There is a perception that schools are safer with police officers on campus, but the call for police-free schools has gained momentum in recent years as issues with racial profiling, police brutality, and surveillance have become more apparent. With a police presence comes an increase in police-student interactions, which can lead to traumatizing confrontations.

As a student you have rights when it comes to dealing with law enforcement and school officers.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED OR QUESTIONED BY POLICE ON CAMPUS

  • In Nevada, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself. 
  • Ask if you are free to go. If yes, calmly walk away. 
  • Upon request, show police your student ID or state ID. 
  • Know that you can assert your right to remain silent and can answer any question by saying, "I want to remain silent." You also have the right not to write or sign a statement. If you choose to speak or write about what happened, your words can be used against you.
  • You can also ask to have a lawyer, a parent, or another adult present before you are questioned or make any statements.
  • Let an adult you trust know what happened. If you're hurt, see a doctor and take pictures of your injuries. 
  • Afterwards, write down everything you remember (like the officer's badge number and name, who else was there, and what happened).

IF AN OFFICER IS ATTEMPTING TO SEARCH YOU OR YOUR BELONGINGS

  • You can say, "I do not consent to this search." This may not stop the search, but this is the best way to protect your rights.
  • An officer cannot search you based on a feeling, a rumor, the color of your skin, or the clothes you're wearing.
  • If you or your belongings are searched, it must be related to the crime that you're suspected of committing. For example, an officer cannot search your pockets if they think you stole a computer from school because you can't hide a computer in your pocket.
  • Police and school employees are NEVER allowed to strip search you.

IF YOU ARE ARRESTED

  • A police officer can only arrest you if they know facts (not a rumor or guess) indicating that you probably committed a crime.
  • Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unjust. 
  • Ask for a lawyer and assert your right to remain silent
  • Your constitutional rights must be read to you.

Reminders:

  • You do not have to answer any questions besides giving your name. 
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to a lawyer if you’ve been arrested.
  • You have the right to record law enforcement.

If you have had your rights violated by school police, contact us.

REPORT A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION

1. Can a police officer search me or my possessions without a warrant? 

Q.Can a police officer search me or my possessions without a warrant? 
A.

YES, but only in certain circumstances.  

Police must have a “reasonable suspicion” that searching you will turn up evidence that you violated a school rule or law. An officer may search you without reasonable suspicion if there’s an emergency or if you agree to the search.

Outside of school, police need a warrant signed by a judge.

2. Do I have the right to refuse if an officer asks to search me or my possessions?

Q.Do I have the right to refuse if an officer asks to search me or my possessions?
A.

Officers may ask you for permission to conduct a search. You can say, “I DO NOT CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH.”

You cannot be punished for refusing to allow a search.

 

3. Can a police officer search my locker?

Q.Can a police officer search my locker?
A.

YES. In Nevada, lockers are considered the school's property, so schools may search lockers at any time. But schools must provide students with notice that routine searches are to be expected.

4. Can a police officer question me in school?

Q.Can a police officer question me in school?
A.

If an officer suspects you of a crime, he or she has to advise you of your right to remain silent before questioning you.

5. Do police officers have to tell my parents?

Q.Do police officers have to tell my parents?
A.

In Nevada, parent MUST be notified as soon as possible when their children interact with police. This can happen before, during, or after questioning or a search, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, parents must be notified before an arrest.

6. Do I have the right to remain silent?

Q.Do I have the right to remain silent?
A.

YES. It is your choice whether or not to speak to an officer. If you choose to speak, keep in mind that your words can be used against you.

If you don’t want to talk to an officer, you should first ask, “AM I FREE TO LEAVE?” If the officer says you are free to leave, you should go.

If the officer says you are not free to leave, you should say “I WANT TO REMAIN SILENT AND I WANT TO SPEAK TO A LAWYER.” You should not speak to an officer until after you speak with a lawyer.

7. Can I be handcuffed or physically restrained by a police officer in school?

Q.Can I be handcuffed or physically restrained by a police officer in school?
A.

YES, but only under certain conditions. A student can be handcuffed or restrained if he or she is under arrest, or if it is necessary to stop behavior that poses a risk of serious harm to others or to school property. You shouldn’t be handcuffed or restrained as a form of ordinary school discipline.

8. Can I complain about the behavior of the officer?

Q.Can I complain about the behavior of the officer?
A.

YES. You can make a complaint if the officer physically assaults you, curses at you, touches you inappropriately or makes inappropriate comments, makes negative comments about your race, religion, gender, accent, national origin or sexual orientation, or acts inappropriately in other ways. You can make complaints to the school principal and school district superintendent and to law enforcement, such as the local police or the sheriff.

If you have had your rights violated by school police, contact us.

REPORT A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION