Saturday, August 16, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by Alexis Dobbins with 0 comment

Safety Tips from Behind the Blue Wall of Silence

Safety tips for dealing with the police|  Yes, We Rise
By now, you're probably familiar with the "situation" in Ferguson ("situation" being code word for any activity or set of circumstances in which we are uncomfortable using the appropriate term). It's Thursday night and a new sheriff is in charge and walking with the protesters.

Um, okay.

So while we may think that things are better, if only for one night as Luther would say, what about the "situation" in other cities all across the country? If you are black and live in America, you know that the police can be your best friend or your worst enemy. How do we know when to do what? Righteous indignation feels good, but at the end of the day we all want to get back safely to our homes.

I wrote a piece in 2009 based on the "Engaging Boys of Color" conference hosted by David Miller, head of the Dare to be King program. The event featured a presentation by Dr. Jerry Semper titled "Reacting Positively to the Police" that focused on safe driving tips for young black men. Whether driving, walking, or standing on the corner, some of those tips are just as crucial in 2014.

  • Pull over (or stop moving) right away, as soon as possible. Do not attempt to outrun, avoid, or elude officers in any way. You will not be successful. You will not win.
  • Place your hands where they can be seen (i.e., top of steering wheel or up in the air). We now know this is not always a pass for continued living, but still beats the alternatives.
  • Be correct. If your driver’s license is in Boogie’s uncle’s house, or you left it at your girl’s house, let someone else drive. Someone else who has their license with them. Or you should all walk. Do Metro. Do a cab. Do home. Being correct includes all of the paperwork associated with driving - license, registration, and insurance card. If not, Officer Friendly feels justified in giving you a hard time
  • Keep Mr. I Don’t Give a Damn out of your car. For real, tho. If you have a friend who says things like “They gonna give me 5 years. Whatever. I can do 5 years with my eyes closed”, leave him - or her - home. Do not put them in your car. Ever. Semper even suggests that you put friends in your car only if you know how they handle under pressure. Your boy G-Man just a little off? Easy call, he has to walk. No gas, no brakes, make up whatever story is necessary but he can not be your passenger. If you can’t control him from the beginning, what will you do when he starts to harass the police officer? Go with a “yo, my man” and keep it moving. You in the car, him on foot.
  • Don’t drive dirty. Pretty self-explanatory, but in case you don’t get it, here we go. No drugs. Underage folk. Drugs. Stolen goods. Fighting dogs and chickens. Drugs. Keep it out of your car. This one is easy. You will definitely not win.
  • Maintain a pleasant demeanor. Short, polite responses are all you need to give. And that means everybody in the car, not just you. (This goes back to keep Mr. IDGAD out of the car to start with).
  • And lastly, don’t argue. Ever. The officer wants to get in out of the cold, or the heat, or the rain, and you don’t want to hand him an easy reason. In the event that you are taken in to the whatever, don’t argue. Just go. Politely. With a pleasant demeanor. (You aren't expected to continue to smile, just close your mouth and be polite.). This is definitely a situation where YOU WILL NOT WIN. Just go. Quietly. With your mouth closed.


For many of us, though, we are so not feeling what worked in 2009. Too many deaths-by-cop, too many unanswered questions, too many "situations". Check out this "Don't Talk to Cops" clip, where Retired NYPD Detective Carlton Berkeley has a more direct approach to dealing with law enforcement. This brother, who has "I am nothing but the truth" written all over him, says Just Don't Talk.




My two cents: get your game plan together before you have an encounter with the police. Pick up the Ten Rules of Survival When Stopped by the Police wall poster. Practice with your children what they should, and should not say. Or whether they should say anything.

Be prepared, y'all, be very prepared.


**Alexis**





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