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Friday, September 23, 2016

"Been There, Done That" Hosts Meeting on Surviving Po-Po Encounter

On 22 September 2016, Pensacola group, "Been There, Done That," founded by Ms. Nicole Barnes and assisted by Baptist Behavioral Medicine therapist, Ms. Lashica Charley, and Nicole's daughter Deja, hosted a community meeting at the Englewood Baptist Church.  The purpose of the meeting was to explore how to survive an encounter with the local police.  Two local experts, attorney Aaron Watson and Pensacola Police Department Chief David Alexander, spoke for about 90 minutes and answered questions from the floor.  Chief Alexander spoke for a majority of the time and hoped there would be a larger community discussion of the complex issue of community policing.  "Been There, Done That" is planning more meetings for later in the year.

On each side of a civilian-police encounter is a situation fraught with uncertainty and danger, both experts agreed.  The civilian has constitutional rights.  The police have rights related to enforcing the law.  They may or may not violate your constitutional rights during the encounter.  Mr. Watson advocated that you comply with police commands and sort out your constitutional rights the next day.  The main focus should be to survive the encounter.

Attorney Watson provided a handout from the American Civil Liberties Union covering encounters with police, immigration, or the FBI if you are questioned, if they come to your home, and if you are arrested.  The following are just a few of the recommendations:

  • You have the right to remain silent.  If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
  • You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your home.
  • If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
  • You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested.  Ask for one immediately.
  • Do stay calm and be polite.
  • Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
  • Do not lie or give false statements.
  • Do remember details of the encounter.
  • Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.
  • Stay calm.  Don't run.  Don't argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights.  Keep your hands where police can see them.
  • Ask if you are free to leave.  If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.  If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
  • You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions.
  • You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may 'pat down' your clothing if they suspect a weapon.  You should not physically resist, but you the right to refuse consent for any further search.  If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.

Chief Alexander provided a checklist of 11 things to remember and do "When Confronted by a Law Enforcement Officer.  These are provided below in abbreviated form:

  • 1.  Keep your hands in plain view so the officer can see that you are not armed or pose an immediate threat to him.
  • 2.  Don't make any sudden moves, reach under a seat, reach into your pocket, put a hand inside a jacket, etc.  These furtive movements may alarm an officer that he is in danger.
  • 3.  If you have a firearm in your vehicle, inform the officer immediately of its location and let the officer remove and secure it during the encounter.  Under NO circumstances should you ever reach for the weapon.
  • 4.  Listen to the officers instructions and if you do not understand what he requires of you, ask him to repeat his request.
  • 5.  Do what the officer requests of you.
  • 6.  DO NOT take an aggressive or hostile position or attitude.
  • 7.  Answer the officer's questions honestly and as completely as you can.  If there is information you wish not to divulge, politely inform the officer you do not wish to provide that information.  If he insists and you are adamant in your position, invoke your legal right to not answer until you have spoken with an attorney.
  • 8.  Maintain and produce official identification when asked by an officer.
  • 9.  Don't argue with an officer.  You have the right to request to speak with a supervisor if you can't get answers to your questions.
  • 10.  No one likes to be stopped or questioned by law enforcement; however, remember these contacts are necessary if we are to provide for your safety and security and to enforce the laws we are sworn to uphold.
  • 11.  If you are detained and arrested DO NOT resist.  Remember, resistance could lead to additional charges even if you are innocent of the original charge.
If you listen to Attorney Watson, he advises that you NOT CONSENT to searches.  Protect your constitutional rights when answering questions from law enforcement.

As an editorial aside, Sheriff Morgan was invited to attend but apparently he declined or did not respond to the invitation.

Remember, Sheriff Morgan just won the Republican primary and he did not receive a single Democratic vote.  He apparently provided for some Black guy to enter the Democratic primary who then promptly skeedaddled and disappeared to points unknown--thus depriving Democrats of the opportunity to vote in the Republican primary.  The only time Sheriff Morgan comes into the Black community is when he goes to a Black church that has received funds from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund or otherwise gets ECSO support and the Sheriff can sing obscure Negro spirituals that no one remembers.

Below, are video presentations of the community meeting.

Ms. Nicole BARNES

Attorney Aaron WATSON


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