What can I do if I suspect I was pulled over because of the way I look? Citizens who feel they have been stopped or searched due to racial and gender discrimination – bias-based policing which is the intentional practice by an individual law enforcement officer who incorporates prejudicial judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age that are inappropriately applied in the performance of his/her duties, may file a complaint with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. Please file complaints in writing either in person, or by mail and include all of the information regarding the incident when you were pulled over in the complaint. All complaints that are filed are duly investigated by the Sheriff’s Office.
Hendry Police proactively patrol when they are enforcing Florida State Motor Vehicle Laws to investigate suspicious people and circumstances. Citizens will only be stopped if police believe they have committed a crime, are committing a crime or planning to commit a crime. Maintaining safety on the roadways through police patrol protects citizens and is helpful to identify and arrest criminals. Federal laws addressing police misconduct include criminal and civil statutes to cover officers’ action in state, county and local jurisdictions including prisons and jails. The laws are to protect all people in the United States whether they are citizens or not.
Biased-based profiling is a form of police brutality and Hendry County utilizes unbiased policing methods to insure law enforcement does not alienate citizens or create an environment in the community of distrust toward police personnel. Traffic stops and detainment of citizens , as well as arrests, searches and seizures based on reasonable suspicion will be only undertaken in accordance with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If there is an arrest, detainment or search and seizure, the arresting officer must be able to support the claims leading to the citizen detainment.
- If you are pulled over by a police officer in Hendry County, Florida, pull safely off the roadway. Remember to be polite to police officers, as sometimes words can be used against you, or the situation might be escalated if they perceive you as argumentative. Keep your hands in plain view. Do not run away or touch the police officer. If you are innocent and police try to arrest you, wait until you go back to the station where there are other people to try to explain your concerns or defend your action.
- Show your driver license, insurance and registration as requested. You are not required to say anything else and you can wait for the officer to tell you why you were pulled over in the first place. The police can ask your name and if you refuse to give it, they have a reason to arrest you in some states. If you say you want to remain silent, you may be arrested anyhow.
- Do not let police search your person, or car without a search warrant. If you do agree to a search, they may be able to use any evidence they find against you. If the police tell you they have a search warrant, you should ask to see it before you let them initiate a search.
- Do not obstruct the police or interfere with them or you can be arrested.
- Ask for legal counsel.
- Record patrol car numbers and bad numbers. Write down everything about the incident right away so you do not forget details.
- If you are injured by police, take pictures and seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat the injuries.
If you identify with bias-based profiling police brutality, immediately contact a Civil Rights Lawyer who might be able to help you manage your damages. Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; and physical pain and suffering if you were injured during the traffic stop through bias-based profiling.