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#1
Old 11-05-2004, 03:24 PM
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Police authority question.

I'm not sure how I got invloved in this arguement, but I did;
Does a cop have any authority if not in uniform or dosen't show any identification?
I say no, as did most of us, but some say that all a person must do is say she/he is a cop to to assume the full authority of a cop. They say this is to protect undercover cops. Hah!
Muggers, kidnappers, and the like would love that.
Peace,
mangeorge
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#2
Old 11-05-2004, 03:31 PM
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A cop is a cop, in uniform, on duty or not. However, failure to identify themselves as a cop kinda restricts public co-operation. IIRC, the law says that a cop must identify themselves and show id unless in hot pursuit, if requested. This obviously doesn't apply to undercover ops.
#3
Old 11-05-2004, 03:40 PM
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What's the situation? It's kinda a tricky question without a scenario. Yes he always has authority. He can always arrest you no matter what.

But here's the catch. Let's say you commit a serious crime, then a cop sees you and tries to arrest you. But he doesn't have his badge, ID, gun or anything. He says "Stop! Police!" or "Im a cop! You're under arrest".
Then you say "No way, asshole" and you beat his ass thoroughly! But this slowed you down just enough to be caught by some on duty cops.

You will never be convicted of Resisting Arrest. Or Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer. Because you couldn't have even reasonably known the guy was really a cop.

But if he wins the fight. If he kicks your ass and holds you down until his buddies get there. He's good to go. He can even fill out all the paperwork and all the arrest affidavits. Then he could even drive your ass to the jail and book you. (probably against agency policy though) He wont be able to fill out the "resist arrest" or "battery on LEO" though. For the reasons stated above, he could only get you on the original crime you committed.

So to some it all up. He has the authority of a cop, always! He has the privaledges and protections of being a cop, only when he identifies himself in such a way that a reasonable person should know he's a cop. "I'm a cop!" really doesnt count.
#4
Old 11-05-2004, 03:42 PM
mbh mbh is offline
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I am not a lawyer, but I believe:

A cop is licensed by the state in which he/she operates. Until that license expires or is revoked, he/she has authority regardless of uniform or ID.

I know a few cops. They carry badge and gun even when off duty. A friend of mine has even made arrests when dressed in SCA garb!

If a criminal claims to be a cop, then when they arrest him, they will add "impersonating a police officer" to the list of charges. It is illegal, and carries nontrivial penalties.
#5
Old 11-05-2004, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mangeorge
Muggers, kidnappers, and the like would love that.
After re-reading your question, I think I understand the scenario you're getting at.

"What if a kidnapper comes up to you and says he's a cop and tries to keep you there or take you away or something?" Is that what you're getting at? The answer is that you would do everything that you'd normally do. Regardless of whether he really is a cop.

Situation #1: He isn't really a cop.

So a guy approaches you and says, "Hold it right there, I'm a cop."
"Where's your badge?"
"No time for that. You're under arrest. Come with me!"
"Fuck you! I'm not going anywhere" Then you punch him in the face and run off!

You win. You've avoided being kidnapped. Hooray!

Situation #2: He REALLY is a cop.

"Hold it right there, I'm a cop!"
"Where's your badge?"
"I left it at home. I'm off today. But you're under arrest. Come with me!"
"Fuck you! I'm not going anywhere." Then you punch him in the face and run off!

You don't really win. But only because you broke the law earlier, and all the other cops in the area will eventually grab you. BUT, those cops can only charge you with the original crime you committed that made the off duty cop come up to you in the first place. You can't be charged with resisting, or hitting a cop.

So you wont be punished for not believing someone who simply "claims" to be a cop. If he really is a cop, eventually either he or his cop buddies will get the upper hand on you, and take you to jail. You'll figure out he wasn't fibbing soon enough.
#6
Old 11-05-2004, 04:26 PM
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One more and I'm done.

