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“Law enforcement officers are searching for two assault suspects who hid in bushes, posed as police officers and chased a man and his girlfriend down an apartment hallway,” q13.com reports. Jack Permison read this tale and sent us a big SMH. The Chief Instructor at Castle Defense Solutions, is wondering what a gun owner should do to deal with the possibility of faux po-po . . .

As an everyday carrier, and a firearms instructor this type of behavior is bad for both sides.  The obvious for the bad guys doesn’t need to be expanded on, but now the good guys need to be concerned in today’s police vers public environment.  I am not anti-cop but I do have a concern for how to deal with a situation like this.  I haven’t had a good answer for my students that I felt comfortable with.  Police interactions are a regular topic with students and I’ve always told them to be nonthreatening.

Two scenarios come to mind.

Scenario #1, I am at condition one, with shields down (let’s be honest we all do it, can’t be at Red Alert all the time) let’s say like the story above entering my home. Bad guy out of view announces himself as a police officer, tells me hands up, and keeps out of view. Hand goes immediately away from my firearm regardless of open or concealed carry.  If a real police interaction is going to happen they will know I am a legal carry. Last thing I want to do is present any sort of threatening action.

So hands are going to be in a clearly non-threatening manner. However in this scenario we have the “bad guys” not the good guys who have successfully managed to temporarily throw off my defense. And potentially get access to my firearm. Want to avoid this but clearly until I know for sure this isn’t a police officer my hands are not going anywhere near my firearms. Which obviously leaves me defensively exposed.

Scenario #2, I am at condition one, with shields down. Good guy out of view announces himself as a police office, tells me hands up and keeps out of view. Again if a real police interaction is going to happen they will know I am a legal carry. Last thing I want to do is present any sort of threatening action. So hands are going to be in a clearly non-threatening manner.  In this case it most likely will be a short conversation to get to the bottom of the story.  Hopefully just a misunderstanding.

What I want to avoid is scenario #1, being defenseless.  And scenario #2, being seen a threat to the real police.

I’d be very interested to hear what your readership has to say about this.

Your thoughts?

 

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43 Responses to Bad Guys Pretending to be Police. Kobayashi Maru?

  1. Its a manure sandwich, because anyone can buy a gold “concealed carry” badge , stick it on their waist with a vest marked “POLICE”, and yell ” hands up ” as they kick in the door. By the time you get a good look at it you’ll be on the floor in cuffs.

    While we should do our best to know the general MO of real cops , most of which won’t kick in your door without announcing a warrant or won’t enter without seeking permission etc- that wont stop a bad guy either ,especially if they’ve done their homework on police procedure too.

    Then there’s the “Training Day” scenario of disgraced ex cops or crooked PD booting in the door whilst committing a crime. The best any of us can do is arm up and hope its not the real police making a terrible blunder. Getting into a shootout with real cops sucks, but only marginally less then being overpowered and then shot by fake cops once you’ve been disarmed.

    • To steal a hashtag from Mark Owen, this question has #noeasyanswer

      Personally I see four types of encounters. Each will get a different reaction.
      1. Real cop, not breaking laws.
      2. Fake cop, no threatening actions
      3. Real cop, breaking laws.
      4. Fake cop, threatening actions.

      1. I treat them as I treat other people. “Yes sir, no sir, thank you sir.” (or ma’am) and try not to get myself shot by someone who is protecting his community as best as he can.

      2. Unless it’s halloween or I think he’s actually a stripper on his way to a batchelor party, I’m going to contact the actual police and give them the best description I can of the individual. Nothing good can come out of pretending to be a police officer and in almost every place on earth, this is a crime.

      3. A criminal with a badge is still a criminal. If I need to defend myself against a violent attack from a police officer, I’m in trouble, but I’m going to do everything I can do to be the one breathing at the end of the day.

      4. Shoot, move, communicate. Aim, squeeze, anihaliate…

      • 2: Yet if I try to use the same excuse I get 10-25 (or worse) in the hoosegow.

