The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 24, 2011, 12:15 PM   #1
secret_agent_man
Junior member
 
Join Date: March 25, 2011
Posts: 463
When Is A Cop Not A Cop

http://www.ocregister.com/news/polic...chevarria.html

In the above incident, the driver should have evaded in his vehicle after the stop when it was clear the "cop" was not in uniform. Of course, that is just my notion, that a police officer must be in uniform when in a marked vehicle. Someone please correct me if this not the case.

I guess if it really is a cop he will then pursue, or have another cop make the stop.

In my book, a police impersonator is fair game if he plays the wrong card. The intent to abduct is of paramount concern in a fake cop stop. Therein lies the justification to defend.

It goes almost without saying that police in unmarked vehicles as a rule do not attempt stops except in dire emergencies, and I suspect that is partially on account of the previous sentence being the way most folks feel about this issue. But there may a gray legal area here that is little understood which need illumination.
secret_agent_man is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 12:21 PM   #2
Stressfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,497
Isn't a cop always a cop?

In the case of plainclothes, would you not ask for identification if they did not present it?

Quote:
Of course, that is just my notion, that a police officer must be in uniform when in a marked vehicle.
Yes, I believe this would be correct.
__________________
"The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank" - Montgomery Scott
Stressfire is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 12:30 PM   #3
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,438
Quote:
that a police officer must be in uniform when in a marked vehicle. Someone please correct me if this not the case.
I didn't read the link (for reasons of my own) but I can address this part of your post.

I retired from the Anchorage Police Dept. We were given home cars and expected to drive them in our daily activities (with in reason of course as in no bar hopping).

And off duty we didn't wear uniforms but were expected to take police action when necessary. Added to that, state law and department policy required us to carry both badge and gun OFF Duty.

We were expected to show good judgement. We weren't expected to put our families in danger (yes is was OK to haul families 'n such off duty). We were cops off and on duty, in or out of a patrol car, in or out of uniform.

I became a cop on Mar 8th, 1974, I quite being a cop on Mar 8th 1994 when I retired.

Some locations may be different, I can only answer for the Anchorage Police Dept.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 12:31 PM   #4
aarondhgraham
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 7,075
There have been several instances where,,,

A person has refused to stop when an unmarked car has hit them with lights and siren,,,
The one I remember the most vividly happened to a middle-aged woman in Alabama I believe.

She was on a rural stretch of county highway,,,
She got lit up by an unmarked car.

She used her cell phone to call 911 to determine if it was a real cop,,,
The dispatcher told her it was indeed a real cop behind her,,,
She pulled over only after finding a lit parking lot.

The officer arrested her on the spot for evading an officer of the law.

She was eventually acquitted but it cost her a bucket of money to defend her position.

I'm a 60 (in 5 weeks) year old man,,,
And I'm not sure if I would stop for an unmarked car.

Oklahoma used to have a large fleet of unmarked cars,,,
But in the last quarter century they have phased out a lot of them.

Too many instances like the one I described,,,
I know my Mother always said she wouldn't stop for one,,,
Fortunately for all of us that she never had to put her choice to the test.

California used to have a ton of unmarked CHP cars,,,
My wife (who was a police dispatcher) said she would never stop for one.

I really think their time has passed for normal traffic enforcement use.

Aarond
__________________
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 12:48 PM   #5
sigcurious
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 25, 2011
Posts: 1,755
I once saw a state trooper driving a minivan pull someone over for what appeared to be a traffic violation, he was uniformed however, so who knows what the deal was. Although the sight of a trooper in uniform getting out of a minivan was a hoot. I've also seen uniformed troopers driving a dually truck but it had State Govt plates, so they may have just been on the way to somewhere.

I've always felt the proper thing to do if an unmarked car was trying to pull you over, was to do as the lady did in Aarond's story. I'd rather pay some money and be acquitted than get robbed or worse by an impersonator.
sigcurious is online now  
Old October 24, 2011, 01:04 PM   #6
Patriot86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2010
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 1,293
I was coming out of a waffle house one morning after eating Breakfast in Gainesville Florida, just off of I-75. Parked outside was a marked CHAMPAIGN PINK late 70's or early 80's Cadillac- county-mounty police car. I looked through the window, THIS WAS a real police car. I can't remember what county, but it was one of the smaller ones. Would YOU stop for a Champaign pink caddy, marked out not? I am not 100% sure I would have on a lonley stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere.


