to entrap me by asking a lot of questions, until I finally said, I don't understand why you're asking me these questions. Am I free to go? I had nothing illicit in the car, but it was still unsettling and nasty. Most places in the US are safe, most cops are honest, but there's so much tolerance for the places where these things are not true.
posted by theora55 at 11:59 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Paper Tag - in some cases, a car will have a valid paper license tag, usually a temporary tag on a new car. Easy to make a fake one. Still, not that hard to steal real plates if you're motivated. The Oklahoma City Bomber, Tim McVeigh was stopped for driving without a license plate.
posted by theora55 at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2014


With how police in the US are these days I'm kind of surprised by how much, "Call the police," advice there still is in AskMe.
posted by ODiV at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


What your rights actually were at the time will be figured out after the fact in court.

There's actually some truth to this. That is, while it's certainly true that "knowing your rights" doesn't magically get the police to actually acknowledge of respect those rights, it's important, nonetheless to recognize what is and what is not a lawful order from the cops. It doesn't mean you want to get into a shouting match with the cops or start to resist them physically or what have you if they continue to insist on some unlawful demand, but it does mean that if you say "I don't consent to this search" and they go ahead and perform the search in any case, your odds of getting that whatever that search lead to tossed out as inadmissible go up.

None of which helps all that much if you're a poor black kid and no one is recording the encounter, of course.
posted by yoink at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Non-US question: What does 'Paper Tag' as warning sign mean?

In my area, when you buy a car, you sometimes get a cardboard or "paper" temporary tag from the dealership to display until you get a real, metal plate from the DMV.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:03 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm really curious about how the police decals made it on there. Used to be that PBA stickers were like your free ticket out of detention.
posted by corb at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2014


With how police in the US are these days I'm kind of surprised by how much, "Call the police,"

Well, we do get a rather distorted view of what your average citizen's average every-day encounter with the police is like from the news. "Cop does reasonable day's work" is hardly TV news, is it? Even in predominantly black neighborhoods citizen efforts are usually concentrated on getting more police presence than less. None of which is any excuse for the cops who do abuse their authority, of course, but it's not as if "call the police when X bad thing happens to you" is in any statistical sense inherently bad advice.
posted by yoink at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm really curious about how the police decals made it on there. Used to be that PBA stickers were like your free ticket out of detention.

I suspect the distinction is between those organizations that directly benefit cops and those that don't.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:08 PM on August 14, 2014


If there is a chronic, deep breakdown in trust between us and the police, thenI guess we'll all start wearing "recording/transmit to remote server in real time" tags of our own accord. Unless the police do. (Which, in the UK at least, they increasingly are.)
posted by Devonian at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2014


Here is my Daily Kos diary of just such an incident. This was my highest rated diary ever.
posted by Repack Rider at 12:10 PM on August 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


However, your experience may differ in other states or if you are a different ethnicity than I am.

Or if you're a non-citizen. LPRs are required to have their green card available at all times.

Note also wrt Decani's question: the situation with drivers documentation (licence etc) is different in the UK, where drivers are not strictly required to carry their documentation. If you're unable to show it when requested by police, you are required to subsequently produce it at a police station within seven days (a "producer").
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:11 PM on August 14, 2014


As detailed in this New Yorker article, Tyrone Hood went to the police station with his friend in 1993 to submit to police questioning and his friend ended up fingering Hood for committing a murder in exchange for being let go. Hood is still in prison, despite (probably) being innocent.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 12:11 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I were black, I think I would try my best to follow Chris Rock's advice. I realize it's problematic in that it seems slightly "victim-blamey", but in the end, I would not try to "stand up for my rights" -- frankly, I wish I had the courage to do it as a white dude, but I don't, I can't imagine being black in the US. :(
posted by symbioid at 12:12 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here is Supreme Court Justice Byron "Whizzer" White in his comment on Terry V. Ohio:

There is nothing in the Constitution which prevents a policeman from addressing questions to anyone on the streets. Absent special circumstances, the person approached may not be detained or frisked, but may refuse to cooperate and go on his way. However, given the proper circumstances, such as those in this case, it seems to me the person may be briefly detained against his will while pertinent questions are directed to him. Of course, the person stopped is not obliged to answer, answers may not be compelled, and refusal to answer furnishes no basis for an arrest, although it may alert the officer to the need for continued observation.
posted by Repack Rider at 12:13 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


In fact, yes - I almost got my ass kicked when I didn't hear the cop car behind me, when I did I wanted to pull over to a safe place (out of the way of traffic - etc...) I was pulling into a parking lot to get over, and he pulled out in front of me to block me (I was going very slow and cautious, dude, seriously) I roll down my window to see his hand ready to draw what I *hope* was a taser, and SCREAMING at me. Because I hadn't heard him or seen him until I'd pulled off onto my exit ramp and then I saw him. It was terrifying. I was crying for like an hour after that, I skipped my lunch and just went home. And who the fuck is gonna report it? He let me off without a ticket or anything after I broke out bawling and clearly shaken.

