WATCH: ‘Solutionaries: What should I do if I’m pulled over by police?’ | How citizens and law enforcement are reducing violent encounters

Solutions journalism aims to find real answers to today’s problems

ORLANDO, Fla. – Most people will have an encounter with law enforcement at some point in their lives, which is why it’s important to know your legal rights.

It is also important to understand the viewpoint of law enforcement.

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Creating a safer communities starts with trust and education, said Chief Scott Booth with the Danville, VA Police Department.

“I want it to be very conversational. It’s not adversarial,” Booth said.

After record violent crime and gang wars in Danville form 2016 to 2018, the city’s police department focused on a new model that prioritized community engagement and accountability.

Officers went door-to-door in neighborhoods to have conversations with residents and used the feedback to change the image of the police department.

“Every community has different challenges and different opportunities. I think the basic template would work. Any type of focus and accountability system that you use in policing will work,” Booth said.

Advice For Interacting With Law Enforcement

The Solutionaries team spoke with an attorney from the Detroit Justice Center, who walked us through some steps regarding how to handle a traffic stop or another police encounter.

“So I kind of use a makeshift acronym which is FADES, then lawyer, and ‘shh,’” said Erin Keith, Staff Attorney for the Detroit Justice Center.

When questioning by police becomes extensive or invasive, she suggests asking the questions “Am I free to leave?” and “Am I being arrested?”

“A lot of the time that’s just helpful to know because everything doesn’t always look like law and order,” Keith said.

The rest of the acronym goes as follows:

  • “D”: Do Not Consent To A Search
  • “E” and “S”: Express Silence

Keith said if you do not wish to talk, you must explicitly assert your right to remain silent and state that you want a lawyer now.

“Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, one must be provided for you at the time that you are arraigned. Once you ask for a lawyer, all questioning must cease,” Keith said.

Crime-Stopping Investigators

Understanding how criminal investigations work from start to finish can be key to understanding policing through the eyes of law enforcement.

Solutionaries correspondent Vic Micolucci was able to ride along with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to learn more about its violence reduction plan from a detective’s perspective.

Watch the latest episode of Solutionaries at the top of this article, on News 6+ for your smart TV (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV), on the Solutionaries YouTube channel, and every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on News 6.

Solutionaries is a production of the news teams at Graham Media Group stations KPRC-Houston, WDIV-Detroit, KSAT-San Antonio, WKMG-Orlando, WJXT/WCWJ-Jacksonville, and WSLS-Roanoke. On Solutionaries, we’re highlighting the creative thinkers and doers who are working to make the world a better place.

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.