What Is The Minimum Legal Standard of Police Identification On The Street?

What Is The Minimum Legal Standard of Police Identification On The Street?

This is a discussion on What Is The Minimum Legal Standard of Police Identification On The Street? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'd like to hear from LEOs or detectives, or whomever knows the legal standards, on what constitutes the minimum legal requirement for a police officer ...

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Thread: What Is The Minimum Legal Standard of Police Identification On The Street?

  1. #1
    Member Array saa's Avatar
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    What Is The Minimum Legal Standard of Police Identification On The Street?

    I'd like to hear from LEOs or detectives, or whomever knows the legal standards, on what constitutes the minimum legal requirement for a police officer when identifying himself/herself?

    My wife and I were watching a COPS episode and two undercover officers are in Philidelphia, plain clothes, and they look like dirtballs (no offense intended, that is their "cover look").

    It was interesting to see them come upon two guys in a drug deal. Both officers jump out and one says "Philidelphia Police!", they both draw weapons and hollar "Get down!".

    Neither officer has any badges out, plain t-shirts, and still have not said anything additional about who they are.

    This could easily (I can't stress that enough in today's world) been a setup of BG's to rob, bind, and/or kill innocents who comply.

    So what is the standard of identification for a court or jury to say, yes, the officers definitely followed procedure in identifying themselves and at that point all citizens would be required to comply.

    Given what I saw, you have to evaluate that VERY carefully. If you go for a gun, you'll be shot. Period. After you're dead the officers will have on their badges. You're not there to testify.

    It appears your best bet is to try to identify if they are indeed officers from belts, utility equipment, vests, etc. but if they are BG's, you can face a deadly situation as well in delaying your response.

    So I open it up for input.

    For the record - I advocate following everything an officer says to do, verbatim, no questions asked. I'll follow instructions and ask questions later, or let my lawyer ask them. BUT - I do think I have to KNOW that they are police and should be fully assured of complete and adequate indentification.

    So, what would you do; and how do you see this? Thanks
    saa.
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  2. #2
    Member Array 91wm6's Avatar
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    Good question! I'm interested in seeing some answers as well...

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    Senior Member Array Jemsaal's Avatar
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    That's a great question. I've always assumed it was a badge + Id (like those flip open badges that have some sort of ID next to them, if the cop isn't in uniform). I'm interested to hear this.

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    VIP Member Array shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Mine was on a badge holder attached to a chain around my neck ( break away chain ) My buddy had his pinned inside his shirt but that was long long long ago

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    Senior Member Array sdprof's Avatar
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    And if someone flashed a badge and some sort of picture ID, would you be able to tell if it was legit or not? Even if they let you have a close look, which isn't likely.
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    New Member Array Shooter1973's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saa View Post
    I'd like to hear from LEOs or detectives, or whomever knows the legal standards, on what constitutes the minimum legal requirement for a police officer when identifying himself/herself?

    My wife and I were watching a COPS episode and two undercover officers are in Philidelphia, plain clothes, and they look like dirtballs (no offense intended, that is their "cover look").

    It was interesting to see them come upon two guys in a drug deal. Both officers jump out and one says "Philidelphia Police!", they both draw weapons and hollar "Get down!".

    Neither officer has any badges out, plain t-shirts, and still have not said anything additional about who they are.

    This could easily (I can't stress that enough in today's world) been a setup of BG's to rob, bind, and/or kill innocents who comply.

    So what is the standard of identification for a court or jury to say, yes, the officers definitely followed procedure in identifying themselves and at that point all citizens would be required to comply.

    Given what I saw, you have to evaluate that VERY carefully. If you go for a gun, you'll be shot. Period. After you're dead the officers will have on their badges. You're not there to testify.

    It appears your best bet is to try to identify if they are indeed officers from belts, utility equipment, vests, etc. but if they are BG's, you can face a deadly situation as well in delaying your response.

    So I open it up for input.

    For the record - I advocate following everything an officer says to do, verbatim, no questions asked. I'll follow instructions and ask questions later, or let my lawyer ask them. BUT - I do think I have to KNOW that they are police and should be fully assured of complete and adequate indentification.

    So, what would you do; and how do you see this? Thanks
    saa.

