The Port Arthur Police Department

in Partnership with our Community

FOREWORD

This information is designed to help a citizen understand what could happen when confronted by a police officer in Port Arthur or any other city in Texas. This information is intended to be a guideline and can not be applied to all situations. If you have any questions about the enforcement of any law please contact the Port Arthur Police Department at one of the numbers listed on this website.

 

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU ....................

What is your name?

Where do you live?

Have you got any identification?

These are simple questions and can be answered easily by almost everyone. However, when a police officer asks these questions, it may cause some tension on the part of the citizen. The officer asking you such questions will have a reason even though it may seem to you he does not.

The officer may be investigating a complaint phoned in by someone in the neighborhood. The officer may have been informed over the police radio that a crime has just been committed in the area. The police officer may think you are the one involved in the crime. You may have knowledge that will help the officer in the investigation or the officer may think you are in need of assistance.

The officer has a responsibility to obtain pertinent information to resolve disputes or calls for service. Part of the investigation process is to ask questions relevant to the investigation. Overreaction to being contacted or questioned by an officer may create a more serious situation. The officer will attempt to explain what he is doing, but situations may arise that cause a delay in the explanation of the officer's actions.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE WHILE IN YOUR CAR ...........

A police officer may pull you over for a traffic violation or for a number of other reasons. You will probably be asked to show your Drivers License and Proof of Liability Insurance. You must comply with this request if the officer asks for them. The best thing to do is to pull your car to the right hand curb whenever possible. Remain in your car unless the officer has requested you step out of the vehicle. Officers do have a legal right to ask you to get out of the car. Upon stopping your car, do not immediately get out and start walking back to the officer's car door. This may cause the officer to take a defensive position, as the officer does not know who you are at this point or your intentions. If you are stopped at night, turn on your dome lights if possible and keep your hands in plain view so the officer can see them, (i.e.- on the steering wheel). Reach for your identification after the request has been made by the officer.

The officer may write you a citation (ticket) for a traffic violation. When the officer asks you to sign the citation, you must comply with this request. The signing of a citation is only a promise to appear in court, not an admission of guilt. If you refuse, the officer most likely will arrest you. Your car will be towed at your expense. Do not turn the situation into a confrontation with the officer. If you feel you are being cited for something you did not do, or for something that isnít fair, you have the right to contest the citation in court and explain your case to the judge.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED BY THE POLICE ON THE STREET ....................

Most of the problems you may have with the police can be avoided at the time you are stopped and questioned. Remember, the officer will have a reason (probable cause or reasonable suspicion) to stop and ask you some questions.

There are many factors that a police officer will take into consideration when they are observing you and think you may be doing something suspicious or illegal. Every situation is different and the officer will usually consider the following factors:

1.Are you near the area where a crime has just been reported?

2. Are you hanging around with people who are under police investigation or people who are known criminals?

3. Are you somewhere where the officer knows people usually do not hang out at during a particular time of day or night?

4. Does the officer think you have stolen property in your possession?

5. Do you refuse to answer simple questions, give false or evasive answers, or make contradicting statements?

6. Has someone pointed you out to the officer as a possible suspect?

While all these things are taken into consideration, an officer would be neglectful in his duties if he did not stop and ask questions of suspicious activity. If the officer has probable cause (believes you have committed a crime) you may be arrested. The officer may or may not "read you your rights". Itís a common myth from television that all persons arrested must have their "Miranda Rights" read to them.

IF THE POLICE COME KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR ....................

 

SEARCH WARRANTS:  If the police knock at your door and ask to come into your home, you do not have to let them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge or under "emergency circumstances" (for example: someone screaming for help inside your home), or if the officer is in pursuit of a suspect into your home. If it is a search warrant for narcotics, the officers will enter in a fast and aggressive manner after knocking. The reason for this type of entry is for the officers safety and in order to seize narcotics. The warrant gives officers the legal right to take the property listed in the warrant and search for specific property. The officers may also search if consent is given. If the officers do not have a warrant, you may give consent to search your home, but do not have to let them in unless they demand to be let into your home. It is in your best interest to go along with the officers demands as officers are aware of the law regarding searches and know what can and cannot be used in a court of law.  Anytime you are confronted by officers in your home you may ask them for their names and identification numbers.

 

ARREST WARRANTS:  Police officers do not have to have physical possession of an arrest warrant. The mere knowledge an arrest warrant exists is sufficient to arrest a person. They may search the person arrested and the general area where the arrest was made. It is the policy of the Port Arthur Police Department and most police departments to handcuff all persons arrested. Age, race, gender, or type of crime committed has no bearing on this procedure.


This information has been furnished by your friends at the

PORT ARTHUR POLICE DEPARTMENT

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