Know Your Rights

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By Babatunde Ojo

As of September 24th, 2015, police are allowed to search cars without a warrant. In light of this recent news it seems all the more important to understand your rights when pulled over by law enforcement. Luckily, NJIT’s Pre-Law Society and Amnesty International have you covered.

The first to take the stage was Pre-Law society’s president Naina Kamath. The opening topic was knowing one’s rights when pulled over by a police officer on the road. Instead of the dull presentation you would expect when hearing someone speak about the law, she allowed an open floor to people’s questions and allowed them to speak on their own experiences, while responding to each question with descriptive answers that were able to keep people’s attention. She flowed through the process of being pulled over, and started with the right that a police officer cannot do so without probable cause.

If you ever feel as though you are in an unsafe location, you can call 911 to explain to them your situation and be allowed to stop when presented with a safer option. Naina also added that even though you are on your phone calling 911 while driving, the officer is not allowed to ticket you. Drivers also have the right to stay in their car and refuse a breathalyzer when requested by the officer; however, it would be a bad idea as it could cause unnecessary tension with the officer.

Cynthia Ahmed, Pre-Law Society’s Treasurer, then gave a humorous and focused explanation about “Being a Bystander” during urgent situations. If there was anything to be taken away from her speaking on the matter, it was that people should help whenever they witness a crime. She gave the audience a chance to give input on what it really means to help someone, and there were responses of “Call 911,” “Have picture or video proof,” and even personally assisting the victim. The overall point was that when witnessing a crime you should try to let the crime be known to anyone and everyone around you and stay with the victim.

If there was ever concern of the victim responding negatively to your assistance, you can be assured that the Good Samaritan Law will protect you if need be, with a few boundaries of course. Cynthia noted that it is important to not fall into the “Bystander Effect”, which is when a group of people see something wrong, but decide to not act on it with the idea that “someone else will do it.”

NJIT Amnesty International, a new club on campus that champions various human rights issues, had ended the seminar with by having open discussions about their human rights programs. Freshman duo Emily Cort and Omar Valdivia spoke about police brutality and ending mass criminalization. Pre-Law Society’s Vice President, Abi Fakolujo explained to me that the club holds weekly meetings in Cullimore room 307 during common hour on Fridays. The leading club members’ hopes are to grow and reach out to student and faculty about knowing their rights.

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