They were once called "peace officers" because their job was to keep and encourage peace in the community; they are now called "law enforcement officers" and expect citizens to look upon them with respect, and tremble in fear when encountering them. These are today's Police Officers here in the United States, and while they also claim to be "public servants," that seems to hardly be the case as average citizens like you and I are unable to fire them from their servant role, nor are we able to tell them to leave us alone when they intrude into our lives, or when they blatantly violate our civil rights or even State laws. This was the case in a recent encounter I had with several Beavercreek City Police Officers.
On January 15, 2011 I was eating a burger with a friend at a small restaurant in Beavercreek, when three men with badges and guns interrupted our dinner and demanded with barking orders that we identify ourselves immediately. Our supposed crime? Carrying firearms openly; at least that's what I assumed as the officers refused to tell us what crime we were being suspected of having committed and did not clearly communicate to me under what State law we were required to provide identification to them, and copies of our Concealed Carry permits.
You see, the State of Ohio is what they call "an open carry state," meaning that citizens have the constitutional right to carry firearms openly, without a permit or permission from a Government bureaucrat, or without providing justification to anyone for doing so. As long as this does not happen inside Government buildings or property, an Ohio citizen is free to openly carry pistols, rifles and any other kind of legal weapon in public, without fear of reprisal and harassment by Government employees.
Apparently Beavercreek Police Officers are not aware of these facts, nor are they willing to be educated on this topic. Furthermore, when questioned on what laws they are attempting to enforce and what laws give them authority to ask questions of law abiding citizens, these officers became belligerent, barked out commands in an attempt to intimidate us, and became furious after taking a picture of them in order to identify them at a later time, all things which are legal in our supposed free country.
It all started when an individual called 911 in order to report that myself and a friend were openly carrying firearms. As the audio of the 911 call indicates in the video segment below, the incident resulted from a total breakdown of communication and knowledge of law, starting with the caller, the dispatcher, the supervisor on duty, and all the way down to the responding officers. Once the officers made contact to us, they continued to escalate the situation, and something that should have been a friendly conversation could have easily turned into a dangerous situation between armed men. Here are some examples of Beavercreek Police Officers making inaccurate statements and violating civil rights laws:
- When informing the officers that Ohio Revised Code 2921 does not require citizens to provide identification unless a crime was committed, is being committed or is about to be committed, the officer responded "that's not true."
- Another officer informed me that "owning and carrying a firearm in Ohio is a privilege, not a right;" the Ohio Constitution and ORC 9.68 specifically codify ownership and transporting of firearms as a right.
- When discussing driving with a concealed weapon, the officer said that the weapon cannot be concealed in the car, and has to be in plain view. When informing the officer that this provision was removed from title 29 several years ago, his response was "that information didn't come down to us."
- Another officer claimed that even when openly carrying a firearm, one has to notify police that he has a Concealed Carry permit; of course, this is a false statement, as Ohio Revised Code title 29 only requires such notification to take place when one carries a concealed weapon, not one in plain view.
Repeatedly, the Beavercreek Police Officers made erroneous statement, attempted to intimidate law-abiding citizens into providing papers, and threatened us with criminal charges when we questioned their motives. They refused to inform us what crime they were investigating, and when we refused to provide them with telephone numbers, one of them threw the driver's license to my friend rather than handing it over to him.
In a subsequent telephone conversation with the Beavercreek Police Chief, he was kind enough to take some time and discuss these important issues with me and pondered the need for additional training with his officers on these important topics.
What should have been a casual encounter (if there was a need for an encounter at all) became a waste of time and an unnecessary confrontation that could have led to one's arrest and consequently a civil-rights lawsuit on my part; no one, especially police officers will be exempt from being prosecuted for violating the civil rights of citizens in our area.
Often police officers demand the rest of us to unquestionably obey any and all laws that we may or may not be aware they even exist, and with hundreds or even thousands of obscure laws in existence, it is likely that all Americans violate Federal and State laws unknowingly from the time they wake up until they go back to sleep in the evening. It is simply unacceptable that when such demands are made of so-called "free Americans," police display this disturbing level of ignorance when it comes to the most basic laws regarding one's civil rights; why is it that average citizens are required to know and obey all laws, yet police officers publicly display their ignorance of the same laws? And ignorance on these laws could easily lead to one's false arrest.
Watch and listen to the audio below, and when encountering police officers, try to defend your civil rights, no matter how small you may think they are:
- Unless you are driving, remember that in Ohio you are not required to show your papers to police, until they tell you what crime you have committed or you are committing, or they suspect you of a crime.
- Do not consent to a conversation with cops; you are not required to speak with them, answer their questions or interact with them in any way. Once police make contact with you, anything you say will be used against you, even if taken out of a casual conversation. If you actually lie to a cop, that is a crime, however a cop is legally allowed to lie to you in order to extract incriminating information from you.
- Do not consent to a police search of your person or vehicle; cops are required to have a search warrant in order to search you or your vehicle. If they ask "what do you have to hide" remember that you are not required to answer that question or entertain them with a conversation.
- Do not be intimidated by cops yelling at you, barking orders at you, or any other aggressive behavior on their part.
- If police stop you on the street, you have the right to ask them if you are being arrested or detained; if they say no, you can ask if you are free to leave - they can temporarily detain you while investigating a crime, but cannot indefinitely hold you without actually arresting you. The best question you can ask is "Am I being detained or arrested?" If not, tell cops you want to continue on your way and want to be left alone.
- It is not against the law to take pictures of police officers, record your encounter with them and use these recordings for your protection. If they are asking you to stop recording or taking pictures, or if they are confiscating your camera, the cops are giving you an unlawful order and are violating your civil rights.
- You have the right to ask the cops that are interacting with you for their names and badge numbers, and they are often required to give them to you.
You can learn more about your civil rights here: http://flexyourrights.org/faq
I am hoping that the Beavercreek Police Chief will pursue an investigation into the events of January 15, and find out why the communication breakdown occurred during the 911 call mentioned below; I am also hoping that the Chief will pursue substantial training for his officers, encouraging them to learn what the laws actually are, as they call themselves "law enforcement officers."