A cop does not have cop 'power' in matters of domestic type issues. If your neighbor is a cop, and you get all pissed at him cause his dog shits on your yard. So you yell at him. Then he brings up the fact that your garage band always keeps him up at night. And you two argue and you punch him in the face....
It doesn't matter that you know he's a cop and that there is a police car in his driveway. He has to be in the performance of his duties at the time you punch him in the face.
So say if your roommate is a cop. You can get super pissed off and beat his ass and not be charged with Battery on a L.E.O.
Now if your neighbor is a cop and sees you steal a car... that's different of course.
#7
Old 11-05-2004, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno
After re-reading your question, I think I understand the scenario you're getting at.

"What if a kidnapper comes up to you and says he's a cop and tries to keep you there or take you away or something?" Is that what you're getting at? The answer is that you would do everything that you'd normally do. Regardless of whether he really is a cop.

Situation #1: He isn't really a cop.

So a guy approaches you and says, "Hold it right there, I'm a cop."
"Where's your badge?"
"No time for that. You're under arrest. Come with me!"
"Fuck you! I'm not going anywhere" Then you punch him in the face and run off!

You win. You've avoided being kidnapped. Hooray!

Situation #2: He REALLY is a cop.

"Hold it right there, I'm a cop!"
"Where's your badge?"
"I left it at home. I'm off today. But you're under arrest. Come with me!"
"Fuck you! I'm not going anywhere." Then you punch him in the face and run off!

You don't really win. But only because you broke the law earlier, and all the other cops in the area will eventually grab you. BUT, those cops can only charge you with the original crime you committed that made the off duty cop come up to you in the first place. You can't be charged with resisting, or hitting a cop.

So you wont be punished for not believing someone who simply "claims" to be a cop. If he really is a cop, eventually either he or his cop buddies will get the upper hand on you, and take you to jail. You'll figure out he wasn't fibbing soon enough.
Situation #2 is pretty much what we were discussing. Even if he/she really is a cop, there's effectively no cop present unless that person can reasonably prove that he/she is a cop. This arguement grew out of a discussion about Caryl Chessman, The Red-Light Bandit. Of course, back in the late 50's the results of such an encounter (sit #2) likely would have been different than today.
Funny how a discussion can wander, eh?
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#8
Old 11-05-2004, 05:47 PM
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I suppose it depends on the laws of the stae you are in.

For instance, in New Mexico, a police officer needs to be in uniform to issue a misdemeanor traffic ticket:


66-8-124. Arresting officer to be in uniform.


A. No person shall be arrested for violating the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978] or other law relating to motor vehicles punishable as a misdemeanor except by a commissioned, salaried peace officer who, at the time of arrest, is wearing a uniform clearly indicating his official status.



I'd be surprised if this were true for felonies.
#9
Old 11-05-2004, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dag Otto
I suppose it depends on the laws of the stae you are in.

For instance, in New Mexico, a police officer needs to be in uniform to issue a misdemeanor traffic ticket:


66-8-124. Arresting officer to be in uniform.


A. No person shall be arrested for violating the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978] or other law relating to motor vehicles punishable as a misdemeanor except by a commissioned, salaried peace officer who, at the time of arrest, is wearing a uniform clearly indicating his official status.



I'd be surprised if this were true for felonies.
That's interesting, because it says that you can't perform a citizen's arrest for a traffic violation. It does say "misdemeanor", so a citizen could arrest for a DUI or other traffic felony.
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#10
Old 11-05-2004, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mangeorge
Situation #2 is pretty much what we were discussing. Even if he/she really is a cop, there's effectively no cop present unless that person can reasonably prove that he/she is a cop.
Keep in mind, though, that if you punch him in the face and try to run, and there are none of his cop buddies around, BUT he is able to whip up on you and drag you back to the station, he can fully arrest you and book you.
Agency policy, or (apparantly) state law in some places may forbid this.

Quote:
It does say "misdemeanor", so a citizen could arrest for a DUI or other traffic felony.
In every state I know, DUI is a misdemeanor. In Florida it is the lowest possible misdemeanor for a first time offense. Though, you wouldn't know it from the penalties. . . :mumble mumble:

However, the common law power of citizen's arrest allows for not only felonies, but for certain misdemeanors that cause an immediate danger to the public... eg. DUI.
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