        Perhaps now that a precedent has been set for the cops, maybe the rest of us have a chance… Maybe. (/notholdingbreath)

    • My philosophy is that anyone that violently attacks me without provocation, even dressed as a cop(s) is a violent thug. They might be a legal thug, or an illegal one, but the consequences are too horrible to contemplate if I surrender to a cop before i see a warrant and it turns out it was a terrorist that chops my head off on youtube because I’m an infidel or I’m subjected to days of rape and torture, i.e Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian.

      I would rather be dead and if I survive and it turns out to be legal cops, well, you know, “judged by 12” and all.

    • The fake cops could just as easily buy “fake police badges” to go with their “fake police vests”… Your comment opens with a pointless attack on “concealed carry badges” – of which there has been numerous topics dedicated to their discussion.

  2. What if questions. Yeah, what if a comet is going to wipe out earth, do you…………….?

    I know the cops around my area and they don’t pop out of bushes. If they are around the area, there will be police cars around. I’ve lived around here since 1969 and they are not sneaky enough to fool me, so anyone popping out of bushes yelling police is could end up in a bad way, because I will know the difference.

    • Are you supposed to be the opposite of a Boy Scout? You’re like the grasshopper that makes fun of the ant for being prepared for winter.

      And while my cops don’t pop out of bushes, they do like to hide behind billboards while riding motorcycles. How hard would it be for some random biker to strap a siren and lights to his bike, wait for night, pull people over, and rob them at gun point?

      • I don’t know, how easy would it be? More importantly, what possible lesson do you draw from the theoretical ease of someone maybe doing that?

      • I have no idea how easy it would be for some person in some random area to do that to some random person. I indicated it wouldn’t be easy to do that to me. I have had fake wannabe cops try to mess with me. They were spotted with ease and counter-messed with. Fortunately for me, I have much more experience around cops, including building police cars for the departments. If you know anything at all about the departments in your area, you will be in a better position to determine if you are encountering a real officer. The example you gave, strap a light on a motorcycle and chase someone down at night? For one, I could tell a fake motorcycle cop from a real one in a nano-second. For two, neither the WSP, sheriffs office, or city police operate any of their motor units at night. So there you have it. I could be so lucky to have someone try that on me. I recently turned in a wanna-be to one of my officer friends who also rides a motor. This guy had obtained some older Crown Vic equipped with prohibited emergency vehicle equipment, including the Whelen siren and various light flashers. It sort of pissed me off since I build these things and here’s this douche bag with a fully equipped police car. He got busted.

      • Don’t immediately pull over. No matter how much they say you have to, you don’t. You do eventually, and you should indicate your intention to do so, but you should find a safe, well-lighted spot to do so.

    • Correct. Unlike in shows like Law and Order plainclothes cops aren’t going to be knocking down your door (unless they want to give you an excuse to shoot them), even with a warrant. And the few bad guys who impersonate cops aren’t going to be walking around in a full uniform as it will quickly get them ‘made’ by real cops. The example in the article is more likely… some mugger in his mugging clothes just shouts “police”. The Wire also did a reasonable scene where a gansta put on a ridiculous suit-ish outfit and badge he got out of a cereal box on and pretended to be a detective. But that’s about it.

      There’s no right answer to what to do there… plainclothes police will almost always try to have uniformed officers around to assist but sometimes shit happens. Whether you’ve just committed a crime may come into play there. If you just robbed a bank and a guy pulls a gun on you and tells you he’s a cop… there’s a reasonable chance it’s not a coincidence.

      Exceptions to the “fake cops look fake” rule: The rare disturbed wannabee who is actually playing cop and not trying to rob anyone (though even they rarely have anything approaching a real uniform) and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

      • You really think the St. V fuzz were fake? Think about who got what from the aftermath (NFA 34) and how deep the cops were with the cartels, I mean gangsters back then.

