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To act or not to act???


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  • To act or not to act???

    While the topic is similiar to my last thread about illegal orders, it does differ a little so I chose to start another.......

    I often wonder what I should do when I am out of my jurisdiction in a marked police cruiser, in uniform, when a crime is committed in my presence. I have to leave my area often to refuel the cruiser, transport suspects for agents in the field, check off-site locations in which the jurisdiction covers the building and the area immediately around it, not the 5 mile drive to it, and most oddly, drive down one-way streets that are out of the jurisdiction in order to check areas that are in it. To some of you this may seem petty, but being in DC most of my arrests are from being in the right place at the right time, as we arent "usually" dispatched to traditional LE radio calls. Violent crimes involving serious injury or death are no brainers to me, but what about the less serious offenses? Burglary, robbery, theft..which are all things I have witnessed, luckily mostly within my limits. Yeah, yeah..I know call the locals and let them deal with it, but what do i do in the interim? Intervene? Sit on it until the locals arrive? Depart the area and return to my own? The FLEOA's opinion is that because I am not a "general" LE officer, and do not have a commission from the state, I have no inherent duty to rescue or act. Its hard to imagine me in my marked cruiser passing by a burglar climbing out of a storefront window at night and just being a good witness.
    sigpic Bet they got a ticket for obstructing the rear window. God Bless America!

  • #2
    Your profile says your with the FBI Police (for those on the board not familiar with them, they are not the same as FBI Special Agents, and are very limited in their authority and jurisdiction).

    My understanding is that FBI Police officers are VERY security oriented and if you plan on taking any action, you may want to consider if your agency will back you, should the SHTF. For example, lets say you decide to intervene (self-initiated / not dispatched to the scene) on-duty with a teenager breaking into a car outside of your jurisidction. It could go anywhere from a simple arrest all the way up to who knows what. You never know these days. Will your administration back you. Will they ask you why you didn't just call for a local LEO? Was there a immediate threat of danger or harm which all but forced you to intervene? I'm playing devil's advocate now, because if you do act in a situation like this and it goes downhill, your supervisors WILL be asking you all of these questions. If you feel confident they will back you, take the action you deem to be appropriate. However if they are not going to back you, your best bet in a situation described above may be to get on the radio, notify the locals, and be a good witness. Taking actions where you know the agency is not going to back you, especially with a limited authority/jurisdiction position such as yours, probably would not be considered a career enhancing move...
    Last edited by SoCalFed; 07-06-2007, 05:56 AM.


    • #3
      I would strongly agree with being a good witness, notifying dispatch of the local jurisdiction, and maintaining surveillance over the incident while keeping dispatch informed.

      The ONLY way I'd recommend taking any enforcement action outside your jurisdiction would be to save a life or limb. And then you're acting as a good samaritan.


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