'I Fought the Law and I won!'
This is a brief introduction of how one can best deal with (Dutch) police. I will discuss some general useful information that I have gotten from others or through personal experiences with the law. The information i offer is by no means complete or comprehensive enough to stand alone. I advise everyone that might get in trouble to read as many other related writings as they can. For specific legal rules and information i also refer to the various sources i name.
All Cops Are Bastards? That is for each person to decide. My opinion is that police have chosen a vocation which by it’s sheer nature means that they get paid to be bastards at times. I know that in other countries, cops are very often mindless fascist thugs with a badge. However, even in "liberal" Holland there does seem to be a high proportion of authoritarian, conservative, mildly aggressive and ignorant people in the Dutch police force. To be fair I must also convey that now and then I have met some fairly decent cops that were sympathetic to squatting as well as the usual complete and utter bastards.
One of the most important things to remember that in nearly every cops mind their only responsibility is to the law. They are not concerned with compassion, or intelligence or logic or morality and definitely not with justice. In fact many of them seem to think justice and the law are the same thing!
First and foremost you really need to have an idea of what you can expect from police bastards in any given situation. That means getting some info. Knowledge is power. There is a lot of useful and good information out there. You need to know the risks, your rights/the law, the police tricks and possible defenses before you even consider doing anything that might get you busted. Knowing the ranks of police and what their rank entitles them to do and what not is also potentially very useful.
A very good start would be to read the excellent book “Tips Tegen Tralies”. The Rotterdam KSU has a copy and it is available at left book stores such as ‘T Fort van Sjakoo’ in Amsterdam.
Or if you want an example of how the right attitude and preparation is more likely to result in police leaving you alone in the first place read the legal sections in the various squatting and action manuals on squat.net.
As far as the law is concerned a lie to the police that can never be proven to be a lie is not a lie at all. So if the police asks you “Did you break open the front door?” you might say “No it was open when we came here, I heard some junkies broke it open a 2 weeks ago”, or even better "I don't think that is relevant, I don't want to talk about that.”
In other words: never admit to anything that they don’t know for sure and that they might use against you. And believe me they will often try to use anything at all against if you give them half a chance. They will lie, cheat, deceive and push, anything to get a (written) confession or statement from you. All this also means that often it is much better to not lie yourself at all. Even lies might be used against you. Pretty much every question they ask you, you can answer with “I have nothing I want to say about that” or just give them silence, especially when you have already been arrested. Get used to the idea that you have the (legal) right to do that and more. It is a wise thing to remain silent and you should not be intimidated by police thinking they have authority. You do NOT always have to obey them, you do NOT always have to answer their questions. The key is knowing when you do have to do these things and when you do not.
They often try to use polite norms against you. Extending their hand and clearly announcing their name so you will do the same, is an old favorite. Or simply saying that you are not being open and honest, so why don't you just say what you think since everybody here is a reasonable adult. And then there is the classic 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' routine too. Watch the movie L.A. confidential if you want a good example of how police can use their unscrupulous techniques to really mess you up.
Again, if they try these or other tricks never say anything. Not a thing. The Mafia has something called “Omerta”, or the vow of silence. This often helps them to get off even when they have committed murder! Obviously squatters are not Mafiosi but if silence can sometimes get you off when you are accused of murder think of what it can do when you get in to minor trouble. Especially if you consider that squatting is not a priority for the cops at all and that the Dutch police force has a severe shortage of personnel and holding cells.....
I can't stress enough that once in custody speaking usually means you have and are already lost. Usually it only gets worse the more you speak!!
Serenity. If you are calm and composed and even positive once you are in trouble, the police will pick up on that. Their automatic response is often that you must have a good reason why you are not worried. Don't be arrogant or aggressively offensive (unless you have good reason to be of course) but just state confidently that you are not worried because they have no case against you, then make sure you don't say anything else.
Police tactics and interrogation techniques are usually based on disinformation, lack of information, threats and fear. Try to never show fear or better yet, have no fear. Ban fear by knowing in advance what the worst case scenario is and being sure that you find that acceptable if it should come to pass. Knowing for example that they can keep you only for three days -if that is the case- but that there is nothing really important that you will miss, makes you feel confident. The unknown creates and multiplies fear.
Serenity and confidence are not the same as talking back or arguing although sometimes it can be fun or even useful to do the latter two, it should never ever be done lightly. It might end up landing you in a lot more trouble. For more information on this read "Tips tegen Tralies".
Psychology is important as well. Just because you are locked up that doesn't mean you should have a horrible time. Ask for tea, make up some games, ask for magazines, do excercises etc. Stand-up and make sure you are or get dressed when cops enter your cell so you are on the 'same level'.
If you do feel mentally strong enough to somewhat resist police physically once you are locked up then by all means do so. Just make sure you don't take it too far or get hurt.
The police has some standard tricks to make you cooperate when they want to move you or have your prints and/or pictures taken. You ARE allowed to resist this. But, remember both you and them are not allowed to use actual violence, however they are allowed to use some physical force. Of course there is a fine line between these concepts and just because they are not allowed to do it that doesn't mean they never do it.
Anyway, all cops are taught physical techniques of restraint, submission and combat.
I was once arrested for squatting on a bullshit charge. I was seething with anger at the cops. I am not a large person or particularly physically strong. When two of the largest cops I ever saw (for real!) came to get me to take my prints and pictures I wasn't very prepared. As soon as I had dressed I sat down and told them I knew I was allowed to resist and that I was not going to cooperate with them. Then one cop reached for my arm to haul me from my sitting position. The first thing he did then was spin me around and twist my arm up behind my back and put his other arm around my neck in a choke hold. That way he could control me, making me walk because if I didn't he could just push my arm up some more to compel me by pain. These are fairly standard tactics.
Anyway, by the time we got to the picture room I was composed somewhat. He let me go so I could pose for their camera.
'Fuck that and fuck them!' I thought.
I ducked down to the floor and faced the wall from him so they couldn't take my picture. Then he tried grabbing my right arm again. This time I was prepared. As soon as he had my right wrist I made a quick clockwise circling and pushing motion which broke his grasp completely and easily, then I ducked back down to the floor again. This is one of the very few and extremely simple Aikido tricks I know. I could tell it surprised him and made him wonder... While he doubted about what to do next I explained to him that I knew he wasn't allowed to get to heavy handed and that we were already going to file a complaint for their unlawful eviction and arrest. Also I said that he shouldn't do anything stupid which would make us file an additional complaint against him and which would certainly damage his career. After some time he decided to forget the picture and took me to a cell. 20 minutes later I was released. I expected this since I knew my friends had already been released and his boss -the OVJ- had already decided we could not be held any longer.
So although it is always risky resisting does sometimes pay: I was the only one who resisted getting their picture taken and the only one whose picture they never got. However, the scenario I describe above is exceptional, usually if they really want your pictures and prints they will get them. One way or another. But you always have a choice whether you make it easy for them or whether you give them (and possibly get) hell.
Lastly I think it is always helpful to learn some basic Aikido or other self-defense techniques if you expect trouble.
Hope this information helps,