Your Rights and The Police

One way we can take better care of ourselves around the police is to know are rights and exercise them. At the end of this page is some basic information about your rights and the police. This information is also available in wallet size folded card form. Below are links to English and Spanish versions of these cards. To make some for you and your friends, download the pdf, make a back to back copy of the document, cut and fold!

Click here to download our your rights and the police cards in English.

Click here to download our your rights and the police cards in Spanish.

Know your rights posters:

Learn more about this project on our Past Events & Projects Page or click below to download three of 11×17 posters. A fourth poster on copwatching is available on our copwatching page.

Poster #1: Am I free to go?

Poster #2: I do not consent to a seach.

Poster #3: I don’t want to answer any questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.

Poster #4: I am here to observe. I do not intend to interfere.

Your rights and the police videos:

Flex Your Rights has a 45 minute video. Click here for Busted: A Citizen’s Guide to Surving Police Encounters.

SWOP Chicago made a 20 minute video specifically for sex workers. Click here for Know Your Rights for Sex Workers.

Your Rights and the Police

For use in Portland, OR.

When you’re stopped: stay calm, keep your hands visible, be careful what you say. If you want to leave, ask: “Am I free to go?” If you are not driving, you do not have to carry I.D. You do not have to identify yourself, but if you refuse, police may take you into custody. It is not a crime to be without I.D.

If you are driving, you must show your license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you are suspected of drinking and refuse to take a breath test, your license may be suspended.

If police want to search you, they may pat you down to check for weapons. Make it clear you do not consent to any further search. Just say, “I do not consent to a search.” If they say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they are searching your home or your car with “probable cause,” make it clear you do not consent to a search.

If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions, other than identifying yourself. Don’t offer excuses or explanations. Anything you say can be used against you. Just say, “I don’t want to answer any questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”

If you are Copwatching, let officers know you don’t intend to interfere with the arrest. (Say, “I am here to observe. I do not intend to interfere.”)  This means staying ten feet or more away from the action and not trying to distract the officers’ or the arrestee’s attention.

If you are the victim of police misconduct, get the names of all officers involved and supervisors names if possible. Get names and numbers of any witnesses.

If you are the victim of police misuse of force, document injuries right away. You may wish to pursue any number of routes, from filing a complaint with the Independent Police Review Division to filing a lawsuit.


Independent Police Review

Division (IPR) …….….…  503-823-0146

Metro Public Defenders…  503-225-9100

Multnomah Defenders ….. 503-226-3083

Legal Aid ……………..…….. 503-224-4086

Oregon Law Center ……… 503-295-2760

Bar Association

legal referral service ……. 503-684-3763

Juvenile Rights Project ….. 503-232-2540

Portland Copwatch

Incident Report Line ……. 503-321-5120

For more information:

Rose City Copwatch


Contact us!

phone: 503.715.1409


post: PO Box 12353, Portland, OR, 97202