Thursday, 15 December 2011

Your Rights When Interacting With Police

A New Communications Breakthrough from the BearPaw Legal Education & Resource Centre

My first full-fledged PR/communications job was as Communications Officer with the BearPaw Legal Education & Resource Centre, the legal education department of Native Counselling Services of Alberta. It was here that I had my crash course in web design and in writing content targeted at audiences ranging from legal professionals and academics to people with minimal educational background who typically fall through the cracks of the system - for whom NCSA and BearPaw were set up to assist.

Over the course of my time with the organization, there was always much discussion about police interaction and the best way to inform people of their legal rights when questioned by law enforcement officers. BearPaw Education's latest breakthrough in this department is their new Police Interaction card - designed to fit inside a car windshield visor:



And the flip side.



It doesn't get much clearer than this. What are my rights? Here they are. What are the cops' rights? Here THEY are. Prior to this, the agency's main tool in this respect was a series of small wallet-size cards. While these did prove to be popular, this new tool looks to be rather more user-friendly and easy to read. In the heat of the moment when a person is confronted by a police officer, they are perhaps not likely to rummage through their wallet for a dog-eared credit card-sized card full of fine print. This thing is a different story. Moreover, you're just as likely to be stopped by police when behind the wheel as on foot - if not more so.

BearPaw Legal Education's video production counterpart, BearPaw Media Production, has also produced an educational video on police interaction - specifically targeted at Aboriginal clients. Here is a link to a preview of Just Cause, which is narrated by Aboriginal stand-up comic Howie Miller and is one of the most entertaining 13 minutes of legal education you'll ever see.

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