Can the police really commandeer a car?

Can the police really commandeer a car and chase a bad guy or whatever? If so, what happens with any subsequent damage to the car?

I think in the US, they can. Isn’t there a legal concept of “Posse Comitatus” that requires one to come to the aid of police if asked?

Here is gfactor’s staff report on the subject:

Can cops really commandeer cars?

No, Posse Comitatus

No Posse Comitatus (common law)

30 years of law enforcement and I’ve confounded so many cops with screwball libertarian questions like this:

What if the vehicle commandeered is an RV that is the owners actual place of residence. Would the 3rd Amendment be violated?
What if the vehicle commandeered had been parked on private property, not being operated on a public road. By what authority does an officer enter private property and take other private property for his/her own use? If the authority exists, what’s to stop law enforcement from taking other private property in times of need? Guns, ammo, Folgers Mountain Grown.
How does taking a vehicle or any other property without just compensation not violate the 5th Amendment?

They can have my donut when they pry it from my cold, dead hand…

Did you dunk it already? Are there sprinkles on it? Don’t make me call the SWAT team, mope!!!:mad:

It only slightly fits but race car driver Jackie Stewart tells this story in his book “Winning is not Enough” pages 129-30. He was in Indianapolis for the 500 in 1966 and was persuaded to speak to a local Elks Club, with a police car driving him to it. Officer Joe Harris picks up Stewart in his Galaxie police car. On the way Harris remarks the car in front looks suspicious, calls it in and the dispatcher tells him that it is a stolen car. Officer Harris turns on the blue light and chases him. Harris chases them to a quiet suburb named Edinburgh where the car stops, two men get out and runs in opposite direction. Harris yells to Stewart “I’ll take this one, you get in the other”. In his Savile Row suit, unarmed, Stewart chases his assigned suspect. Officer Harris fires his gun in the air and Stewart’s man stops, figuring he is armed too.
Stewart figures the only thing he can do is tell the suspect not to move and holds his hand like a pistol: thumb up and forefinger pointing. After a few minutes Officer Harris comes and handcuffs the suspect. The story gets big media play locally and overseas and Stewart is made an honorary sheriff of Indiana with a badge and baton.

Well, it might (IMO) create a valid action under 42 USC 1983, but the question will almost certainly never be answered by a court, as they can only hear cases in controversy and I just don’t see a cop deciding that an RV is the right choice for a high speed chase. The mystery will live on…

Note that a court, if extremely bored, could write on the issue in dicta, but that wouldn’t be binding.

A more interesting question would be what would happen if someone was living in their plain old car, as an actual, if not ‘legal,’ domicile.

But, theres this:

Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

A court would have to determine if yes, this manner is prescribed by law (the commandeering is lawful) or No, it doesn’t state that this manner of claiming a home is prescribed by law.

I’m guessing that the court says it is OK, but ya never know.
This is sooo not legal advice.

They can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want to. