Roadblocks or checkpoints are set up to help the security agencies in detecting and controlling criminal activities.
Unfortunately, checkpoints have been the scenes of sad incidents involving the police shooting innocent motorists.
Most of these incidents are as a result of misunderstandings between citizens and the security agencies.
To avoid tragedies and regrets, the following are things you should never do at police checkpoints.
Never Turn Your Car Around
We all hate seeing the checkpoint except of course we are running away from criminals or danger.
Some people in order to evade the police make U-turns very close to checkpoints. By making a U-turn close to a police checkpoint you run the risk of drawing unnecessary attention to yourself.
The risk inherent in drawing unnecessary attention to you can result in unwanted consequences depending on the mood and training of the officers on duty.
If the situation is charged and the police are looking for a suspect or suspects, you run the risk of being shot at or being pursued and arrested.
Never Carry a Stranger Through a Checkpoint.
Many of us try to be good Samaritans by giving lifts to people we do not know. Bad idea!
If you know the number of innocent people who’ve had to answer for things they know nothing about, you’ll see the wisdom in not carrying strangers through a police checkpoint.
How do you want to explain to the police that you do not know that the stranger in your car was carrying firearms, contraband, or illegal substances?
Do not drive or carry a stranger who may be in possession of illicit drugs or weapons.
Never Carry an Unknown Package.
Related to not taking strangers across a checkpoint, is not carrying an unknown package through a checkpoint.
The law presumes you to know the content of every package in your possession. Many people are in jail for delivering packages they did not know their contents.
Bottom line; make sure you know the contents, and have explanations for every package in your vehicle. You are responsible for everything found in your possession.
Don’t Overtly Video Policemen at Checkpoints
Some lawyers have argued that citizens have a right to video policemen at checkpoints.
According to them, policemen are public servants and do not have right to privacy when on duty.
While it is difficult to argue against this view, it is better not to do it. But if you have to do it, please let it be discrete. Do not let police officers know that you are recording them.
It is dangerous, especially when you record them breaking the law or committing crime. Police officers have been known to do anything to cover their tracks.
The best you can do is to have a body camera or one attached to your car without their knowledge. But please be careful with videos at checkpoints.
Don’t Smoke or Drink.
Nothing looks more suspicious to security agents on a road block than a driver smoking or taking a swig from a bottle of alcohol. This is another way of drawing unnecessary attention to yourself.
Don’t Fail to Stop.
Many drivers have made it a habit of refusing to slow down of stop at checkpoints. This can be dangerous especially when an armed officer is standing at the middle of the road.
Failing to stop your vehicle while being flagged down by the police can be interpreted as trying to hit the officer with your vehicle. In that case the police may resort to the use of firearms to defend themselves.
Never Supply Unnecessary Information.
Whenever you are stopped by the police or other security agents at check points, make sure to restrict yourself to only those questions they ask you.
Never volunteer or supply unnecessary answers or information that is self incriminatory.
Never Appear to be in a Hurry.
Checkpoints can be frustrating and annoying. Motorists know this and the police are also aware of our frustration.
Some policemen therefore use this as a weapon. Once they observe you are in a hurry, they pull out all their cards and play you until you reach breaking point.
Therefore stay calm even if you are in a hurry. Nothing throws a policeman off balance like a calm and calculated driver. Pretend you have all the time in the world and the police will send you on your way in no time.
Never Argue or be Aggressive With a Police Officer.
Refrain from arguing with police officers at checkpoints, even if you know the law and think that the officer or officers have no rights or reasonable grounds to stop you.
If what the officers are doing is doing is illegal, don’t be aggressive, but rather remember the proverb that a rat can never win an argument in a court where the cat is the judge.
If you are right and the police are wrong, there are better ways or registering your displeasure like writing a petition or suing the officers involved.
Finally, staying safe is the mother of all human instincts. Some people, especially lawyers usually engage in pointless arguments with police officers at checkpoints.
While this is understandable, you will end up getting stressed up which is not good for your health. There are important health tips for lawyers to always observe.
Therefore keep your law and arguments to one side and use the above common sense tips to stay safe at police checkpoints.
Photo by Chris Hunkeler