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US NC: Edu: ‘Busted’ Movie Screening Teaches How to Use Rights


“‘I don’t consent to any searches, sir.’ This could be one of the most important lines you may ever have to deliver in your entire life,” said Ira Glasser, a former American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) executive director during a screening of “Busted: A Citizens Guide to Surviving Police Encounters” on April 15 in Boren Lounge.

Sophomore Ben MacDonald organized the film screening in order to educate Guilford students about their basic rights that are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. 

“I had a run-in with the police recently and knowing my rights really helped me,” said MacDonald as he introduced the movie.

“Busted” caused the mood in Boren Lounge that day to be bipolar – switching back and forth between jovial and tense, as the film moved between dramatizations with good points but laughable acting, and serious face-to-face talks about one’s rights with Ira Glasser.

The focus of the film, though, was knowing your rights – particularly the right to refuse a search if it is without a warrant, and how to keep from giving an officer probable cause to conduct a search in traffic, on the street, or even at home.

It offered much useful advice:

.  If asked to step out of the car during a traffic stop, lock the doors.

.  Never admit to a crime when pulled over.

.  If police visit your house, go outside to talk to them – don’t invite them in.

.  If stopped on the street, it isn’t always illegal to refuse to give ID to an officer if requested – it varies from state to state.

.  Refusal to consent to a search is not probable cause.

.  Keep your hands at ten and two when the officer approaches your car – – he is looking at your hands to make sure you don’t have any weapons.

“If you make it safe for us, we’ll make it easier for you,” said Assistant Professor of Justice and Policy Studies and former New York state police officer Will Pizio during the Q&A session that followed the film.  In contrast with the movie, the questions and answers were consistent in tone and helpfulness.

“Is it legal for police to search our dorm rooms without a warrant?” asked sophomore Max Van-Pelt Diller.

“Guilford, under Fetrow, …  doesn’t do any room searches without probable cause,” said Pizio.

When asked for other advice on asserting one’s rights, Pizio insisted that students should “take Criminal Procedure, and leave your Criminal Procedure book on the front seat.”

Not all of the presentation was the fact-based, informational style.  Some was just insightful conversation.

“Why did you give up being a police officer?” asked MacDonald.

“Busted knee,” replied Pizio.  “…but the bottom line is, teaching and being a cop is the same job, just without the guns.”