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  • Unmarked Vehicles making Traffic Stops?

    At first, I thought this was generally not permitted, as any idiot can tape a blue strobe light on his dash and pull people over. But then I hear of these "stealth" cars... all white, normal looking cars with front and rear internal light bars making traffic stops. I'm all for it, as it allows for the officers to see drivers in more of their natural elements.

    But what if the officer was plainclothes? I understand how he/she might not WANT to pull people over, just to avoid the hassel (if they are plainclothes, they probably have something else to do).

    ***quick story to let you know where I am going with this***

    This weekend I took a drive from Sacramento, CA to San Diego, CA. Overall it was about 600 miles. Due to the fact that

    A, I am in the Academy
    and
    B, I have recently been pulled over for speeding

    I choose to take the normally 8 hour drive at 80mph or so and turned it into a 10 hour drive at 65mph. So there I am, in a rather standard white four door car, 65 miles and hour... and some jackass comes up behind me at like 80. Fair enough, to each his own (and I think 80 is fair when there is thin traffic). But he REFUSES to go around me. He starts flashing his brights and tailgating me (I'm talking less than 2 feet following) for a good mile or two. He finally breaks down and WHIPS past me, no doubt flooring it. Now, my wish to God that moment was to give me Peace officer powers and some light bars.

    Maybe this is a little personal, greedy, trivial, and selfish, but screw it. He was a jackass and was speeding. I can handle one or the other. Not both.


    So of course, I just said my wish outloud ("God, if only I had...") and kept my religous 65 mph pace.

    But what if I WAS off-duty, but my vehicle was equipped with light bars and my gear (ticketbook and all) was in the trunk? While a judge might raise his eyebrow at this, would I have been ok to light him up and ticket him, even though I wasn't in uniform, and most likely 400+ miles from my city?]

    No, I don't want to be on the lookout for speeders 24/7, but every once in a while a real jackass who is just plain dangerous makes his way onto the road, and for some reason these nimrods can go thier entire lives without being stopped. It would have MADE MY DAY to see a CHiPer roll out from behind an overpass and pull that numnut over.


    rawr

    -SPM

  • #2
    I had an incident like the one you experienced happen to me but it had a few different variables. I was driving to houston on highway 6 in texas. The traffic was pretty heavy. It is a 4 lane road with the double yellow strip down the center. I was traveling with the speed at about 75-80 when this jackass in a jeep gets right on my ***. I was driving an s-10 at the time and he was so close i could no longer see his lights in my rear view mirror. Anyone who has or has driven an s10 knows that is pretty damn close. So i thought to myself. So i called 911 and had them transfer me to TX DPS. They asked me for my cell number and then an officer in the area called me back. So he told me to turn my head lights on. Not 5 minutes later a helicopter flys right over at a low altitude. Then he says i can turn them. When i went over the next hill the DPS officer was sitting there and pulled the jackass over.
    I was shocked and was kick *** at this point.

    Maybe that may work next time for you. But I also hate drivers like that.
    I am a college student looking to become a LEO. I am currently working on a network associates degree and then plan to get a B.S. in criminal justice.

    Comment


    • #3
      That is truely badass

      While I am stoked for you that that happened, I do doubt that the same would have happened for me .

      It was at approximatly 1 am, about 150 - 200 miles north of L.A.

      Also known as

      the middle of nowhere.


      There were very few drivers out, so really the enforment was at a minimum. In all 600 or so miles, even through San Fransisco, LA, and San Diego, I saw four active CHiPers, and no PD cars.

      The guy only followed me for a mile or two, so by the time a CHiPer could get there, the perp would have been miles away (most likely).

      Overall, he got away with it, and had very little to worry about (and he knew it).

      I just WISH I could have made him eat his foot by lighting him up after he was flashing his brights and tailgating!


      (I, also, could not see his lights. However, it was apparent when he hit his highbeams, as it still lit up my cabin like daylight (the lights reflected off the cealing of my car and pretty much made seeing anything but the reflectors on the highway invisible.))

      -SPM

      Comment


      • #4
        In Ohio such stops by unmarked cars are not allowed unless there is a safety of the public issue at hand. In other words not stoppping the driver would create a great risk of harm to somone else.
        Felony stops allow unmarked cars to participate in the stop but marked cars are the intial vehicle in the stop. If a detective vehicel were to want acr stopped they asked a marked unit to make the stop and then contact with the detective is made.

        With new led lights and strobes the roof top light bar is slowly becoming so small that it isn't vissble until the lights come on. But sides of crusiers must be marked as a police car and officer is required by all departments I know of to be in uniform.

