Our criminal justice system works off of reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place or will take place. The police are not legally allowed to make several types of “orders” without that suspicion. But we know that this isn’t the way it actually works. Black Lives Matter has very successfully made the public aware that African American men and women are accused of crimes simply for walking around — or even staying put in their own homes, where Breonna Taylor was killed while sleeping.
If you are an African American man or woman, you should know what police officers have the right to demand and what they do not.
For example, police officers cannot ask you to do something illegal or unsafe. When they do, a person can legally act in self-defense. But that doesn’t make it the best course of action. Sometimes, the safest thing to do is follow orders — even when they’re illegal.
Police officers have no right to demand identification when there is no reason to suspect a crime. They can request identification, but a person does not legally have to provide it. We have the right to privacy, and that does not change just because the police ask for ID.
Were you pulled over without cause? The safest thing to do is immediately start recording. Whether you let the officer know the events are being recorded is up to you. You have the right to record an officer anywhere in the country. If you are not provided with a reason for being pulled over, the details will be captured in the video and you can approach a criminal defense attorney to discuss next steps later.
Whenever interaction with the police transpires, the goal should be your own personal safety. If you didn’t do anything wrong, no one should be acting in a way that makes you feel unsafe. That is not legal.