What Youth Need to Know When Being Questioned by PoliceTip sheet by PACER www.pacer.org
- tell the police officer his or her name, address, and age
- ask police to call a parent, guardian, or another person identified in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and say the child needs to speak to an attorney
- say he or she cannot answer questions unless an adult who knows him or her is present. The adult may include a parent, foster parent, legal guardian, or teacher whose involvement you have approved.
- ask if they are under arrest or free to leave.
- Teach your child to ask for an attorney and a parent.
- Prepare a script about what to do if an officer stops or wants to speak with your child in the community or at school.
- Practice appropriate responses.
- Make sure your child understands what to say to police.
- Stress that your child should be polite to the police.
- Stress that your child cannot challenge an officer in any way.
- run away from the police officer or
- make up a story—even if he or she thinks it will help argue with a police officer, even if the officer says something that sounds unfair.
If the police tell your child that others have said he or she committed the crime, tell your child to say that a parent and attorney must be present before he or she will speak or sign a statement.
What should you do if your child is detained or arrested?
- Go to the police station as soon as you learn your child is being questioned or detained. • Obtain as much information as you can about the charges.
- Tell the officers that you wish to be present during questioning and that questioning should stop until an attorney is there.
- Provide information about your child’s disability to the police, the attorney, or public defender. Include the IEP and most recent evaluation.
- Explain how the disability affects your child’s behavior, understanding of the alleged offense, and ability to answer questions appropriately.
- Meet with your IEP team and plan what to do if the situation arises.
- Develop behavioral and crisis plans.
- Identify an individual who will stay with your child if a police liaison officer or police officer questions him or her.
- The individual who would stay with your child can be a parent, a member of the IEP team, or any other mutually acceptable person who understands your child’s disability and can advocate for him or her.
- Make sure the information is written into your child’s IEP. Meet with police If you are concerned that your child’s disability puts him or her at higher risk for police involvement, meet with the police officers in your neighborhood.
- Tell them about the disability and why your child may be at risk for police involvement (language or cognitive issues, anxiety, etc.).
- Offer strategies that officers can use effectively with your child if a problem occurs.
- If your child is willing, introduce him or her to the officers at the local police station.