What to do when stopped by the police

www.haltonpolice.ca With the highly publicized incidents of police shootings over the past couple of years, many people have questions about exactly they must act when they encounter the police.  There are basic rights everyone has, however it must be recognized that each interaction may unfold differently.

The general rule of thumb is to keep calm and obey the directions of the police. Bad feelings and issues may be sorted out later but you cannot take back a life if an interaction with the police escalates to the point of deadly force.

Common questions:

Q1: Can a police officer stop me if I’m walking down the street?

A1: It is within your right to refuse to speak to or stop for the police. However, if an officer believes that you are behaving suspiciously, they have the authority to detain you for the purposes of an investigation.

Q2: If I am stopped by the police, do they have to read me my rights before I answer any questions?

A2: No.  If you are being placed under arrest, the police are required to read you your Miranda Rights.  They are not required to read you your rights during traffic stops or encounters on the street.

Q3: Do the police have the right to search me?

A3: It depends on the circumstances.  If the police reasonably believe that you may have been involved in a crime, this gives them probable cause to legally search you.  If a police officer asks permission to search you or your property (ex. a vehicle) and you give permission, then that is considered voluntary consent to search.  The police may also search you or your property if they have a warrant.

Q4: May I record a police encounter?

A4: This varies by jurisdiction. In the District of Columbia, it is legal to record police officers carrying out their duties in public as long as it does not interfere with official police business.

Q5: If a police officer orders me to get out of my vehicle, do I have to comply?

A5: Yes.  The police have the right to ask you and any passengers to get out of your vehicle. If you believe they violated your rights, remain calm during the interaction and follow-up later at the closest police station and file a formal complaint with a police supervisor.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213


Flyouth.  (2005).  SE youth and the police [Pamphlet]. Washington, DC: Facilitating Leadership in Youth.

Grisham, L. & Hargro, T.  (2015, July 24).  Your rights during police encounters. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/07/22/rights-during-police-encounters/30539255

I'm in Love with a Black Man

Hands United I’m in love with a black man and he loves me.  What affects him, affects me and what affects me, affects him.  So here I am at the annual American Society of Criminology (ASC) meeting presenting the findings of my study on racial profiling in America.  Why is there this constant debate over what it is?  How do you define it?  Quantitatively?  Qualitatively?  Both?  What data is the standard?  The police don’t want to collect race statistics because they don’t want to be called racists. And the community complains to news reporters and their stories are called ‘anecdotes.’  So how do you tame this beast?

I stand in front of the brightest minds in my field, the country’s top scholars waiting to hear what I found.  So with a big breath, I start…

How can scores of black people be wrong?  Why are they discounted so?  If the tables were reversed and black cops were stopping white citizens, surely there would be no debate.  Listen to me carefully.  I documented the lives and stories of 20 black men living in Washington, DC for six months.  They kept a journal of the times they had been stopped and the average was five times a week.  Let me say that again, the average was five times a week.  Some will say that I have limitations in my research and that my case study was not scientific enough.  Do I know they weren’t speeding?  I guess not.  Were they transporting drugs?  I hope not. Drugs were never found in any of the so-called ‘consent searches.’

My conclusion is that the black man is under siege.  He followed doctor’s orders and got a good education from a good school, got a good job, and bought a nice house in the ‘right’ neighborhood.  He doesn’t beat his wife, is a good father to his children, but to no avail.  He is still oppressed, disrespected, and harassed.  I guess someone forgot to tell him: You’re still black.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213@gmail.com

#love #black #man #race #police #racialprofiling #RaceinAmerica #racematters #dialogue #discourse #truth #respect #change #ASC #criminology #crime #justice #deardiary #ljsamuel

Image source: www.handsunited.org

Police Brutality in the United States: The Past is Prologue

Past is Prologue Image                                            (What is Past is Prologue, Archives) McKinney Police Incident In 1951, a Florida Sheriff shot two black men he was transporting in his police vehicle. The two men had been wrongly convicted of a crime. The victims, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin were spared the death penalty after the US Supreme Court overturned their convictions (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014).  The Sheriff shot them shortly after the Supreme Court's decision was made. The past is prologue.

