Student group event focuses on dealing with police officers

A film featuring a lawyer and judge will be shown at the event.

by Emily Cutts

It could be the beginning of a music video âÄî a young man driving around town, loud rap music playing âÄî but itâÄôs something much different: an educational video on how to deal with the police.
The film, along with legal speakers, is part of tomorrowâÄôs Gophers After Dark event at the St. Paul Student Center.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy paired with the St. Paul Programs Committee to educate students on their rights when dealing with police.
âÄúWe thought this would be good with Gophers After Dark because itâÄôs not so much about drug policy but about constitutional rights,âÄù SSDP President Zack Tauer said. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of people who are misinformed about what rights they do have and can sometimes can fall into a trap.âÄù
Students will learn about their rights through âÄú10 Rules for Dealing with Police,âÄù a film produced by the nonprofit Flex Your Rights.
The film features a real lawyer and judge explaining citizen rights to a courtroom full of actors. It includes three different situations âÄî a traffic stop, a pedestrian stop and a home search âÄî and how to handle each.
The film features situations that might be more unusual for college students, like Taser usage, but attorney Linda Aaker said University Student Legal Service frequently helps students who have had problems with police.
She said that students are âÄúMinnesota niceâÄù and let police search their cars or enter their homes instead of looking at the situation systematically.
Another lawyer will focus on marijuana laws and dealing with police in that situation.
University of Minnesota police Chief Greg Hestness said programs like these can be valuable if the information presented is objective.
But, âÄúif there is an accusatory, preconceived agenda thatâÄôs not objective and there really isnâÄôt an open mindedness to have dialogue,âÄù he said, âÄúit could be more harmful than positive.âÄù
It is uncertain whether a University police representative will attend FridayâÄôs event. Joey Lusvardi, co-chairman of the St. Paul Programs Committee said the committee reached out to police and hadnâÄôt heard back. Hestness said he had no knowledge of the event or being contacted.