And they wonder why we fucking hate them.
posted by symbioid at 12:17 PM on August 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


Anecdotally I have been detained by police in the US and outright arrested by foreign police in a country where more citizens resemble me than otherwise, and the experiences were vastly, wildly different. Being hauled off to jail by the Guardia Civil was nowhere near as terrifying as being pulled over by Florida staties.

A friend of mine who is white and british had a very different experience with the GC but in their sort of defense the initial situation was massively, horribly different.
posted by elizardbits at 12:20 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


None of this is personal safety advice, except for the clear admonitions to not argue, not interfere, not fail to comply with instructions, and above all NOT FIGHT the cops. As noted above, all the advice regarding how to refuse questions and how to refuse consent to search and how to request permission to leave are all about trying to weaken any case being built against you when it's tried in court.
Any questions answered after you have expressed refusal might be considered answered under duress depending on other factors. Such answers might be inadmissable.
Any evidence gathered during a search expressly denied might be considered inadmissable.
Any "success" police gain after you have requested to leave might be considered inadmissable and any such detention might be ruled illegal.
There's a huge depth of case law about how long you can be detained and/or questioned once you have refused and/or asked to leave, in the absence of "probable cause" or plain-view evidence of contraband or criminal activity.
PROVIDING consent, ANSWERING questions, and VOLUNTARILY staying around will NOT help you in court if you get charged on the evidence thus obtained.
IANAL.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


FWIW: I was arrested as a child and had watched enough TV to know I had the right to remain silent, which I did. The police report had long statements from me. Fortunately, the cop decided not to show up for my hearing.

Cops lie routinely. It's easier than looking up their notes (if they bother to take them) and juries are picked to believe them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:27 PM on August 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


It says that you shouldn't lie or argue, but not one word about whether you should spoil Game of Thrones.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Cops lie routinely. It's easier than looking up their notes (if they bother to take them) and juries are picked to believe them.

I'm tentatively hopeful that the trend toward putting cameras on cop cars/cops will make this better, but Lord is it bad right now. Every search is consensual, every person stopped with a B.B. gun announces that they keep it "for protection" without any prompting or questioning, drivers confess to having had ten beers. It completely strains credibility, but in each individual case, with a officer who's basically a professional witness, and his partner backing him up, there's not much that can be done.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:34 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]




I'm sure holding up a "bust card" when you've been stopped and reciting off it won't antagonize an officer at all.... Probably better to memorize it ahead of time.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:43 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Interesting perspective on the advice to "call the police" by Slate's Emily Bazelon about why years of observing the police and writing about law and law enforcement has lead her to a place where she is much less likely to call the police in any situation outside of being personally actively threatened. I tend to agree with her.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:43 PM on August 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


oops, meant to also link to ODIV's comment about ask.me advice to "call the police"
posted by crush-onastick at 12:45 PM on August 14, 2014


I'm strongly anticpating that dashcams are going to become commonplace in the US, as they are in Russia. There, it's because they have shitloads of accidents and insurers demand a high burden of proof before they'll pay out. It's incredibly cheap to just record continuous video these days, to the point where the marginal cost is so low that it's worth doing almost irrespective of the likelihood that you'll need it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:46 PM on August 14, 2014


So... you are obliged to carry ID at all times in the US?

No. No U.S. State requires residents to carry ID (if we ignore the fact that every state imposes a requirement to carry a driver license when operating a vehicle on public property). About half of the States have a Stop and identify law. None of those laws impose a general requirement to carry ID, the closest is Colorado, where peace officers are authorized to require those that they have stopped to show their ID if they are carrying ID.
posted by RichardP at 12:46 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


When you drive on I70 from Colorado (where marijuana is legal) into Kansas (where it is not)... & I'm strongly anticipating that dashcams are going to become commonplace in the US, as they are in Russia.

I'd never been pulled over in my entire life, mostly because I'm a pretty slow, pretty defensive driver, until they passed the legalization law. I've been pulled over about 20 times the last 6 months for what could only be called Driving While Coloradoan in Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Kansas, and the Dakotas. I've been pulled over every time I've gone to Utah. It's been terrifying each time, to the point where I've now got both a dash cam and a gopro mounted near my steering wheel that I switch on (mostly for the audio) and is unobtrusive enough they won't see it.

I also usually keep pepper spray & a shotgun behind the seat back in my truck for self-defense (I'm a lone woman who travels in rural areas a lot - it's not because I think I can shoot someone, but because there's no sound in the world like a shotgun being pumped and it would also make a great club). I'm considering giving up keeping both these things because it's been such a source of stress when I've been pulled over. That's the situation - something I keep around for situations where I might be in danger, most likely rape, is something I'm considering not taking with me because of what happens with the police when they pull me over for no reason.
posted by barchan at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


I'm strongly anticpating that dashcams are going to become commonplace in the US, as they are in Russia.

