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  • American Law Enforcement questions.

    Good day everyone!

    I'm very interested in American law enforcement organization and read almost all I could discover on the Internet. However I still do have some particular questions that I see explained nowhere, so I dare to ask them oh this forum. I am from russia myself so I apologize for my English.

    1st.
    What happens to a badge when an officer receives a promotion?
    Certain depts get an officer's rank printed on a badge. But they also have a unique badge number. So, when an officer receives a promotion to detective for example, what happens to his old badge? Is it replaced with the new one or just a new rank gets printed there?

    2nd.
    How are officers assigned to plainclothes/undercover vehicles squads? When I was in Baltimore I met two officers wearing civilian clothes, driving a beat-up red crownvic. They explained they were 'DEU', whatever that means. But two days after I met a uniformed officer (his badge read 'officer' so it wasn't brass going home) driving an unmarked black Impala with pushbar and lights on the dashboard. What was the difference between two of them?

    3rd.
    What's the difference between officers assigned to a 'Traffic' dept and regular ones in terms of jurisdiction over traffic? In NYC I saw traffic units with different paintjobs towing vehicles and writing tickets, and that I do understand. But in Baltimore I saw an ordinary patrol car sitting on the shoulder. The officer told me he was assigned to traffic division. (don't remember exact term) For example in Russia only traffic police can enforce vehicle laws, and regular patrol can only pursue a vehicle in connection with a non-vehicular violation. However, I know that in America all police officer can pull over cars and write tickets.
    I got the overall idea of this one, thanks to everyone who took their time answering!


    4th.
    I realize that must be different countrywide but are officers supposed to show their police IDs by request in general? I'm not sure of it since in russia an officer must always introduce himself and provide an ID by request. The US police has badges. Is that enough for identification?

    Thank you for the responses.
    Last edited by Hastings; 11-16-2014, 06:26 AM.
    Originally posted by careerchange#2;n4360641
    Young man everyone goes through tough times in life. You recognized the futile nature of your existence and attempted to employ deadly force to end it.

    Sadly, while the situation warranted deadly force, you applied it unsuccessfully. Had you been successful, your chances of hiring would have increased significantly as it would count as past experience.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Hastings View Post
    Good day everyone!

    I'm very interested in American law enforcement organization and read almost all I could discover on the Internet. However I still do have some particular questions that I see explained nowhere, so I dare to ask them oh this forum. I am from russia myself so I apologize for my English.

    1st.
    What happens to a badge when an officer receives a promotion?
    Certain depts get an officer's rank printed on a badge. But they also have a unique badge number. So, when an officer receives a promotion to detective for example, what happens to his old badge? Is it replaced with the new one or just a new rank gets printed there?

    2nd.
    How are officers assigned to plainclothes/undercover vehicles squads? When I was in Baltimore I met two officers wearing civilian clothes, driving a beat-up red crownvic. They explained they were 'DEU', whatever that means. But two days after I met a uniformed officer (his badge read 'officer' so it wasn't brass going home) driving an unmarked black Impala with pushbar and lights on the dashboard. What was the difference between two of them?

    3rd.
    What's the difference between officers assigned to a 'Traffic' dept and regular ones in terms of jurisdiction over traffic? In NYC I saw traffic units with different paintjobs towing vehicles and writing tickets, and that I do understand. But in Baltimore I saw an ordinary patrol car sitting on the shoulder. The officer told me he was assigned to traffic division. (don't remember exact term) For example in Russia only traffic police can enforce vehicle laws, and regular patrol can only pursue a vehicle in connection with a non-vehicular violation. However, I know that in America all police officer can pull over cars and write tickets.

    4th.
    I realize that must be different countrywide but are officers supposed to show their police IDs by request in general? I'm not sure of it since in russia an officer must always introduce himself and provide an ID by request. The US police has badges. Is that enough for identification?

    Thank you for the responses.
    Every question you asked is going to be answered differently depending on the agency you are talking about....................

    There are approximately 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States----each of them have slightly different policies on each of the questions. If I told you the policies in my agency.............the next poster could do the same for their agency and be totally different but completely correct.

    There just isn't any way to answer your questions and be correct for everywhere.

