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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Know Your Rights 101: What to Do If the Police Stop You

Last Friday, we were fortunate to have Ayisha Irfan, a trained facilitator provided through the New York Civil Liberties Union, come talk to us about our rights and responsibilities if we are stopped by the police. As young people living in New York City it is crucial that we know our rights, especially in our interactions with the police. This is a complicated matter, so we had a lot of questions for her! Here are a few take-aways:
  • You have the right to not speak and everything you say can be used against you. It is advisable to not tell the police anything except your name and address.  In New York you are not required to carry ID and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer unless you are issued a summons, arrested, or driving a vehicle.
  • A frisk is when the police pat down your outer clothing because they suspect you pose a danger to them or others. A frisk is legal and you should not resist a pat-down.
  • A search is when the police search your pockets, belongings, or car. If an office asks you to empty your pockets or belongings, do not do it! Legally, you have to consent to this search, and you should clearly state, “I do not consent to this search.” You should also state this if an officer reaches into your pockets and belongings. This may not stop the search from happening, but will protect your rights if you have to go to court.
It is important to recognize the need for law enforcement to perform their job effectively and safely, but we also need to make sure that our own rights and responsibilities are being honored!

We left the workshop feeling confident in our abilities to assert our rights and with a better understanding of the police’s responsibilities. Together, we can work together to make our communities safer!
For more information check out NYCLU's websiteprint out their What To Do If You Are Stopped By The Police Palm Card, or download their iPhone app “Know Your Rights.”

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