Photo and story by Daniel Shaw-Remeta / Contributing Writer
An event titled “Can Police Do That?” took place Tuesday afternoon in the Student Union Building on campus. The event was the second of a three-part series that addresses interactions with the police, constitutional rights and other issues in the legal field. Murfreesboro Attorneys Scott Kimberly and Hunter Fowler have hosted the series at MTSU for three years and intend to continue educating people about their rights and the proper way to interact with law enforcement officers.
“One of the most important points of the entire series is to emphasize to people that it is not disrespectful to exercise your rights,” Kimberly said. “This series is not encouraging any type of anti-police behavior or anti-police sentiment. To the contrary, it actually encourages respect for law enforcement when the job is done well, when the job is done appropriately and when constitutional rights are not violated.”
Kimberly, who hosted Tuesday’s event, began by reviewing what had been spoken about during the previous session, which was on the topic of police searches. He recapped the point that if a police officer asks to search you or your property, the answer should always be “no.”
“The reason I won’t let you search my car is the same reason I don’t pick up the bar tab for the whole bar when I’m out at a restaurant,” Kimberly said. “I could. It would be very nice if I did … but I don’t have to. So, I’m not going to.”
Kimberly continued by addressing the topic for Tuesday night’s event: seizures. He explained the difference between when police have reasonable suspicion, probable cause and when they can have proof beyond reasonable doubt. He also covered some of the things that are required by law during a traffic stop and how to respectfully decline questioning or other requests made by law enforcement officers that are not required by law.
Kimberly emphasized that people are required to identify themselves during a traffic stop and cooperate with the officer’s requests, such as placing hands on the steering wheel, to ensure his or her own safety. However, people are not required to answer questions that aren’t directly related to why they are being stopped.
“Don’t be the reason you’re getting arrested,” Kimberly said. “There are so many times people (are) the cause of their own arrest. Know what you have to do, and know what you don’t have to do.”
In regards to seizures, Kimberly pointed out some other ways that people can avoid incriminating themselves when being stopped by an officer. One is to ask, “Am I under arrest?” If the answer is no, Kimberly stated that one should then politely ask to leave.
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