So You’ve Been Wronged by a Police Employee?
So you had a less-than awesome interaction with someone who wears a badge – what can you now do?
Write down a detailed summary of what unfolded. It’s important to tackle this step while the incident is fresh as details that are now clear will become hazy with the passage of time.
Your goal is to have piece of content that when read by someone unfamiliar with the incident, they’ll have a clear understand of pertinent information like the date and time, the location of the interaction, the names of those involved involved, what preceded the interaction, what what communicated or claimed during the interaction, and where things now stand.
Though it will take time to do this now, in the long run it’ll be a time-saver. Instead of repeating the same story multiple times to different people, you can just point them to your stand-alone piece of content.
If you have supporting documentation like police reports save them as a .pdf then upload to http://Scridb.com
The more others know about your situation the better. It will not only focus attention on the individual who acted in the wrong but pressure the prosecutor or police outfit to drop any charges unjustly levied at you. Those folks rely on legitimacy and the court of public opinion is powerful!
You can do this via text or video.
If text, it’s very likely that you can just use the detailed write-up – either as-is, or modified a little bit. Let a friend read your recount. Ask them what is unclear and fill in those questions in.
If video, you can use your detailed write-up as a reference. Sit down in front of your webcam or other recording device and give a narrative of what happened. Depending on your skill level, software, and need, you can choose to edit the video. Once completed, upload it to your YouTube channel or another video-hosting site.
CopBlock.org gets 4-5,000 unique visitors a day so consider using the site as an outlet to share your post or video http://copblock.org/submit
Whether text or video, it’s suggested that you frontload the content. Provide a succinct overview right away to act as a hook, then provide the backstory and details to support your claims. Think too what the police employee(s) with whom you interacted may claim about the content you create – are there any holes that you can proactively address? Focus on the individual(s) who were in the wrong, not the entire agency. Provide contact information.
When the individual(s) who acted in the wrong knows others are aware of their misdeeds, they’re less likely to repeat them, either to you or someone in the future. Plus as others see you speak out, it’ll empower them to do the same.
Note that some people opt-not to make-public their entire incident (the raw footage, for example) as police employees have been known to rewrite reports to better-match the objective facts portrayed via video. If this is a concern, you could obtain the police report prior to making live the related footage, so you’ll have that copy in case a new one is later presented.
File a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Work to obtain all the documentation the police have about your situation. The more such information you have the more-likely lies and omissions made by “the authorities” will be seen, say between two police reports filed by two different individuals about the same incident. Also, if say, video surveillance is gotten, your story can be objectively supported.
A FOIA request doesn’t have to be fancy. You can write a request using a pen on a regular piece of paper. Include a sentence or two overview of who you are, the information sought, and your contact information.
For more on FOIAs see: http://CopBlock.org/FOIA
Connect & Collaborate With Others
The more support you have on the ground the better. http://CopBlock.org/Groups
If there are others in your area connect with them as those active may be willing and able to assist sharing content online, making calls, doing outreach, or accompanying you when filing your FOIA or if you venture into legal land.
Inform Those In Your Community – Rely on Reputation and Ostracism
If you are able to ascertain the home address of the police employee who wronged you, give those in the neighborhood a heads-up on the caliber of their neighbor.
Print out a couple-sentence overview and the link to your piece of content online, and stop by the homes of neighbors. If they’re not present, leave the handout between their doors. If they are home, be considerate of their time and recognize that this tactic (going door to door) isn’t often done so it’s important to be on-point. Introduce yourself, inform them that you won’t take much of their time but just wanted to them you aware of a situation involving one of their neighbors, point out that were you to live next to someone who acted aggressive toward others you’d want to know, give a very brief overview of your situation, hand them the print-out, encourage them to check out your more thorough write-up or view when they have time ,and to reach their own conclusions and act accordingly.
Inform Area Media
Without question, corporate media outlets often just parrot whatever police employee spokespeople tell them about incidents, but since you’ve already done the work (the write-up or video), you might as well make them aware.
Visit the media website and use the submission form or find the email address most appropriate to share about your situation. The easier it is for them to get up-to-speed the more likely it is to be covered. Provide an informative summary your contact information, and the link to your video or the text from your more thorough write-up, and any objective documentation to support your claims.
File a Police Complaint
Working through internal police mechanisms, such as filing a complaint, very rarely results in any substantive outcome – after all, it’s “investigated” by someone who’s a friend, or at least, a colleague, of the aggressor – but some encourage this tactic be pursued if only to create a paper trail and tie-up police resources.
Also, if making public an interaction you had with a police employee, the fact that you may be able to point-out that a dozen (or more) other complaints have already been lodged against him or her, it can help demonstrate their record of not being too professional.
Police complaints can sometimes be filed through the website of the police outfit where the police employee works. If so, fill-out the form (perhaps using some or all of your write-up about the event already done, or pointing to the URL where your write-up can be found online). Alternatively, call or visit the police outfit to learn their process – if you do that, be sure to film as those seeking to file complaints are sometimes questioned or harassed.
Whatever method you utilize, be sure to get a receipt of some kind – a print-out from the online interface, or a signature/stamp if done in-person. And inquire about the timeline expected – is there a mandatory response within a week? A month?
Consider too that this is a way that you can inform those at the police outfit that others have been made aware of the situation – if it’s online, or if you’ve contacted the media, for example, that’ll put more pressure on them to not further compound the wrongs already committed.
Learn From the Experience
Would having an audio or video clip of the incident have been a game-changer? Check out related tactics and tools: http://CopBlock.org/FilmThePolice
If you have a smartphone download a streaming app (like Bambuser) to stream offsite: http://CopBlock.org/Apps
Keep in mind that text on paper can’t constrain the actions of individuals. Even if a statute says a police employee has to do something, that doesn’t mean it will. That is the nature of the current institution that’s based on double-standards and why it’s important to document every interaction you have with police employees.
Incidents like the one you experienced are are now seeking remedy for will continue to occur until the institution itself is changed. That is happening: Want to End Police Brutality? Focus on the Institution