Citizen contact is when a police officer engages in face-to-face communication with a citizen, to engender citizen support in solving crimes. Citizen contact does not mean that the citizen is being suspected of committing a crime; they are, in fact, based on the presumption that the citizen is not under any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Citizen contact is undertaken for the official purpose of asking questions or gathering information, which will support the police in their conduct of intelligence and investigation. Police may not use citizen contact to intimidate, harass, or coerce.
If you are contacted by any police officer, be aware that they are bound by the following protocols:
- They cannot frisk or detain you.
- They should not use force or coercion to require you to stop or respond to questions or directions. Their request does not in any way hinder your freedom to leave.
- They cannot create a barrier to your ability to leave such as keeping your driver’s license or by creating a physically imposing and intimidating presence.
- Police should introduce themselves and explain the reason for making the contact. They should act in a courteous and restrained manner at all times and avoid stern words that sound like commands.
- They are expected to keep the contact as brief as possible.
- When asked whether you must respond to questions, they should inform you that you need not answer any question or are free to leave anytime.