Officer Dorsey talks about rights and police interactions

Officer Candace Dorsey spoke about a person's rights when interacting with police officers.

The Black Student Union sponsored and Student Government hosted Know Your rights from 7-9 p.m. Thursday in room 310A of the Student Center.

The event consisted of a 30-minute video and a Q & A session with Officer Candace Dorsey. Both parts served students by informing them of their rights and telling them what to do in certain situations.

The first part of the event was the showing of 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. The video went through three different scenarios of police encounters and gave students 10 rules to keep in mind when dealing with the police.

The three scenarios involved a traffic stop, full-body search and home search.

Criminal defense lawyer Billie Murphy spoke in the video and gave 10 rules for dealing with police in both those scenarios and in general.

1. Always be calm and cool

Eastern Michigan Univeristy Officer Candace Dorsey spoke on this later at the event.

“Just answer the police officer’s questions,” she said. “You don’t have to like it.”

2. You have the right to remain silent

According to Murphy, the police don’t have to read a person their rights if they’re being detained. It is up to the individual to know those rights.

3. You have the right to refuse searches

In order to refuse a search, a person only has to tell the officer, “I don’t consent to searches.”

Officer Dorsey said, “If nothing is wrong, there is no reason to refuse. But you might have something against it, and you have the right to refuse.”

4. Don’t be tricked

Police may legally lie to you and refusing a search doesn’t make someone guilty.

5. Determine if you’re free to go

An individual can ask an officer, “Are you detaining me or am I free to go?” And if the officer doesn’t have a reason to keep them, they will be allowed to go.

6. Don’t expose yourself

If police find anything illegal during a search, it will go back on that person, even if it isn’t theirs.

7. Don’t run from law enforcement

Running will only make the situation worse. Murphy told the audience to only verbally refuse an officer.

8. Never touch a cop

Saying “I’m going to remain silent; I’d like to see a lawyer” is the best legal protection. Like running, touching an officer will make the situation worse.

9. Report misconduct: be a good witness

Officer Dorsey urged students to do something about police misconduct.

“When you have a bad experience, you have the right to complain about it and put in writing,” she said. “It does matter. Use your voices and put it in ink.”

In the video, Murphy advised students against telling an officer during the encounter he or she is going to make a complaint. He also said, any injuries should be photographed and documented as soon as possible.

10. You don’t have to let police officers inside your home

Home searches require signed search warrants unless there is a serious emergency. If officers ask to come inside, a person can tell them “I can’t let you in without a warrant.”

After the video, Dorsey talked about the job police officers are faced with.

“I know there are bad officers out there – I’ve worked with them,” she said. “I can never justify their behavior. We all have choices to make, but I am responsible for me.”

She also talked about the new body cameras Eastern Michigan police officers are required to wear. The cameras show the behavior of the officer and everyone he or she comes in contact with.

“The video show both sides of the equation,” she said. “It makes officers check their own behavior.”

The camera conversation turned to citizens pulling out cameras and recording police officers.

“I don’t like it, but you’re going to do it anyway,” she said. “Just think about [pulling cameras] from a different perspective. You wouldn’t like someone recording you either.”

A lot of policing comes down to discretion, Dorsey said. “There is no black and white.”

Audience members asked several questions regarding drinking. Public intoxication is illegal. Minors can be charged with a minor in possession if it can be determined he or she has been drinking or if he or she has a container of alcohol, whether it is opened or not.

“We had a really good group dialogue and I think everyone was really engaged,” Steven Cole, student body president, said.

Dorsey echoed Cole’s appreciation.

“I’m glad you were all so engaged,” she said.

“It was definitely eye opening because there is stuff that you don’t know. You don’t realize how many rights you actually do have,” Grace Robaskiewicz, a freshman marketing major said.

The session was the first of two parts. Cole said both parts, individually, are important.

“I think this one specifically is important because a lot of college students don’t necessarily know what their rights are,” Cole said. “And I think students that are not specifically in the legal study fields should know what their rights are to avoid bad situations.”

The second part will focus on race relations.


More information about rights when interacting with police can be found at flexyourrights.org.


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