Advice / all

“It is totally normal to be scared or not able to think right when you are in a situation that may get you killed,” writes VOX ATL’s Dentavius Roberson. “You should try your best to calm down and take deep breaths so that the officer understands you.”

Photo by Dentavius Roberson/VOX ATL

10 Helpful Ways to Interact With the Police

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I already know what you’re thinking. Here we go again with someone trying to tell us what we should do while we’re the ones getting shot. No, not we as in everybody, most people don’t have a second thought about this. We as in African Americans. F**ked up, right? Most people I know would avoid even interacting with the police but sometimes it’s inevitable. Do you even know how to talk to the police? Do you know how to try and stay safe? I  have 10 solid tips for you if you don’t. 

Keep Hands Visible at All Times

Make sure the officer can see your hands at any given moment. We all have heard the scenario where the police claims that someone reached for something or says “I couldn’t see their hands.” Keep your hands visible. Hold them in the air if you feel the need. No matter what, your hands should be still. You may feel uncomfortable being so still for that long period of time but at least you’re safe.

Be Respectful (Even When Being Disrespected)

We never know what to expect from a person, or their intentions. You could get pulled over by an officer who had a rough day and if you guys get into it, that could be his last straw and push him over the edge to do something irrational. I know you probably hate being disrespected and probably don’t want to look scared, but your life’s not worth a couple minutes of humiliation. Remember they don’t bury the scared, they bury the dead.


I can not emphasize how important this rule is. Never ever run from the police because their first thought would be that you are guilty. Like dogs, when you run from them, the first thing that clicks in their mind is to hunt, and the police are pretty much the same way. Also, running is your way of pleading guilty to them. You will will be arrested with no questions for running from them. It can cause more charges or more seriously, you could be shot in your back.

No Hand Gestures 

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This doesn’t seem like a big deal but trust me it is very essential when talking to the police. It may be hard for certain people (like me), but you can not talk with your hands when talking to the police.  They probably already have their hands on their weapon and once you make a bad or uncertain move, you’re dead. 

If Cuffed, Don’t Speak at All

Once you are cuffed I think it is best to be silent. I’ve never seen a person talk their way out of being arrested. So basically you are wasting your time trying to reason and bargain with them. This is also in the Miranda rights that they read to you (“you have the right to remain silent”) and please believe they are recording so EVERY word will be used against you.

Know Your Basic Rights

If you don’t know your basic rights, there is no way that you could know your rights are being violated. I advise everyone to get at least a little knowledge of the law even if you don’t like the law. At least you’ll know when you are not being mistreated. BUT when you are being violated and you notice it, wait until after the interaction to address it. Try to remember as much as you can about the officer and report him as soon as you can. If you feel that you’re being mistreated in that moment, the officer could come up with an idea to keep you quiet. The second amendment supposedly ensures us the right and freedom to bear arms. Which means we can buy a firearm for our protection and safety and keep it on us at all times. So if you have a firearm on you, make sure you alert them of it and tell them where it is. Learn the law or at least the first ten amendments.

Never Escalate The Situation

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Every situation is not the same. We are not always enemies to the police and there won’t always be someone willing to shoot you for no reason. There are actually some good people working as cops. On the other hand, we’ve been treated with so much cruelty that we put them all in the same box. If you do run into a cop that is just trying to do his job, don’t reach for minor things to accuse them to be a bad cop. When you yell and are disrespectful, the outcome will never be in your favor. Stay calm and if the officer is not calm, ignore it and be as still as possible.

Speak Clearly and Don’t Contradict Yourself

It is totally normal to be scared or not able to think right when you are in a situation that may get you killed. You should try your best to calm down and take deep breaths so that the officer understands you. You should never go against what you say. When you do this officers automatically think you are lying. Have your facts straight and never leave out details. People often twist their stories and words and it put them in a situation that is worse.  

Yes Or No to Search

There are plenty of situations where a cop would ask to do a search. They can ask to search you, your house, your car, etc. In a perfect world, if you didn’t do anything wrong or illegal you should always say “yes” to a search. On the other hand, we’re in a cruel world so agreeing to a search isn’t always a good idea for African-Americans. So I’ll say based on the type of energy you get from a cop is the way you should answer that question. If the cop was rude the whole time, disrespectful, and unreasonable you shouldn’t let them check your car. You can tell that cop had negative intentions from the beginning. 

Be Calm Through the Process

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Be calm to keep the officer calm. When you’re tense, the officer will be tense automatically, just because of your energy. I’m not saying you will be shot if you’re tense but you never know with the police in America. So a calm relaxed person never looks guilty in an officer’s eyes but then again a wii remote doesn’t look like a gun. Still, try and give the officer the utmost respect.

We all wish that the world was good enough to not have to interact with the police, but we likely will at one point in our life. Stay safe by cooperating and just being the bigger person. Like I said, all cops aren’t bad guys, but there are some out there that will take your life for a reason they’ll only admit to God. This is in no way, shape, or form the way humans should have to live. I 100% agree with Jay-Z when he says, “What now?”


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