Reason.tv: How to Deal with Cops—Q&A with Steve Silverman of Flex Your Rights


"Asserting your Constitutional rights is not a trick in any way," says Steve Silverman of the Flex Your Rights Foundation. "What the police officers do is a trick." 

Silverman started Flex Your Rights in 2002 after spending years working with college students who lost scholarships because of minor drug busts. Since then the organization has produced two popular videos, Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters and 10 Rules For Dealing with the Police, both of which have millions of views on YouTube and have been screened in classrooms and communities around the country. 

Silverman sat down with Reason.tv's Tim Cavanaugh to discuss the best tactics to employ during a police encounter and to explain why it is in your best interest to refuse to consent to a search, even if you have nothing to hide.   

Approximately 9 minutes.

Interview by Tim Cavanaugh. Shot by Hawk Jensen, Paul Detrick, and Austin Bragg. Edited by Zach Weissmueller.

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NEXT: Welcome to the Era of Belt-Tightening

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  1. An Officer with a sense of embarrassment for demanding respect of the authitah when asking for a search?


    I want to live in that unicorn ridden world of rainbows and sprinkles.

  2. Up your’s Pig!

  3. I would like to know if any of the ‘Rules for dealing with police’ have been field tested by the videographers…and what outcomes resulted.

    1. I can tell you my 5′ wife told two officers they weren’t coming in and proceeded to deny them information about myself that they didn’t need to know. (like where I worked and so on)

      It was funny because they didn’t believe I was out running at 5:30am, and she basically told them she didn’t care what they believed and then proceeded to not allow them in and refused questioning ending with the am I in custody question. Per her the older cop was pissed and the younger cop seemed less agitated.

      There’s plenty of video on people defying immigration checkpoints.

      1. Can I ask why they were even at your house and questioning your wife at 5:30 am? (not a cop!) Just curious

        1. We were in an apartment with a crazy downstairs neighbor. I was running early mornings because it was summer and would stretch and do pushups before running. The police responded to a complaint of, “squeaky floors” that were intentionally being squeaked to distress her. No I’m not kidding. I was already out running and she told them that (she was asleep when they came).

          1. God that reads like a 5th grader wrote it. Sorry.

          2. “squeaky floors” that were intentionally being squeaked to distress her

            Hahaha damn old people. I guess when you live in an apartment you don’t have a lawn to yell at kids to get off of, so you have to come up with this nonsense.

            Tough break, but real cool to read that the wife knew what’s up. I could see my girlfriend allowing cops to do whatever the hell they wanted. Good thing we don’t live together.

            1. The lady couldn’t be over 46. Just bat shit insane.

              1. I lived above her, too. Psycho bitch was up the stairs complaining every time I walked across the bedroom. Then we moved into an apartment complex where they were renovating the floor above us so we had to put up with that crap for a year.
                Apartments are where you learn to hate your fellow man.

                1. Hardwood Apartments are where you learn to hate your fellow man.

                  I have no problems living in a building with carpeted floors. Japan was a different story though, as that country has no idea why carpets are beneficial; they still think densely packed straw is the best insulator known to man (and they don’t even think to at least use it in the walls as well)

                2. that is why I live in a Garden Style Apartment….. No Upstairs, all ground level….

              2. I was married to one of those.

                1. You were married to densely packed straw?

                  My condolences.

                  1. No, no?to a Garden Style Apartment. Obviously.

      2. Good for her! Isn’t just opening the door to your house is an invitation for police officers to come in?

        1. She stepped out.

          I’d say I have her well trained, but that will inevitably get back to her and that would be a bad thing.

        2. You’re thinking of vampires. But I’m splitting hairs.

          1. Can LEOs see themselves in mirrors? Now I’m wondering…

  4. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201…..en_beating

    As you can see from the video, it is important when dealing with police not to assault the police boots with your body. The failure of the suspect to lie quietly and not continue his assault upon police boots and fists is what not to do when apprehended.

    1. You know how hard it is to polish those jack boots?

  5. Chris Rock has a good video:

    How not to get your ass kicked by the police!


  6. “So we’ve seen the police shooting the dog video… what can happen when watching this every day, it can typically cloud what a typical police encounter is likely to look like. And so if you’re someone who exposes yourself to these horrors everyday online, it can lead to someone deciding to blow up…”

    Thanks a lot, Radley. I’m boned.

  7. I’m a police officer and I think rule #1, without knowing the other rules, is most likely the most important. Sadly, most people I work with have adhere to the saying, “They can beat the rap, but they can’t beat the ride.” Typically, an arrest for a minor offense stems from the most egregious crime committed against the police, “POP” (Pissin Off the Police). I do not take it personally when a person refuses a consent search, and typically I don’t ask unless my “Spidey Senses” are going off. However, I do work with several offiers who do take it personally and if you refuse a consent search, they will give you more than a few traffic citations for said refusal.

    But trust me, there are more than a few police officers out there that believe in the Constitution and work hard to uphold it. To the detriment of my career, I have been outspoken against officers who blatently violate people’s rights and I wished there were more who would do so.

  8. Perhaps it’s best to pretend the police officer is some kind of blood sucking vampire that you should both avoid agitating and giving permission to do anything like enter your home. Covering your possessions with foul smelling garlic and adorning yourself with holy symbols will help protect you.

    1. …Until the the policeman’s highly sensitive investigative nose perceives the garlic as marijuana and interprets that as probable cause for a search. That’s why you should surround your home with a constantly circulating moat; pretty sure police can’t cross running water.

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  10. I like this video,IF anything it is making a point, However, this guy needs to come to rural america. Then he will see how all of what was said doesnt work with local law enforcement, And he would see how JUSTIC really works in this police state. That word probable cause. Is very big an powerful.

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  12. When faced with a aggressive police officer, denying a search may trigger more aggression, making an ordinary, law-abiding citizen afraid to say no. Even if you have nothing to hide, it is important to keep our constitutional rights alive while we still can. With each new day, we become less of a free country and more of a police state.

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