I wonder if they'll start marketing this as something built into cars by the manufacturer? It seems like an obviously marketable feature. It would undoubtedly do wonders for police behavior if they routinely suspected that they were on camera and on microphone when they approached a car (and when the cameras/mics were not ones they could rip out of anyone's hands).
posted by yoink at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


It says that you shouldn't lie or argue, but not one word about whether you should spoil Game of Thrones.

This is my new tactic dealing with cops. The chances of them being readers is vanishingly small.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Someone should create a browser game that simulates different confrontations with cops, and tasks you with making legally correct decisions under time pressure. I'm only half joking—this stuff is tricky enough when you're just sitting at your computer reading the web, and it doesn't get easier when there's an actual dude with a gun screaming at you, who may or may not be willing to kick your ass (or worse), and trying to remember exactly what your rights are in the present situation (or determine what the present situation actually is).

(Obviously, there are plenty of cops who don't care how the law expects them to behave, and anyone who thinks that following a flowchart like this renders you immune to police abuse is mistaken. Still, more knowledge is better than less.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:08 PM on August 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Twice in the last two weeks I have driven by a cop while smoking a hand-rolled cigarette and going a little less than five mph over the speed limit.

I'm a white lady in a silver SUV. They don't even look at me. I can only imagine the response if I were a black guy.

This fucking country, man.
posted by dogheart at 1:17 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hm. My phone sits in a dock on the console of my car when I drive. A few practiced swipes will start A/V recording without unlocking it. Probably a good habit to get into if you get pulled over.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:21 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seems like this stuff needs to get more popular.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:26 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you just say the right words in the right order to the cop, he'll be forced to not abuse his power!

Especially when he realizes you're a sovereign nation!




Yes, then he'll have to get the Navy involved.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Someone should create a browser game that simulates different confrontations with cops, and tasks you with making legally correct decisions under time pressure.

It should randomly assign you your starting race for maximum difficulty.
posted by elizardbits at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yeah, not accurate.

An officer can't delete footage on your phone. Period. A warrant isn't going to give this right. That would be prior restraint.

I carry a lawyer's card in my wallet. It says I am under representation and am invoking my right to remain silent. Other than verbally identifying myself I never intend to talk to a cop again.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:29 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


It should randomly assign you your starting race for maximum difficulty.

Or the opposite; a female friend of Asian parentage tells me that she's basically invisible to the police.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


My dad was a cop in a small town, think Andy Griffith type situation. When I went to college he told me very clearly that I was never to consent to a search, or volunteer any information when questioned by the police. I was to ask if I was being detained, if I was being arrested and if so on what charge. And I was never, ever to pull over in a dark parking lot to be given a ticket.

I was a pretty good kid and never really expected to have any interaction with the cops, so I took his advice as yet another sign Daddy was paranoid and filed it away.

Fast forward a few years when I was picking up my boyfriend after the bar closed, I was completely sober, but driving an old VW with lots of hippie stickers and seconds after I pulled out of the bar parking lot, I saw blue lights.

I pulled into the next parking lot that was well lit, and waited for the officer. Who proceeded to ask me if I was drunk, how much I'd had, and then without waiting for me to answer started to open the back door of my car. I told him to stop, got out of the car like he told me and proceeded to recite what my father had taught me years ago. No sir, you cannot look in my car. No sir. No sir. I'm okay with waiting until you get a warrant. Yes sir I realize how late it is and you can still not look in my car.

He bluffed a good bit but finally gave up in the face of my "No, sir." onslaught.

I went home. Told my dad about it and he said, "Good job. He was going to plant something in your car." Found out the next day that one of our friends got stopped that night as well and got busted with a roach in her car. Could have been hers, or it could have been the cop's.
posted by teleri025 at 1:38 PM on August 14, 2014 [31 favorites]


An officer can't delete footage on your phone. Period. A warrant isn't going to give this right. That would be prior restraint.

That's adorable.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:39 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


None of which helps all that much if you're a poor black kid and no one is recording the encounter, of course.

I understand this attitude but I also feel like it's a little strange - I feel like a lot of these threads end up with some "dark humor" head shaking about "works for me as a white person but you're screwed if you're black" - black people need to know their rights, too, even if we all agree that the outcome is different.

Also yeah, all POC experience isn't the same - I'm a small Indian American woman and have been treated fine by NYPD and only really interacted with them when I had a robbery and a car accident - btw this is not a defense of NYPD/police. But I think it would be actively bad for me to avoid police in my daily life. Confront, maybe not.
posted by sweetkid at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


That's adorable.

