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BOOK REVIEW: Beat the Heat: How to Handle Encounters with Law Enforcement

by Ellen Komp, CLMP

Beat the Heat: How to Handle Encounters With Law Enforcement (AK Press, Oakland CA) is an indispensable, accessible guide to exercising our civil rights, especially for young people. Written by Katya Komisaruk, a Harvard-trained attorney who applied for law school from behind bars while serving a five-year federal sentence for a political protest, Beat the Heat mainly takes the form of cartoon stories drawn by Tim Maloney. In each case, an individual has an encounter with law enforcement and does something wrong, from a criminal defense standpoint. Just then, the book's narrator Sybil Rites steps in and explains how the situation could have been better handled and why.

The book explains, for example, the difference between "reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause" and what each allows. Reasonable suspicion allows detention and a pat-down for weapons, but not a search of pockets or backpacks without consent. Probable cause allows arrest and the search of a person or the passenger compartment of a car. Sample statements by police ("you don't mind if I look do you?") and proper responses ("Are you ordering me to open my backpack or asking me to?") are well covered.

Topics include safety during an arrest, using the right to remain silent, Miranda rights, surveillance and entrapment, and the rights of minors and non-US citizens. Samples of search warrants, waivers of rights, promises to appear, and police misconduct reports are presented and analyzed. Working effectively with lawyers and bail bondsmen is covered, and reference sections include jail survival tips, police misconduct and discrimination.

192 pp $14.00 Trade Paperback
Available from CLMP
Write us to purchase or call 707-923-4646

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