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Commandeering civilian vehicles

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  • Commandeering civilian vehicles

    This has been shown in lots of Hollywood movies, like US marshals-but there's been countless others as well.

    A cop approaches a civilian car, badges them, and commandeers the car to chase after a suspect. Does this actually happen in real life and is there authorization for it, or is this strictly a Hollywood construction?

  • #2
    I've seen those movies too! Usually the Cop wants to drive so he can smoke the tires. Sometimes he rides so he can shoot at the bad guys. Bruce Willis did both in one of the Diehard movies
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    • #3
      Sure, I do it all the time to get to work - saves me a bundle on gas and wear & tear on my own car
      LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK CHEAP BEER!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by andy5746 View Post
        Sure, I do it all the time to get to work - saves me a bundle on gas and wear & tear on my own car
        Lol-seriously though, are you guys allowed to in an emergency situation or no?

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        • #5
          It's a really bad idea. If you take someone's car and leave them there, you have no idea who to return it to. Plus, if they are injured because you left them abandoned someplace, or drove off with their medication in the car, there is a liability problem. If you take them with you, you unnecessarily place them at risk. If you ask them to drive, there is a good possibility they mar crash in all the excitement. Finally there is the civil liability associated with the damage that could result from any of these choices.

          Back in the early 1970's, I used to work a foot beat in a downtown business district. Every so often I would have a suspect take off on me on foot. Fortunately I knew most of the cabbies, so I would hop in a taxi, point at the bad guy and like in the movies, said, "follow that man." We would casually drive behind the running bad guy (who never expected a cop to be in a taxi). As soon as the suspect had run out of steam, we would pull over, I would get out and hook him up.
          __________________
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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          • #6
            Interesting story, L-1.

            What I'm really asking though is whether or not you guys have the authority to do it like is shown in the movies? Do police officers have state/federal authority to borrow private property (ie cars, motorcyles, boats) to chase down suspects?

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            • #7
              In California, state law gives peace officers broad authority to command assistance from others in serving process, making arrests, capturing escapees, preventing breaches of the peace and preventing the commission of any criminal offence. Refusal to comply is a criminal offense. The law does not limit the type of assistance that can be required. I guess within that realm it could be done, but in my 33 years of police work I've only seen it occur in the movies.

              Again, the concerns stated in my previous message make it inadvisable.
              Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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              • #8
                I know a Sergeant who once commandeered a golf cart to chase a suspect running across a golf course...
                Last edited by Big Red; 05-17-2009, 12:18 PM.

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                • #9
                  It has happened around here a couple of times with boats or jet skis. But there has to be some pretty compelling reason for it!
                  Last edited by BD0883; 05-17-2009, 02:12 PM.
                  "It's a long way from the Supreme Court to the streets." -F.Y.
                  "Saw drunk, arrested same." -Buck

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DAquafina View Post
                    This has been shown in lots of Hollywood movies, like US marshals-but there's been countless others as well.

                    A cop approaches a civilian car, badges them, and commandeers the car to chase after a suspect. Does this actually happen in real life and is there authorization for it, or is this strictly a Hollywood construction?
                    I think the only time it would be authorized here is if I personally saw Osama Bin Laden driving down the street in a 76 Chevy Chevelle and I didnt have access to some wheels.

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                    • #11
                      In a 38 year career, I personally never "commandered a private vehicle. The "practice" was a staple in many a Hollywood movie from the thirties to the fifties. As my colleague noted, although the act is probable legal, the liability risk is really far too present, to make commandering a private vehicle a normal or frequent practice.

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                      • #12
                        When I started with my current agency, they told us if you really want to get fired, one of the best ways is to commandeer a vehicle…
                        Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

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                        • #13
                          I only saw it happen once, We had a horrendous crash on the freeway, a guy ran over one of our Deputies and split. A Deputy took a motorcycle from its owner and took off after the suspect and caught him about 2 miles down the road. Because the entire freeway was blocked with mangled cars and bodies the Deputy was not able to get to his own patrol car to pursue, so he took the motorcycle. No complaints from anyone and the Deputy got a attaboy from the Captain.
                          Retired LASD

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                          • #14
                            ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc
                            Last edited by Nobody; 05-21-2009, 10:44 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Big Red View Post
                              I know a Sergeant who once commandeered a golf cart to chase a suspect running across a golf course...
                              I did the same to try and dart a bear that was running amuck in Sierra Madre. Yes- I said it: "Follow that bear"!

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