North Carolina: Behavior during police body camera use

Griffin Law, PLLC
May 22, 2019

Certain cities in Iredell County, North Carolina, are among those in many states who have invested in body cameras for law enforcement officers. These cameras provide transparency between police and citizen interactions. Body cameras can remove bias when a difference of opinion prevails in witness details.

You may feel apprehensive about police body cameras. You can minimize concerns by following a few basic rules.

How to behave when encountering an officer

Police are keenly aware of body language. Their ability to protect lives, including their own, depends on environment clues that the average citizen may not notice. Relax if you encounter an officer wearing a body camera, and look straight ahead. Do not give the officer a reason to suspect your actions. You can draw unwanted attention to yourself by appearing nervous or tense.

If you are walking in a public area, do not dart into the nearest building. Continue to walk at a normal rate of speed toward your destination. Police are not interested in detaining a citizen unless that person triggers suspicion.

How to behave when you are driving

If an officer is near you or behind you with a dash-cam equipped vehicle, there is no reason to panic. Even if you were exceeding the speed limit by a few mph, continue in your direction of travel; do not frantically signal and cross several lanes of traffic to turn off onto a side road. Such behavior appears highly suspicious.

If an officer indicates that you must pull over, turn on your warning lights to show that you understand. As soon as it is safely possible, signal and exit onto a side street or pull into a parking lot. Remain pleasant, but do not admit guilt. Never argue with an officer. You do not have to say yes if law enforcement asks permission to search your vehicle unless the officer has a warrant. If the officer already has your information, ask if you are free to go. Unless law enforcement is citing you for a driving violation or other offense, the officer must release you.

How to behave in a building

Sometimes, an officer may approach you inside a public building. Generally, the police officer is only seeking information. Answer any questions you can, or express that you are sorry, you do not have the information he or she needs. Then ask if you are free to leave. Again, relax and do not act as if you have something to hide.

Many people have unpaid traffic tickets or other items on their record; they are immediately fearful when they see a police officer. Remember, it is not likely the officer is targeting you. If so, law enforcement will generally tell you immediately that you are being detained and give you a reason. You do not have to answer questions.

If you are a young person wanted by police for an incident, you can receive a possible deferred prosecution. Again, do not admit guilt. You may want to ask the arresting officer if you have the right to contact a legal representative. There are many legal ways to obtain a second chance. Resist the urge to panic or imagine worst-case scenarios. With professional advice, your options may appear less frightening once you know the proper steps to take and review possible outcomes.

Recent Posts