In 1963, 700 black teenagers were arrested by the Birmingham Police Department in the State of Alabama. The police clubbed them with their Billy sticks, turned fire hoses on them, and attacked them with their police canines (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014). Their crime? Protesting racial segregation in the South. The past is prologue.

In 1979, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) shot and killed Ms. Eula Love in her front yard.  Ms. Love was shot eight times by two LAPD officers who were called to the scene by the gas company seeking assistance in shutting off her service (La Ganga & Susman, 2014).  The past is prologue.

In 1980, white officers tied bags over the heads of some black males they were interrogating in the shooting death of a New Orleans police officer.  This came after four blacks were shot and killed by police in response to the slain officer’s death. The interrogation tactics violated police policy, federal law, and basic human rights.  Their actions led to a 1981 indictment (NY Times). The past is prologue.

In 1991, Rodney King was savagely beaten by 20 LAPD officers after a car chase.  Rodney King sustained 11 fractures after officers struck him over and over with their police batons and kicked him while he was on the ground.  Mr. King was unarmed.  The incident was caught on tape and sparked world-wide attention. The City of Los Angeles exploded and citizens rioted for five days (CNN Library, 2015). The past is prologue.

In 2015, a young, black 14 year-old girl wearing a two-piece bikini was forcefully thrown to the ground by an out of control police supervisor in McKinney, TX who was responding to a call about a pool party that had gotten out of control.  The white officer sat on the young girl’s back screaming obscenities at her and bystanders who yelled and cried for him to stop. The past is…wait, this just happened last week.

Police interactions with black citizens continue to be marred by fear, suspicion, and violence.  There is distrust between both groups that is based in history and experience.  But this incident in particular gives great pause as the victim in this case is a young female.  The officer was in full uniform with all his equipment, including his police issued firearm.  Where was the threat?  Sure, the teenagers outnumbered the officers but when you view the video, the kids showed deference and in fact were fearful and sat down and lay down on the ground when told.  This officer arrived on the scene angry.  Therefore, anything that was said to him was filtered through his blue colander.  There were other officers on the scene that were calm and spoke to the teens in a respectful manner but this one rogue officer was out of control.

As a trained Criminologist, if his case came across my desk, I would have recommended some extensive counseling beyond termination.  This officer was clearly out of control.  When he did a barrel roll across the grass and ran down the street, he appeared like a rabid animal.  When he pulled his gun out and pointed it at the group of teens, the incident turned the corner.  He had a clearly snapped. Even other officers on the scene tried to push him back and they should be applauded for that.  This was clearly a rotten apple.  Although this McKinney police officer acted individually, his position affords him such great power that these interactions are devastatingly dangerous.  Sadly, racism, oppression, and discrimination still exist.  They exist in all major systems such as education, health care, and the criminal justice system.  Perhaps this officer just snapped?  I doubt it.  I am certain that if you look back in his record, there was be a telling pattern of problematic behavior.  That being sad, he should never have been allowed to work out his problems on the young citizens of McKinney.  This is never a fun discussion but we need to set aside our feelings of discomfort and begin some real discussions on the issue of race in policing and how some are abusing their power and hurting people and communities in the aftermath.

There was once a time that when a ship was sinking attempts for rescue started with the most vulnerable victims: women and children.  Women and children have always been treated differently and at times, more gently.  For example, female officers are always (or should be) used to pat down females.  There is a societal rule in terms of how men versus women should be handled.  Thus, the outrage in social media after this case is warranted.  Certain behaviors and actions should be off limits and this McKinney officer went too far. Let’s do better.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#BlackLivesMatter #protectourgirls #McKinney #poolofoppression #policebrutality #police #accountability #pastispresent #socialjustice #criminaljustice #crime #justice #peace #compassion #dialogue #ljsamuel


CNN Library. (2015). Los Angeles riot fast facts. Retrieved from www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/us/los-angeles-riots-fast-facts/.

Equal Justice Initiative. (2014). A history of racial injustice. Retrieved from www.racialinjustice.eji.org.

La Ganga, M. & Susman, T. (2014). Controversial police use-of-force cases. LA Times. Retrieved from http://graphics.latimes.com/towergraphic-controversial-police-cases/

New York Times. (1981, October 10). 7 officers indicted in New Orleans. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/10/us/7-officers-indicted-in-new-orleans.html.

