UCFPD officers, attorneys and legal consultants discussed the procedures students should follow during traffic stops, student rights in vehicle and residential searches and other tips for dealing with law enforcement during a discussion held on April 13 in the Student Union.
“Our ultimate goal is to get home safe at night, just like yours is,” said UCFPD Officer Pete Stephens.
"Ten Rules for Dealing with Police," hosted by UCFPD, Social Justice and Advocacy and Student Legal Services, took place in UCF’s Multicultural Center. Speakers focused on important concerns some students may have when interacting with police officers.
When pulled over for a traffic stop, officers and attorneys advised students to turn on the lights, notify the officer of any legal weapons or fire arms and to stay calm.
“We have no idea who the driver is most of the time, so it’s a heightened awareness situation for us and something that can turn tragic in a heartbeat,” Stephens said.
Terrance Rooth, assistant general counsel for Student Legal Services, reminded the attendees of their rights if presented with a police search of a home or vehicle.
“You don’t have to give consent,” Rooth said. “Generally, if they want to search your car just be polite. The officers want to make sure you have nothing dangerous.”
Emily Fisher, a junior communications major, voiced her concern for females who are pulled over by unmarked vehicles late at night, and asked what the proper procedures would be if this event should occur. The officers advised students who have this concern to slow down and turn their hazards on, pull over to a well-lit area and to call 9-1-1 to confirm the vehicle’s qualifications.
The presentation helped some students to see law officers in a new light, such as Annalia Foster, who said she had a bad impression of police officers before the discussion.
“I realized that it is protocol, it’s for a reason that I didn’t know before,” Foster said. “Now I’m less scared and I know what to do.”
Erin West is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.