Protection From Our Protectors

Dave Killion — December 28, 2010

I have previously linked to an excellent video by the good folks at Flex Your Rights, called “10 Rules for Dealing With the Police”.  What I failed to mention was an earlier film by the same folks, called “Busted: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters.”  Let me correct that oversight –

When “Busted” first came out I made it a point to have my then-teenaged children watch it, and encouraged them to tell their friends all about it.  Even though both films were made in the USA, I think the recommendations apply equally well in Canada, and can help people avoid a lot of trouble.

Of course, there are folks who view any resistance to authority as poor citizenship.  In their minds, deference is the proper conduct when dealing with the police.  They say that if you haven’t done anything wrong,  if you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t have anything to fear.  They’re wrong on both counts.

You don’t have to be guilty to get in trouble.  There are countless cases of innocent people who have fallen victim to the legal system, even at the cost of their lives.  Sometimes a statement taken out of context can be distorted by an unethical prosecutor to obtain a conviction, and sometimes an innocent person will accept a plea bargain simply to avoid the possibility of a worse outcome.  In my view, the potentially disastrous consequences built into any interaction with the police is more than sufficient grounds for taking every precaution available.

As to having nothing to hide, well, lots of folks have things to hide that aren’t illegal.  We don’t let strangers pry into our lives or go through our stuff without our permission, and we don’t permit agents of the state any exception unless they first meet some very rigid requirements.  Furthermore, you may have something to hide and not even know it.  Imagine consenting to a search of your vehicle, and watching the cops fish a backpack that you don’t recognize out from the back seat.  Did one of your kid’s friends leave it back there?  What’s in it?  Can you prove it’s not yours?  Don’t take any chances, I say.  Flex your rights.

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