Oh, I didn't say it didn't happen. I said the infographic was incorrect. That a warrant doesn't grant this right. There is no such thing as a deletion warrant.

The payouts when they do are getting bigger and bigger.

FYI: I financially support Photography is not a Crime (the site mentioned in your link) and we share the same lawyer.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:47 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't vouch for these links, as I am not a lawyer nor have I ever been arrested, but they might be relevant to my fellow Canadians.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I understand this attitude but I also feel like it's a little strange - I feel like a lot of these threads end up with some "dark humor" head shaking about "works for me as a white person but you're screwed if you're black" - black people need to know their rights, too, even if we all agree that the outcome is different.

I wasn't shooting for "dark humor" though--I was shooting for "grim reality." Take terleri025's anecdote above, for example, the repeated refusal of a warrantless search with "No sir. No sir. No sir." until the cop decides the game's not worth the candle and gives up. It's not that it's not worth a young black kid who lives in the "bad" part of town and is driving an old beater knowing his rights. It's not, even, that it's not worth him saying "no sir, I do not consent to a search." It's that absent video footage or a tape recording there really is nothing to prevent the cop booking the kid for "resisting arrest" AND having drugs which the officer "found" in the car after a search to which the kid "consented."

Of course, the same abuses happen to white people and there are lots of "good cops" out there who wouldn't push the point if the black kid refused consent etc. etc. etc.; but come time to lawyer up and face a judge, no sane betting person is going to give the same odds on the outcome of the middle-class white person's case as the poor black kid's case. That just--demonstrably--isn't how the system works.
posted by yoink at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


you are obliged to carry ID at all times in the US?

[Yes], using public transport (plane, train, bus)


Do I really need ID if I am riding a bus?
posted by soelo at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2014


I agree with you (and wasn't intending to call you out specifically yoink), I just don't think the grim reality thing echoed by white people is really that helpful - I'm not going to tell anyone what they should do, but the response to "know your rights" seems to be "unless you're black" which seems unhelpful to black people, I think. I don't claim to be an expert on what black writers are saying on this topic, but most of my black friends and black writers I've seen post "know your rights" type things.
posted by sweetkid at 2:04 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Exactly yoink. The only reason I got to go home was a I was polite little white girl and wasn't alone. If I'd been a different color or by myself, who knows if the cop would have let it slide.
posted by teleri025 at 2:06 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


but the response to "know your rights" seems to be "unless you're black"

But, once again, and just to be very, very clear: I'm not saying "unless you're black" to "knowing your rights." I think people of color in the US should above all others know their rights. I think it's far more likely to be useful and to make a real difference in their daily lives than it is for the average white person. All I was talking about was the likelihood of certain outcomes of certain bad situations--once the situation has already deteriorated that far (i.e., you've got a bad cop, there are no witnesses, you don't have any way of recording the incident etc. etc.). But that's already a statistical minority of all possible situations in which "knowing your rights" is helpful--and you can still enormously mitigate the ill-effects even of those bad situations by knowing your rights. Staying mum and insisting on legal representation would save an awful lot of kids an awful lot of grief even when they've tangled with a cop who is willing to lie his ass off.
posted by yoink at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm naive. Why are D.A.R.E. stickers suspicious?
posted by jfwlucy at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because D.A.R.E stands for "Drugs Are Really Expensive"?
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:40 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I knew a hardcore stoner who enjoyed having a DARE bumper sticker for the irony.
posted by olinerd at 2:42 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


A lot of people have the idea that a D.A.R.E. sticker or something like it makes them look like upright citizens and will deflect police attention. But if it's at variance with the overall impression you give, it probably has the opposite effect because the cops develop a pretty good nose for this kind of nonsense.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:53 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reading the infographic and watching Gev's video immediately brought to mind the recent MeFi post where the local police straight up lied to the grieving couple who had just lost a baby to extract some sort of conviction. Depressing.
posted by kyp at 2:56 PM on August 14, 2014


Years ago a woman I know who was a total stoner was driving her retired-sheriff father's old car -- the usual American V8 sedan with an enormous Fraternal Order of Police decal in the rear window. She insisted that it got her waved off of situations where she'd normally have been stopped.

I mentioned this to a lawyer acquaintance of mine, saying I'd love to have an FOP decal. She said "good luck with that, they won't give me one and I'm their attorney."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:58 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you donate to them, you usually get one. My husband refers to it as a"protection racket"
posted by corb at 3:03 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suspect you get a tiny one. This was a massive, transparent adhesive thing for the inside of the rear window, which covered the lower half of the middle third of the window. I think they are probably sensitive to the difference between the Donor and Actual Cop versions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pater Aletheias: “Whenever I've seen those, there aren't any more exits before the drug checkpoint, so to get off the road, you have to do something illegal. Then they pull you over for driving across the median or your ill-advised U-turn and look for drugs while they have you. Whereas if you just keep going and act calm, there's a decent chance you'll get waved through with a cursory glance. (Well, that's what happens to white, middle-aged pastors and college professors. YMMV.)”

