Los Angeles Police Department members and Los Angeles County Probation officers spoke to a group of 50 middle and high school boys at the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Western Region convention in Long Beach. All of the officers are members of the fraternity, and the topic on hand was how to interact with law enforcement officers.

There have been a number of controversial cases of Black people being killed by law officers, making it of great importance to educate young people of color on how they should handle encounters with officers, and what their rights are.

One message from LAPD Detective DeShon Andrews was that compliance does not equate to surrender, and that the proper way to deal with unfair treatment is to report the officer. While many people who are stopped will be angered by the officers because they feel like they are being targeted, fighting with an officer is a losing battle, and it is not the proper way to deal with a civil rights violation.

“You comply with the police officer at the time of the encounter, but if you feel that you were treated unfairly, you should take your complaint to the police station,” Andrews said. “When you become combative, you increase the opportunity that you may be injured. If you go along with the program, survive the incident, then you can go to the police station and make the proper report.”

This message may not sit well with the public, especially within the Black community, which has a history of poor treatment by law enforcement. But people need to understand that police officers are trained to use deadly force in order to protect and serve. With all of the controversies surrounding this topic, there is a lot of tension.

“Right now, especially in the climate that we’re in, there’s a lot of things going on with all of the shooting,” Andrews said. “It’s created an adversarial atmosphere where you have a lot of police officers on edge, and a lot of citizens on edge. The problem is that the kids can’t win. If the officer is being combative or unruly, your demeanor sometimes can deescalate it.”

Andrews strongly advised the boys not to fight with law enforcement, but rather to use the policies that officers have to abide by.

“If an officer is out there treating people unfairly, but nobody complains, then that behavior can continue,” Andrews said. “But if a pattern is detected with that officer, he can be disciplined and removed the from the streets. As opposed to an officer treating you unfairly, and all you do is complain to your parents and friends, then nothing is done to correct that behavior.

“If you meet that with the same type of resistance (as the officer has displayed), chances are that there will be an altercation. The kid is going to end up being booked. He will end up having a record, which can have an adverse affect on the rest of his life. Even if he gets out of it, it can affect job opportunities, and college applications. They review all of that. If you get the wrong type of charge, you can’t even apply for financial aid.”

The officers spoke to the boys about their rights, and also about the rules and regulations that governs law enforcement agents.

“We all have a responsibility to keep our community safe, and when we don’t report, we allow a rogue officer, or an unprofessional officer to continue to patrol our streets,” Andrews said. “Without proper documentation, we’ve failed as citizens, because it’s our duty and responsibility as well to be policed fairly, and to make sure that the police are policing the community fairly. We come up short, when we fail to report officer misconduct.”