  3. Treat all cops as criminals until they prove otherwise. After all, it’s how they treat us “civilians”, isn’t it?
    /sarc, mostly

    But in all truth, I would never trust somebody who claims to be a police officer but isn’t willing to let me see them, their badge, or their name tag. If they are out of uniform, they should still have a badge on them, right? And if they are trying to stay out of view, I am definitely going to assume it’s a ruse. If we wanted our cops to be invisible, we’d have them dressed up like ninjas and give them Batmobiles for squad cars, not strap bright flashy lights to their cars and make them wear solid colors.

    The more I think about it, the more I feel this is a problem that has to be solved on the cops’ end of things, not ours. If the police had a standard, and obvious way of making themselves known as officers, such as stepping in front of the suspect they are talking to and introducing themselves with their badges, then criminals could not properly replicate this procedure and could be called out as such.

    When it becomes nearly impossible to tell cops from criminals, there’s nothing we can do about the criminals. We can control the cops. At least I should hope so. I do pay them, after all.

    • If an officer is taking action with legal authority- detaining someone as opposed to shooting someone in self-defense, for example- then I know of no department that doesn’t demand they have and display some sort of identification (badge, police shirt/vest, etc). This is not always a legal requirement, but then again most ‘resisting arrest’ / obstruction charges require that the suspect (you) REASONABLY knows the officer to be such.

      Anyone who is approached by someone claiming to be the police whom they don’t necessarily believe should ask to see a police identification CARD or to have a uniformed officer respond. If that doesn’t happen, and you don’t buy that it’s a cop, get out your phone and call the (for realz) police and ask them to send someone.

      Note: Don’t call the police on the obvious police. This will not help.

      • Hannibal-Not that it matters but I don’t agree with your advice on telling a potential threat to please show me ID or please wait while I call the cops. Unless you have that stranger at gunpoint, since that wastes precious seconds which could result in a bad person carrying out the planned bad things to you in that situation. If you are not a criminal or involved in criminal business and any man in plain clothes says “Stop police” your first instinct should be getting your gun in your hand and doing a threat assessment, and be ready to fire because something isn’t kosher. If you are a law abiding citizen you have no duty to cower to the word “Police”, and since you have no Reasonable Suspicion that you broke the law I would be taking the necessary steps for acting in armed defense against attempted robbery. If it happens to be a cop that is so cowardly he is lurking in the dark unfortunately for him if he would have followed his department protocols he would be going home to his family, because my gun is also my guarantee to see my own family.

  4. Fortunately for me, I live in such a small town that I know all of the law enforcement officials by sight.

    This wasn’t from any kind of training. I worked in the only electronics department in town, so I got to know LOTS of people.

  5. I prefer Cpt. Mackenzie Calhoun’s solution. The Kobyashi Maru is already doomed, target it’s warp core thus eliminating all hostiles with it.

    Sometimes the only way to win is to eliminate all targets, and hope you don’t miss any backups.

  6. Wasn’t there a guy in Texas cleared in the shooting death of an officer in a no-knock raid?
    If they’re forcing entry, shoot.

  7. I’ve only seen this in the movies. All the cops I have dealt with in real life have obviously been cops. Even the FBI, in my one and only dealing with them, had lots of official id and were free with it.

    Right off the top of my head the only fake cops i can think of have been news reports of people ripping off drug houses and trying to gain entry by passing them self off as cops.

    If you can’t spot a tweaker trying to pass himself off as a cop…..

  8. I never once, in plain clothes or in uniform, jumped out from anywhere and said “hands up!”
    That’s not how things are taught here.
    Usually I would present badge and ID first, and then explain the reason for ‘first contact’

  9. “Lawful citizen here, just hold tight, I won’t shoot if you don’t, I’m calling 911 to confirm your identity, call out your badge number when I ask for it!”

  10. The military challenge and password scenario comes to mind.

    I think my response would be, “Advance, and be recognized.”

  11. Around here, dudes don’t pop out of bushes, without uniforms, scaring people and claiming to be cops. If they do, they get shot. Or beaten over the head with something. Or kicked squarely in the nuts. Or all three. Which is why they don’t do it, I guess.

    Real cops would have lots of friends with them, several gaily painted cars with flashy-thingies on their roofs, M4s and sirens that can be heard a mile away.

    It’s an interesting, original hypothetical. I’ll stick with my interesting, original answer.

  12. Not something I’m gonna lose sleep over. The odds of me being a victim of a violent crime are already pretty small. How much smaller are the odds that the crook is going to be posing as a cop? On the off-off-off-chance it happens to me, I’ll just have to wing it and see what happens.

  13. If the cops weren’t known for acting like thugs they would be easier to tell apart. Incendiary? Perhaps, but no-knock raids, stop-and-frisk and other such official thuggery blurs the line.

  14. Sudden combat is sudden combat, regardless of what words come out of your attacker’s mouth. If anyone suddenly engages me and yells “hands up, police!” and I cannot immediately verify from the context that they are actually police officers, the first thing I am going to do is move to cover or concealment. Then and only then would I consider whether or not I wanted to verify that the other person is a police officer. If the attacker really is a police officer, they will not shoot at you as you flee unarmed.

    • If they’re NYPD they’ll shoot at you. And shoot at you. And shoot at you. Until they’ve hit everything but you. Gives you plenty of time to skeedaddle.

    • No kidding. All cops are now covered with tattoos on both arms, and tats creeping out above their collars. They look more like state penitentiary inmates than anyone lawful. Very crass-looking and clownish, really, with their pot bellies and tattoos and stupid LEO haircuts. The cops look like the bad guys now.

  15. where i live, we had an episode lasting 4mos where a bad guy had a full police uniform (costume) and a toy store swirling red light on his dash. mostly targeted lone females for a “traffic stop”. the bad guy cop then either assaulted or robbed the female. real stuff, real people, rare but dangerous event.

    yes, our real cops do ride around in uniform, in unmarked cars.

    • There should be no tattoos allowed period on the police force. Tattoos are low-class and crass and should have no place in any ‘professional’ organization.

  16. When I lived in Atlanta, there was a group of guys with fake U.S. Marshall windbreakers, badges and printed out search warrants. They were pretending to be serving a search warrant and holding people at gun point while their buddies ransacked the house. They were even leaving the city and hitting the suburbs.

    You’d like to think that you’d know the difference, but you just never know.

  17. A guy in the Czech Republic just got six years for shooting (wounding) a SWAT team member who forcibly entered his house (they had judicial order for that). To make the situation even worse, the original inquiry never turned up anything, so if the shooting would not have occurred, the only aftermath would be the cops paying for the destroyed front door.

    Still, if someone is breaking through my door shouting “police”, the only answer they will get is “I am armed and will shoot unless presented with warrant”.

    Having that happen on the street… well, that is a tough question to answer. But having in mind that here it is either polite conversation or outright being tackled down by a SWAT team, I would presume that the one saying “police, hands up” is a bad guy.

    I’d say that we have many less police shootings exactly because armed suspects hardly ever face common detectives or street cops during arrests. They might be thinking about ways out in face of a couple of cops, who are – lets face it – as scared of being shot as the suspect is, but hardly anyone keeps such thoughts when facing a small army of determined and highly trained professionals suited up more for Kabul than for Prague.

    http://youtu.be/gSF1j844TFw

    http://youtu.be/OZwsVrqjcjU

  18. A-hole concealed nearby announces: “I’m a cop”…

    Me: ‘Yeah, and I’m Super Fly; now what.’

    Cops where I live don’t pull that kind of half stepping crap. If they want to ‘talk’ to you, it’ll be clear who they are and they’ll be there in force without any ambiguity to the situation. Anything less wouldn’t pass the smell test.

  19. The police imposter scenario is probably as close to the nightmare no win situation that a person can encounter in real life. There are 4 possible choices to make and only ONE of them allows the citizen to win. Not very good
    odds. And don’t ask the po po what you should do as they will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS
    tell you to assume it’s a real officer and do EXACTLY what you are told. Because they don’t care if YOU live or die…..just as long as THEY get to go home safe and sound.

  20. I’m curious to know why the author is so sure that the police would automatically know one is a legal carrier. I wouldn’t bet on that..

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