Image Sources

National Archives, picture taken by L.J. Samuel McKinney Incident, dallasmorningviewsblog

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanza! image

The holidays are a time of joy but they can also be a time of sorrow. Please keep in your thoughts and prayers those that are grieving and going through difficult times. Enjoy your family time and as you move from house to house dropping off gifts and enjoying all the season delights, please be vigilant in your activities.

This past week, the world lost two New York Police Department (NYPD) Officers to senseless and irrational violence. God bless the souls of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu who died as they served their community. Vengeance is not ours. Not everyone means us well but I believe in the inherent good in people. Use this time to slow down and reflect. We are all brothers and sisters whether black, white, red, or yellow. We are all connected whether we are wearing blue, white, a fancy suit, or rags. Let’s do better now, and in the coming year. Reflect. Ponder. And act accordingly in love and kindness.

Peace, love, and blessings,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Christmas #holidays #peace #NYPD #family #ljsamuel #deardiary


Moore, T., Eisinger, D., Parascandola, R., Tracy, T., & Schapiro, R. (2014, December 21). Two NYPD officers ‘assassinated’ while sitting in patrol car in Brooklyn by gunman who boasted on instagram about ‘revenge’ killing cops. New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.dailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/cops-shot-brooklyn-sources-article-1.2051941.

Protests: Aimless Walking or Organized Action?

On Friday, December 5th, 2014 William Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) was asked his opinion of the ongoing protests in reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict the officer responsible for applying the lethal chokehold that killed Staten Island resident Eric Garner. The Commissioner responded by saying that people are going to get tired of “marching around aimlessly” (Jorgensen, 2014). Excuse me? I expected more compassion from the leader of the largest police department in the country. NYPD has over 40,000 officers and has always been heralded as the national model for training, technology, and responses to use of force. But it is also the same department that has been the catalyst for protests in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and now the 2000’s. Why? Because it appears as though they are playing by their own set of rules. There is nothing aimless about the revolution that has spilled out from the borders of New York City across the country and around the world. Just turn on CNN and you will see people protesting in Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, D.C, Toronto, and London. Yes, people are in fact tired but this fire for justice is being done in an extremely organized and peaceful manner. People are tired of injustice. They are tired of innocent people being gunned down with no consequences. We are tired of families being torn apart and most of all we should all be tired of a justice system that is fractured and applied unevenly based of the color of your skin or the number of zeroes on your bank statement.

As Dr. John Kinney says “if you don’t believe and expect change, you will be an obstacle to change.” So let’s use this as a teaching moment. Now is not the time to stop. The organization and sophistication of the protests has been impressive. So too are the faces in the crowd. It has been a long time since there has been so much diversity and solidarity on one issue. Feelings about the injustices within the justice system have moved from a local issue to a national issue and is now firmly on the global platform. Respect each other in the community and within the police. Be mindful of your words for they can incite hate and hate begets violence. Use your tools in a constructive manner (education, government, policy, grassroots organizing, and social media) as this is everyone’s issue. So what is my response to whether protests are aimless marching or organized action? March on…left, left, left, right, left.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#protest # peace #love #justice #ericgarner #icantbreathe #NYPD #ljsamuel #deardiary

Eric Garner Protestors


Jarrett. T. (2014, December 5). Protests against decision not to indict in Garner’s death continue. NBC News. Retrieved from http://www.nbc.news.com/news/us-news/protests-against-decision-not-indict-garners-death-continue-n262606.

Jorgensen, J. (2014, December 5). After huge demonstration, Bratton expects Eric Garner protests to ‘peter out.’ New York Observer. Retrieved from http;//www.observer.com/2014/12/after-huge-demonstration-bratton-expects-eric-garner-protests-to-peter-out/.

Kinney, J. (2014, December). A Change is Going to Come. Sermon presented at Metropolitan Baptist Church, Washington, DC.

Sanchea, R. & Prokupecz, S. (2014, December 4). Protests after. N.Y. cop not indicted in chokehold death; feds reviewing case. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/03/justice/new-york-grand-jury-chokehold/.

Source of photo: azcentral.com