Earlier this month, Josh pulled me over for allegedly cutting through a parking lot to avoid a red light on West St, which is apparently illegal in NH, despite the common practice’s positive effect on traffic flow. One of the general principles of Cop Blocking is not talking to the police, but when you have a cordial relationship with them, as many activists in Keene do, a different approach is necessary.
When interacting with police you know, consider the following options along with the standard Cop Block suggesstions: (I don’t employ all of them in the video – this stuff takes practice, and I’m not perfect.)
- Be polite, yet assertive of your rights. – Asserting your rights actually helps keep polite police as well-behaved as possible. Police would prefer to deal with people who don’t know their rights. Even though an officer’s demeanor may be cordial, he *is* conducting an investigation and has the ability to deprive you of your liberty with near-zero consequences to himself. Don’t let them fool you into a false sense of safety. Despite Josh’s friendly demeanor, this is an adversarial encounter and you can hear the adrenaline in my voice when I say “I don’t know.” I’ve had lots of experience with police, but it’s still common for me to be nervous when pulled over, especially at first. Practice helps, but you still never really know what will happen.
- Anything you say can be used against you. – It’s highly risky to speak with the police in general. If you want to politely decline to interact with an officer you know, you could say something like, “Josh, I don’t want to appear rude, but I’m more comfortable if we don’t speak during this encounter.” If you feel inclined to talk to the officer, don’t answer questions. Pause and think before you speak. My responses here were not optimal – it’s usually better to ask questions rather than be the subject of questions.
- Give them feedback. – If they are doing something you don’t like, let them know. I do a better job of this when talking to KPD’s Jason Short during the DEA raid of Phat Stuff last year, where, without being mean, I inform Jason that I don’t appreciate them assisting the DEA in destroying a man’s business. More average folks should give negative feedback to the police when they do the wrong thing and positive feedback when they do the right thing, like I did in this video.
- Refuse any request to search. – If the officer and you have a history and you are known as a rights-asserting activist, odds are good you’ll not be asked for a search, but if you are, just say no. Whichever officer asking that is not being cordial at all at that point and is escalating the stop. If you’ve been chatty, that’s a really good time to zip it.
- Record the scene. – Always record interactions with police. It helps keep them honest and creates an objective record of the event. Ideally, you should also stream it live if possible. Plus it helps to go back later and review your performance. What can you do better next time?
After our short initial interaction, Josh walks off with the car’s registration after handing me back my insurance info (not required by the state) and moments later Jennifer Schmidt drives by.Recent readers of Free Keene may recall that Jen Schmidt is a local business owner and active member of a local hate group that has a temporary no-stalking order against her for allegedly harassing and stalking a ten-year-old boy. That case is still pending a full hearing. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on that. Within two minutes of me being pulled over and starting my live stream via Bambuser.com she drives by holding up her cell phone, presumably recording or photographing the scene.
After one more minute passes, Josh gives me a warning and I drive the remainder of the block down to my home, Jen Schmidt passes BACK by on River Street, going back to her house. She didn’t have enough time to do anything else besides go around the block, so it’s pretty clear she left her house for the purpose of coming to record the scene – it was no coincidence. Presumably she saw me go live on Bambuser and came out to do whatever the opposite of Cop Blocking is. Kudos to her for the super-fast response time. Plus, if she’s creeping on me she can’t be stalking any children at the same time.