With the “World’s Greatest College Weekend” almost upon us, there is a chance you may have an interaction with a police officer before the end of spring semester. Police officers are tasked with enforcing laws and promoting public safety. They have a tremendous responsibility and wield significant power.
At Indiana University Student Legal Services, we believe knowledge is empowering. So, here are some things to know to help you have safe, civil, and successful interactions with law enforcement during Little 5 or anytime you are approached.
Interacting With Police
Whether a police officer is approaching you, stopping you, or arresting you, DON’T RUN and DO STAY CALM. Running away from police or becoming highly agitated will escalate the encounter.
You have a constitutionally protected right to record on-duty police activity. If you choose to record, start recording and notify the police officer that you are exercising your first amendment right to record the interaction.
It may not be clear what kind of an interaction you are having right away. Our best advice is to ask the police officer,
“Am I free to go?”
If the police officer tells you that you are not being detained, you can let the police officer know that you’d like to leave.
If a police officer detains you for an investigatory stop, you cannot leave. You can voluntarily agree to cooperate with police, or not. You have constitutional rights that apply to interactions with police. If you want to exercise your rights, practice the following phrases:
- “I do not consent to any searches.”
- “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak with a lawyer before making any statements.”
- “I cannot let you in without a warrant.”
Witnessing A Police Interaction
If you are a bystander to a police interaction, you have a first amendment right to record public police activity.
If you chose to record, don’t interfere – document. Recordings of police interactions can be used as evidence and having a video recording can resolve some conflicts before they begin. You can say,
“Officer, I am not interfering. I am asserting my first amendment
right to record. You are being recorded offsite.”
In Indiana, you are required to carry a driver’s license only when you are operating a motor vehicle. You are required to provide the police with your name, address, date of birth only when a police officer stops you for an infraction or ordinance violation. In pretty much all other situations, you can voluntarily provide identification to police, but you are not legally required to do so.
Need More Help?
If you have any specific legal questions or issues, contact Student Legal Services. Call us at (812) 855-7867 for more information. We are here to serve your legal needs. We want to help you live the Dream at Indiana University.
You can schedule an appointment on our website at getlegal.indiana.edu or come in and fill out an intake form at 703 E. 7th Street.
Student Legal Services is a department within the Division of Student Affairs.
Written by: Kathleen Field – Staff Attorney, Student Legal Services