Can A Cop Follow You Home? Know Your Rights!
The majority of the law enforcement officers in this country perform their job with dignity and regard for their communities and in accordance with the law of the land. However, there are a number of incidents in which this is not true. This article is designed to help anyone who has been stopped by police get some basic legal information to help them know their rights, especially if they feel they are being harassed by the cops.
Just remember that if you have been inappropriately approached by a law enforcement officer, to the point where you notice them follow you home, you are not alone. So if you believe your rights have been violated, read on to find out what you can do.
The short answer is yes a cop can follow you home if they have reason to believe you were involved in a crime. But there is more that you should know when it comes to police protocol.
What To Do When Police Officers Are Harassing You
Every situation and every individual is different, and often you only have a couple of seconds to assess your safety and the correct course of action, which is why there is no correct way to deal with such harassment situations.
Here are some tried and tested ways whereby you can address street harassment:
- Address the Harasser
If it is safe, try to respond to the harasser in a calm and firm manner, without agitating them by insulting them. Use statements like “Back off” or “Leave me alone,” to let the individual know that their actions are unacceptable and incorrect.
- Publicly Shame
Public shaming is often an effective tactic when it comes to getting rid of a harasser on the streets. Ask the harasser to repeat themselves or loudly announce to any other passersby what they just said or did.
- Report Them
Call or write to the relevant authorities to let them know that their employees are harassing people on the job and why that is unacceptable and something that should immediately be addressed. If fear for your safety prevents you from standing up to the harasser, let the captain or someone higher in the chain of command take the necessary action against them. Also, do not be afraid to use social media to tell your story.
- Be an Active Bystander
Don’t stay quiet. If you witness a sex crime or an incident of harassment, you can ask the individual being harassed if they want help and what they would like you to do. It will also help to let the harasser know that his or her actions are not condoned by others.
What Is Considered Harassment By A Police Officer?
Having a cop follow you home is legal, and it is most vital that you remain calm if this happens to you. It might only be because you have done some traffic violation unknowingly, or something ordinary. Many times, it is also a routine check being performed by police officers to make sure individuals aren’t driving without a license. Cops also have to ensure that the alcohol-related crimes are kept under control, for which they carry out routine checkups and schedule patrolling operations. However, you still need to be smart when it comes to interacting with a cop that followed you home. This is so you can avoid getting into more trouble or getting hurt.
So what is considered harassment by a police officer?
This is the case if police officers misuse stop and search, carry out searches without a warrant, carry out surveillance on-premises or home without lawful authority, or without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, or make threats against an individual. Sexual harassment may also be a factor in police harassment.
Related Article: Are The Police Tracking Your Car?
What Rights Do I Have If I Get Pulled Over?
Perhaps more important than anything else is knowing your rights when you get pulled over by a cop. We all know that during a traffic stop we should provide police with our drivers’ license and registration paperwork. But if you are stopped by police for a traffic stop are cops allowed to search your car? Do you need to hire a defense attorney if you are stopped by police and face potential criminal charges?
What are my rights?
The right to remain silent, the right to know why you were pulled over, the right to refuse a vehicle search, and the right to record the encounter.
Dealing with the police in the correct manner is imperative to avoid any confusion and to ensure your safety. When you are pulled over by a police officer, you should first turn off the ignition, roll your window down, and wait for directions from the officer.
Rolling the window down just halfway allows for a respectful exchange between you and the officer while also preventing the officer from trying to peek inside your car. Remember to keep your hands on the steering wheel unless asked otherwise. Also, remember to wait until the officer asks to see your documents before retrieving them. Do not reach the glove box if not directed by the cop.
Remember, you do not have to agree to have your car searched. Refusal to consent to a search will not give an officer the right to detain you, and when you consent, the search becomes legal in the eyes of the law.
How Far Can A Police Officer Follow You Before It Is Considered Harassment?
There is no limit on how long a police car can follow you and the act is not considered harassment. However, this is possible as long as they’re within the officer’s jurisdiction.
An officer is allowed to follow you outside of their jurisdiction if there is a mutual agreement between police agencies that the arrest will be acceptable.
This is also possible when the pursuit of your car started from where the police officer is operating.
Before losing your wits as to why a cop is following you, try to maintain your calm and gauge the situation. If you are sure you didn’t do anything illegal, did not carry out a traffic violation, and did not carry out any criminal activity, then continue driving normally, in case the police car is behind you simply because it is driving the same direction as you are.
On the other hand, if you have an idea as to why you’re being followed, then allow the officer to do their job when you notice the officer approaching your car. Just be smart about how you allow your conversation to flow, and make sure to follow the police officer’s directives at all times. If asked, calmly tell the officer whatever they want to know. If need be, you can ask the officer if they are detaining you or if you are free to go.
Matthew is a freelance writer who is passionate about technology, music, photography, and decentralized finance.