    Originally posted by Hastings View Post

    4th.
    I realize that must be different countrywide but are officers supposed to show their police IDs by request in general? I'm not sure of it since in russia an officer must always introduce himself and provide an ID by request. The US police has badges. Is that enough for identification?

    .
    All LEO's will have some type of identification card...............a badge is just a symbol. The ID card is the "official" way to see if an officer is real.
    Last edited by Iowa #1603; 11-15-2014, 02:06 PM.
    Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

    My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post
      Every question you asked is going to be answered differently depending on the agency you are talking about....................

      There are approximately 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States----each of them have slightly different policies on each of the questions. If I told you the policies in my agency.............the next poster could do the same for their agency and be totally different but completely correct.

      There just isn't any way to answer your questions and be correct for everywhere.

      All LEO's will have some type of identification card...............a badge is just a symbol. The ID card is the "official" way to see if an officer is real.
      I would appreciate some answers from different agencies to get a general understanding of it, it there's not too much trouble for you.

      And thanks for that info on badges!
      Originally posted by careerchange#2;n4360641
      Young man everyone goes through tough times in life. You recognized the futile nature of your existence and attempted to employ deadly force to end it.

      Sadly, while the situation warranted deadly force, you applied it unsuccessfully. Had you been successful, your chances of hiring would have increased significantly as it would count as past experience.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm at a small agency in Texas. We have badge numbers and those do not change unless you become administration. If you promote to Sergeant, I believe you trade in your silver badge for a gold one. Badge numbers are not printed on our badges, just the rank (officer, sergeant, lieutenant, chief)

        On some larger agencies, your badge number is printed on your badge, and it stays with you, so you keep your old badges when you promote. Usually, traffic officers have the same jurisdiction as patrol, but they focus on traffic enforcement and work accidents. Larger agencies will often have plain clothes officers for different assignments such as warrant service, drug enforcement, and detectives.

        Basically, as it was already pointed out, different agencies have different responsibilities and policies. That can often be confusing to those outside of the US.
        I yell "PIKACHU" before I tase someone.

        Comment


        • #5
          Answers for my agency (a small-medium - approx. 150 sworn peace officers - sheriff's office in California):

          1. On promotion, a new number is assigned. Our badge numbers reflect seniority in rank. Deputy sheriffs' badge numbers are just numerals, starting with 1 for the most senior deputy. Sergeants' badge numbers start with an S, followed by a numeral or two, such as S-5 or S-19. Lieutenants have an L, Chief Deputies (second-in-command, right under the sheriff) have a C. As with deputies, the higher ranks also reflect seniority in rank with their badge numbers. We have badge exchange every two to four years to reduce gaps in the numbers.

          Badge 25 is not issued. That was the badge number of a deputy murdered in the line of duty, and it remains in a shadow box on display in memorial to him.

          Detective is an assignment, not a promotion. Deputies and sergeants assigned as detectives keep their badge number as is.

          2. When there is an opening in the detective bureau due to routine rotation or promotion, a department-wide memo is issued soliciting deputies to apply for detective. They have to include a brief resume and what they bring to the table. The process includes an oral interview with the detective commander, review of their work product (reports, quality of investigation, self-initiated activity which is a good indicator of how hard-working they are) and input from their sergeants.

          3. At most agencies, traffic is just another assignment. Officers who have that assignment generally got there by writing a lot of tickets and writing good accident reports.

          4. My department's policy is that we must show our ID card on request. In 26 years, I have had to only once, while working as a detective in plain clothes.
          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

          Comment


          • #6
            Rudy8116 , thanks alot!
            Basically, as it was already pointed out, different agencies have different responsibilities and policies. That can often be confusing to those outside of the US.
            For me it's even more interesting that way. Whatever you look at, you always find some interesting details.

            ateamer , appreciate the detailed reply! Badge exchange is when you return them back to the agency?
            Originally posted by careerchange#2;n4360641
            Young man everyone goes through tough times in life. You recognized the futile nature of your existence and attempted to employ deadly force to end it.

            Sadly, while the situation warranted deadly force, you applied it unsuccessfully. Had you been successful, your chances of hiring would have increased significantly as it would count as past experience.

