For the most part, the police are doing a difficult job with a high degree of professionalism and it’s important to point out that they are not the enemy. However, if you have been physically attacked and forced to protect yourself, and as a result the aggressor is injured, or worse, the police who attend the scene will have two basic jobs to do:
1. Investigate the incident to find out what happened
2. Gather evidence that may be later used in court.
You may be spoken to by police at the scene or at a police station and they will often employ tactics to find out what happened and gather evidence. Remember, police have been trained extensively in interviewing techniques and many, especially detectives, are extremely skilled and effective.
In other cases, police may use none of these interviewing strategies and simply ask you if you wish to be interviewed or make a statement. If this is the case, a simple ‘No’ will suffice. Remember, if you are involved in an incident, you may be in some degree of shock and you will be scared/nervous and possibly intimidated by the situation.
Some tactics that might be employed by police include:
1 Bullying and intimidation.
It is hoped that this sort of tactic is not used outside of TV cop shows; however, if you feel intimidated into making a confession by comments such as ‘things will be much worse for you if you don’t give a statement’, or ‘you won’t get bail unless you tell us what happened’, it is important to stand your ground and heed the advice offered in the January article.
2 Telling your side of the story.
This is very clever as the police will appear to be on your side. As I said, they are not the enemy, but likewise they are not on your side. They are on the side of gathering evidence, maybe against you, to potentially secure a conviction. What you may hear is, ‘We just need to get your side of the story’, or ‘It’s important to get your version otherwise we just have to go with what other people have said’.
3 You can tell me everything; I am your new best friend.
Similar to the second tactic, this is about building rapport and trust with you, but as above, it is about gathering evidence. You may hear: ‘Mate, I am here to help you but I can’t do that unless you tell me exactly what happened’ or ‘You will feel so much better when you get this off your chest and then we can help you’. Remember, you do not have to say anything at this stage. You do not have to agree to be video interviewed, provide a statement or to write anything down.
You are protected from prosecution if you have acted in self-defence and your behaviour or response to the attack was necessary and your conduct was a reasonable response in the circumstances as you perceived them.
When dealing with police, it’s important to remember that they are people just like you, only they are doing a difficult job. Be polite, do not physically resist if they advise you that you are being arrested and comply with their directions as this may be for your own safety.
Another important piece of advice is not to brag that you have martial art training. This may create a picture of you that will not help your case down the line and may also be seized upon by the media if the incident or the injuries to the other person are serious.
Next time, we’ll look at the new one-punch laws some states have imposed, and their potential effects for martial artists and instructors.
Disclaimer: This is general information only; it does not replace advice from a qualified solicitor in your state or territory. It is recommended that should you require legal advice, you should seek advice from a suitably qualified and experienced legal practitioner in your state.
Read more martial arts training articles.
Andrew Raynor New Hampshire