1) While the event is in progress, write everything down that you can.
Let them see you taking notes. If you can't capture it all during the
event, do it as soon as possible afterwards, as memory of details fades
2) Remain non-emotional in your documentation, and don't editorialize.
Such comments as "They violated my rights!" may be true, but they are
completely unhelpful in documentation for legal purposes. The courts
don't really care about opinions, just facts.
3) Note the date and time
4) Note where the event happened, with road numbers and mileages if
possible. Note whatever traffic control signs you have seen (Stop signs,
slow signs, speed limit signs).
5) Note, in detail, what you see as you approach a "safety check" or
other LEO activity.
6) Note whether all cars are being stopped, every fourth car, random
cars, or whatever. (This matters!)
7) Note what the uniforms looked like--what color, what insignia
8) Note whatever identifiers there are--badges identifying agency,
number, name of officer
9) Note what you can about rank: it may say so on the badge, or the
color of the badge might hold some information down the line for
attorneys to determine whether it was a line officer or someone with
supervisory or management authority. There might also be indications on
the shoulders, arms, or other parts of the uniform. Not how many stars,
bars, or sripes on the chevrons there are. This may make no sense to
you, but it could matter down the line.
10) Write down *everything* that is said, on both sides, whether or not
it seemed important at the time. What seems unimportant to you may
actually make a difference in a suit for injunction.
11) Write down everything you see. Try to keep it in time sequence.
Remember the rules of journalism: Who, what, where, when, and how. Leave
out conjectures about why. They only muddy the waters.
12) Write down who else was there. How many LEOs, how many vehicles.
Note if they are in marked or unmarked cars. Note what the color of
their vehicle is. Note whatever emergency equipment is on the vehicle.
13) Note if it appeared that there was more than one agency involved.
You can't always tell from the cars, but you can usually deermine if the
uniforms/badges/patches are different.
13) As best as you can, note the attitude: loudness of voice; physical
demeanor. Were they helpful and friendly? Neutral? Cold and distant but
not threatening? Hostile and threatening?
14) If there is any abusive, discourteous, or demeaning language, write
it down word for word.
15) If there is any use of force, write down exactly what you saw. Once
again, as difficult as it may be, try to keep emotionality out of it.
16) If you ask for a badge number, do so courteously, calmly and in a
normal tone of voice. If they refuse, don't argue with them. Note down
exactly how they state their refusal, and let them see that you are
writing down what they say.
_*Above all, when you are in the position of documentarian, don't
argue, yell, or interfere with them in any way. Don't get so close that
they have an excuse to mess with you, but get as close as you can in
order to see, hear, and/or film. If they tell you to move back, move back.
If they insist that you move on, weigh your own safety needs against the
probability that non-compliance might yield some valuable information.
*__*Be respectful even if you don't feel they deserve it. *_