Reconceptualizing Parental Fear– Part 2: FEAR– Facing Everything And Responding

Go Slow and Steady…Cross the finish line…Finish the Race

Dr. Micheal Kane

In Part I of At the Crossroads:  Re-conceptualizing Parental Fear…, the focus of the writing included the following:

  • Conceptualizing fear and the privileges assigned to certain people in authority, power, and control to protect the members of the larger group ( family, community, society)
  • The impact on fear on ethnic minority parents as well as their inability to protect their children from being targeted by the police or other individuals within a society
  • Encouraging the ethnic minority individual to conceptualize the situations he/she may face in daily living as similar to “running a race.”
  • Utilizing the concept of “running the race” as a metaphor, encouraging the ethnic minority individual to develop and utilize empowerment strategies.

For this writing, we will focus on:

  • Assisting the ethnic minority individual to seek empowerment of self, rather than “giving up” power generally associated with the privileges of authority, power and control.
  • Identifying and clarifying the roles, relationships and duties of the participants associated in the race, i.e., “runners” (the police officer and the prosecutor), referees (the judge/court commissioners) and the fans/bleachers (the viewing public, society).
  • Identifying and discussing strategies for the ethnic minority individual to utilize when interacting with a police officer or others who consider themselves to be an authority figure.
  • Discussion of the Ten Commandants and Eight Golden Rules Outlying Safety Tips in interacting with others in society.

Part I concluded with the model of The Five Rs of RELIEF.  Using this model, the individual would ideally become engaged in the process of “transformation” (i.e., unification of thoughts and feelings) and be able to draw upon the following points of awareness:

  • Awareness #1
    The ethnic minority individual must want to understand the physical makeup of the competition (i.e., standing at the starting line). The ethnic minority individual must want to understand that while he/she is lining up with the other runners, there may be the appearance of competition; however, in reality the other runners may also be collaborating together with the purpose to defeat him/her.

Among these possible “participants” are the following: law enforcement, prosecutors, bail bondsmen, corrections, and probation and parole officers.  The “officials” (referees) regulating the “appearance of fairness” of the race are the judiciary.  In the “bleachers” are the fans.  The fans include the members of society i.e. the larger group.

However, the playing field is also complicated by the fact that in this climate of gun proliferation, fans can often assume the role of participants and officials, which makes it even more difficult for the ethnic minority individual to find his/her path. Thus, this reinforces the “want” of the ethnic minority individual to change one’s strategy so he/she can “run the race smarter not harder.”

Police and prosecutors are often very competitive with each other.  It is not unusual that they do not trust each other.  However, in order to perform in their respective professions, they “need” (survival or the system fails) to work together to win the race.  The “rules” are set in a way that forces the police and prosecutor to “depend” (again, survival or the systems fails) on each other in order to achieve success (arrest/conviction).

As indicated earlier, the police are in the first “lane” because they are responsible for making the arrest.  The prosecutor is in the second “lane” because they are responsible for filing formal charges.  It is important for the ethnic minority individual to want to understand that the police, while they can make the formal arrest by the rules (law), they cannot file the formal charges.

The same rule (law) applies for the prosecutors.  They can file the formal charges; they can also order or direct the arrest, but they cannot institute the formal arrest.  This action is left in the purview of the police.  Once again, both runners are by the rules (law), dependent on each other and thus bound in what can be at times described as a conflicted and hostile “marriage.”

However, this is different in cases where other individual members of society are involved.  Where police and prosecutors have defined roles and responsibilities that they are expected to operate within, other members of society are not bound by those rules, and the police and prosecutors only come into play after the altercation is done.  It is incumbent upon the ethnic minority individual to be aware of this, and to understand that because rights exist, that does not mean that they will be respected without the threat of prosecution.

  • Awareness #2

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand that although he/she is impacted by stereotypes created by the larger group (society), the same applies to the sub-units that the larger group (society)  has given special privileges (authority, power and control) to enforce the law, as well as other individuals that are also governed by these sub-units.

Consequently, these internalized feelings (stereotypes) serve to impact those relationships.  Non-minority individuals may believe that the police are not sufficient to provide protection, so they form militias, or at the very least, arm themselves.

However, as stated earlier, they are dependent on each other; therefore it is essential that all the sub-units “respect” each other.  Trust is not a “commitment” of this marriage (conflict and hostile).  Trust can develop over time depending on interactions created by individuals working together during the experience of the “marriage”.

