I was recently stopped by a police officer for a random check during a night out with friends. It was my first such brush with a police officer, and I would like to share some learning points.
Some other people I know have been subject to similar checks. It is unfortunate that a majority I spoke to do not know what to do in such cases.
In fact, quite a few of them returned feeling fearful. They worried about the check for at least a few days afterwards.
This is what you can do when you are checked by a police officer.
The first and most important thing is verify the person is a police officer.
Usually, the police officer will have a warrant card, and the police officer has a duty to show you this. Ask to see this warrant card and take down the particulars of the police officer.
The next key thing is to cooperate with the police officer. Respect and be polite to the police officer in the same way you would expect the police officer to treat you.
The police officer should act in a way that minimises embarassment to you, without compromising your personal safety. And, as such, the police officer may request you to stand in an enclosed or discreet area.
In most such checks, you will be asked for some proof of identification. Provide the police officer the necessary document.
Generally, the police officer will conduct an identity check. The police officer will record your particulars in the police officer's log book. The police officer will also check the police database to confirm if there are any warrants of arrest issued in your name. If there are such orders requiring your arrest, you will be dealt with accordingly. If there are no such warrants pending, the police officer will return the proof of identification to you and thank you.
Such a check should not take more than five minutes.
At the end of the check, ask the police officer for the name and telephone number or e-mail address of a more senior police officer you can contact for feedback or if you have any enquiry. Alternatively or if the police officer refuses to give this to you, find out the police station he is from.
Make it a point to write to the commander of the police station or contact the senior police officer. Provide feedback about the police officer or clarify the police check.
This is important not just for your personal safety and comfort, but also it is in your interest to encourage a responsible and vigilant police force.