No – there isn't just a "decent chance," it's actually illegal for them to stop you unless you do something illegal right in front of them. In fact, such signs are always a lie. Drug checkpoints are unconstitutional in the United States, as ruled by the Supreme Court. So you should always be able to ignore them, no matter what you have on you.

Ghostride The Whip: “Yeah I was driving in LA once late on a Saturday night and they had a big DRUNK DRIVER CHECKPOINT sign right before this red light that'd let you make a left into a parking lot for an empty store. The parking lot is, obviously, where most of the cops were waiting, the actual checkpoint was one bored cop waving people through.”

Note that this is legal for "drunk driver checkpoints" but not for drug checkpoints. And they can only stop people who are visibly drunk. The line the Supreme Court drew in 2000 in City of Indianapolis v Edmond is that they cannot set up checkpoints to search for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Drug checkpoints are illegal and unconstitutional. You should be able to safely ignore them completely. Of course, the caveat is that you aren't always able to do what you should be able to do in the United States. Unconstitutional police checkpoints are (as far as I can tell) less rare than they ought to be; and I like the constitution, but not enough to want to be a test case.
posted by koeselitz at 3:31 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


HOLD UP Y'ALL

Above is more than one sigh of racial defeatism breathed from the viewpoint of privilege that takes the form of "I'm white, I'm well-educated, I'm wealthy, and police let me go when I assert my Constitutional 4th amendement right against unreasonable search and seizure." These privileged sighs of defeatism are coupled with "I fear what the cops might do and I'm white. Lord knows what would happen if I happened to be blessed with extra melanin-producing dermal cells and a complement of XY on one of my 23 chromosomes".

Well, as a mixed race male who presents as 100% BLACK MAN to most people, let me assure you it's not that bad. Really.

Yes, I've been harassed by cops (in the mid-80s the LAPD even sicced a helicopter on me for what they claim was riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the street. Took 15 minutes for them to tell them the chopper to heel.).

But I have also been pulled over by cops while speeding and let go with a warning. I've been shouted at by cops but find when you respond in a particular way with assured directness they basically will leave you alone.

I'm going to ask that those of you saying "Lawdy me thank goodness I'm not black, otherwise I'd end up like Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, or…" because that's not very helpful and entirely untrue.

The people who would most benefit from the advice to politely and respectfully refuse to provide information to the police unless under arrest (and then only identifying information) and to remain silent until in the presence of one's attorney are the very people who are most vulnerable to police depredation.

By painting a picture of sure-to-be-killed-if-you-stand-up-for-your-rights you help corrupt police rather than the potential and actual victims of police violence.

And SHAME on those of you who even before the fact say they would simply roll over at any request by the police. Maybe you would. But here's a thought.

Maybe you wouldn't! Maybe some spark of courage or outrage or, goodness forbid, levelheadedness would flash into your mind, a dim memory of a bust card you read, or an Internet discussion thread in 2014, or the imaginary role-playing you did of what it would be like to tell the authorities—with great respect and self-dignity, not arguing but clearly self-possessed (fear and anger is OK, just don't mouth off)—that it is NOT OK to detain you without cause and "Hey, may I leave now?"

Rather than telling us black folk that you wouldn't be doing so if you were us, maybe you could teach more of us how to resist the man using the tools provided to us by Constitution?

Or maybe you could tell stories (as many of you have done, thank you) about how you once told a cop something along the lines of "You're not bad-looking but, NO, you may NOT put your hand in my skivvies and I have an appointment with anyone-who-isn't-you so unless you're officially asking to put nickel-plated bands around my wrists MAY I LEAVE NOW?!" and the cop let you go.

Because enough of those stories would transcend the domain of "close call" and enter the realm of "good advice", and enough pieces of good advice might become the new business as usual, a business where police would expect that citizens would know their rights under the Constitution and how to exercise their civil liberties.*

*With the side effect that such an informed and liberated citizenry would actually be good for the police, too.
posted by mistersquid at 3:35 PM on August 14, 2014 [40 favorites]


For what it's worth, you can buy a 3" decal from their merchandise store. Usually in order to get to that, you'd have to click an "I am a member" passthru page, but that link gets around it.

Good luck if you try to order it. Not the sort of people I'd like to piss off.
posted by twooster at 3:36 PM on August 14, 2014


And probably worthless.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:32 PM on August 14, 2014


thanks mistersquid that's what I was driving at pretty much.

I mean as a POC, but admittedly not the most targeted type of POC, seeing white people consistently talk about how the grim reality is that white people are so lucky sends the message that "sucks to be you, POCs," which, if your intent is to be helping, maybe it's not so helpful.
posted by sweetkid at 5:41 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


cjorgensen: And probably worthless.

