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Protection for PNW Street Medics

by PNW Street Medics
Resources and information to help street medics, activists, and anyone facing police brutality and harassment protect themselves against government spying, corruption, and abuse.
Every person that works in support of human rights and in opposition to government over-reach, misconduct, and oppression may find themselves targeted by police and government agencies. Major organizations, such as the United Nations, the International Foundation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent, and the Committee to Protect Journalists recognize that these threats exist and provide training and resources to help their personnel remain safe in hostile and non-permissive environments. Some of the training and resources provided by these, and similar, organizations is available to the public and may provide information of use to activists and street medics who are being targeted by police and government agencies.

BSAFE is the United Nations online security awareness training. It replaces both Basic Security in the Field (BSITF) and Advanced Security in the Field (ASITF). BSAFE is available at (

IFRC Stay Safe 2.0 Global Edition, "Personal and Volunteer Security in Emergencies" (

Disaster Ready "Personal Safety and Security Certificate" (

CPJ Journalist Security Guide (

LGBTQIA Safety and Security Awareness (

Safety and Security in Human Rights Work (

The Police Can Lie to You and They Will Lie About You

While it is illegal for you to give a false statement to the police (lie), it is not illegal for the police to lie to you. In fact, the police will routinely lie to suspects in order to gain their cooperation or get them to confess to a crime. Although it has been repeatedly shown that police dishonesty has negative consequences for innocent individuals suspected of a crime and may push them into confessing or pleading guilty to an offense that they had nothing to do with; police continue to lie to and mislead suspects in order to get convictions. Not only will the police lie to you, they will lie about you!

Norm Stamper, a former Chief of Police for Seattle, WA, wrote in his book To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police, “For anyone who has practiced criminal law in the state or Federal courts, the disclosure about rampant police perjury cannot possibly come as a surprise. “Testilying” – as the police call it – has long been an open secret among prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges.” Stamper continued, “In my professional experience, there are too many cops who become habituated to lying... Even as they put innocent people behind bars, or in the ground.” “Sadly, deception is all but robotic in many police departments...” wrote Stamper. It is an all-too-common practice for police to lie in their testimony to the courts, in probable cause statements used to obtain warrants, and in their investigative reports forwarded to the prosecutor. Even if the police don’t intentionally lie, they can misinterpret, make inaccurate reports, or fail to include exculpatory information. The law requires that exculpatory information be disclosed to defense counsel in a criminal case (See: Brady v. Maryland: 373 U.S. 83 (1963)), but the police can easily “lose” information that does not support the charges they are trying to make against you.

In her book, Spying on Democracy, Heidi Boghosian, the former director of the National Lawyers’ Guild, wrote about the military police / Directorate of Emergency Services at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA saying: “In the words of the government agencies involved, they aimed to neutralize PMR [Port Militarization Resistance, a political / activist group that opposed the war in Iraq] through a pattern of false arrests and detentions, attacks on homes and friendships, and attempting to impede members from peacefully assembling and demonstrating anywhere, at any time. Harassment was systematic and pervasive… The case revealed that today’s military has continued to engage in COINTELPRO-type operations and shows the extent to which the lines between the military and civilian law enforcement have blurred. Forces now used against ordinary people engaged in free speech and protest include, increasingly, weapons and tactics used by the U.S. military for combat missions. The drift from passive intelligence gathering to offensive counterintelligence is one manifestation of the difference between civilian law enforcement principles and the military’s exclusive focus on defeating perceived enemies through combat, propaganda, and covert operations... The role of civilian law enforcement, in theory, is to protect the public and the Constitution whereas the role of the military is to identify the enemy and neutralize them... When the military starts identifying peaceful dissenters here as the enemy, God help us all.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) commented on the military’s abuse of power and illegal spying on American citizens, saying: “There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies... When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism... Spying on citizens for merely executing their constitutional rights of free speech and peaceful assembly is chilling and marks a troubling trend... It is an abuse of power and an abuse of trust for the military to play any role in monitoring critics of administration policies.”