Another fun story, I was just getting off I294 here just North of Chicago and my radar detector was going nuts. I looked all around me and couldn't find the cop until I looked right ahead of me a little closer. It was an Unmarked Metallic LIME Green Illinois State Police Ford Focus. I kid you not, lime green Focus.....


ANOTHER Funny Story.

Our Local Sherriff back in Gainesville FL had a police golf cart, I thought it was for show until I saw him pull someone over one day across the street from where I lived (right off the golf Corse)

The only time I have ever been pulled over by an unmarked unit was a long while back, it was a black buick but the officer was Female so I did not feel wary at all oddly enough. She even took pity on me because of the nasty cold I had and reduced it down from 47 in a 35 to a "too fast for conditions".

Thankfully, most places seem to stick to your standard Police Cars: Chargers, Crown Vic's, Impalas and the oddball Camero or Mustang.

Last edited by Patriot86; October 24, 2011 at 01:29 PM.
Patriot86 is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 01:06 PM   #7
slammedsi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 23, 2010
Location: Vernon Texas
Posts: 469
Let me start by saying that i work for a small town Sheriff's Dept. Only 7 Officers. As for out Cars/Trucks, we have 1 truck that is slick topped. As with no lights on the roof. Just in the grill and factory tail lights. It has a sticker of Texas on the driver and passenger door. Same as one of our cars. The Sheriff and his Chief have Totally unmarked cars with grill lights and modded factory tail lights. The rest of our cars are marked normally (only 3). As for uniform's, The Chief and Sheriff where plain clothing.. Dress shirt, Wranglers, Boots and Gun rig. The others including myself where uniforms as normal.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
Well so long as it's not a Glock. If I wanted Tupperware, it's on aisle 7 at Walmart.
slammedsi is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 01:28 PM   #8
sigcurious
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 25, 2011
Posts: 1,755
The minivan I saw was in Southern IL, it seems IL has a penchant for odd unmarked cars, although a lime green focus would have been even funnier than the minivan to see
sigcurious is online now  
Old October 24, 2011, 01:37 PM   #9
old bear
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 3, 2009
Location: Not close enough to the beach
Posts: 1,158
Kraigwy summed it up very well for most P.D.’s and S.O.’s. In the state I worked in were officers 24 hours a day seven days a week. We were never off duty, only off shift. If we observed serious criminal activity or a life threating situation we were expected to take appropriate actions as necessary. I was only involved an off shift police activity two or three times in 27 years.
As for stopping for an unmarked police vehicle, my department used quite a few “unmarked” cars for traffic control and high crime area patrol areas. Citizens of our city were advised if someone in an unmarked police vehicle attempted to stop them, the citizen if they chose to should turn on their emergency flashers and to drive to a well-lit populated area before stopping. When I drove an unmarked car at night, before I stopped a vehicle I put my uniform hat on, (now you know how many years ago I was in uniform), and turned on the interior light of my vehicle.
As a personal aside, I find it sad that we have to take such precautions as we are discussing.
old bear is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 01:42 PM   #10
DepOne
Member
 
Join Date: August 27, 2011
Posts: 34
There is another side to the story too. I saw a Connecticut State Trooper driven head first through the back window of his own unmarked cruiser on a limited access highway while he was walking back to it after getting the license of a speeder. The car he stopped was a little Alfa sports car. He had to pull up beside it and wave the driver over and the driver, being surprised to see the trooper stopping him, stopped quicker than the Crown Vic leaving the cruiser in front. He had NO lights of any kind and some inattentive idiot hit him at about 70 mph as he walked back to his car. I was the commanding officer of a sheriff's dept. at the time and got the commissioner of state police really ****** off when I told the Hartford Courant it was dangerous enough out there with all the lights you can put on a car. To ask an officer to patrol traffic without that protection was totally irresponsible.

