The following instructions are meant to be general guidelines in any encounter between a citizen and a police officer. Generally speaking, the following instructions are guidelines to follow for individuals who ask themselves what they should do if they are stopped by the police.
- You should be polite and respectful. Never badmouth a police officer. Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions. Do not get into an argument with the police. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Don't run. Don't touch any police officer. Don't resist even if you believe you are innocent. Don't complain on the scene or tell the police they're wrong or that you're going to file a complaint. Do not make any statements regarding the incident.
- Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest. Remember the officer's badge and patrol car numbers if available. Write down everything you remember as soon as possible. If you are in a holding cell, ask the police officers at the detention facility to give you a pen or a pencil to write down your freshest thoughts regarding the incident. You should try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, immediately take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you seek medical attention first. If you do seek medical attention, be sure to document the name, address and telephone number of any and all medical providers by whom you are seen.
- If you feel your rights have been violated, file a written complaint with the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division or Civilian Complaint Board, but only after you have consulted with an attorney to ensure that anything you say in a written complaint will not subject you to additional criminal penalties and/or fines and incarceration.
Please be advised that you should never interfere with effective law enforcement, but should always understand your own rights and responsibilities and how you may invoke them in your encounters or relationships with the police. All individuals have the right to courtesy and respectful police treatment and the police should be treated in kind. If you believe your rights have been violated, do not try to handle the matter on your own without consultation by an attorney. If you find yourself in any of the situations described herein, immediately contact the Law Office of Robert C. Smith at 909-563-8644.