It takes little effort to find reports of police bringing charges based on false and manufactured evidence. As just one example of this type of police misconduct, in October 2021 the Washington State Attorney General filed misdemeanor charges against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. Troyer is charged with one count of false reporting, and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, after Sheriff Troyer made false reports about Sedrick Altheimer, an African American newspaper carrier. (WA Attorney General, 2021)

In July 2022 several news media sources reported that the court had revoked Sheriff Troyer’s release on his own recognizance and imposed a $100,000 bail after the sheriff engaged in a pattern of harassment against Mr. Altheimer. According to the reports: “The state has proven that it’s highly probable that Mr. Troyer has on multiple occasions willfully violated this court’s thrice-ordered conditions to protect Mr. Altheimer,” the judge said. “The court finds that by committing these violations of court conditions of release, Mr. Troyer intentionally sought to intimidate Mr. Altheimer, a key material state witness, from cooperating and/or testifying in this case.” (Yahoo News, 2022)

In his ruling from the bench, Judge Jeffrey Jahns pointed to testimony that Sheriff Troyer had willfully violated his conditions of pretrial release by repeatedly contacting Altheimer, the newspaper carrier, over the past several months, and called Sheriff Troyer’s testimony about the incidents as “not credible” and “false or misleading.” Judge Jahns found that Sheriff Troyer represented “a substantial danger to the community, especially Mr. Altheimer.” Jahns pointed to Troyer’s status as the top law enforcement official in Pierce County, saying Altheimer, as Black man in his 20s, would have every reason to fear for his safety due to Troyer’s actions. (Associated Press, 2022)

This type of false reporting (lying) by law enforcement, and harassment and intimidation of anyone that speaks out against police misconduct is far too common. While we do see the occasional prosecution of police officers for this type of abuse (as in the case with the Pierce County, WA Sheriff), it is far more common for these cases to never go to trial. A prosecutor may simply choose not to proceed with criminal charges against an abusive police officer, and while an individual may be able to bring a civil suit against the abusive officer and his / her department, this costs a substantial amount of money that many people simply do not have. But even if you do have the time and money to pursue legal action against a government agent, many times the courts will not allow a civil suit to proceed, stating that the government has a “qualified immunity” against being sued for its misconduct.

PNW Street Medics recommends the following resources for every medic concerned about their personal security.

ACLU of Washington (

An Activist’s Guide to Online Privacy and Safety (

Civil Liberties Defense Center (

Digital Security - RiseUp Seattle (

EFF Surveillance Self-Defense (

National Lawyers Guild (

RATS! Your guide to protecting yourself against snitches, informers ... (

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v2-7) (

Security and Counter-Surveillance - Information Against the Police State (

Although several years old (2008), the Don't Talk to the Police presentation by Regent University School of Law Professor James Duane is essential for understanding your rights in an encounter with the police. Professor Duane gives viewers startling reasons why you should always exercise your 5th Amendment rights when questioned by government officials. The presentation is available on YouTube. (

What is Security Culture? A Guide to Staying Safe (

During his 2013 interview of Edward Snowden, in Hong Kong, Glenn Greenwald asked: “Why should people care about surveillance?” Edward Snowden's reply is even more pertinent today than it was in 2013: “Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently, by orders of magnitude, to where it’s getting to the point you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.” (Democracy Now, 2013)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated “Privacy today faces growing threats from a growing surveillance apparatus that is often justified in the name of national security. Numerous government agencies—including the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement agencies—intrude upon the private communications of innocent citizens, amass vast databases of who we call and when, and catalog “suspicious activities” based on the vaguest standards. The government’s collection of this sensitive information is itself an invasion of privacy. But its use of this data is also rife with abuse. Innocuous data is fed into bloated watchlists, with severe consequences—innocent individuals have found themselves unable to board planes, barred from certain types of jobs, shut out of their bank accounts, and repeatedly questioned by authorities. Once information is in the government’s hands, it can be shared widely and retained for years, and the rules about access and use can be changed entirely in secret without the public ever knowing.” (ACLU, 2022)

Even the most truthful and innocent comment can be used to bring criminal charges against you, or to get you listed as a “threat” by some government agency. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, writing in Rubin v. United States 524 U.S. 1301 (1998) stated: “The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.”
The following guides from Crimethinc ( are important readings...

Doxcare (2020) (

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Helmets (2020) (

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Understanding Police Batons And How to Protect Against Them (2020) (

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Understanding Riot Munitions (2021) (

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Gas Masks and Goggles (2020) (

A Demonstrator’s Guide to Body Armor (2020) (

When the Police Knock on Your Door (2017) (
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