            Comment


            • #7
              I work for a small, rural Sheriff's Officer in Colorado. We don't have too many specialized assignments, two detectives and one school resource officer come to mind, but more or less have to cover all the things a municipal department would do PLUS the jail, courts, civil processes, code enforcement, animal control... etc.

              We don't have badge numbers, we have employee numbers which don't change. When you get promoted you get a new badge with the rank on it, and you sew striped on your sleeve, and put pins on your collar.

              Probably 95% of our deputies are uniformed. Plainclothes may be authorized depending on circumstances, but the only deputies who I see in street clothes regularly are the detectives, one captain who commands the division the detectives are in, and the undersheriff. Even the Sheriff himself usually wears a uniform.

              Traffic for us is usually what you do when nothing else is going on. By law just about any peace officer can make a stop and issue a citation, but department policy and circumstances determine who actually does. Many large urban agencies have calls "stacked", where an officer has multiple calls waiting, and so those officers aren't going to make routine traffic stops. They would only for something egregious that directly threatens public safety, and even then they might turn it over to the traffic detail to do the paperwork.

              You're supposed to show your department ID when requested, and give your employee number, when it is conducive to officer safety to do so. You don't have to stop and dig out your wallet when wresting a drunk into your car who screams he wants you badge number or to see your ID, but you WOULD show it to him after he was properly cuffed and stuffed.
              "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

              "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

              Comment


              • #8
                1) When promoted, your old badge is turned in (to be reassigned to someone else) and you get the badge appropriate for your new position.

                2) I don't know what they do.

                3) Traffic is just an assignment. Officers can enforce traffic and criminal law.

                4) Officers do not have to show their ID; policy states they must provide their name and badge number if asked.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I work in a rural Sheriff's Office with about 50 sworn peace officer Deputy Sheriffs and at least 75 Corrections Deputies.

                  1. What happens to a badge when an officer receives a promotion?
                  For the most part, you keep your old badges. They are serialized with your number, which never changes. Badges are issued and owned by the agency, so upon separation, you are required to turn badges in and must specifically request them back for keepsakes or a shadow box.

                  2. How are officers assigned to plainclothes/undercover vehicles squads?
                  We do not use unmarked cars for regular duty. All Deputies working patrol or gangs use fully marked patrol cars. Detectives, admin, and civil use unmarked versions of our patrol cars, however they rarely do street-level enforcement. If one of them works an OT detail, they use a marked pool car, since most marked units are take-homes.

                  3. What's the difference between officers assigned to a 'Traffic' dept and regular ones in terms of jurisdiction over traffic?
                  In California, primary jurisdiction for traffic enforcement (writing tickets and writing crash reports) depends on whether the area is an incorporated city. If it's a city, the police department (or contracted Sheriff's Office) handles all traffic matters. In unincorporated county areas and freeways, the California Highway Patrol is primarily in charge of traffic issues. Sheriff's Deputy -can- enforce all traffic laws (except some relating to commercial vehicles which are exclusive to the CHP and PDs traffic units), but at my agency we do not traditionally write tickets unless the person asks us to or they have been repeatedly warned about their driving habits.

                  4. Are officers required to show IDs?
                  In CA, the badge is a symbol, not the end-all-be-all answer to whether someone is real. Many people have badges, such as security guards, process servers, bail agents, parking enforcement, animal control, dispatchers, etc. The ID card is what determines one's status as a peace officer and should be shown upon request, when safe to do so.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post
                    Every question you asked is going to be answered differently depending on the agency you are talking about....................

                    There are approximately 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States----each of them have slightly different policies on each of the questions. If I told you the policies in my agency.............the next poster could do the same for their agency and be totally different but completely correct.

                    There just isn't any way to answer your questions and be correct for everywhere.

                    All LEO's will have some type of identification card...............a badge is just a symbol. The ID card is the "official" way to see if an officer is real.
                    So this could be an 18000 post thread.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BNWS View Post
                      So this could be an 18000 post thread.
                      Yep, and that is just State and Local agencies.....................

                      Probably one third again as many Federal LEO agencies too..................
                      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I work for a smaller rural sheriff's department. We have about 35 sworn officers outside the jail. We have only a couple jailers who are also sworn officers, most are not. (Sworn meaning licensed peace officers allowed to carry firearms.)

