It can be more than frustrating and potentially fearful when your local police department does not believe you when you tell your side of the story. In a situation where you’ve honestly not done anything wrong and you find yourself trying to explain your side of the story and then you find the police officer rolling their eyes, cutting you off or attempting to twist your words during the conversation, you can feel disrespected, misunderstood, putdown and fearful of potential consequences you may not be prepared to deal with.
Disclaimer Statement: The author is not a lawyer and is not providing legal advice in any way shape or form. If you have any questions to specific rights and responsibilities with law enforcement in your area, speak to a qualified attorney. This article is not meant to give anyone permission to disrespect or resist law enforcement in anyway, even when a person feels the police officer is not treating them with respect.
First, as difficult as it is, take a moment to stop talking and take a deep breath. Remain as calm as possible and do not insult the police officer. If you find the police officer not really “listening” to you, remember they hear complaints from people all day long and they deal with individuals who have no problems lying to their face. Police officers have no choice but to keep this in mind when dealing with you.
Stick to the Facts
Although we are traditionally taught that police officers are there to “serve and protect,” at times it can feel as though they are there to “accuse and ask questions later.” Officers are there to investigate potential criminal activity and stop it when possible. They can only go off what they’ve been told, regardless if the information is true or not. Stick to the facts. Do not include emotions when you can when discussing situations.
Handling False Accusations
If the officer informs you that someone else says you’ve broken a law and you know it is completely false, then politely deny the accusation. A good way to do this is to say, “I have no knowledge of that alleged incident. I did not do it,” or “I had nothing to do with that alleged incident.” If the officer continues to ask you questions surrounding the false accusation in an effort to see if you’re lying or if you feel it’s an attempt to see if there is any shred of validity to it, you do not have to continue answering questions. Invoke your right to speak to an attorney.
Ending the Conversation
If you choose to invoke your right to speak to an attorney, ask if the officer would like to prepare a list of questions that you can deliver to your attorney along with a report number. Most of the time, this will end the conversation. If the officer takes you up on your offer it means more paperwork for the officer to complete and follow up on. If they choose to follow through with this, be prepared to provide the list of questions to any qualified attorney.
If you don’t want to invoke your right to speak to an attorney, simply tell the officer, “Respectfully sir/ma’am, I’ve already answered your questions and I deny any wrong doing. Am I being arrested or detained?” When the officer says “No,” ask if you are then free to go.
Remember, this is not permission to blow cops off or disrespect them in any way, even if you feel the officer is disrespecting you or talking down to you. It can be humiliating to even participate in any questions when you know you’re innocent. It can be especially frustrating when it feels that law enforcement has come down to “code enforcement” only rather than truly listening to both sides of the story and offering possible solutions to the parties involved. You cannot control what other people choose to do, but you can know that it’s not necessarily the end of the world if a police officer does not believe you.