    Honestly it varies from state to state...here in PA there are different ID's depending on who you work for. State Police have thier own ID card, municipal police have a certification card and usually an ID card from thier specific dept. As of now there is no "National Standard" and it's left up to the states, which I agree with but some uniformity would be nice. The badge is probably the "least official" for of ID but generally in an emergency the badge will work if a quick response is warranted. Most cops can tell another cop in a couple minutes. Problems start when jack holes with fake badges start impersonating and attacking civilians. The best standard of ID is a full uniform! When we work in plain clothes the minimum ID would be a badge displayed at very least. Guys/Girls working "undercover" may not have that option and unfortunately there is a risk of a "blue on blue shooting". It also happens...also when an off duty officer intervenes. So BASICALY in an emergency you should hear "POLICE" yelled over and over! Hopefully uniformed officers with knowledge of the assignment will be first to respond. It's not an exact science though...hope that helps your question!!!
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    Within the two departments I work for there was a standard method of identification, and a standard police challange. This along with carefully developed tactics has allowed plain clothed officers to be readily identified by other officers including those not personally known to the plain clothed officers.

    All of that is to avoid mistaken identification between officers. There are several methods of identification when it comes to the populace, and non sworn citizens. Again tactics plays a huge part of avoiding misidentification. The situation described by the O/P is probably the most difficult. Two plain clothed officers jumping out on criminals is about as dangerous as it gets. Also the possibility of jumping out on legally armed citizens. Again it's tactics that will make the difference. I notice that lately the trend is away from blending. Todays officers seem to be dressing down, but wearing service sized pistols, and carrying shot guns, and carbines. They wear tactical vests over their clothing, and shirts identifying themselves as police. Officers dressed for blending should operate in teams, and have the ability of overwelming with personel, or using lighting fast apprehensions.

    For 25 years 90% of my carer was spent working one plain clothed job or another. Depending on the assignment Identification varied. As a detective investigator it was simple. I wore business clothes, and identified myself with a shield, and ID card in the same case. While at an active scene I wore my shield on the lapel of my outer jacket. While doing street narcotics it varied. I dressed to blend and wore my shield on a chain around my neck. While making an arrest I would pull my shield out and state my business. Also while working street narcotics in an undercover capacity I didnt carry any ID at all, and I used a non police style firearm. While on anti-crime patrol I dressed to blend. I strictly adhered to the intra department ID policy. When making arrests it is mostly tactics that allow us to operate in the streets. This can be very dangerous. Most people working out of uniform take what we call raid jackets on patrol, and don them if possible before taking any police action. These jackets clearly identify the wearer as a police officer. None of this prevents a perp from pretending to be an officer. It happens.
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    If someone comes up in a cowboy hat shoots a shotgun in the air and yells "IM WYATT EARP. IT ALL STOPS NOW!!""
    Hes probably not a cop but you might should do what he says
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  9. #9
    Member Array saa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdprof View Post
    And if someone flashed a badge and some sort of picture ID, would you be able to tell if it was legit or not? Even if they let you have a close look, which isn't likely.
    No, but that with other indicators would add up for me quickly. A badge on a belt, or on a chain around the neck was what I expected and later in this episode the one officer did indeed have a badge around his neck.

    Hence my remark, move carefully or you could easily be shot if you move for/or brandish a firearm.
    saa.
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    Member Array saa's Avatar
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    Shooter and Spunk, I agree that your descriptions sound like what I was expecting, and typically I would think there are teams of undercover and uniforms that work together, somewhat.

    Also, this isn't a situation where many upstanding, law abiding citizens are going to be in the middle of. It was a drug known area and a TV show, but it did get me thinking about it.

    I appreciate your feedback and your tactics and descriptions sound adequate, however, in the unlikely case where an unidentified person(s) are saying police, but showing nothing, move cautiously - IMO. Evaluate (quickly) for a vest under their t-shirt (all officers wear vests except the deep cover gang units, and if you're in their group, you have trouble already - lol.)

    The other thing that came to mind with me right off as I watched it, was I'd have hollared "badge", or maybe "show a badge" - I don't know, but that thought struck me. Even with hands up to show cooperation, before getting face down for an unidentified dirtbag, I'd like to see something.

    Luckily I don't traffic much in drug infested areas where gang and drug enforcement units operate.

    Ghost - I'm thinkin' I might should follow yer advice to the letter, pardner. If someone's poppin' off a Greener and barkin' orders - I might just follow the program - fast!! :)

    PS: That also reminds me, I need to add a set of original, matching Greeners to that list of "if money wasn't an issue" guns. I'd love to have a set of engraved Greeners!

    Thanks guys!
    saa.
    "Every man is my superior in some way, in that I learn of him." - Emerson

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  11. #11
    Ex Member Array detective's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saa View Post
    I'd like to hear from LEOs or detectives, or whomever knows the legal standards, on what constitutes the minimum legal requirement for a police officer when identifying himself/herself?

    My wife and I were watching a COPS episode and two undercover officers are in Philidelphia, plain clothes, and they look like dirtballs (no offense intended, that is their "cover look").

    It was interesting to see them come upon two guys in a drug deal. Both officers jump out and one says "Philidelphia Police!", they both draw weapons and hollar "Get down!".