Did that guy seriously stick a FPA decal in the middle of his license plate and expect it to get him out of tickets?
posted by koeselitz at 5:44 PM on August 14, 2014


thanks, mistersquid and sweetkid, good points that need to be made. Your comments both made me think of the tone deafness I rolled my eyes at in the make-up thread from men telling women that they don't have to wear make-up cause the menfolks prefer them without it.

You're totally right that part of fixing the problem of police pushing the limits of their authority (or flat-out abusing their authority) is arming everyone (especially those we think of as most vulnerable to the abuse of police power) with knowledge of their rights and privileges in an interaction with the police. Otherwise, we are pretty much just telling an entire class of person to suck it up, even though we are loudly proclaiming the wrongness of it.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


With how police in the US are these days I'm kind of surprised by how much, "Call the police," advice there still is in AskMe.

Well, we do get a rather distorted view of what your average citizen's average every-day encounter with the police is like from the news. "Cop does reasonable day's work" is hardly TV news, is it? Even in predominantly black neighborhoods citizen efforts are usually concentrated on getting more police presence than less. None of which is any excuse for the cops who do abuse their authority, of course, but it's not as if "call the police when X bad thing happens to you" is in any statistical sense inherently bad advice.

Anecdata, but i, a white-enough looking guy, have been helped once by the cops in the past 7 years. It was when i needed an escort to retrieve some of my stuff from my old apartment building and i thought the manager would assault me. And it was only because there was a cop sitting outside the building on his lunch break who felt like doing it.

Every other time i've called them, twice when someone was actively trying to assault me and possibly kill me, they've either never arrived or been fucking completely useless. I could list off a relatively large number of cases in which i've called them, or seen them in person and asked for their assistance, or when they've just shown up and not done shit or been actively harmful.

I always wonder where these "call the cops, they show up and help" stories come from, because neither me or my friends have ever experienced that. I generally just tell my friends to deal with shit on their own.
posted by emptythought at 6:00 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


In California, police will tell you to not exit the car on any kind of stop. That way, they can *always* search the vehicle (and you) for weapons. If you exit the vehicle and lock it, then they can't search it...so they will always loudspeaker you to "stay in the vehicle" if you get out at a traffic stop.

That's how most drug busts and other arrests happen: the officers have the right to search the immediate vicinity for weapons. Of course, tearing a vehicle to bits, pat downs, drug sniffing dogs arriving, etc. is all part of the securing the scene for officer safety bit. Anything they find is incidental to "officer safety."

Of course, if they ask to search, you should deny permission. But they'll often do it anyway (has happened to me 3 times in my life) because they can search the immediate area for weapons.

That's usually when they'll start asking the questions you should not answer: "Where were you? Where are you going? Had anything to drink or smoke? Is there anything in the vehicle I should know about? etc." And of course also, if you don't answer you are "suspicious" and you'll get the full search.

I was also told once they can "hold" you (in jail) for 24 hours while they run wants and warrants, search, consider charges, then just let you go later...if they don't like your attitude or you don't "comply." After 24 hours, they have to charge you or let you go. Dunno how this varies state to state....
posted by CrowGoat at 7:32 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


... "stay in the vehicle" if you get out at a traffic stop.

They don't want you to get run over, it would be more paperwork for them.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:41 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


This mostly seems ok, but it's kind of off in some ways.

1) The fine print about drivers being required to show ID is way too fine. Driving your car is a privilege not a right and if an officer has reasonable suspicion to do a traffic stop on you, you're required to provide your driver's license. And, in my state, proof of insurance.

2) Furthermore, if the officer has probable cause to believe you committed a crime, driving or no, you must identify yourself. This does not, however, have to be by means of photo ID. Name and date of birth suffice in my state.

3) bswinburn, you're missing something. I think that it's talking about blood draws in the context of DUI arrests, and most states (including mine) have implied consent laws. This means that, as a condition of being able to drive a car legally in the state, you consent to a chemical test if you're arrested for probable cause DUI. If the officer offers a breath test, you have to take that or you're guilty of test refusal. If you're offered blood or urine, you can refuse the one or the other but not both. The idea is that the breath test isn't very invasive, but blood and urine tests are. So if, for example, you don't like needles you're not automatically guilty of test refusal until you also refuse to pee in a cup (or vice versa).

4) "Breathalyzer" is a brand name for a product that was discredited in court at some point, so breath tests are now given via another machine and generally referred to generically. The equipment used to administer a roadside breath test is usually called a "PBT," and of course you can refuse to take it.

symbioid - the behavior you describe is very similar to lots of dash videos that end up in the murder or attempted murder of a cop. People that don't pull over immediately and then drive slowly for several blocks before pulling off into an isolated area are setting off alarm bells for the police behind them ("what are they hiding, are they loading and racking a firearm, are they delaying for time to plan, are they calling for backup"). I would be extremely surprised if the officer hadn't drawn his pistol in the situation you describe. I'm also (a little) surprised he approached your vehicle alone, although I guess it would be tough to call for a full felony stop.

emptythought - there's no way for us to know what and how many other calls were going on when you called, how the calltakers coded them, and how dispatch dispatched them. "Shitty police" is one of the possible explanations for your poor experience, but not the only one.

