When can the police enter your home without a search warrant? Can the police stop your car and peek into the glove compartment? What are your rights when you are arrested and taken to a police station? How should you handle the police when stopped?
As part of its continuing mission to educate the public on their rights, the American Civil Liberties Union has created a “bust card” to inform citizens about what to do (or say) when confronted by the police.
The wallet-sized card, which anyone can download free of charge from the ACLU’s website (https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/bustcard_eng_20100630.pdf), is an abbreviated manual of what every citizen should know in case they are stopped by the police for questioning, pulled over by the road, searched, or arrested.
The recommendations range from useful reminders (“Write down everything you remember”) to lesser-known, but important rules (“You can’t legally be arrested for refusing to identify yourself to a police officer”). The card will be accompanied by a special online collection on police practices that will highlight ACLU cases on police brutality, government statistics, and links to other resources.
A similar card was widely distributed by the ACLU in California, especially after the Rodney King riots. (One card-holder there reported that he pulled out his card when confronted by a police officer, only to have the officer reach into his wallet and pull out a copy of his own!)
“Everyone benefits from learning their rights,” said Ira Glasser, the ACLU’s executive director. “Problems with the police often arise when there is confusion on either side. If we don’t understand our own rights and responsibilities, then our relationship with the police becomes a one-way street”.