When Stopped by Police

Helpful Hints

At some point during your time at University you may be stopped and questioned by a Framingham State University police officer. This could happen for a variety of reasons. For example, the officer may be investigating a crime and want to know if you have information that might be helpful; a crime may have occurred recently and you might resemble the description of the suspect or may be asked if you have seen a suspect; or another citizen may have made a complaint against you and the officer will be trying to determine if the complaint has merit.

Typically a police officer conducting an investigation will ask questions to figure out what happened in a given incident and determine who is responsible. Whether you're involved in the incident or not, the best course of action is to be courteous and cooperate with the officer's instructions.

Below is some helpful information in the event that you are stopped by a police officer.

As a driver or passenger in a car

Motor vehicle stops are inherently dangerous for police officers. Many police officers have been killed or injured during motor vehicle stops. Therefore police officers are extremely cautious when they stop a car. You may never think to hurt a police officer, but there are others who would like nothing better. Therefore, police are constantly trying to find a balance between a positive encounter with a citizen and ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of the traveling public. That's why officers will often:

  • Have a back up cruiser arrive on scene - especially if there is more than one person in the car or the stop occurs at night.
  • Approach your car slowly from either the left or right side - to be sure that someone isn't hiding inside the car or there isn't a weapon within easy reach.
  • Shine a flashlight inside the car. Sometimes this is done to give you more light to look for your license and registration; sometimes it's to make sure there isn't a weapon within easy reach.
  • Ask you for your license and registration before telling you why you were stopped. It's easier for police to know who they're speaking with and adds an element of safety if the car should speed off.
  • Go back to the police cruiser. This is often done so the officer can verify information through the police computer, write a citation, or record the information for later reference.
  • Ask you to step from the vehicle to speak with you.

Car stop suggestions

  • If you are driving use your turn signal and pull over safely
  • Turn on the interior light
  • Turn off your vehicle's engine
  • Have your license and registration available for the officer. If you're driving a car you must present your license upon request.
  • Be courteous
  • Keep your hands within the officer's view
  • Do not exit the vehicle unless you are instructed to do so
  • Do not make any hasty motions such as reaching beneath the front seat
  • Do not joke about having weapons, dead bodies in the trunk and the like

What to do if you are stopped while you are on foot

You are required by Framingham State University policy to identify yourself to any University official, including a Framingham State University police officer. If the officer is investigating a crime or complaint, he or she may also ask reasonable questions to help determine whether a crime has occurred or a complaint is valid. Refusal to answer questions may prevent an officer from clearing you of suspicion. Therefore, if an officer stops you do your best to cooperate and answer the questions the officer poses.

When on foot  

  • Be courteous
  • Follow reasonable instructions of the officer
  • Keep your hands visible to the officer
  • Ask to have a supervisor respond if you believe the officer's actions are improper
  • Don't run. It makes you look guilty of something and you could fall and injure yourself
  • Tell the truth, it's better to say nothing than to lie to a police officer.
  • Never argue with or touch a police officer
  • Don't get in the way if an officer is taking someone you're with into custody. You could be arrested for resisting arrest.

Special considerations

Plainclothes Officers

  • If stopped by an officer in plainclothes, be as courteous and cooperative as you would to a uniformed officer, but ask for identification. If you are not satisfied with their identification, politely request a uniformed officer or a "marked cruiser" to respond to the scene.

Praise or complaints

  • If during any encounter with a Framingham State University police officer, you feel your interaction was extremely positive, or on the other hand, unprofessional, please know that the Chief of Police would like to know about it.

Note: This page is intended to provide information to the general public. It should not be construed as legal advice or counsel.

Contact Information

Framingham State University ID Office
McCarthy Center (Access off Church Street)
100 State Street
P.O. Box 9101
Framingham, MA 01701-9101

Phone: 508-626-4911
Fax: 508-626-4899
TTY: 508-626-4008

Email: FSUpolice@framingham.edu