Today, I am going to continue sharing with you practical, actionable information on how you can survive an encounter with the police. In our last episode, we talked about how it is important to look at a situation from the police’s perspective and act in a manner that does not arouse suspicion. The final topic that the National Black Police Association addresses is: what to do when the police knock on your door. They state:
If the police knock at your door, you do not have to let them in unless there is a signed warrant. Always ask to see the warrant. If it appears proper on its face, you must step aside and let them into your home or business.
If it is an arrest warrant, look at the name on the warrant to make certain they have the right person. If it is a search warrant, make sure the address is correct and note what is specifically listed on the warrant to be searched for in your home.
If the police do not have a warrant, you do not have to let them in unless they insist. Perhaps you can settle this matter at the door. If they do insist, over your objections, then be careful to:
– First, ask for a police badge and identification
– Second, ask the purpose of entering your home.
– Third, let them in only after they insist.
– Fourth, if you object, make sure that the police know that you do not consent to any search of your home or business.
– Fifth, remember badge numbers, officer’s faces, and the time of day. Write this information down.
The police are not required to give you a receipt for property they intend to book as evidence such as stolen goods, guns, etc. However, when property is taken from your home, ask the police for a receipt.
The police may also search without a warrant whenever arresting an individual. They may search the individual under arrest, the area near the arrest, and the room where the arrest was made if inside the home. They may also search after consent is given. Police may also search when there is an emergency (for example, someone screaming for help inside your home), or when chasing you or someone else inside your home.
If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by. If you are in a building, “close by” usually means just the room you are in.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED OR TAKEN TO A POLICE STATION
You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the police nothing except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decides is best.
FINALLY, CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
Ask to see a lawyer, immediately. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one and should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Don’t say anything without a lawyer. Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, bail will be set. Have your lawyer ask the judge about the possibility of lowering the bail. You must be taken before the judge on the next court day after an arrest. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.
This concludes our discussion of what to do in an encounter with the police from the National Black Police Association. If you follow their advice, I can assure you that any encounter you have with law enforcement will turn out better — not only for you, but for your family and your community.