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NAACP Town Hall meeting: Ten rules for dealing with police

10 Rules for Dealing with Police’

NAACP Town Hall meeting: Ten rules for dealing with police

    On March 28, the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the NAACP hosted a town hall meeting at the Mizell Center on Sistrunk Blvd. In attendance was a mixture of teenagers, children and adults from the community. The program, entitled 10 Rules for Dealing with Police began with an informative video of the same name. Viewers learned important tips and guidelines for handling police encounters.

    Rule #1Always be calm and cool. It is important to never talk back, use profanity or raise your voice to an officer. Controlling body language and attitude are equally important.

    Rule #2Use your right to remain silent. The fifth amendment of the constitution protects your right to remain silent during police questioning.  Contrary to popular belief, the police do not have to read you your rights. Therefore, you must be aware of them beforehand.

    Rule #3You have the right to refuse searches.  A police request to conduct a search does not mean you have to comply. Be prepared to state your refusal in a calm tone of voice. For example: “I do not consent to searches.” This may not stop the search, but because you refused, your lawyer can challenge it in court.

    Rule #4Don’t get tricked. Keep in mind; the police can legally lie to you. So don’t sign anything without a lawyer present.

    Rule #5Determine if you are free to go. The police must have a reasonable suspicion to detain you. Simply ask the officer, “Are you detaining me or am I free to go?”

    Rule #6Don’t expose yourself.  Think about your behavior. Avoid choices that could make you a public nuisance.

    Rule #7Never run away from the police. Fleeing from the police automatically gives them probable cause. Probable cause occurs when facts or evidence imply that you are involved in criminal activity.

    Rule #8Never Touch a Cop. There is never any reason to physically touch an officer. Any touch, regardless of how innocent, can be perceived as threatening.

    Rule #9Report Misconduct. Be a Good Witness. Try to get the officer’s badge number, but never ask directly for it. If an officer knows you are about to make a complaint, things can get very complicated for you.

    Rule #10You Don’t Have to Let Them In. Even if the police have probable cause, they still need a signed search warrant to enter your home.  Speak to them through the door or decline to answer altogether unless they have a warrant.

    Following the video, Howard Finkelstein of the Broward Public Defender’s office spoke at length about the problems plaguing the Broward Sherriff’s Department, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and the State Attorney’s Office. Accor-ding to Finkelstein, “In Broward County we have nobody who overseas the police.”                  

    Strong words from a 31-year-old veteran of the Public Defender’s office. But Finkelstein follows up his claim with several examples, whereby the police proceeded to threaten or use torture on suspects. One such example was a 19-year-old Black male taken into a bathroom in his home and threatened to be tasered and maimed. The police conveniently ran water to mask the events taking place. The officers in question received no disciplinary sanctions as a result of their actions. And this scenario is far from the exception.

    According to Finkelstein, only one percent of police complaints are found guilty. To further illustrate the point he also stated that under the leadership of State Attorney Mike Satz, no police officer in Broward County has ever been charged with a bad shooting.

    As problems and complaints continue to plague the different law enforcement agencies in Broward County, surely everyone would benefit from implementing the 10 Rules For Dealing with Police.

© Marie Carrie


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