The police are in place to help people. They exist to keep communities safe, prevent crime, and bring perpetrators to justice. And the vast majority of police officers are good people who do fantastic work.

But as with any profession, there are bad apples who have been known to abuse their power, or those whose inexperience has led them to make costly mistakes. Most days, if you switch on the news you will see a story about a police officer using excessive force, or someone whose rights were violated by law enforcement.

If you have experienced police misconduct or abuse, it is understandably an upsetting and distressing thing to go through. You may be feeling shocked, confused, and unsure as to the right course of action. After all, the police are there to prevent these kinds of things happening, so who do you report this to?

To help you find justice and move on with your life, here are the steps you should take during and after the event. 

Stay calm

In the heat of the moment, your emotions may understandably be running high. You are probably angry, scared and upset, but you should do your best to remain calm and avoid aggravating the situation any more. Even though what you are experiencing is unfair, any outbursts could cause the officer in question to react badly and put you at risk.Lashing out verbally or physically may cause the officer to feel like they are justified in using force against you.

Know your rights

When interacting with a police officer, you have several basic rights you should be aware of. Although many modern police precincts now require their officers to use body cams and dashboard cams, you also have a right to record your conversation on your phone or any other recording device. This may help to deescalate a situation and will serve as evidence should you need it later on. If you have been arrested, you have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. You can’t be detained with good cause, so if an officer has not arrested you, ask them politely if you are free to go before leaving quickly and quietly.

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Record the incident

If you have managed to get the incident on video, that will help you a lot when you come to report what has happened. But either way, you should write down everything that occurred in as much detail as possible while it’s still fresh in your mind. Make note of the officer’s name and license plate, direct quotes, and any additional facts that could be important. 

Seek legal counsel

If misconduct has occurred, you should seek legal counsel. Although it may be difficult to relive the experience, this will help you receive compensation while also ensuring the officer in question won’t do it again. There are many police misconduct lawyers who specialize in these kinds of scenarios so it’s a good idea to do your research and find the right attorney for your needs.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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