Father urges safe interactions with police officers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Father urges safe interactions with police officers

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

In the wake of a tragedy, one father hopes what happened to his son never happens to anyone else.

"No parent wants to see their child pass this way," Rogers Vann said. "I made it my mission to do what I can to help."

In May 2014, a Southaven police officer shot Vann's only son, Jeremy, dead.

"Young people simply don't know what to do when they're stopped by police," Vann added.

Police said Jeremy Vann, a recent high school graduate at the time, was part of a drug deal in a parking lot. Officers said Vann tried to get away by running over an undercover officer.

Another officer fired and Vann was shot dead.

"So many youth today when they're stopped, their behavior can be perceived as an act of aggression, often to their detriment," Vann said.

Vann, a retired Air Force man, said he doesn't know what actually happened when his son was killed and that's why he filed a lawsuit. The experience motivated him to create VANN Up.

The program offers to educate high school and college students, particularly African-Americans, on how to deal with police and other highly-charged conflict situations.

"My objective was to keep young people -- or all people -- safe when they're interacting with police."

The mantra VANN Up stands for:

be Visible
Ask before moving
Never lie
Never argue

The message hits close to home for people like Justin Flowers.

"Black young men who experience different things always try to victimize themselves," said Flowers. "Personally, I don't think we should victimize ourselves."

Police said you should consider the following when approached or stopped by an officer:

  • Officers may not be stopping you for the same reason you think
  • Over-reaction and/or lack of cooperation will complicate the situation
  • Follow the officer's instructions
  • Keep your hands clearly visible
  • Make slow and deliberate movements
  • If a weapon is present, verbally inform the officer of its exact location and do not make any gestures towards the weapon.

As Vann continues to grieve the loss of his son, he hopes his story, and his quest to VANN Up, saves lives on both sides of  the badge.

"If I can help just one youth to know what to do and to prevent, perhaps, getting harmed when they're getting stopped by police, that certainly would make my job satisfactory."

Memphis police released the following list of things to consider when interacting with officers:

What are some reasons police might stop me?

Generally, because you are in the area where a crime just occurred--you witnessed a crime--you fit the description of a suspect--you have been pointed out as a suspect--you appear to need assistance--you violated a law.

What should I consider if I am stopped?

Officers may not be stopping you for the same reason you think

Over-reaction and/or lack of cooperation will complicate the situation

Police are trained to remain in a position that will enhance officer safety

Actions and communications are not intended to offend you

What actions should I take if I’m approached by a police officer?

Follow the officer’s instructions

Keep your hands clearly visible

Make slow and deliberate movements

If a weapon is present:

  1. Verbally inform the officer of its exact location
  2. Do not make any gestures towards the weapon
  3. State whether you possess a concealed handgun permit
  4. Wait for specific instructions before making any movements
  5. Remain calm and do not become argumentative

Cooperation can greatly reduce the time you are detained

What actions should I take if I’m in a vehicle that is approached by a police officer?

Follow the officer’s instructions

Remain seated in the vehicle; do not get out unless instructed to do so

Keep your hands visible

Turn on the interior light when it’s dark outside

Produce your driver’s license and vehicle registration upon request

Do not reach for anything unless directed to do so by the officer

When can I be searched by a police officer?

When arrested

When a warrant exists

When probable cause for an arrest exists

When consent is granted

Be aware that if you are suspected of being armed, the police officer is allowed to frisk you for weapons to ensure the safety of everyone present. 

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved. 
 

Powered by Frankly