CrowGoat - that's... not really accurate. Cops tell you to stay in the vehicle on a misdemeanor traffic stop because having people walking around is a good way for the cop to get killed, or frankly for the citizen to get run over. Drivers run into squad cars all the time, to the extent that most highway troopers across the country have adopted a totally different policy for squad positioning from 10 years ago. Nothing to do with searches.

If, for whatever reason, you're arrested, then they can do a custodial search of your person and a sweep of the car's passenger compartment, whether you got out and locked it or not. They're then going to tow the car, which means an inventory search of the vehicle. Tearing apart the inside of the vehicle will always require a warrant.

Cops may try to search extensively roadside (everyone screws up), but barring exceptional circumstances, that evidence is getting thrown out.

If you're pulled over or otherwise stopped:
I.D. yourself.
Politely refuse to ask questions.
Don't be an argumentative weirdo.

So, so many "I know my rights" type videos of police encounters are just... Like, why are they talking so much? If you think you're the subject of an investigation, shut your mouth. If you do so and the police violate your rights, well, go to court. A perennial frustration for cops is how difficult it can be to get something charged, much less turn it into a conviction. Charging rates for a lot of crimes are in the 10-30% range, depending on crime and jurisdiction.

barchan, if you're unwilling to shoot someone, carrying a shotgun means you're carrying around a weapon so that you can give it to an attacker as a gift.

If you still want to carry it, if you get pulled over, just let the officer know it's there. "Hey officer, here's my ID and insurance card. Just to let you know, I keep a shotgun behind my seat." Then keep your hands on the steering wheel/window.

"With how police in the US are these days I'm kind of surprised by how much, "Call the police," advice there still is in AskMe."

Many people have NO IDEA how much armed robbery, burglary, theft, assault, and domestic assault goes on every. Single. Day. People have been getting shot - and not by the cops! - every single weekend in my mid-sized midwestern city. Plus stabbings etc. People are victimized by other people every day, so they call the police.
posted by kavasa at 8:02 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Back in February, I was hit on the freeway by another car. I didn't even see it coming, there was just a tremendous noise and then my door window exploded and there was glass everywhere. After we all got pulled over and the highway patrol came, they verified that I didn't need an ambulance (I was startlingly unhurt given the speeds involved) and then said "Well, we don't usually do this, but to take a load of your mind: the other driver is 100% at fault, period, the evidence is very clear. She's here, if you want to talk to her." Other driver was a 19-year-old black woman, who practically GROVELLED. "I'm so sorry, ma'am, I'm so sorry, I'm so glad you're OK, I was going too fast and I lost control of the car, I'm so sorry!"

And while yeah, I was pretty mad at the circumstances, part of me was like "omg, did nobody ever tell you how to act at a car accident? Don't admit fault! Good lord!" And then immediately afterwards, "Well, maybe nobody DID ever tell her to act at a car accident." And then after that, "Or, maybe the rules for how to act at a car accident are different if you're black. Maybe if you stay calm and say 'I have no idea what happened' they haul you off on suspicion of being high or something." I was still mad -- she totaled my car and she didn't have insurance -- but it was a weirdly sobering and compassion-inducing experience.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 PM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


soelo: " Do I really need ID if I am riding a bus?"

I suspect the answer is "no" if the bus or train or ferry is operated by the government as a public transit service (e.g. you don't carry ID to ride Washington State Ferries or Sound Transit) but it is "yes" if it is operated by a private company as a common carrier (like Amtrak or Bolt Bus or Southwest Airlines) because of TSA rules requiring ID to board those conveyances.
posted by fireoyster at 11:43 PM on August 14, 2014


People are victimized by other people every day, so they call the police.

People who are victimized by the police are, of course, SoL.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:22 AM on August 15, 2014


Yeah, upon reflection, that wasn't a terribly helpful comment, sweetkid, and I apologize.
posted by dogheart at 6:45 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, you would be astounded how quickly police misbehaviour disappeared if you made monetary judgements against police come out of their pension fund.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 6:59 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would love to see one of these for getting stopped while walking. Yes, this happens to me a lot. I purposefully go out walking without a wallet. So far, I've gotten away with never giving my full name, and, when asked where I live, I just gesture to the neighborhood behind me.

