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Monday, February 02, 2015

We all need to learn to know our rights with the police

Police no longer have to be read a person their rights any more, according to the three defense attorneys and a former police officer, during part of the Know Your Rights Workshop, put on by CORE, Community Operation Recovery Empowerment, in Wichita, last Saturday.
"You have to say I want my lawyer or I don't have to talk anymore," said Steve Gradert, Federal Public Defender, "They have to respect that."
That was part of a theme that lasted all afternoon as the lawyers explained the rights an average person has and how his their clients constantly make mistakes.
"A big mistake many of my clients make is not realizing they can stop talking anytime they want," Gradert said. "I didn't think I had the right to stop,' they often say to me."
Gradert spoke of various reasons a police officer can stop a car on the road for suspicious activity. Failure to turn on your blinkers before an intersection was a common one.
"You have a right to refuse a search," Gradert said. "Don't give consent. They can get the (drug sniffing) dogs. But still, make them go through the steps."
He also said Police sometimes put up a sign that says "Drug check point ahead." They just go after those who turn around and try to go the other way. There is no check point.
Another surprise was Gradert's answer to a lady in the audience who asked why they can't get a speedy trial as they are supposed to.
"That can be misleading," Gradert said. "By the time the prosecutor has made the arrest, he has already had his investigation and the defense attorney needs time to do the same. It is better to spend two months in jail rather than several years."
Other important issues that came up are that cops can lie and yet a citizen can get in trouble for lying.
D'One Burrell, former Wichita Police Department Officer was asked what the five top things should be when being stopped.
"you never conceal your hands," he said. "Don't get disrespectful. Don't jump out of the care and don't move around."
This advice was important because black communities across the country have had trouble with un-armed citizens getting shot.
Burrell added that most of his stops as a police officer were for traffic violations.
"Once the traffic stop is done you have a right to go," Burrell said.
Burrell and Gradert both encouraged people to leave immediately after they are told they can go, or after they have been handed their license. Waiting around after being told to leave can make police suspicious of the driver.

In this photo: D'One Burrell, former Wichita Police Department Officer, Chris Garcia, Robert Moody and Steve Gradert, defense attorneys.

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