How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 3 (The Man in the Mirror #5)

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.


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.


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.

How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 2 (The Man in the Mirror #4)


In our last episode, we talked about the importance of responding the right way to situations when you are confronted by the police or others in authority. You may feel like you are being profiled or that the only reason you are being stopped or questioned is because of the color of your skin or because of the neighborhood you happen to be in.

miami-policeChristian rapper, Lecrae, shared that he had just left a concert in Chicago recently, and he was in a car with several other people. As they were driving through a certain neighborhood, the man who was driving the car said, ‘The police are probably going to pull us because there are a lot of us in here.’ “Us” meaning black and latino young men in the same car. And, sure enough, a few minutes later, they were pulled by the police. So, these kinds of cases are real, and they happen frequently across America.

However, as you will recall from our last episode, I encouraged you to purposefully have a calm, respectful attitude if and when you are confronted by the police. If you do that, it may not seem like much, but you will be making it better not only for yourself, but for other young black men and women in America. This past weekend, we unfortunately heard the tragic news that a man — a young black man — who claimed to be getting revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner shot and killed two New York City police officers who were sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn, NY. Such a heinous crime will only serve to deepen the distrust and hostility between police forces and black communities across America. That young black man, who also took his own life, made it worse for everyone. He carried his anger against and/or hatred for the police to an extreme, and that is what I do not want you to do no matter how wrong you feel the police may be.

Right now, I am going to continue sharing with you how you can survive an encounter with the police. Remember, the purpose here is for you to remain alive and free as a young black person in America. In our last episode, we discussed what to do if you are stopped while driving or walking on the street. Today, we are going to go over some do’s and don’ts regarding dealing with the police. These tips are from the National Black Police Association. They state:

– Keep your hands where the police can see them

– Please…do not run!

– Do not touch any police officer.

– Do not resist – even if you believe you are innocent.

– Do not complain too strongly on the scene or tell the police they’re wrong or that you’re going to file a complaint.

– Ask for a lawyer immediately when arrested.

– Record officers’ badge numbers and patrol car numbers and write down everything you remember – as soon as possible.

– Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers

Now, there are many factors that may lead the police to approach and/or detain you. Every situation is different and the officer may consider one or more of the following factors. Knowing this will help you see things from the police officer’s perspective no matter how innocent you think you are.

– You are near a location where a crime has been recently reported or discovered.

– You may be – knowingly or unknowingly – a witness to a criminal event or a potential criminal target.

– You are hanging around with people or at locations that are being monitored by the police to prevent crimes.

– You are acting in a manner which appears to be suspicious or potentially criminal; or the police believe you may be in possession of stolen property, contraband, or weapons.

– When walking or driving your car, you refuse to answer police questions and/or give false, evasive, or contradictory information; or you are combative and use derogatory or offensive language when approached. Your reaction may be perceived as suspicious or threatening. Saying the wrong things at the wrong time could lead to further police detainment, questions, increased stress or a trip to jail. Who needs this?

– You have been identified to the police by someone else or you fit the description of a criminal actor.

Remember, police must be able to articulate to the court’s satisfaction what “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” was used to stop, detain, and arrest a citizen.

We will continue with more tips on how to survive an encounter with the police in our next episode.

How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 1 (The Man in the Mirror #3)


You have likely heard people use the phrase “driving while black” or “shopping while black” more often in recent times. Blacks have come to use such phrases to describe how they feel mistreated or feel as though they are looked at suspiciously by police, store workers, security guards, and others simply because of the color of their skin.

miami-policeA few months ago, an upscale department store in New York City reached a $525 million settlement with two young black people who experienced such discrimination. 19-year-old Trayon Christian and 21-year-old Kayla Phillips both legally purchased items from the store, however after they left the store, they were followed and detained by police officers who had been summoned by store workers on the suspicion that they had stolen the items from the store. Others, particularly black men, have reported that such “shop and frisk” cases are common for blacks who shop at higher-end retailers. Even though they felt insulted and humiliated, these two young people worked through the legal system to resolve their cases. Not only did they end up winning a legal settlement in their favor (and a whole lot of money), but they caused the New York store chain to adopt a Customer’s Bill of Rights which prohibits employees from profiling customers and acting on suspicions based solely on the race of the customer. In short, they made things better for everybody.

The sad truth, however, is that such a case may still happen to you as a young black person in America. You may face scrutiny, suspicious glances, or extensive questioning from store workers, security guards, and the police when all you are doing is shopping, driving or walking down the street. Many people make the mistake of reacting negatively or in a hostile manner when they are confronted by law enforcement because they feel as though they are being treated unfairly. Such a reaction, unfortunately, often leads to arrests, rough handling by the police, and, far too often, a police officer fatally shooting the suspect.

Today, I want to begin sharing with you how you can survive an encounter with the police. Contrary to what some today would have you to believe, the police are not your enemy. The police are a part of a God-ordained governmental authority structure. The Bible says in Romans 13:3-5: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” When you show respect for the police and the government, you are being obedient to God by honoring the authority He has set up.