    Neither officer has any badges out, plain t-shirts, and still have not said anything additional about who they are.

    This could easily (I can't stress that enough in today's world) been a setup of BG's to rob, bind, and/or kill innocents who comply.

    So what is the standard of identification for a court or jury to say, yes, the officers definitely followed procedure in identifying themselves and at that point all citizens would be required to comply.

    Given what I saw, you have to evaluate that VERY carefully. If you go for a gun, you'll be shot. Period. After you're dead the officers will have on their badges. You're not there to testify.

    It appears your best bet is to try to identify if they are indeed officers from belts, utility equipment, vests, etc. but if they are BG's, you can face a deadly situation as well in delaying your response.

    So I open it up for input.

    For the record - I advocate following everything an officer says to do, verbatim, no questions asked. I'll follow instructions and ask questions later, or let my lawyer ask them. BUT - I do think I have to KNOW that they are police and should be fully assured of complete and adequate indentification.

    So, what would you do; and how do you see this? Thanks
    saa.
    Whatever the ID for that Dept is, badge, wallet badge, card - would depend. If you are doubtful, call 911 and ask to check out the supposed ID and the name. I just read about a scam involving a phoney cop.

    In the horrible Conn. school where 20 kids were killed police wanted to evac the building but many teachers refused to believe they were cops outside their locked classroom doors. Cops, State Police had to slip their ID under the door before they were let in to get other pupils the hell out of there. Can't really blame the teachers for not trusting the voice of strangers after what they had just been thru. And they felt still responsible for their students. Boy, the teachers who lost their lives trying to defend their kids really were common heroes. May they rest now in peace...and be renowned forever for their sacrifice.
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    Member Array saa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by detective View Post
    Whatever the ID for that Dept is, badge, wallet badge, card - would depend. If you are doubtful, call 911 and ask to check out the supposed ID and the name. I just read about a scam involving a phoney cop.

    In the horrible Conn. school where 20 kids were killed police wanted to evac the building but many teachers refused to believe they were cops outside their locked classroom doors. Cops, State Police had to slip their ID under the door before they were let in to get other pupils the hell out of there. Can't really blame the teachers for not trusting the voice of strangers after what they had just been thru. And they felt still responsible for their students. Boy, the teachers who lost their lives trying to defend their kids really were common heroes. May they rest now in peace...and be renowned forever for their sacrifice.
    Godspeed, Newtown victims. RIP.

    You make some good points here in the fact that normal people, just operating their daily lives, can have a hard time recognizing and verifying the correct authority figures.

    And it's not their fault, but a mixup can be deadly.

    As we move toward a more self-protected CCW type lifestyle in the populus, I hope that LE will address some of these concerns about ID and how to make sure that CCW'ers and LE have mutual ID protocols in place. I know it varys today, from city, county, and state, but it seems like a topic that may have value in discussion and investigation from both sides - the civilian and the LE sides.

    I'm a big proponent of cooperation and coordination to the same end - the safety of the populus and the deterent effect to criminals. I admit I don't have the answers, though. But let's start the discussions.
    saa.
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  13. #13
    Distinguished Member Array RightsEroding's Avatar
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    Something we are failing to realize..COPS is a TV show and therefor it is (Edited)
    I'd like to see the raw video.
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    Member Array saa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RightsEroding View Post
    Something we are failing to realize..COPS is a TV show and therefor it is (Edited)
    I'd like to see the raw video.
    No, I made mention that COPS was for TV. I understand that. But even so, the officers were not putting on, and then taking off their badge from their neck or belt for filming sake - there were no badges or police indicators visual or otherwise. As I said, they did say Police, once.

    And, that episode is just the basis of the conversation. Throw that episode and TV show away. The conversation and question is what's the minimum standard of identification of an officer before you (I, and all citizens who are commanded to do something by them) are required to follow their instruction?

    Just because a person says "Police", and then issues commands, there is no requirement at that point to follow an instruction until "proper" ID has been verified. For the safety of all parties, and there has to be a legal threshold of "adequate" identification.

    The balance is finding it prior to being shot for not following commands in a tense situation, and enhanced by the fact that we're referring to CCW'ers who are armed.
    saa.
    "Every man is my superior in some way, in that I learn of him." - Emerson

    "The value of good work lasts far longer than the sting of working for too little money." - Patrick Truillio

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    VIP Member Array Secret Spuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RightsEroding View Post
    Something we are failing to realize..COPS is a TV show and therefor it is (Edited)
    I'd like to see the raw video.
    This is a very important point. What you see on telivision is NOT REAL! When the TV show COPS filmed in our department they were spoon fed situations. Probably one of the most exciting, and busiest departments in the world... but they only got some mundane incidents. I dont doubt other departments do the same. TV is not real.

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