Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, they can! Besides investigating criminal activity, police officers engage in "community caretaking" functions. If you are under 18, and the office believes that you are on a path that will lead to criminal, delinquent, or just risky behavior, the officer must inform your parent.
If you are over 18, you are no longer a minor, and they have no authority to call your parents unless you ask for it. You are an adult and responsible for your actions.
While the vast majority of arrests are done without significant resistance from the arrestee, resistance will lead to an increase in the amount and type of force used by the officer. If an officer orders you to stop and you don't, the officer can touch you to make you stop.
An officer may conduct a non-consensual search based on an officer’s observation that you have responded in a way to make the officer believe that you have engaged in a criminal act or are about to engage in a criminal act.
Police officers in plainclothes must identify themselves when using their police powers; however, they are not required to identify themselves on demand and may lie about their status as a police officer in some situations.
A search of your pockets, back- pack or jacket can occur on the street, but once they start to ask you to remove clothing, that constitutes a strip search, and they have to do that at a police station, juvenile hall or county jail. Under the law, male or female officers can pat down or conduct an outer search of males.
It's generally legal to curse at and insult police officers. But the issue has been litigated in courts — and there are some exceptions to the rule. The court noted that the "words may be disrespectful, discourteous, and annoying, they are nonetheless constitutionally protected.
Police officers are trained to be professional, courteous, and respectful at all times. Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, so non-threatening verbal "abuse" of a police officer is not in itself criminal behavior, though some courts have disagreed on what constitutes protected speech in this regard.
If you are not sure that the vehicle performing the traffic stop is a police car, you should drive slowly and carefully, below the speed limit, to a well-lighted and populated location. You may contact 9-1-1 and remain on the line until the officer’s identity is verified.
You don’t want to keep driving and have the officer think you’re ignoring him or trying to “make a run for it.”
Refusing to assist a police officer is an offence in most states and jurisdictions around the world. Some jurisdictions use the terminology '"refusing to aid a police officer" or "failure to aid a police officer". Click here to check the law in your state.