Interactions with the police can be a traumatic experience. A simple traffic stop can cause fear and anxiety.
That’s one of the reasons a decade ago, the Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA) released what is called a “statement to police” card, modelled after one from the Pivot Legal Society in B.C.
The wallet sized card has a paragraph on it you can read to police if you are stopped that tells them your rights.
Now, the latest version of the card is available for download for free, or donation. You can also order the cards and only pay for shipping at bearpawlegalresources.ca.
Daena Crosby, director of legal education at the NCSA, says the newest version of the card is popular with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.
“It’s just a lot simpler in the wording,” Crosby told APTN News. “We did revamp the actual statement you can read to police if they want to invoke their rights while speaking to them.”
Here is the paragraph that can be read to police:
“Officer, please tell me if I am under arrest or if I am being detained, or if I am free to leave. If I am not free to leave, please tell me why. I wish to exercise all of my rights now. I will not answer any questions until you let me speak to a lawyer. Please do not ask me any other questions. I do not consent to any search unless I am under arrest.”
Another card offered lists the rights everyone has, such as being able to leave if you are not detained or arrested by police.
Cynthia Arcand works closely with clients.
She says the people she talks with say the card helps when having an encounter with police.
“The language on the cards, it helps clients feel safe.” she says. “There is a shared responsibility when the clients present the cards. Our hope is that this card lessens the negative interactions.”
Recently, she was talking to a woman who said the card helped her with her encounter with police.
“For her, it did lessen the interaction she had with police. A conversation took place, she wasn’t afraid to be vocal about her rights,” Arcand said.
Crosby says the Edmonton Police Service is on board with the card, and says they are doing their own internal education on the card.
“So they are aware that officers are going to see it in the community, and that they have a legal obligation to uphold people’s rights,” Crosby said.