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Knowing your rights when stopped by the police

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 19:22:47-04

Whether it’s a traffic stop or another encounter with law enforcement, knowing your rights as a citizen is critical for any encounter you may have with an officer.

It's a conversation being held in many households- what to do when interacting with police.

“We have to have these conversations with our sons and our daughters to let them know, "Hey if you encounter the police, you basically have to not say anything and cooperate,"" said Ebony Peterson of Bryan.

In addition, there are rights citizens have, and they should exercise them.

“Remain silent, that's one. You always have the right to remain silent. Two, you always have the right to ask for an attorney, and remember whatever you say can, and not might, will be used against you,” said Civil Rights Attorney U.A. Lewis.

Lewis points out that citizens have rights under the Constitution, like the right to not answer every question or consent to a search of your vehicle.

“Even if you don’t do anything wrong, even if you are that person that follows the law, you’re straight and narrow, all this good stuff, you still should not give a person consent to search your car. You should still not give them consent to search your person,” said Lewis.

She says some of the best de-escalation tactics involving police encounters are your constitutional rights.

“Just be quiet. Don't agitate the situation. Just shut down. Be quiet. Let them give you your ticket if that's what they're going to do. Don't fight them, curse them out, or be nasty. Just don't add fuel to the fire. You can always fight a later day a later time.”

While knowing your rights as a citizen is crucial, you also need to know who is policing you in your communities.

“Honestly get to know your local police officers. I'm not saying that just to be friendly or whatnot, but actually know the people who are policing you," said College Station resident Tre Watson. "So if you do encounter the police say, "Hey I'm such and such I’ve met you before.”"

Lawyers say the best advice they can give is for citizens to stay engaged with their local governments and to know what is going on and being discussed with all departments.