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Community leader authors 'know your rights' booklet to aid interactions with police

Bwana Clements authored "EMPOWER" to educate Hoosiers about dealing with law enforcement, particularly during traffic stops.

INDIANAPOLIS — Community leader Bwana Clements has spent countless hours putting together a booklet to educate Hoosiers about what they need to know when interacting with law enforcement officials.

He also designed a vehicle to help make sure those interactions with police go well.

Clements works in the public school system. He shared some of the details written in his "know your rights" booklet titled "EMPOWER." The booklet is for ages 12 and up and Clements purposely wrote the booklet avoiding complicated language.

"So, EMPOWER, as an acronym, stands for 'Engagement Manual for Police Outcomes Where Everyone's Respected,'" said Clement. 

The booklet is based on Indiana law. Clements believes everyone should know the rules, for example, during traffic stops.

"This is what you have the right to do and this is what you don't have the right to do. This is what police are able to do, this is what they are not able to do," he said.

According to the Journal of Criminal Justice, a traffic stop is the most dangerous part of a police officer's job. So far, thousands of Clements' booklets have already been printed along with stickers. 

"This (sticker) can go in the window or on the bumper and it is to let the police know that you have read this and that you are looking forward to a positive interaction with them," said Clements.

There's an emergency contact section plus a directory with numbers like the mayor's action line. The booklet also includes a section for notes for you to write down important information before you forget. Clements said although it mainly focuses on traffic stop interactions, the booklet is a good tool for pedestrians, too.

Credit: WTHR

"This goes into search and seizure. This goes into 'Are you being detained?' versus 'Are you being arrested?' This goes into 'Are you able to film?' If so, when? How?" Clements said.

13News shared the EMPOWER booklet with the top police officer of Indiana's largest police force. Metro Police Chief Randal Taylor gives the book a thumbs up. Just like Clements, Taylor strongly encourages conversation about it, too.

"This is great information for the people our officers have sworn to protect and serve," said Taylor. "It's important that people just don't learn their rights, but that we have conversations about each right and talk about best practices, so our community and police relationship is respectful on both sides."

"I want parents to sit down with their children at the dinner table or on the sofa and go through this booklet," Clements said.

Clements hopes to partner with other organizations and companies to make sure whoever wants an EMPOWER booklet gets one. Clements started working on the booklet two years ago and hopes to distribute it statewide. He also hopes to get the first round of the booklets in the hands of young people, especially students who drive.

He partnered with CVR on New York Street in downtown Indianapolis for the design. Printing Partners on West 16th Street just north of downtown donated the actual booklet printing. 

Clements expects to hear from other community leaders and organizations about obtaining the EMPOWER booklet and stickers. He can be reached via email at bwanaleads@gmail.com for orders. 


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