buy cheap mlb jerseys ‘Know Your Rights’ event provides law enforcement resources to citizens
These are just four of the questions the Lynchburg Police Department taught citizens to ask during a traffic stop Tuesday night at a “Know Your Rights” event, hosted in partnership with the Lynchburg Branch of the NAACP and the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation department.
Almost 30 people filled the theater at the Miller Center on Grove Street, where officers and volunteers acted out a variety of scenarios and gave a few presentations on how to interact with the police.
“The educational aspect is huge,” said Sgt. J. Rater, leader of the Community Action Team, a group of LPD officers dedicated to reaching out to the community. “What our policies are and why we do certain things? A lot of it is for safety purposes again, we want to go home at night but a lot of it is department policy.
“So if we don’t explain to the citizens and the community why we do it, then they may get the interpretation that it’s to [shine a] bad light [on] them.”
There was no incident that prompted the event, police and organizers said.
Gerald Cheatham, president of the Lynchburg Branch of the NAACP, said the event’s need was discovered through increased communication between police and community leaders.
He said its purpose could be summed up in three words: information, education and awareness.
“I think the philosophy of community policing, that’s really what we’re striving for,” he said. “Not just to have it as [a] buzzword of community policing, but to make it real for the community, real for the people.”
Lynchburg Police Officer L. Rose gave a 15 minute presentation on various reasons officers may initiate a traffic stop, such as traffic violations or Be On The Look outs (BOLs), and how citizens should handle being pulled over.
It could be summarized as “reasonable suspicion,” Rose said.
“Say your inspection sticker has faded and it kind of looks pink; well, that looks like a rejection sticker,” he said. “So would it be reasonable to believe that you got a rejection sticker and I pull your car over?”
He also gave insight on when citizens are allowed to leave interactions with police and when they’re not.
For example, if a police officer has their lights or siren on when they pull someone over, that means that person is “detained” and cannot leave until the officer says they can, Rose said.
However, if an officer is just chatting with a citizen, which is called a “consensual encounter,” the citizen can refuse to speak to the officer and leave whenever they want, he said.
But no matter what, don’t argue with officers while in unsafe situations, such as on the side of the road, Rose said.
“You’re not safe; the officer isn’t safe,” he said. “That’s what court is for.”
But citizens can and should calmly state their side of events, Rose said.
Officer A. Lucy, a member of LPD’s Traffic Safety Unit, echoed that idea in his presentation about car crashes, in which he detailed how police respond to traffic incidents such as wrecks and hit and runs.
LPD’s Community Action Team helped to act out the scenarios, with member Officer L. Hughes taking the lead role.
Hughes showed how police officers have to approach vehicles, including how they must press down on trunks prior to reaching the driver’s window in order to ensure no one will leap from the trunk in a type of surprise attack.
Walking backward to his car, represented by a slightly turned folding chair, he showed how officers must not turn their backs on anyone, or else things could take an immediate turn for the worse.
Traffic stops and domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls for officers, Rose said.
In addition, Rater gave a presentation on how to file complaints with the department for officer misconduct.
It’s important officers are held responsible for their actions, Rater said.
And part of holding police officers responsible is being able to report them when necessary, he said.
That gives citizens a voice in how their communities are policed, which is something Cheatham said is necessary.
“I think that’s really what we’re trying to get at,” he said.
Rater said the event was to educate the public.
“I think [this] will help the community communicate with us they should be actively involved in [this], because we work for the city.