Know Your Rights When Interviewed - is it Wrong to Tell Someone?

Chris Rock How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police

I hope the title got your attention. I am not real good at those. What I figured I would do is turn the tables a bit. What if you are approached by the police and they wish to speak to you. What are your rights? How should you act? ... OK, flashbacks to the Chris Rock Video how to not get your a** kicked by the police) ... Seriously though, What would be wrong with a police officer giving the public pointers on this?

Well, apparently in Egypt, it is against the law.

Omar Afifi(Omar Afifi) ...worked in the state security department and refused to torture suspects. After he quit the force, he decided to inform the Egyptian public how to avoid getting abused by security forces.

In March, his “how-to” expose hit bookstores - only to get banned. “How Not to Get Smacked on Your Neck,” was
declared a “disturbance to public order” by the Egyptian government. Yet all the book featured were questions and answers informing Egyptians of their rights and how to deal with abusive police officers accordingly.

You can find the whole story here. It is strange what some governments think is a threat.

So anyways - why not give you some tips (so I can get banned in Egypt :P )

  1. Be courteous/polite. I know when you are stopped either driving or walking by the police it is an inconvinience. You may be offended because you were not doing anything wrong and you don't look like a criminal. Still - be courteous - it can go a long way. You do not know what the police officer saw from his/her perspective. You may think you look suspicious too.

  2. Answer straightforward. Do not be evasive - all that does is raise suspicion. Suspicion = further investigation.

  3. What if the police want to "pat me down." If a police officer can in any way articulate (and he is not require to do that with you) a suspicion that you can possibly be armed or that you are a threat to the officer - the police officer has a right to a pat-down search. See Terry vs Ohio which has long stood up in US courts. My best advice is to comply. You don't have to like it, but show rewspect and comply. Noncompliance can lead to an escalation of force. (ie getting your a** kicked)

  4. Do You have to answer? The answer is no. I suggest not being a jerk about it - simply say you choose your right not to answer. This may or may not lead to a longer detention. After all you were stopped based on suspicion, if you cannot help rule out the suspicion, the police need to use other means to investigate.

  5. What if they want to search my car? Can I refuse? If a police officer asks you for consent to search - you are not required to give it, and there is no "punishment" for refusing the search - it is your right to refuse. In my experience many police officers made the mistake of asking permission when it was not needed. If the police suspect you are armed - they can check the vehicle for weapons (where you have access). If they have probable cause that there is contraband in the vehicle and it is a traffic stop - they can search the vehicle under exigent circumstances. No, a warrant is not required. Probable cause means the police can say you probably have contraband in the car - it is not sophisticated. If a drug dog alerted to the vehicle - they have probable cause.
Chances are if you are doing nothing wrong - simple cooperation is best. If you are doing something wrong - do not say anything - use your rights.

Stay Safe!


  1. of course those that need to read this will not. refusing to answer a police officer and/or refusing permission to search your vehicle is easier said than done. i know ppl who have been in this position and the cops response is to make things difficult for the driver by finding things to write a summons about. such as, "did you know that the bulb for you license plates is out? that's a fine."

    unfortunately, there are cops out there that abuse their power.


  2. Maria - true there are police that abuse their powers. I was just trying to give a general how to when you are in one of thses situations :)

  3. Even when I have done nothing I tend to get defensive and so your advice is sound. You are right in that being evasive only creates suspicion. Great tips!

  4. HNWM - I am "just giving the facts ma'am" (in a Joe Friday voice)

  5. The most important thing to remember is that the gunman is armed. Whether you "did anything" or not is irrelevant.

    The gunman's weapon is.

    Especially if your resources are limited, if there are likely to be little or no consequences to the gunman whatever he decides to do to you - or anyone else in the vehicle, your goal is to escape, and the best way to escape is by doing and saying what the gunman wants to hear.

    Sometimes that is enough, they just want acknowledgement of their power, and especially if you are well-dressed and have an educated and courteous manner, there might be the chance that you will be missed, that you or loved ones could have resources that could cause them inconvenience, they will let you go. The "educated and courteous manner" part can actually be more important than how you are dressed, even your ethnic group or appearance.

    If you are very polite and cooperative, and do not show any sign of annoyance or distaste for whatever they order you or others in the car to do, even if you have an "at risk" ethnicity or appearance they will let you go after making everybody obey a few orders.

    If they are not placated, and wish to seize you, politely ask them to follow you, or allow you to follow them, to the closest police station. This can save lives, because there is more likelihood that someone in the police station will have a concern about possible inconvenience, and once you are "booked" then there is documentation that you were there, unlike on a lonely highway.

    This can also be a good way to escape gunmen who are not actually associated with any police departments!

    Especially if you are female, elderly, or otherwise more physically vulnerable, when you are asked to pull over, you should not do so, but instead drive to the nearest police station, calling them on your cell phone to let them know that you are on the way!

    And remember that before videotaping any police activity, check to see whether this is legal in your community. And even if it is, don't get caught doing it!

  6. anon- I am not sure where you are coming from - as you are referring to "the gunman" , "escaping" and the like.

    It is horrible advice to not pull over for the police.

    I am not sure what you have been smoking, or maybe your comments are for some other post - But thanks for stopping and commenting anyways.


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