However, police are human. They are flawed, and they sometimes make mistakes. Some often harbor prejudices and subscribe to stereotypes that cause them to see a young black man or a young black woman as more likely to commit a crime, and therefore, more deserving of suspicion. Thus, they may be more inclined to deal with a young black person in a rough manner. So, my aim in talking with you over the next few episodes is to simply help you stay alive and stay out of jail. No matter how you feel about how the police or the justice system treats minorities in this country, I think you would agree that it is better to have such feelings and be alive and free than it is to be dead or in jail.

So, today, I am going to share with you how to survive an encounter with the police while driving or while walking. These tips are from the National Black Police Association. They state:

If you are driving a vehicle, the police can ask you to pull over at any time. The best thing to do in this situation is to pull over and follow the officer’s directions. The officer will request to see your driver’s license, registration and/or proof of liability insurance – this you must do.

If you are stopped at night, turn on your dome light and show the officer that nothing is wrong. It is best to do nothing which may give reason to search further. Having your lights on and keeping your hands on the steering wheel will usually put the officer’s mind at ease.

Chances are that the officer is going to write out a ticket for a traffic violation. Of course, you may start to explain at this point but you should limit your comments. Be careful how you protest. A simple traffic violation may start costing you a fortune in fines for other violations. If you think that the ticket is incorrect – then, carry your protest to traffic court. If you’re given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested.

Police may stop and detain you only if they have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you are about to commit or have committed a crime. If you’re suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and refuse to take a blood, urine or breath-test, your driver’s license may be suspended.

In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.

Now, if you are stopped by the police while walking:

The police may ask for your name if you have been properly detained; you can be arrested in some states for refusing to give it. If you reasonably fear that your name is incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, which may be a defense in case you are arrested anyway. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer might make the police suspicious about you.

Police may “pat-down” your outer-clothing – if, they suspect a concealed weapon. Don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you don’t consent to any further search. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why. Don’t bad-mouth the police officer or offer resistance, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.

Most of the problems you may encounter with the police can be avoided. Remember, the police may think they have reason (probable cause) to stop you and ask questions. At this time, you should collect your thoughts and remain calm. Whether or not you are detained or arrested may just depend on how calm and prepared you are at this time. Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions. Don’t get into an argument with the police. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.

We will continue with more tips on how to survive an encounter with the police in our next episode.

Take Full Responsibility (Letter 17)


Dear Y.B.M.:

responsibilityI am writing you today from a basement office of a church in New Haven, Connecticut. I trust that you are continuing to grow as a young man.

In this letter, I would like to kindly share with you some things about taking responsibility for yourself, and for your life. Somehow, many of us, as young black men, did not acquire a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility. Frankly, many of us are afraid of responsibility. Obviously, there are some who are not afraid of responsibility. But many of us are. And the lack of this one quality can handicap you throughout your life.

I believe that the main reason why many of us as young black men do not have a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility is because we have never been taught it, and because, we have not seen it exemplified by many older black men. Most of us have seen our black women take responsibility, but seldom have we seen our black men do so. This is a tragedy.

The quality of taking responsibility does not come naturally. It has to be taught — more by example than by anything else.

A second reason why we do not take responsibility for our lives as we should is because self-responsibility goes against human nature. Taking responsibility does not come easy. It is human nature, and much easier to be irresponsible than responsible. It is easier, but not better, to have the attitude that the world owes you something — when it does not! It is easier, but not better, to let others take care of you. It is easier, but not better, to be an employee and not the boss. (Believe it or not, being the boss is much more difficult than being the employee. Why? Because the boss is responsible for everything.) It is much easier, but not necessarily better, to stay single even if you do not have the gift of celibacy, than to get married. But staying single and having sex and having babies is irresponsible as well as destructive to so many lives including your own. It is far better to make a commitment to someone special, be responsible, get married, have children, and take care of your family. And may I say being married with children takes a mature and responsible person.

Now below are some of the dangers of not taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives:

1. You will live a sad life, constantly having to blame others for your failures and problems. But this will just make matters worse. The problem, son, is “the man in the mirror.”

2. You will live a life of constantly being a follower and not a leader, because a leader must take responsibility for himself and others.

3. You will live a pathetic life, constantly depending on other people.

You may not be a completely responsible person now, but the good news is that you can be. Here is the main way that you and I can do that:

By simply making a firm resolute DECISION to be responsible for yourself, your life and for those God places under your care. Always remember that much of life is a matter of decisions. Whatever you are, whatever you are doing, and whatever you become, will rest largely upon the decisions that you make in life. Not only is “knowledge power,” but “decision is power” as well. Decisions are powerful for good or bad. At every issue in life, and at every crossroad, take the high road of self-responsibility.

If you need more money, get a job. No excuses! Just get a job. Don’t have car insurance? The law requires that you have it. Get the insurance or stop driving. A bill is due? Either pay it or call the people and make other arrangements. No excuses! Just do it! Have you found the right lady that God wants you to marry? Don’t shirk! Don’t jive! Don’t hee-haw and mee-maw! Take responsibility and marry the girl, and then take responsibility and take care of her and the children. No excuses! Just do the right thing.

Take responsibility for all that you do, all that you say and all that you are, and never blame anyone else for your situation.

Taking Responsibility,

Daniel Whyte

Power Thoughts

P.T.: Colin L. Powell said, “Success is the result of hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”

John Maxwell said, “Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.”

Billy Graham said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”