So what should you do when you feel you are being harassed by the police? How should you react? And what should a skater or skater's parents do if they feel like the police have overstepped their bounds?
Police and Skaters - How to Act and ReactWhether you did something wrong or not, it's important that you stay respectful. I know that will be hard. But the trick is, whether you did something wrong or not, if you are rude to the cop then they can use that against you. Here are some things to try and do:
- Stay calm - freaking out can give the cop an excuse to treat you even worse
- Be polite - even if they aren't!
- Don't be sarcastic - cops report everything that you say to them, and they'll use things you said against them. Even if it was said sarcastically
- Do NOT try and get away - this is tempting, but if you run or try and walk away at all, the police have the right to try and restrain you. And that means that they can do a LOT to hurt and harass you. Don't give them that opportunity.
- Cooperate until the contact with the cop is over - you don't have to be honestly OK with what's going on, you just have to put up with it for that moment.
But make sure you remember everything that happens! Once the contact is over, write down what you remember from the encounter, especially if you were being wrongly harassed.
How do you Report a Bad Cop?If you feel that you were treated wrongly, you actually CAN do something about it! Call up the local police station and say, "I have an officer complaint." You can have your parents help with this if you are nervous. If you live in a smaller town, you will probably talk to the sergeant. If you are in a bigger city, they might have you talk directly to internal affairs.
Whoever you end up talking to, explain your story to them. They should take it very seriously. If you don't know the officer's name, then just tell them the date, time and location where it happened. When a cop has a contact like this, they are supposed to report it back to the station so they should have a log of it.
Sometimes you might feel like they aren't taking your story very seriously. This feels horrible, but it can happen. You have every right to talk to someone higher up. Here's how the ranking works for police, from lowest to highest:
- Deputy Chief
You should get some help within the department, but if you feel like the Chief isn't helping you, then you will need to call up the City Manager's Office, or go to the State Police. But hopefully you won't have to go that far!
Once you have explained your story, you have every right to ask what they are going to do. Just ask, "Where's this going to go?" You can even ask to be notified of how the situation works out.
I wish I didn't have to write this article at all, and that police and skateboarders would just get along everywhere. But unfortunately, we skaters have a bad reputation, and a lot of police assume that if you are on a skateboard, then you must be a punk.
Whatever happens, remember to stay calm and polite, and if you are treated badly, then report it. Don't be afraid. If no one ever reports bad cops, then no one will know that anything bad is going on. Just stay calm, and remember everything that happens. And most of all, don't give them a reason to treat you badly!