Tips for Interacting with Police

What are some tips for dealing with police? Attorney Ben Schwartz answers two viewer questions.

Tips for Interacting with Police

TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.

Today, we’re going to answer a viewer question. Ron in Dover, Delaware asked us two questions.

#1. The first question is: What should your response be if you’re pulled over by a police officer and he asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?

I can’t tell you what your response should be except to say that your response should be honest and truthful. You should never lie to the police; however, I’ll tell you what my response is. Every time I’ve ever been pulled over, my response is to say, “No, officer.” I’m not going to say anything to a police officer that’s going to incriminate me.

I’m an attorney. I’ve been to law school. I took the Criminal Procedure class, and I know enough to know that I have a right under the Fifth Amendment not to be called upon to testify against myself, whether that’s in court or out on the roadway. I’m never going to say, “Well, yeah…I know you pulled me over because I was weaving in and out of lanes because I had three margaritas before I left the bar.” I’m not saying that, and I’m not going to say, “I think you pulled me over because I was speeding.” I want the police officer to tell me. I have a police officer standing next to me, so I’m not going to answer that question. I’m just going to say, “No, I don’t know why you pulled me over” and leave it at that. That’s my advice. You can do what I would do or you can come up with your own answer to that question. I suggest that you really think it through and have a game plan ahead of time. But, I’m always going to say, “No, officer.

Other attorneys might tell you to say something else. Other attorneys I know would tell not to roll down your window. You don’t have any obligation to roll the window down. The officer can ask you for your identity (i.e., your driver’s license, your insurance card, your proof of registration) and you can hold it up. The officer can see it through the window. I know attorneys who will tell you to not even crack the window. But, my advice is to be compliant when possible. If you’re not engaged in criminal activity at the time, my advice is to be compliant and respectful; don’t volunteer any information.

#2. The second question Ron asked was, “If you have an encounter with a law enforcement officer, should you videotape that experience?

I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other. I personally do not have any intention of videotaping police officers. That’s just my opinion. But when you’re a 40-something-year-old white man in Delaware, you don’t really have much need to videotape police officers. I’m sure that plenty of people who will tell you that they want to videotape everything that happens if they’re contacted by police. They want to do this just to have a sense of their own personal security.

I know an attorney who is a minority who videotapes all encounters with the police. He has an app that he’s downloaded from the ACLU, and it will record the encounter. It also simultaneously uploads the video as it’s being recorded to the ACLU website and their server. If the phone gets destroyed out on the side of the road, the video does not get destroyed because a backup of that video was made. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other, but I don’t think I’m in a position to have an opinion one way or the other. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Use an ACLU app or some other app that will record the video and upload that video to a server somewhere off-site. This way, the video footage is preserved.

If you are watching this video and have more questions, email them to me. I’m happy to try and take a crack at answering them on the air. I appreciate the two questions, Ron!

My name is Attorney Ben Schwartz. Thank you for watching!

Tips for Interacting with Police

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