If an unmarked car tries to stop me, I will try to signal him I am proceeding to a safe spot to stop and will then do so, and I'm carrying a .45 most always. Any officer driving an unmarked car has to realize that is the only sensible thing to do. If he doesn't, he should be behind a desk.
DepOne is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 02:24 PM   #11
Archer 9505
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 10, 2010
Location: Maine
Posts: 213
Safety First

Context and situational awareness would have a lot to do with how I would handle the situation. On a lonely stretch of highway in the middle of the night, I am going to proceed to a populated well light area. If I have a cell phone, I’ll call it in as to what is happing and what my intentions are. If it’s a fully outfitted crown vic behind me in broad daylight; I’m pulling over. However my doors are locked and window is only rolled down an inch or two until I am completely assured that no subterfuge is afoot. Posing as a cop to commit crimes is not exactly an original idea. An exact phrase Google search for “Criminals posing as police” came back with 22800 matches in less than 1 second.

Hillside stranglers, Angelo Buono, Jr. and Kenneth Bianchi, posed as cops.

Gerard John Schaefer (Florida Serial killer, up to 30 victims) was a cop.

What advice do you give a 19 year old coed?

I think the police need to (and most probably do) take a common sense approach, when pulling someone over on a deserted stretch of highway, miles from anywhere at O’ dark thirty. Putting myself in the shoes of the Cop for a moment, the deserted O’ Dark thirty scenario must be pretty stressful for the cop. And the cop has a radio with available back-up, a .40 cal, a shot gun, body armor and training. If it is a stressful situation for him or her, how must it be for the civilian? Is that really a cop? What do I do if it’s not a cop? How do you suggest your daughter handle this situation?

At the end of the day; I hold the primary responsibility for my own well being and self protection. If the hairs on the back of my neck tell me something just isn’t right, I will drive the speed limit while obeying all traffic laws to a populated well light area (preferably the local police station). If it was a cop conducting a legitimate stop; I will probably be arrested, but I’ll be alive to sort it out latter.
__________________
NRA Life Member
"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"
It's a free country; in a free country, freedom is for more than just those that conform to the accepted.
Archer 9505 is offline  
Old October 24, 2011, 08:45 PM   #12
MikeNice81
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 17, 2010
Posts: 579
A near by town got in the habit of using confiscated drug dealer's cars for unmarked vehicles for a while. They had low rider civics and raised trucks. It didn't last too long though. I don't know why they quit, but they did.

If an unmarked car tries to pull me I'm headed to a gas station or fast food parking lot. I want to be able to clearly identify them. I also want to have witnesses.
__________________
Here's my credo: There are no good guns, There are no bad guns. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a good man is no threat to anyone, except bad people.
Charlton Heston
MikeNice81 is offline  
Old October 25, 2011, 12:18 AM   #13
BfloBill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 2, 2010
Location: Buffalo, N.Y.
Posts: 437
Patriot86- Along the lines of the oddball cars you saw on my way from Detroit back to Buffalo (traveling through Canada) there was a Police Officer shooting radar from a car made up to look like a Taxi. I can't imagine getting pulled over by a Taxi.
BfloBill is offline  
Old October 25, 2011, 03:11 AM   #14
Glenn Dee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 9, 2009
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,487
LOL INteresting subject.

There is a difference as another officer pointed out... some police cars are "slicks". These are marked police vehicals without the roof rack, and no obvious "Lights n siren"

Then there are unmarked cars... or as some call them..."plain brown wrapper" These are used for everything... from administrative staff to detectives They have a siren, and hidden light package. Sometimes used for traffic enforcement.

Then there are what we called "anti-crime" cars. Usually run down unmark's, or seized vehicals sometimes dressed up to look like taxi cabs. For a while we had some actual taxi-cabs for patrol. These cars may or may not have a siren, We used those little bubble lights. Kojack lights. 90% of the time anyone we pulled over was something more serious than traffic.

Under cover cars are usually siezures, or cars purchased for their non police profile. Mostly used by vice or narcotics units. No lights, no sirens, maybe a hidden cam system.

