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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Little More Advice

A while back I wrote a post offering some tips for people who find themselves in the unfortunate event of an interaction with members of the Seattle Police Department either as a potential victim of police misconduct or as a witness to police misconduct. I promised some more advice eventually, and I'll work on a more refined list when I have some time, hopefully with the help of a real legal professional this time.

In any case, I would like to give people another useful tip in the meantime, it's one that I use all the time these days.

If you are walking in Seattle alone, I highly recommend that you do so with your cell phone in hand and ready with an easy to remember speed-dial entry for both a number of someone that you trust and who is a reliable witness. I personally have my speed dial set for a civil rights lawyer I know, since I know that even if he doesn't pick up his number goes straight to voicemail. In case I get attacked by some rogue cops for what I write here, there will be an audio record of the unprovoked assault or a reputable witness to the event that can't be harmed and silenced by corrupt cops.

If you're walking with a friend, make sure you both have cell phones, ones with video capabilities are better, and ones that can quickly upload images to an internet site are the best since the police here have been known to confiscate cameras and cell phones and destroy images on them when they capture misconduct or even normal arrests. Some have even been known to attack and arrest witnesses recording misconduct, so be careful if you're trying to record misconduct in action or else you might become a victim of the abuse you're witnessing as well.

Whatever you do, don't fight, don't argue, don't resist, and don't run. Ask questions about the officer's name, badge number, and the reason for the contact, but otherwise be quiet. Also, if you are recording an instance of suspected police misconduct, make certain that you do not interfere in any way while you are doing so.

If you've done this and do encounter a Seattle Police officer, hit that speed dial as soon as you can and keep the phone at a distance where it can still capture your voice without being a provocation to the officer. While doing this, give a narative of what's happening and, if possible, start off by asking for the officer's name and identification. Again, keep narrating what's happening, it will help you remember details and will provide the person or recording on the other end of a record of the encounter.

The idea that the encounter might be recorded may be enough to make an officer think twice about abusing you... and if it doesn't, it may well be the difference between suffering injuries without recourse or having a successful lawsuit against the officer. You would be suprised to hear how many people have to pay for their own injuries and suffer in silence because of police abuse, don't be a victim if you can help improve your odds by using a simple technique like this.

Yes, it is sad that I have to make these kinds of recommendations in this otherwise very nice city, me and my family love this town... but we're all frightened to death of its police force... and honestly, I'm about as straight-laced as they come.

I'd like to admit it's paranoia, but it's not... sadly enough, the fear of police in this city is all too real and too justifiable. So don't take any chances out there, especially when you can take a few inconspicuous and simple steps like this to help improve your chances of surviving a chance encounter with one of Seattle's worst.

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