An Independent Journalist's Opinion
First of all, let me start this post off by stating that I am not a lawyer and the opinions I express in this post are in fact just that... My opinion. Nothing in my post should be taken as legal advise, but I would ask that you do your own research and come up with your own conclusions.
What I would like to convey to my readers and others who come across this post is what they should expect if they come in contact with an officer of the law. While I try very hard to keep my composure in my own contacts, sometimes i can get a little carried away when I feel my rights are being violated. I also would never condone violence if there are other means to the sought after end.
Lets us say that one day you are just walking down the street, minding your own business and an officer comes up to you and starts asking you questions. At this point we have a consensual conversation and it is entirely up to you if you want to stop and
chat or just keep walking. Unless an officer can articulate facts that you are in the process of committing a crime, let us use littering or jaywalking as an example, about to commit an offence, or just committed an offence, he or she can not force you to stay and speak with him or her. You can find out where you stand by asking if you are being detained or if you are free to leave. If you can I would encourage you to walk away.
Now when police get a call for service they have to respond and most likely contact the person the call was about. My favorite type of call to use as an example is a suspicious person call. Someone sees someone that they think is acting suspicious but not necessarily breaking any laws, but call the police anyways to appease their own conscious. You might be familiar with the slogan "See something, say something" and that is the reason for a huge amount of police contacts. Also remember that looking suspicious is not against the law, none the less if they get a call the police will show up eventually but that should not be problematic if you have not violated the law.
When an officer comes into contact with the subject of a call for service, if no articulate facts of a law violation exists, then the initial encounter has to be consensual. After all a hunch or feelings are NOT reasonable suspicion of a crime. So he or she will conduct an investigation and gather evidence that would support the next step. That next step would be a detainment, and upon enough evidence possibly an arrest or cite and release.
There are officers on the street that feel in my opinion, that they can skip the consensual conversation and go right to a detainment even without any reasonable articulate suspicions of a crime. For the most part they get away with it because there is not much the average person can do to get justice. You can file a complaint on the officer, hold your breath until you turn blue, or even go on hunger strike, but unless you have actual damages and harm a brief unlawful detainment is not worth anything in a lawsuit and you would have a hard time finding an attorney to help.
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