Frequently in the course of carrying out their duties in law enforcement, it becomes necessary for police officers to stop a person and make an inquiry such as:
- What is your name?
- What is your address?
- Do you have any identification?
The Frazeysburg Police Department strives to provide service to everyone in the community fairly and equally. Sometimes a very routine encounter may cause a person to feel intimidated or to respond in a manner which gives rise to conflict or suspicion. We hope that the information on this page will be helpful in explaining why an officer may have to stop and question a citizen and reduce elements of conflict when confronted by an officer. It will explain what to expect if a police officer stops you for questioning and also provide some guidelines on how to respond to the questioning process. You are cautioned, however, that this is not a legal advisory.
When law enforcement representatives question a person, there are underlying reasons. They may be checking on some complaint phoned into police by someone in the community. They may have received a report of some criminal activity which has just occurred in the area. Your presence might indicate that you are a potential witness who would be able to provide valuable information in an investigation. In some cases the officers' observations may lead them to think you are having trouble and need assistance.
Sometimes purely innocent behavior can be suspicious to police. For example, if you go for a night-time run, and you happen to run by a business that had an alarm go off in the past few minutes, you can see why police would be interested to know what you were doing. After a few questions and police being given the opportunity to examine the situation up front, the matter will be resolved.
The best way for them to clarify the situation is to ask questions. With all due respect to citizens' rights, officers have a responsibility to properly investigate matters which may threaten public safety or involve breaking the law. Their questions are not necessarily an accusation, and your cooperative response can alleviate potential conflict. If officers just assumed everyone was obeying the law, crimes or violations of the law would never be stopped.
Police continually have to perform a balancing act - being conscious of your rights and your presumtion of innocence but also investigating crimes or possible crimes.
Using the example above, if you are a business owner who has been burglarized several times, and you bought an expensive alarm system to protect it, you would expect the police to check your business when it goes off. Certainly if it is night time, and you went to check on your business yourself, and you saw someone running away from it, you might think they just broke in and got scared by the alarm. You would probably call 9-1-1 and want that person stopped, especially if there was damage to your property.
If the Police Stop You on the StreetSometimes problems arise when it seems as if a police officer has stopped to question you for what appears to be no reason at all. Rest assured, if the police are stopping you, there is a reason, allow the officer time to explain what is going on. Sometimes the time factor may be crucial in investigating a possible crime, police officers are trained to observe and evaluate a situation and to act if they have a reasonable suspicion that you may in some way be involved in an incident. We thank you in advance for your future cooperation to help us keep you and your property safe!
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