Policemanship: A Guide
Posted by lahar9jhadav on September 1, 2012
Policemanship: A Guide
by Doc Stanley
Your life and future depend on how you handle yourself in your contacts with the police. If you handle yourself poorly you will go to jail, be subjected to police harassments, get beaten up or perhaps even killed. If you handle yourself well, you will be permitted to continue your life as a free citizen. Policemanship is perhaps the most important art one can learn in contemporary America.
The first, prime, ultimate thing to remember in dealing with, police officers is RESPECT. RESPECT is the key. If you treat police officers with respect you will have less trouble in your relations with the police than if you do not. If you cause or permit a police officer to feel that you do not respect him or his department you may be beaten up, arrested roughly or shot.
If you are so disrespectful to a policeman that his image of self is threatened, you are in danger of losing your life. Almost all police officers are touchy about respect for police and will act with violence if they feel that proper respect is not shown. If on the other hand, you cause a police officer to feel that you do respect him, his uniform, his department and the law, he will not feel called upon to display the show of force which is his method of gaining respect.
Police officers are also touchy about being called by diminutive, pejorative, or slang names. Address all policemen as “officer," "Sergeant," "sir," or by their title if they are higher ranking officers. Do not under any circumstances use terms like “pig,” "copper," "fuzz," "nabs" or any other appellation which could be interpreted to indicate disrespect. In talking with police in the street or in public places look them in the eye and smile. Keep your hands in sight and make no rapid or fast moves. If you have occasion to reach into one of your pockets or into your purse, inform the officer that you wish to do so and ask his permission before you begin to move. "May I get my wallet out of my back pocket, please. Sir?" is a good form to use when asked for identification by a policeman. Stand at attention with your hands in the air when talking with a policeman after he has accepted your identification.
In all conversations with police officers it is safe to assume that at the time of the conversation you are in fact under arrest. The officer believes this and in case he feels it necessary to shoot you, he will testify that you resisted arrest and thus justify his action. Therefore, keep your hands up, speak in polite tones, and don’t make any sudden moves, unless you want to get beaten up or die on the spot.
Keep the conversation with police officers to a minimum. Anything you may say will be used against you. There is no such thing as friendly conversation with a policeman. Any question he may ask or any information you may volunteer is part of his investigation.
Establish the fact that you are under arrest as quickly as possible in any encounter with policemen. Ask "Am I under arrest?" The officer must answer this question. If he answers "Yes," then ask him to transport you to the police station at once. Ask him to open the door of the police car and get in. Never, under any circumstances, offer the slightest resistance to arrest.
Welcome arrest, be happy about it, get to jail as fast as you can. The faster you get to jail, the faster you will get out and the less chance you give a police officer an excuse to beat or shoot you the better off you are. In this day and age it is rare for prisoners and arrestees to be beaten once they arrive at the station house or police headquarters. If any beating or shooting is to occur, it will be in the street or in the police car on the way to the lockup. If you are in the hands of the police get this part of the process over with as fast as you can in order to minimize the danger to your person.
You are entitled to the advice of a lawyer at ALL times in your dealings with the police. Under NO circumstances should you attempt to explain to police ANYTHING without the aid of your lawyer. Refuse to talk to police interrogators when your lawyer is not present. You are entitled to a phone call to your attorney, at PUBLIC EXPENSE. Demand your call and refuse to talk to police until you have contacted your lawyer. Do what he tells you—no more, no less.
If, on the other hand, when you ask "Am I under arrest?", the officer answers "No," thank him for his time and tell him, "I decline to discuss my private lawful business with police officers. Excuse me, sir," and wait until he drives away. Do not walk away from the police car—LET THE CAR PULL AWAY FIRST.
If the officer attempts to question you as to why you are continuing to stand by the police car after you have declined to discuss your private lawful business with the police, tell him that you are waiting for him to leave first. If you begin to walk away before the officer leaves the scene of the contact he may shoot you and later claim that you were resisting arrest. You won’t be there to contradict him, as you will probably be dead. LET THE OFFICER LEAVE FIRST! This is very important.
It should be borne in mind that respect is often confused with fear in the minds of some policemen. Thus a citizen who does not present a conservative middle class fear-respect attitude when being engaged in conversation by police is apt to be bullied and tested in order to determine his level of hostility to authority. If an individual protests his treatment, police officers have been known to bait him into a violent outburst which justifies the use of force and restraint in investigation. Provocative testing of individuals from minority groups has been held to be a major cause of the violent demonstrations among such groups.
Policemen will sometimes use the stress situation of arrest and investigation to coerce individuals to confess crimes which they did not commit. This misuse of the coercive power of police authority has caused large segments of the population to dispense with the services of police insofar as is possible.
A young man having been through the process of investigative arrest says, "The only time I’d call the police is when a murder was about to take place, because I would rather call the cops than explain a body." Thus in certain groups of our society the police are viewed as the enemy.
"They are always trying to bust you for a traffic warrant," a young lady reports. Persons with outstanding traffic warrants (probably several thousand warrants a day are added to the large number already outstanding) can not and do not report incidents of crime to the police for fear of arrest by the investigating officers.
"Routine" warrant checks on parents of teenagers in custody for curfew violations have been known to cause the parents to be arrested when they come to recover their children. A man with a traffic warrant outstanding is just as "hot" as the ten most wanted men.
A particular problem with the police is often experienced by persons who suffer chronic physical disabilities. Epileptics, for example, have frequently been denied medication while in custody. In one recent case, a diabetic about to enter insulin shock fought four guards to a standstill in a nearby city jail over the guards’ refusal to give him sugar to prevent the insulin reaction. Persons requiring medication should carry printed cards signed by a physician testifying to their condition before venturing on the heavily police-patrolled streets of Los Angeles.
In short, do not walk on the streets of Los Angeles alone, particularly at night when a pedestrian is an automatic suspect for the policeman in his mobile fortress. But if your job, or health or leisure activities require you to leave your home and you do have an encounter with a policeman, be courteous and stay calm. Never resist physically, say it in words. Don’t talk except to give your name and address. If you happen to be in an unusual place at an unusual hour, then just explain and stop. Say you will answer no more questions until your lawyer gets there. Tell the policeman you expect to be called Mr., Mrs. or Miss, but don’t argue about it. Tell them you would like the name and badge number of the officers and write them down. Tell them your lawyer said to do so and always carry an attorney’s card to show to the police.
If the police want to search ask them for a search warrant and then tell them, "You don’t have my permission to search but I won’t stop you." Say this whether you have anything to hide or not. While the search is on, say nothing except, "I’m innocent and I can’t say anything until my lawyer gets here." If you are arrested say you want to know the charge. (Tell the police Penal Code #841 requires this.) You can make two phone calls before three hours are up, one to your family or lawyer, and one to a bail bondsman (Penal Code #851.5). (They have 48 hours to book you. Ask for your lawyer or a court lawyer and for time to talk to him. Say nothing else until the lawyer arrives.
Don’t take "friendly" advice from officers, or discuss your case with other prisoners. Only your own lawyer is looking out for you. Ask for a chemical drunk test, if it’s a drunk charge arrest.
It’s all right to sign a traffic ticket. You don’t admit anything by signing. But once you sign appear in court or pay the bail to prevent a warrant from being issued.
Never carry opened alcoholic beverages in the car. Keep them in a locked trunk. Juveniles are entitled to a lawyer from the very beginning.
In short, remember to stay calm, don’t resist physically, don’t talk and know how you can reach a lawyer in a hurry. Your visit or residence in Los Angeles will be much happier if you remember these rules.
The Los Angeles Free Press
February 18, 1966