"What is the reason, officer?"
In an excellent, thorough 2001 article for the San Diego Law Review, Daniel J. Steinbock proposed a three-step approach for avoiding unwanted consensual police encounters, informed by the relevant case law. Making the good point that not all police-citizen interactions are adversarial—sometimes, a cop just wants to buy you some boots—Steinbock suggests that citizens answer an officer’s request for conversation with “Why?” or “What is the reason, officer?” If the reason is anything other than overtly benign, or if the police officer gives a non-answer (something like “This’ll just take a minute”), Steinbock suggests you proceed to the second step: “Just Say No.”
Read more here.
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