If the relationship between two individuals of competing sub-units is good, then trust between those two individuals is created.  This level of trust is never extended to anyone outside the relationship of the two individuals.

  • Awareness #3

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand and be aware of the lack of trust between his competitors, and the lack of trust they have in him.  The two competitors are aware that the nature of their respective professions and responsibilities create a need that each sub-unit respects the other in order to accomplish their respective goals, regardless of how divergent those goals may be.

Strategy #1- The Running of the Race

The ethnic minority individual must want to focus on crossing the finish line (completing the race).  In doing so he/she must want to drop the focus on winning, and even on fairness; again, understanding that the rules and the other runners are set up to compete against the ethnic minority individual.

Strategy #2- Interactions & Relationships

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand the interactions and relationships among the competitors.

Therefore, the ethnic minority individual must want to understand the difference phases of “contact and interaction” with each runner in the race.  It is essential for the ethnic minority individual to remember the following three rules regarding non-serious and serious encounters and the magic word(s) when feeling endangered or uncomfortable:

  1. Rule A – All encounters are potentially serious encounters.
  1. Rule B – Magic Words #1: “I pose no danger to you or to your family or possessions.”
  1. Rule C- Magic Words #2: “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  1. Rule D – Magic Words #3, “I do not consent to the search of my vehicle, home or
    personal possessions.

If the ethnic minority individual is of minor age (has not achieved their 18th birthday), the “magic words” slightly change to include the following:

  1. “I am a minor. I am (state age and date of birth).  I want to have my parent or
    guardian present before you ask me any questions.”
  1. My parent(s) name(s) is/are.
  1. My parent’s phone number is.
  1. I reside at (give residential address).
  1. I attend (if appropriate) provide name of school.
  1. I have nothing else to say until my parent or attorney is present.


Strategy #3 Forms of Encounters With Police Officers

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand AND identify the different types of encounters one can experience when interacting with police officers specifically.

  1. The Conversational Encounter – This is when the police officer is attempting to get information from the individual but doesn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest. This encounter is also referred to as the “casual encounter” or “friendly conversation”
  1. The Detention Encounter – This is when the police officer can detain the individual only if they have reasonable suspicion that the individual has been involved in a crime. Detention means that although the individual has not been arrested, he/she can’t leave.
  1. The Arrest Encounter – This is when the police officer can make a formal arrest having found probable cause that the individual has been involved in a crime.
  1. Remember, it is the responsibility of the police officer to make the formal arrest. It is the responsibility of the second runner (prosecutor) to file the formal charges.
  1. Once arrested, the individual must be placed within the centralized computer database and processed (booking-identified/fingerprinted).
  1. Once arrested, the individual by law and police procedure cannot be “unarrested”.
  1. The recording of the arrest, its filing within the National Crime Information Center computer database (NCIC) AND remains “forever” (survives following death of the individual) whether or not charges are filed by the secondary runner (prosecutor).

The Ten Commandants of Safety for Ethnic Minority Individuals When Interacting With the Police Officer “THOU SHALL OR SHALL NOT.”

  1. Always be RESPECTFUL to the police officer.
  1. Never be DISRESPECTFUL to the police officer.
  1. If inclined to speak to the police officer always be HONEST.
  1. Never provide FALSE information to the police officer.
  1. When interacting with the police officer ALWAYS keep your hands in plain sight and away from your body. NEVER initiate any MOVEMENT without the police officer’s AWARENESS and CONSENT.
  1. When riding in a vehicle and being followed by a patrol car, ASSUME that the police officer is “running” (seeking to identify) your license plates through the computerized database searching for warrants or any viable information regarding the vehicle. ASSUME the police officer is “searching” and “observing” for a reason to stop the vehicle.
  1. NEVER consent to a search of your person, belongings, vehicle or residence by the police officer.
  1. NEVER resist the actions of the police officer should the police officer chose to perform a search of your person, belongings, vehicle or residence.
  1. If formally arrested or detained due to concerns for the “police officer’s safety”, DO NOT RESIST. Follow the instructions and directions of the police officer.  DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS WITHOUT BEING IN THE PRESSENCE OF AN ATTORNEY.
  1. If you are dissatisfied with how the incident was handled by the police officers involved use your skills of observation, memory and details (date, time place). DO NOT act in the following manner: (REMEMBER, DO NOT) use profanity or make verbal or physical threats.
  1. DO NOT threaten to have the police officer terminated or threats of contacting his supervisor.
  1. DO NOT request the police officer’s name or business card. Instead, QUIETLY observe the police officer’s badge number and ID number located on the police vehicle.
  1. DO NOT video or record in plain sight of the police officer.
  1. DO NOT contact his direct supervisor. INSTEAD, document the incident (date, time, place, persons involved, police officers badge numbers and/or identification number of patrol vehicle) and FILE A WRITTEN REPORT directly to the Internal Affairs Section of the police department.
  1. Send a copy of the report to the mayor’s office, your local representative (city, county, State, federal) and the civil rights organization in the local or regional area.


