You have the right…
To be in a public place and to observe police activity.
If the police stop someone…
- STOP AND WATCH
- Write down officers’ names, badge numbers, and car number. Cops should give you this information when asked. You have the right to know their identity.
- When the stop is over approach the officers involved and ask for their card. In Denver they have to give it to you.
- Write down the time, date, and place of the incident.
- Use caution and if possible ask if the person is being arrested and on what charge.
- Get names of witnesses and how to contact them.
- Police can arrest someone they believe is “interfering” with their actions. Maintain a reasonable distance and if a cop threatens to arrest you, explain that you don’t want to interfere, but that you have the right to observe their actions.
- Try to get the name of the arrestee but only if they have already given it to police.
- Write down all the details as soon as possible.
- Remember to keep a safe distance away from the police officers and to keep on the sidewalk (not in parking lots or on other private property) as much as possible.
If the police stop you…
- Ask, “Am I free to go?” if not you are being detained. If yes, walk away.
- If they say they are detaining you ask, “Can you explain why you are detaining me?” To stop you the officer must have specific reasons to suspect your involvement in a specific crime (not just a guess or stereotype).
- You do not have to answer any questions. If the cop tickets or arrests you, you may be held for a while if you don’t show ID.
- Remember names and badge numbers of officers involved.
- If a cop tries to search your home, your care, or your person, say repeatedly that you “DO NOT CONSENT TO THE SEARCH”. The police can pat you down if they have reason to believe you are armed and involved in a crime, and they can search you and your possessions if they arrest you, and in a few other situations.
If the police arrest you…
- You will be handcuffed, searched, photographed, and fingerprinted.
- Say repeatedly, “I don’t want to talk until my lawyer is present.” No matter what refuse to talk until your lawyer/public defender arrives. If your arraignment or you are bonded out before talking to your lawyer, make sure to still say nothing while in custody.
- Do not talk to inmates in jail about your case.
- If you are on probation or parole tell your P.O. that you have been arrested but nothing else.
If the police abuse you or violate your rights…
- Write down details of the incident immediately.
- Photograph your injuries and get a medical report describing them.
- Call the ACLU or other civil rights attorneys.
- Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- File a report with the Office of the Independent Monitor. Though the just outcome may not occur, it is still important for both records as well as further legal actions.
You have legal rights, but many cops will not respect your rights.
BE CAREFUL-BE STREET SMART
Important Phone Numbers
ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
Denver City Jail (1351 Cherokee St)
Denver County Jail (10500 East Smith Road)
City Car Pound
Office of the Independent Monitor
Special thanks to Denver Copwatch “Know Your Rights” pamphlet.