How do we tell?
This is mainly a question for the LEOs on the forum here. A friend of mine was telling me a story that rather disturbed me today, and it disturbed me enough that I'm wanting the opinions and advice of some of the LEOs. I'm not going into the details of the story, as it was told in a private setting with the friend's trust, so this question is going to be somewhat vague. I would rather this stay in a PM, but I do not have the post count necessary to use the PM system. If this isn't the right forum to post this in then I ask that a moderator move it to the correct place.
Basically the long and the short is that there was an encounter at night with an unmarked police car out in the middle of rural Arkansas. However the two occupants of the supposed police vehicle were un-uniformed, armed men with no visible badges or identification. The only way to tell if they were LEOs (if they were at all) was the fact that they were driving an unmarked police vehicle (with the blue lights and everything) and they approached the pulled over vehicle in the manner that a legitimate cop normally would. The problem is that they were supposedly very aggressive.
And so arises a bunch of questions. First of all, are officers required to be in uniform and have a badge displayed in order to carry out duties? And how do we tell if an unmarked police car is a legitimate police vehicle? A quick search tonight on ebay showed that you can buy the LED lights to make a vehicle look like an unmarked car.
Also, considering the very unlikely event that I'm caught in the same situation, can I refuse to show them ID if they don't have a visible badge? Basically, what are we suppose to do in these type of situations?
Very vague. Was it a traffic stop? Or did your friend just "happen upon" the unmarked car, or perhaps were the officers watching your pal?
I couldn't give advice without knowing more. I mean were they suits? Were they UC (vice/narc)?
In my experience, Narc UC's won't break cover unless it's absolutely necessary.
Detectives can stop cars. Their vehicles are usually equipped with blues in the grill, and prob dash and rear window mounted blue lights. Most likely though, they'll get a car stopped, and then call for a uniformed officer to meet with them.
Regardless, they should at least show badge and/or ID. If I'm approached by some guy claiming to be a cop, but shows me nada... I'm gonna tell him to piss off.
Regarding online sales of blue lights... I know any light mounted on a car that's blue or red is illegal in Georgia. PD here uses straight blues, not a combo of blue/red. FD is red only.
The way it was described to me is that it was a traffic stop out on highway 94 in East Arkansas, which all farmland; there's nothing out there. Supposedly the unmarked vehicle had followed for some distance before lighting up the lights. They were supposedly wearing what sounded like business casual wear but had holstered weapons on their side. Sounded more like armed security guards than police officers. Again, no visible badge indicating either way. As for vice/narc UC, I don't know simply because I don't know the difference between the two.
Shoot it out, then check if they have badges, dead men can't deny you their wallets. If they do have badges, rob them, you've already killed two cops so a felony robbery charge isn't going to matter much, no matter how good your defence or your belief that legally they should have ID'd with badges, it doesn't matter, you're going down so you might as well enjoy your freedom. If they don't have badges, um, rob them, that's what they were trying to do to you.
Seriously, though, that's a messed up situation.
Call your local sheriff's office or the ASP and ask whether state law requires you to pull over for an unmarked police car.
Originally Posted by Audio Goose
If you friend is so bothered, he should file a complaint or at least make an inquiry to the local s/o or even to the ASP if he is worried about some sort of retribution.
I'm in the UK so may not be so helpful but as I understand it if you believe someone has impersonated a police officer you are duty bound to report it.
Sorry I can't be of any more help. It sounds like a terrifying situation to be in and if they were real officers it doesn't strike me as proper conduct not to properly identify themselves.
sorry double post - site weirdness today
There was a spat of robberies in the Philadelphia area a few years back - perps pretending to be unmarked cars. The advice that came out was to signal your intention to pull over, then proceed to find a "safe" area in which to do so, preferably something well-lit and populated.
The last time I was pulled over, a few years back in Florida, I remembered the Philly happenings, and did exactly that. Officer had no problem with it.
I would hazard a guess that an LEO could not perform a legal arrest without properly identifying him/herself, and that possession of badge and other proper identification would be a requisite.
I think the missing piece of this puzzle is that the public is generally uninformed about such things. I look forward to what our resident LEOs have to say on the matter.
I've heard that in situations like this, you can request a uniformed patrol car to come pick you up if they're trying to detain you. If someone is impersonating an officer, they've gone through a good bit of effort and are doing so at substantial risk (impersonating a cop is a serious crime), so I figure if I'm dealing with a fake cop, I'm dealing with a real sinister asshole, so I'm not getting in his car.
If you are in a situation like this and have a serious doubt, you could also try calling the police or 911 to confirm that it is an actual officer pulling you over. Definitely find a well-lit and non-isolated place to pull over.