                        Our badge numbers are all in the mid-to-upper 700 series of numbers. 740 is the Sheriff, 741 is the Chief Deputy. 742 - 745 are Investigators. The rest of us have numbers between 746 and 780. There are no designated numbers for Lieutenants, Sargents, or corporals. When someone retires his/her badge number is passed along to the replacement. 752 was retired because of a line-of-duty death. Our name and/or "badge number" is not printed on the badge unless it is purchased by the officer. (I have my name on my badges.) The officer's rank is on the top of each badge. If we buy our own badge(s), we keep them. If the department buys the badge, it goes back to the department when service is terminated.

                        Only our narcotics officer, one investigator and the top brass have unmarked vehicles. Everyone on patrol has a marked vehicle and only a couple of those are "slicktops" meaning no light bar. Promotions come about only when vacancies occur and are largely at the sole discretion of the Sheriff and Chief Deputy.

                        Traffic, as has been said, is what we do when we're not handling calls ("traffic" in the sense of working enforcement). "Working traffic" can also mean controlling traffic at crash scenes and we do that as the situation calls for it. We also do funeral escorts here which is not universal.

                        As far as "showing ID" -- in the field that is displaying our badge and being in a marked unit. All officers with the exception of narcotics always have a badge visible. All patrol officers also wear uniforms with distinctive patches. That is deemed sufficient to do our jobs. If that doesn't satisfy someone, they're likely to be talking to a superior officer and could end up in jail if they make a big enough issue of it (refusing to cooperate because of not being shown more id).
                        Officer Jay McGuire, Minneapolis Park Police EOW 5/14/2009 age 11
                        Among Texas' finest
                        Deputy Andy Taylor, Llano County SO EOW 5/9/2005
                        Senior Deputy Jessica Laura Hollis, Travis County SO EOW 9/18/2014
                        Darren H. Goforth, Harris County SO EOW 8/28/2015

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          #1. Our badge numbers aren't engraved. Our badge number never changes and is retired when you do. We are issued a wallet badge with our name engraved, which you get a new one with each promotion. We are allowed to keep all wallet badges and 1 breast badge upj each promotion.

                          #2. Plainclothes are assigned by performance and specialty. Chief makes the decision. Some places have a test for such positions.

                          #3. IN my agency, traffic officers are just patrol officers that specialize in traffic. They all are certified crash reconstructuonist. They do handle regular calls when needed.

                          #4. My badge and uniform is my ID. If in plainclothes, my ID is behind my badge in the badge holder. We aren't required to show ID, but usually do to avoid an issue.
                          Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks everyone for your time and answers.

                            In CA, the badge is a symbol, not the end-all-be-all answer to whether someone is real.
                            So this is regulated by the state law, not by local department policy, I see.
                            Originally posted by careerchange#2;n4360641
                            Young man everyone goes through tough times in life. You recognized the futile nature of your existence and attempted to employ deadly force to end it.

                            Sadly, while the situation warranted deadly force, you applied it unsuccessfully. Had you been successful, your chances of hiring would have increased significantly as it would count as past experience.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Hastings View Post
                              Rudy8116 , thanks alot!
                              For me it's even more interesting that way. Whatever you look at, you always find some interesting details.

                              ateamer , appreciate the detailed reply! Badge exchange is when you return them back to the agency?
                              Badge exchange means that deputies swap badges with each other to reflect the newest seniority list. Example:

                              Deputy Jones has been been badge #46 for the past few years, meaning that he is the 46th most senior deputy sheriff. Due to retirements and promotions, there are nine vacant badge numbers above him, meaning that he will move up to badge 37. He receives badge #37 from the deputy who currently has it, and gives badge 46 to whoever moved up to that number.

                              The process takes a couple weeks to complete. During the interim, there are periods when a deputy might otherwise be badgeless because he's passed on his badge but not yet gotten with the senior deputy to get his new one. For those instances, we have loaner badges.

                              Looks a bit complicated, but admin keeps the badge number list updated so the process isn't really too painful.
                              Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                              I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

                              Comment

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