My advice is this... If your asked to pull over by an unmarked vehical, and you have some reservation keep moving within the speed limit or a little slower. Turn on your 4-way flashers. Drive to a well lit, populated location if possible. Dial 9-1-1 while driving, and describe your location, and the vehical trying to stop you. If the person in the other car is an officer... he should understand. If he is alone, and out of uniform, and driving a non police vehical you probably have a problem... Cop or not. Call 9-1-1.
Glenn Dee is offline  
Old October 25, 2011, 04:36 AM   #15
GM2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 31, 2011
Location: Southeast, USA
Posts: 350
Quote:
My advice is this... If your asked to pull over by an unmarked vehical, and you have some reservation keep moving within the speed limit or a little slower. Turn on your 4-way flashers. Drive to a well lit, populated location if possible. Dial 9-1-1 while driving, and describe your location, and the vehical trying to stop you. If the person in the other car is an officer... he should understand. If he is alone, and out of uniform, and driving a non police vehical you probably have a problem... Cop or not. Call 9-1-1.
Glenn Dee Gives sage advise indeed : I was LEO for 32 yr's and this is the advise we constantly sent out to the public because of occasionally having cases of Police impersonators doing or trying to make traffic stops. And I might add, it is also wise when approached by someone at your home or on the streets in civilian clothes presenting themselves as LEO to ask for ID. Most will show the proper ID when introducing themselves. I was a Detective for 20 of my 32 yr's as LEO and we were required by dept procedure to do so.
__________________
Good character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking.
GM2 is offline  
Old October 25, 2011, 07:47 AM   #16
skoro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 30, 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,714
When Is A Cop Not A Cop

When he's a criminal impersonating a cop.

We had a rash of incidents here a couple of years ago where some guys were stopping women late at night, while posing as cops. They had flashing dashboard lights and badges/guns. They'd pull women over in isolated locations and sexually assault them. I don't recall hearing that they were ever caught.

The local yokels advised the public to keep driving until they were in a well-lit, or even better, commercial location with witnesses like a 7-11. Then pull over and see what the kerfuffle is all about.

Seems like solid advice, except in Alabama, apparently.

Quote:
The one I remember the most vividly happened to a middle-aged woman in Alabama I believe.

She was on a rural stretch of county highway,,,
She got lit up by an unmarked car.

She used her cell phone to call 911 to determine if it was a real cop,,,
The dispatcher told her it was indeed a real cop behind her,,,
She pulled over only after finding a lit parking lot.

The officer arrested her on the spot for evading an officer of the law.
skoro is offline  
Old November 4, 2011, 08:56 PM   #17
MrDontPlay
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 25, 2010
Posts: 587
I believe that all cop cars should be marked incase some needs to flag an officer down.
__________________
Someday I'll be good enough to know if a gun is accurate or not.
MrDontPlay is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 12:21 AM   #18
youngunz4life
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 15, 2010
Location: United States of America
Posts: 1,877
never happened to me but if it isn't a cop car or a cop in uniform then I will do what have never done before even though it is my right: I will keep driving until I am in a more populated, safer area. I can call the police while driving if necessary(needs to be done quick if your extra drive is a little too much).

plain clothes officers can pull you over sometimes; many times they will call for a uniformed officer to avoid this.

without question, a fake LEO is fair game for a CCWer. They are many times dangerous predators(other times they are a young stupid kid who doesn't know better but I tend to have trouble buying the latter story). Obviously, he needs to be a true impersonator, and my statement has gray areas. I hate those guys on the news taht are fake and hope they run into the wrong person. see this brand new account:

http://www.kdvr.com/news/kdvr-boulde...,1803821.story

the link has a video or read story. you can also google "colorado police impersonators" for more in depth stories
__________________
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" -Admiral Farragut @ Battle of Mobile Bay 05AUG1864
youngunz4life is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 01:20 PM   #19
Conn. Trooper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 12, 2007
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 531
Here in CT, we (State Police) all have unmarked cars and we drive them off duty. They are obviously police cars (antenna, gps disk on the trunk, camera in the windshield, push bumpers, spot lights, plug on the roof where the light bars plug in), but they are unmarked. When on duty, the light bar goes on the roof, and the center says "State Police".