        A TRAFFIC STOP BY UNMARKED CAR AND A NON UNIFORM OFFICER IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA
        Last edited by Bodie; 03-25-2004, 07:56 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          You're a recruit, still in the Academy, ready and rarin' to go. You see a violation and you want to jump on it. I think everyone of us have had that feeling. But... rein it in. You will get yourself in trouble doing traffic stops off-duty. Guaranteed.

          You were not given your police authority to allow you to go out and stop and ticket every knucklehead that annoys you.

          There are others who will argue this, but do not take police action during an off duty incident, unless it's the only way to prevent you or someone else from dying right then and there. Be a good witness if you want, but do not get involved in anything trivial, like traffic enforcement. Especially when you're still in the Academy, and later, when you're on probation.

          You didn't say whether the road you were on was more than one lane in a single direction. If it was, why didn't you move to the right? Let the clown pass you. Yeah, he speeding and driving agressively, but who cares? It isn't like he's the only one out there.

          Settle down, Skippy. Save it for when the powers-that-be send you out there in uniform. There's more where he came from.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Curt581
            You were not given your police authority to allow you to go out and stop and ticket every knucklehead that annoys you.
            WHAT? Then what the hell good is it?
            Actually, while this is generally true, if you are in a marked police vehicle and encounter someone who is truly creating a hazard in the way they are driving, stopping them is necessary. After all, if someone was doing this to me, as a civilian, I'd want an officer, any officer, who witnessed it and was in a position to put a stop to it, to do something. And if I saw them essentially ignore it, I'd probably be a bit upset about that.

            There are others who will argue this, but do not take police action during an off duty incident, unless it's the only way to prevent you or someone else from dying right then and there. Be a good witness if you want, but do not get involved in anything trivial, like traffic enforcement. Especially when you're still in the Academy, and later, when you're on probation.

            I agree, and disagree, with this. We have take home privileges and can use the vehicle for personal travel within the county. If I encounter a stranded motorist or a motor vehicle accident, I'm going to stop and assist until an on duty unit arrives. If I encounter someone driving recklessly, I'm going to stop them and, depending on their attitude, either warn or cite them. Now, simple speeding (unless they pass me) or the running of a stop sign or traffic light is not, in and of itself, going to spur me into action. But I totally agree with abstaining from any off duty action, unless ABSOLUTELY necessary, while in the academy or on probation.

            You didn't say whether the road you were on was more than one lane in a single direction. If it was, why didn't you move to the right? Let the clown pass you. Yeah, he speeding and driving agressively, but who cares? It isn't like he's the only one out there.
            Good question! Holding the left lane is an offense itself in this state, even if you are traveling the speed limit.

            Comment


            • #7
              He was probably on I-5 which is 2 lanes in each direction and has a posted max of 70.
              Im currently ignoring ghostsix, Khalid72 & wcucj

              Comment


              • #8
                In Indiana it is against state law for a plain clothed officer to make a traffic stop in an unmarked car. To make a traffic stop in Indiana you need to either be in full uniform or in a fully marked patrol vehicle (readily identifiable as a police car).

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree whole heartly wuith curt. Deputy I think that there is a huge difference when youa re in a take home marked squad traveling either to or from work. It sounds like he was way hell and gone from anywhere he is going to be a cop, and again trying to make off duty stops is just a no go.
                  Happy to be here proud to serve

                  "Well it appears this lock does not accept american express."

                  Never trust fire fighters to point out a suspect.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The problem I have with ummarked cars and plain clothed cops pulling people over is there were a few people who were not police officers who obtained some cheap ID Badge off the net and some cheap flashing light for their cars and were pulling people over.

                    While it might sound stupid, a few people were actually hurt by this person. ANd i'm sure there are other unreported incidents like this.

                    This leads to people becoming very suspicious of anybody. Be it a fake cop or a real cop who isn't wearing a uniform or driving a police car. And that can lead to many more problems.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey SPM.. Believe me! I feel your pain! I know being in the academy you must feel like knocking off a guy like that. But the way i look at it, when you're outside your jurisdiction, you act like a normal citizen would. Obviously if this guy is trying to run people off the road, etc that may have to change. I think in this case, this guy got under your skin. You felt that you are in the academy, about to become an officer, who does this guy think he is? I completely agree with you, but what has he really done aside from speeding and following too close, both of which are minor traffic violations? I think the ego has to be set aside in this incident. Like a previous post stated, you could pull to the side to let the vehicle pass or just pull over completely. Better to end the situation then have it escalate because you felt challenged. I am sure you aren't naive to the cases where people are shot over road rage incidents. Get the plate, call 911, identify yourself and be a good set of eyes until the PROPER authorities arive. Also, being in the academy, I would watch your driving habits very closely! Driving 80 miles and hour isn't a good idea. I am sure you're Chief wouldn't be thrilled to hear about you getting a speeding ticket! Remember.. EVERYONE IS ALWAYS WATCHING!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Don't overlook the wonders of the modern age, particularly the cell phone. I'm a retired Fed, so I never had the authority to make stops on speeders. But, these days, a call to 9-1-1 and the words "agressive driver" with a description, plate number (if possible), and direction of travel will frequently draw a response.
                        Try it, you'll like it.
                        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                        John Stuart Mill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the responces --

