Law enforcement agencies in the US have come under a lot of scrutiny, primarily because they are suspected of targeting minorities and harassing completely innocent people. While we wouldn't deny that there are indeed cases of people in positions of power abusing their authority, it is a bit cruel to cast sweeping statements about the whole group. Either way, it is still important to learn a bit about the law. Here are 15 things you should know about.
What to do when they stop you on the street
The police is well within their right to stop you if they feel like it. But they do not have the authority to make you squeal. You have the right to remain silent, but you must obey their instructions and cooperate with them.
The questions they pose to you
Sometimes the police will feel inclined to interrogate you and ask you random questions. They do this with just about everyone on the street and are not targeting any particular ethnic group. You still retain the right to remain silent.
Being asked to leave a public place
If the police ask you to leave a public area, you will have no option but to oblige and listen to their instructions. Of course they should also be justified in their reasons to remove you from the area.
When they stop your vehicle
The cops have the right to stop your vehicle. When this does happen, you should show your documents, drivers license, registration when requested. If you are required to step outside the vehicle, it is advisable to do so.
Why do cops touch the vehicle?
The police will sometimes feel the need to actually make contact with your car because they want to leave their imprints on the car. This leaves evidence that they approached the vehicle and had contact with the driver.
Are they mistreating you?
Officers are also human beings and are prone to making mistakes just as the rest of us. If you feel that you have been mistreated, then simply write down the officer's badge number, name and other information to file a complaint.
They're asking for a bribe
Sometimes the dirty cops ask for a bribe. Most people would panic in this situation and would rather just avoid creating a scene. They end up paying whatever bribes are asked of them. If you are being forced to pay up, simply notice their badge numbers.
What if the officers come to your house?
Of course sometimes the police officers will come over to your house too. But this is where their powers come to an end. They cannot just barge in without a warrant. If they come to your house, ask them if they have a warrant.
The officer wants to frisk you
Most of the time officers will have to ask your explicit permission before searching for your car, your bag and frisking you. If you don't want them to do so, simply shout out loud, "I do not consent." This doesn't apply when they have a warrant.
What if the officer asks for immigration documents
If you are an immigrant, then it is extremely important for you to carry your immigration documents at all times. Failure to carry them can result in misdemeanor charges which could get you arrested. So always keep a copy handy.
Do officers have the right to stop you even if you carry valid travel documents?
Customs officers are well within their right to stop, detain and frisk any person they feel could be a suspect. But they do not have the authority to search you merely on the basis of your background, race or religion.
Searching your laptop
Did you know that law enforcement officers actually have the authority to search the contents of your computer, laptop and smartphone? IF that happens with you, write down the name of the person who conducted the search to find out the reason for the search.
Officers asking you to strip naked
While this is not a routine checkup, it sometimes takes place at the border when officers deep that they have a reasonable suspicion of the person. You will be taken to a private area and this never really takes place in public.
Refusing to fly a passenger
Pilots of an airplane have the right to refuse to fly passengers if they feel that the person is a threat to the safety of the flight. For this reason it is important to never appear aggressive and get on the wrong side of the pilot.
When you witness a crime
Your priority is to first protect yourself. And then call for help. Do not touch the scene of the crime because it can damage the evidence. Help law enforcement agencies catch the perpetrator by taking pictures and videos.
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