I was honored to have an opportunity to speak at the National Bar Association’s Town Hall Forum event “Know Your Rights, It Can Save Your Life” on Saturday, October 4. I told the audience at the event, most people know their rights already, what they need to know are things that will ensure they stay alive. I organized my outline around Chris Rock’s sketch on how to avoid getting beat up by the police and spoke on the following topics:
1. Obey the Law–Wear your seatbelt (ensure passengers are belted); Ensure your lights are working (tail lights, head lights, tag lights, brake lights, etc.) and use lights when required; Stop speeding; Complete stop at Stop Signs and Traffic Signals; Use turn signals; Move Over Law; Check window tint; Renew registration.
2. Use Common Sense-Stay inside the car unless/until told to exit the car; Keep your hands in open so officer can see them; Tell officer what you are doing before you do it (Explain that you need to reach inside glove compartment to get the registration/insurance); If you have a concealed carry permit, show it to the officer and tell officer where firearm is located; Do not make any sudden movements; Stop in a safe area (if you cannot stop immediately, use your hazard lights so officer knows you are not trying to flee).
3. Stop Immediately–Not stopping immediately is a felony-Fleeing to Elude; Not stopping immediately increases the chances of getting held at gunpoint when you stop the car or getting beat up by the cops if you run out of the car; If you don’t stop immediately, use the hazard lights and stop at the first safe place you encounter.
4. Be Polite–Some officers may automatically be afraid of you because of stupid reasons. Just be polite and do whatever you can to make the officer feel comfortable. Be polite, even if the officer is being rude.
5. Search Your Friends Riding with You–Officers can search car based on sight or smell of drugs; Officers can search all occupants of car and areas within immediate reach for weapons; Any movements will be interpreted as attempt to hide illegal drugs or weapons—will only heighten situation!
6. Angry Black Woman–stop playing games with the cops and calling the police to have someone arrested because you are angry. Only call the police when a true crime has occurred or is occurring.
The most important piece of advice I gave the audience was do whatever is necessary to ensure you stay alive. If you are wrongfully arrested or mistreated by the police, your attorney can handle that situation after you make it home. Please contact me or another attorney if you have questions about this post.