Across the country, organizations are aiming to raise awareness about the dangers minorities face—especially black minorities—when encountering police. The movement and hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is the most prevalent of these social organizations, springing to life after the now-infamous court case of Trayvon Martin failed to find justice for the unarmed slain teen and his family. Even more so, the stories surrounding grand juries’ failure to find justice for teen Mike Brown, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and John Crawford just to name a few highlights a very frightening aspect of reality for many Americans: to be a minority—especially a black minority—is a risk in and of itself when facing police.
The FBI reports young black males are 21 times more likely to be fatally shot than their white counterparts.
While this certainly highlights the divide across America when it comes to justice, class, race, and identity, absolutely everyone in the country—regardless of racial identity—may be at risk when encountering police. One important question stands: how can you be safer when encountering police? We’ve broken down the 10 ways to help make your police encounter safer (especially if you’re a minority).
1. Be polite, respectful, and quiet when stopped by police.
Regardless of how difficult it may be (especially if the officer abuses their power), remain polite, respectful, and quiet if stopped by police. While history shows this may not help (see: Philando Castile), this will dramatically increase your chances of a safe encounter and ensure you return home intact. In fact, this takes us to number two.
2. Remember: when stopped by police, the goal is to get home safely.
If an officer violated your rights, you and your family can still file a formal complaint with your local police department. Remember: your ultimate goal is to walk away safely and make it home to your family. That means that even if the police officer abuses their power or violates your rights as an American citizen, do not fight back, resist, or argue.
If the police officer is already in a state of hostility, they will not hesitate to escalate; and while they may be able to afford that risk, you can’t.
Do your absolute best to set pride aside (it’s hard, we know) and pacify the situation as much as possible—just enough to make it back home. Once you do, you have the full right to file a formal complaint against that officer and the entire police jurisdiction for their mishandling.
3. Don’t, under any circumstances, get into an argument with the police.
While this echoes what was previously said, it’s so incredibly important. Remember: the police officer can afford to take the risk of abusing their power and violating your rights as an American citizen; however, the same can’t be said for you. While a simple argument may seem harmless at first, that’s not what goes through the officer’s mind. In fact, a simple clapback may come across as a threat to the police officer. It’s a risk not worth taking, and your physical safety is infinitely more important than how you feel in that moment.
4. Remember: anything you say or do can and will be used against you in court.
This is a crucial aspect of police encounters that often go unnoticed, especially as a minority. Any physical thing you do or say (and in some cases, what you don’t do or say) will be used against you in court. This also goes for what you post on social media. In fact, your social media posts and pictures may be used against you in court to sway a jury’s decision. While it may be unethical, your inherent safety and well-being is far too important to risk. Therefore, do not say or do anything you’ll regret later. Also: it’s illegal to knowingly lie to a police officer (all the more reason to be silent whenever you can).
5. Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times.
While the case of Philando Castile may contradict this statement, it’s statistically proven that keeping your hands visible at all times greatly increases your chances of a safe police encounter. If you’re pulled over by the police, keep your hands on the steering wheel until instructed otherwise. In fact, if you feel afraid, inform the police that you’re afraid to move your hands for your safety. They will instruct you further.
6. Don’t make sudden movements and keep your hands out of your pockets (!!!)
Do not, under any circumstances, put your hands in your pockets. We understand that this is often a mindless habit, but we can’t stress it enough. In fact, making sudden movements and putting your hands in your pockets is perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do when encountering the police. We’ve all seen the videos—just don’t.
7. Do not run, even if you are afraid of the police.
It never ends well. Ever.
8. Even if you’re innocent, don’t resist arrest.
This echoes the sentiments made in number 3.
9. Don’t say anything about your encounter until you meet with a lawyer or public defender.
This is extremely important for your case. As mentioned in number 4, anything you say or do can and will be used against you in court. While you may feel safe when sharing your experience with friends on social media, it’s best not to say anything until you get the green light from your lawyer. Again, the police will use anything they can against you, which very much includes what you post online. If you don’t have a lawyer, your city may issue a public defense lawyer for your case.
10. Stay calm and in control of your actions. Be aware of your words, body language, and emotions.
You may not realize when your body tenses up, when your fists clench, or when your jaw grinds, but the officer does. Police officers have been trained to study body language, and if you openly display your stress, emotions, or anger, they will take it as a threat. Be mindful of your overall energy when encountering the police, because they’ll be able to identify it in your body language. Remember: your goal is to make it home safely.
DDD Bail Bonds of Dallas
DDD Bail Bonds is the only bail bonds company in Dallas who truly cares for your safety and wellbeing. We’ll come bail you out of jail as soon as possible and make sure you’re always in good hands. If you’re not in Dallas, Texas, don’t worry—DDD Bail Bonds can bail anyone out of jail across the country with our national network. Our agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and ready to rush to your side. Call us or stop by our office today to learn more.