I have made numerous stops off-duty, I always put on my raid jacket that says Connecticut State Police on the front, back and sleeves, approach and immediately id myself and produce my shield and photo id. I have never had a problem with anybody thinking I wasn't a cop. But, people here are used to our unmarked cruisers.

If somebody didn't stop right away, and they weren't trying to elude, I don't care if they keep going until they feel safe.

When in doubt, slow down, turn on your flashers and call 911. They can find out if it's really a cop.
Conn. Trooper is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 01:21 PM   #20
Conn. Trooper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 12, 2007
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 531
DepOne, that was Jim Savage. It was a horrible crash.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/11787-tr...james-h-savage
Conn. Trooper is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 01:55 PM   #21
federali
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 1, 2011
Location: Nassau County NY
Posts: 378
Depend on locality

Police procedures vary with the locale. In NYS, unmarked cars are sometimes used for traffic enforcement but they have enough hidden lights to pass for Christmas trees and the officer is in uniform. We've had several cases of bogus cops pulling motorists over to commit rape, robbery, kidnapping or a car-jacking.

To my knowledge ( I could be wrong, here) but I think we have a state regulation applicable to all police departments in the state that unmarked cars used in routine traffic enforcement must be manned by someone in uniform.

I will not pull over for a guy in civilian clothes and with a portable bubble light on his roof.
__________________
Int'l Assoc. of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors
federali is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 02:21 PM   #22
Single Six
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 31, 2010
Location: N.C.
Posts: 1,522
I've been full time LE for over 20 years, but I go to great lengths to not allow my job to cross over into my time with my family. Example: I make a point of staying out of my jurisdiction whenever I'm on my own time. That alone goes a long towards me not finding myself in a situation where I'd feel compelled to intervene. To me, it seems best to leave such matters to the guys who are on duty, in their jurisdiction, and in uniform.
__________________
Seen on a bumper sticker: "Exercise. Eat right. Take vitamins. Die anyway."
Single Six is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 02:57 PM   #23
farmerboy
Junior member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 1,343
Here I'n Texas, where I'm at. We have vehicles that are ghost marked. Have only a small about 5 inch sticker that says police by the lower front fenders, black on black but does reflect at night if you're beside me. No overhead lights. But light the world up when turned on if possible i wait on lit up places to light them up. No problems really. If they want to drive for an extra mile. O well. Maybe they won't to feel safe, maybe try to hide stuff i don't care. I know of officers here I'n street clothes who only flash a badge when needed. I think bad idea but they always operate that way. I live 7 miles from work, next town. Don't try to intervene off duty but i will or help each Dept here if on or off duty.
farmerboy is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 07:04 PM   #24
DepOne
Member
 
Join Date: August 27, 2011
Posts: 34
Trooper Savage

Yes Conn. Trooper, I will never forget that day. I really didn't even want to look and I knew what the results would be, but I had to feel for a pulse. That sight, seconds after the incident, and the big orange pen are forever in my mind. And once I settled down all I could think was, "What a f***ing waste for a lousy speeding ticket!" Now that it's over 20 years later I can say I remember a couple of Litchfield troopers confirming that they felt the same as I did about unmarked cars making traffic stops and wouldn't mind if I spoke what they couldn't. Early the next morning my boss called me to say he had a very irate call from a certain out-of-state commissioner because I had expressed my opinion to the Courant. I asked my boss if he was upset and he basically said, "hell no, I agree with you 100%"

I wanted to attend Jim's service but I did not want to lend any controversy to it at such a delicate time. Citizens all have opinions, some good some bad, but they have no idea what the job is really like. The heartbreak far outweighs the times you are able to do something good for people.

Be safe, fellow officers!
DepOne is offline  
Old November 5, 2011, 07:08 PM   #25
DepOne
Member
 
Join Date: August 27, 2011
Posts: 34
I think California requires any and all traffic stops to be made by "black and whites," which is the color of all California marked cars (or was?) Let me know if I'm wrong John or Ponch.
DepOne is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13931 seconds with 7 queries