Lincoln High School teacher Nate Bowling wants his students to have the tools to know how to interact with law enforcement.
"This is real. This is contextualized, and this could save your life or somebody else’s life," Bowling said to students Friday afternoon in his government class.
Bowling created a syllabus for students on dealing with law enforcement, and Friday was the first lesson.
"I don’t want anyone to walk away and think this is anti-police. Law enforcement is very difficult work, and police officers take a lot of risk every day," he said.
However as a kid, Bowling wrote on his blog, “Growing up in Tacoma, I was often stopped and harassed by law enforcement while riding bikes with my friends. It got to the point where I started to carry the receipt for the bike my parents gave me, because police stopped me and accused me of stealing it so often.”
Bowling said he has great respect for police and at one point wanted to be in law enforcement, but know as a teacher, he says his role in part is to make sure his students are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
“There are good teachers and bad teachers; there are good police and bad police,” he wrote. “Students know they have a bad teacher after a few days of class and can change their schedules or otherwise find ways to cope. But they won’t know they’ve encountered a bad officer until it’s far, far too late.”
Students learned what happens when they are stopped.
“Being detained is different than being under arrest. If you're being detained you’re not owed Miranda rights. You’re owed Miranda rights if you're under arrest," Bowling said. “If you’re under arrest, say you would like to speak to an attorney. Say you’d like to speak to your parent.”
Students also learned that law enforcement need a search warrant to search their vehicle.
“Do not physically resist, but do not consent to a search," he said.
Bowling said tone and demeanor are important when interacting with law enforcement, especially for people of color who are often perceived as a threat.
"Our parents talk to us about this stuff, but not as in-depth as I learned today,” said senior Askia Amen. “Most of my friends are people of color. They have a higher chance of dealing with police officers.”