                          Yes, I am in the academy, but the only reason I mention that is because I would like to give some weight to my argument (i.e. I know a little about the law). In this case, I would have much prefered for a CHP car to pull him over, even if I had the power to do so. That would have been a much more clean stop and I could have laughed out loud for the next 50 miles .

                          2 lanes each way, 70 mph is right. When I say 65 all the way, that's not entirely accurate -- I would say it's an average (for time vs distance). The car I had didn't have cruise control anyways, so it was more like 72 in a 70 or 64 in a 65. But I left it at 65 for simplicity's sake. Whatever the posted speed limit was, in any givin spot, was about what I was doing (and, it's painful).

                          Honestly, he was a jackass, and was speeding, but I still feel silly calling the police and saying someone ****ed me off (right or wrong) on the road. Generally speaking, if I cannot fix the problem myself, and it is MY problem, I just try to suck it up.

                          Yes, I was holding the number one lane, and actually might have moved over but he (trivial!) ****ed me off wihtout a moment of normalacy. He didn't apply his brakes, or so it seemed, untill he realized that I just wasn't moving over. Then he maintained his 2 foot following distance with his highbeams alternating.

                          At 1 am....
                          on a 2 lane road...
                          with just him and I in sight....
                          in the middle of nowhere...


                          he could have passed me just as easy as I could have moved, if not eaisier. So while yes, I know I could have been a little more curtious, he could have been a lot more.

                          Really this moment in my life isn't all that significant, but did make me wonder about unmarked cars and off duty police officers makeing stops. So I asked .

                          Thanks for the input -- .

                          -SPM

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I spent the majority of my career in plain clothes, driving unmarked cars. I NEVER tried to do a traffic stop. When I wanted a car pulled over, I got on the radio and got a uniform car to make the stop for me. I just kept the guy in sight until one got there. What if the guy runs? Am I going to try to chase in an unmarked? No way in hell.... The situation has far too many potential pitfalls to be trying to play traffic cop without the proper stuff to do it.
                            "Life's tough, it's tougher if you're stupid." John Wayne

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Thanks for the responces --

                              Originally posted by SPM
                              Yes, I am in the academy, but the only reason I mention that is because I would like to give some weight to my argument (i.e. I know a little about the law). In this case, I would have much prefered for a CHP car to pull him over, even if I had the power to do so. That would have been a much more clean stop and I could have laughed out loud for the next 50 miles .

                              2 lanes each way, 70 mph is right. When I say 65 all the way, that's not entirely accurate -- I would say it's an average (for time vs distance). The car I had didn't have cruise control anyways, so it was more like 72 in a 70 or 64 in a 65. But I left it at 65 for simplicity's sake. Whatever the posted speed limit was, in any givin spot, was about what I was doing (and, it's painful).

                              Honestly, he was a jackass, and was speeding, but I still feel silly calling the police and saying someone ****ed me off (right or wrong) on the road. Generally speaking, if I cannot fix the problem myself, and it is MY problem, I just try to suck it up.

                              Yes, I was holding the number one lane, and actually might have moved over but he (trivial!) ****ed me off wihtout a moment of normalacy. He didn't apply his brakes, or so it seemed, untill he realized that I just wasn't moving over. Then he maintained his 2 foot following distance with his highbeams alternating.

                              At 1 am....
                              on a 2 lane road...
                              with just him and I in sight....
                              in the middle of nowhere...


                              he could have passed me just as easy as I could have moved, if not eaisier. So while yes, I know I could have been a little more curtious, he could have been a lot more.

                              Really this moment in my life isn't all that significant, but did make me wonder about unmarked cars and off duty police officers makeing stops. So I asked .

                              Thanks for the input -- .

                              -SPM
                              Since you're in the academy, this section of the CVC might help you.

                              40800. Every traffic officer on duty for the exclusive or main
                              purpose of enforcing the provisions of Division 10 or 11 of this code
                              shall wear a full distinctive uniform, and if the officer while so
                              on duty uses a motor vehicle, it must be painted a distinctive color
                              specified by the commissioner.

                              You might also pay close attention during the CVC lecture when they explain the differnce in California between the Prima facie speed and the Basic speed laws. It will probably give you a little more understanding of the guy who you said was exceeding the PF speed.

                              Good luck!
                              Retired

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