But damned if I don't dislike getting stopped for walking.
posted by adipocere at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Even a better infographic would be of limited use. This kind of thing is like learning how to play basketball by reading a book. Even if you know all the rules, strategies, tactics, etc. you will not be able to properly execute them without coaching and practice. Because there is a balance you have to strike between keeping yourself safe and not screwing yourself over legally. And guess who gets a ton of practice in these situations? Police officers.

Are there workshops or classes for this kind of thing? Can I, as a citizen, get some sort of coaching, role-playing, or practice so that if I do have to talk to a cop, I am prepared not just with information but with skills?
posted by AceRock at 9:02 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Many people have NO IDEA how much armed robbery, burglary, theft, assault, and domestic assault goes on every. Single. Day.

The violent crime rate in the U.S. in 2011 was half what it was in 1992, so it sounds like you don't have any idea, either.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:24 AM on August 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just watch how fast they beat, imprison, and intimidate a "middle-aged, middle-class white woman in expensive shoes" if you actually prove effective at political self-expression, crush-onastick.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:39 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can I, as a citizen, get some sort of coaching, role-playing, or practice so that if I do have to talk to a cop, I am prepared not just with information but with skills?

I think this is a really good point, which is kind-of addressed by boiling down these legal concepts into two simple rules:

1. Never answer questions
2. Never consent to searches

These may seem like oversimplifications, but they actually are pretty easy to remember and action. The really difficult part is training yourself out of the habit that interacting with a police officer is a normal social interaction. It is an adversarial interaction the likes of which most people never encounter, even if (and maybe especially if) the officer is being "friendly".

And yes, this advice absolutely makes encounters more stressful, not less, but as mentioned above the whole point of this advice is not to reduce your stress level, but to secure yourself against legal action as a result of police presence.
posted by odinsdream at 9:47 AM on August 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Did I compare the crime rate to 1992 at some point without noticing it? Or imply that it's higher than at other times? Pretty sure I didn't. Pretty sure I answered the question of "why do people call the police?"
posted by kavasa at 9:53 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some numbers: in my midsize city (400k) there were just over 1800 robberies reported to police last year. They're up about 5% this year. That doesn't count other crimes. I, personally, am surprised by numbers that high.
posted by kavasa at 11:12 AM on August 15, 2014


I'm really not sure how the frequency of these crimes is an answer to why people call police. If they happened less often then people wouldn't call police? I'm not really following.

And you quoted me, but "why do people call the police?" wasn't a question I was asking, though maybe you were just using my comment as a jumping off point.
posted by ODiV at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2014


adipocere: But damned if I don't dislike getting stopped for walking.

In most (all?) states, your rights are strengthened and your liberties multiplied when you're walking (as opposed to driving).*

You do not have to answer any questions including questions regarding your identity, earlier whereabouts, or intended destination. You do not have to provide ID either.

Simply say, "I don't want to answer that question. Have I done something wrong?"

The officer will likely repeat, in different ways, the original question or try weaseling you with something like "Why don't you want to talk to me? I'm just asking questions", "I'm only making sure you know where you're going," or "There was a robbery a few blocks over and you fit the description" or whatever.

Simply reaffirm you are not willing to answer any questions followed up with, "Am I free to leave?"

A super tenacious cop may escalate and say things like "Wait here" while talking into their radio and the cop may even call other cops to the scene.

Never fear (though you will probably be afraid). Simply restate you do not wish to talk to the police (Carson advises it's perfectly fine to tell the police you are afraid of the police) and ask if you are free to leave. If things get particularly gruesome, you may have to add "Am I under arrest?"

Now, all the above is a BIT much for an evening constitutional through the neighborhood, and you may choose to simply tell the police who you are and where you live, which would not be a requirement given the 4th Amendment but, hey, you gotta get along, right?

Fully your choice.

But if you find yourself asking questions like this, I cannot recommend Carson's "Arrest-Proof" yourself highly enough. He talks about how to deal with such scenarios up to and through the ones where the person who looks like a cop is in fact a deputized thug whose only intention is to beat the shit out of you just because.§

* Unless you live in a heinous bassackwards part of the nation like NYC during the era of Stop-and-Frisk™.

As in all matters involving law enforcement: I am not a lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and these words are not legal advice.

§ I've linked Carson's book above.
posted by mistersquid at 1:26 PM on August 15, 2014


I prefer my evenings constitutional.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


odiv, yes, it was a paraphrase. People get that advice on askme a lot because it's often the correct advice because crime is an everyday occurrence. That's what I was trying to get at.
posted by kavasa at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2014


The violent crime rate in the U.S. in 2011 was half what it was in 1992

If you believe the stats.

August 9, 2014: LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses

August 13, 2014: Now LA sheriff crime stats will be audited too

seeing white people consistently talk about how the grim reality is that white people are so lucky

I always used to talk about how it was sheer luck that I'd never been arrested or been to jail and it was really MetaFilter that made me truly understand it had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with being a white female.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:37 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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