There’s been a lot of talk of crime and policing and the law in the news as of late. There are some events, political and otherwise, that have put the issues in the spotlight and brought some good questions to the forefront of the public mind. So, we’re going to take the time to address some truths of the matter and ensure that we’re all informed the next time we’re caught in the middle of it all.
Cooperating with the police isn’t always the right answer
This isn’t suggesting that you should be a jerk to every cop that says hello. If you ever get stopped by a police officer, there are right ways and wrong ways to act. If you’re rude and overly assertive, then you’re going to put yourself in a worse situation as far as their discretion goes. Turn down your radio, wind down the car window, say hello and show your license and registration. It’s when they start asking you to do stuff that you should make sure that you’re carefully considering whether you cooperate. In particular, don’t consent to searches if they don’t have a warrant. Even if you have nothing to hide, you don’t know what they’re going to uncover and what damage they might do in the process.
Always ask for your lawyer
When things look like they might be taking a turn towards the chances of you getting questioned or arrested, that’s when you should immediately stop answering any questions they have. The truth will not always set you free, contradictory to the common saying. Ask the police if you’re being detained or arrested. If they say yes, then the magic words are ‘I am exercising my right to silence and would like to talk to a lawyer’. Criminal defense lawyers know better ways to answer inquiries than you do. Even innocent answers you give can seemingly trip you up later, putting you in a worse situation.
No, we’re not living in the most dangerous time ever
It’s a common thread in discussions about crime and one that should be put to bed immediately. Yes, we have some bad crime problems in the country. But there aren’t waves of historic crime sprees as indicated by some (presidential and non-presidential) opinions. The fact is that we live in the safest time in our country’s history. Even if someone states that crime rates have gone up over the past year, it doesn’t take into account the historic lows we’re seeing overall in crime. What is higher and higher, however, is the public perception of crime. That’s the perception that political movers and shakers will use to excuse stripping away rights and engaging in prejudice.
The fact is that the policing system and our current ideas of crime and where it comes from at the moment are both out of whack. But understanding that will not only help you stay safe out there but stay informed. It’s that information that stops us from making the same assumptions and operating under the same prejudices as some others.