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What to do when encountering Police

January 31, 2017

After holding a workshop titled, "Teaching For Change: Engaging students on Police Violence", the question of, "how do we as teachers instruct students on how to handle encounters with the police?" It's a very important question and the answers seems to be simple. "Do what they tell you to do... Respect their authority and you'll be fine." However, students as well as teachers have evidence or personal experiences that following their instruction is no guarantee that they will be treated with respect or that they will not sustain trauma as a result of being abused and/or killed.

I've given this question a great deal of thought and even had in depth conversation with others on how to best answer this questions. Here's what I've come up with;

  1. Know your rights.  - 
  2. Respect their authority and comply with their requests as long as these request don't put you in harms way.
  3. Ask for the officers name & badge number, however I caution everyone to use there best judgement before doing this.  If the officer seems to be looking for any reason to fly off the handle, pay attention and try to get it off of there badge as well as the car number.
  4. At all cost, avoid being baited into saying or doing something that may be used to justify excessive force. 
  5. If possible record or ask a bystander to record the encounter.
  6. Immediately contact your parent, guardian and or other trusted adult and inform them about your encounter.

In no way am I claiming that taking these steps area full proof method, however I liken it to putting on a seat belt. There is know guarantee that it will save you from sustaining injury or even dying, but it does increase the chances of you surviving a crash.


Marques Armstrong

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