Concluding Remarks

There are two other sub-units that are involved in the race (referees – the judiciary) and those individuals sitting in the bleachers, i.e., fans (members of the larger group).  Always remember that the referees (judges) do not make the rules.  The responsibility of the judiciary is to ensure that those involved, the “playing field” is level and all runners abide by the “rules” of the race.

The fans, the larger group, simply want to see a good race.  The fans are the audience.  They want to see the race being run without any impact or, if any, the objective for the police is to have minimal influence in their daily lives.  However, as we have seen in recent months, fans have often taken matters into their own hands when they feel that the police have not done their best in protecting them.  It is this fear and dissatisfaction that can be taken out on the ethnic minority individual who is not aware.

The fans will yell “foul” only when they observe a “flagrant violation (actual video recordings of a helpless Rodney King being hit and repeatedly beaten LAPD officers) or when they are pressed the fear button (i.e., the riots of Los Angeles following the jury verdict of acquittal for the police officers involved in the brutal attack of Rodney King).  Otherwise the fans prefer not to know how the police used the rights (authority, power, control) granted to them to enforce the “rule of law.”

It is essential that the ethnic minority individual understand and come to accept that he/she is in the race alone competing with other runners who, although may not trust each other, clearly understand that they must work together in order to be successful in “controlling and managing” the identified individual (the ethnic minority individual).

  • Eight Psychological Golden Rules for the Ethnic Minority Individual When Interacting With the Police:
  1. Respect the police officer. Respect his/her profession.  Respect his/her designated privileges of authority, power and control.  Never Blindly Trust the police officer.  Trust is earned, not given away.  Remain “COOL, CALM, COLLECTIVE and CALCULATIVE” of thoughts and emotions during the interaction.
  2. Be friendly and remember you are not there in the interaction to create new and meaningful relationships. Once the interaction is over, it is over.  Move forward and return to your “normal” (hopefully, non-traumatized) life.
  3. Remember the police officer may be functioning off a set of stereotypes or misbeliefs that have nothing to do with you, as much as it hurts …. just remember your complexion may not rate the protection.
  4. Remember to work at not internalizing the interaction with the police officer. Internalizing the interaction may only serve to further the traumatization you may be experiencing.  This in turn will only serve to be destructive on one’s physical and emotional health.
  5. Remember that due to a combination of various factors (i.e., complexion, ethnicity and gender); there will be without doubt many more such interactions that will occur in the lifespan of the ethnic minority individual.
  6. Remember your objectives (which are the same for the police officer).
  7. Safe stop.
  8. Keep the interaction professional and short as possible.
  9. Come home to your loved ones alive and unhurt.
  10. Gain the ability to wake up, live life and enjoy another day.
  1. Never, ever (ever!!) run from the police officer. This behavior may place you at risk of physical injury or death.
  1. And keep at the forefront the MAGIC WORDS
  1. Magic Words #1 – “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  1. Magic Words #2 – “I do not consent to the search.”

In Chinese astrology and numerology the number 8 is the symbol of prosperity.  “May your path be long and prosperous.  May you live in interesting times and enjoy your own personal Journey of Self Discovery”.

Dr. Micheal Kane



Please note that this writer is not an attorney.  The advice given is a result of combination of clinical experience, research and daily living.  For legal advice, it is strongly suggested that the reader consult with an attorney.  An attorney can be identified in the local State bar association



“We have entered an age in which education is not just a luxury permitting some men an advantage over others.  It has become a necessity without which a person is defenseless in this complex, industrialized society.  We have truly entered the century of the educated man.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

37th President of the United States


Until the next crossroads – The journey continues

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