Overdoses and Cops


  • Always carry Nalaxone (Narmcan) when using. Narcan can be purchased at most pharmacies and is distributed for free at Mainline Syringe Exchange. Instructions for administering both the nasal spray and injectable remedy can be found here:
  • Call 911. Steve’s Law protects the person overdosing and the caller from any and all drug-related charges, unless someone is in possession of over 3 grams of dope.
  • Everyone but the caller and the person who overdosed should leave the scene, taking all drugs and paraphernalia with them. If you are alone with the person overdosing, ditch the drugs safely and quickly.
  • Police are more likely to respond rapidly if you tell them that your friend is “having trouble breathing” or has “suddenly passed out.” Using the language “overdose” may result in a slower ambulance response time.
  • Stay with the person overdosing and monitor there condition until help arrives.




  • When approached by a police officer, remain calm even if your rights are being violated. Remember, the officer wants to control the situation. if the officer feels like the situation is not under control, he or she is more likely to overreact or lash out, and you could get hurt.
  • Make note of the officer’s name, badge number, and/or squad car number.
  • Never touch a police officer or police horse—you could be charged with assault.

Street Encounter

  • If a police officer asks to talk to you, be polite but say that you need to leave. Do not answer any questions such as where you have been, where you are headed, etc. Say, “Am I being detained?” If the answer is no, walk away.
  • You are not required to show an ID unless you are being arrested. If you are asked for your name or identification, ask if you are being detained. If the answer is no, then leave without giving your name or showing an ID.


  • Police are not permitted to open any container with a biohazard sticker (available to purchase online or for free at Mainline Syringe Exhange) unless they are wearing protective equipment. Always keep your sharps in a safe sealed container labeled with a biohazard sticker.
  • Police cannot search you or your possessions unless you are under arrest. NEVER voluntarily consent to a search. If a cop has to ask to search your belongings or pat you down, then you are not being detained or arrested. Always say politely but firmly, “I do not consent to this search.” Don’t just nod your head.
  • You don’t have to explain why you refuse a search. Just say, “I don’t want to be searched.”
  • If the officer goes ahead with the search anyway, don’t resist. You could get arrested, beaten or worse. You are far better off fighting for your rights in court.
  • If you are detained or arrested, officers have the right to pat down the outside of your clothing. If you are arrested, your possessions can be searched. Leave anything illegal at home!

Traffic Stops

  • Keep your hands visible and flat on the steering wheel. If you reach for a wallet, etc. tell the officer what you are doing first.
  • Roll your car window down only 2-3 inches, just enough to pass your license and insurance card to the cop and to hear what the cop is saying. Keep your car doors locked. If you are asked to step out of the car, take your keys and lock the door behind you.
  • Only the driver should speak to the police officer—passengers should remain silent and sit still. Answer any questions with questions: For example, if asked “do you know why you were stopped?” say “no, why was I stopped?”
  • Never agree to a search of your car (see searches above).


  • If an officer places you or another person under arrest, remain polite and cooperative. This is vital to your personal safety.
  • USE YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. Most police cars have audio or video recorders and anything you say WILL be used against you. If police question you, tell them you are exercising your right to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer. Continue to remain silent at the jail—don’t talk about your case with your cellmates or the jail staff.
  • After an arrest, police are allowed to search you and your belongings.
  • If asked for name or identification, be truthful. Give your correct legal name and address. It is a crime to lie to a police officer.
  • If another person is being arrested, don’t try to interfere. Stand back a short distance and take notes. Get the officer’s name, badge number and squad car number, if possible. Get the names and contact information of other witnesses.


For more information, visit Communities United Against Police Brutality.