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Knowledge is Power: Interacting With Police

Brought to You by PRAB, Unity Square, New Labor, & Esperanza Neighborhood Project
Police cartoon
Interacting with police can be a challenge, here are some tips. Elisabeth Graham

How Do I Report a Crime or Safety Concern?

  • In emergencies, dial 911. In non-emergencies, the New Brunswick Police Department’s number is (732) 745-5200.
  • You can always report anonymously, even if they ask for your name.
  • You have the right to ask for a translator if necessary.
  • If you do not get the results you want the first time you reach out to the police, you can ask
    to speak to a supervisor. 
  • If you are uncomfortable calling the police for a non-emergency situation, reach out to a
    community organization like Unity Square at 732-545-0329 or the Esperanza Project at 732-
    484- 8511. The staff there can helpyou with the call.

What Are My Rights When Interacting with the Police?

  • You have the right to stay silent.
  • If the police stop you on the street or in your car, you may have the right to refuse a search. You also have the right to refuse a search of your home if the police do not have a warrant.
  • If you are arrested, you have the right to speak with a lawyer before you are questioned. If you can’t afford one, the
    government has to provide one for you.
  • If the police don’t respect these rights, write down the officer's badge and patrol carnumbers. You can present a written or verbal complaint.

What if I’m Undocumented?

  • In New Brunswick, undocumented persons have the same access to the police as anybody else. If you need to call the police, please call the police. The department is not connected to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Undocumented persons have constitutional rights. For example, you have the right to stay silent.
  • If you do interact with police, don’t lie or provide false documentation. 

What If the Police Pull Me Over and I Don’t Have a License?

  • Do not lie to the police or provide false documents.
  • If you have no previous traffic violations, driving without a license is usually a misdemeanor crime. You might have to pay a fine or do community service, but it is unlikely that you will go to jail.
  • If you drive without a license, the police have the right to tow your car at your expense. 

What about domestic violence?

  • If you experience domestic or sexual violence, you have the right to report it to the police. Police must respond to domestic violence calls, no matter how many times you call them. The police may have to arrest the perpetrator, regardless of whether or not you want them to.
  • If it’s not an emergency, you can ask for help from the New Brunswick Police Department’s Domestic Violence Response Team at (732) 745-5229 during the week.
  • You also have the right to file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or criminal complaint. A TRO prohibits the perpetrator from having any contact with the victim until the legal process concludes. To get a TRO, go to the Superior Court at 120 New Street in New Brunswick. The number is (732) 519-3100.
  • If you are a victim of domestic or sexual violence, you may qualify for immigration relief. For more information, contact Catholic Charities at (732) 324-8200.
  • Not ready to call the police? You can call these hotlines:
    • New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 572-SAFE (7233)
    • Women Aware Hotline at (732) 249-4504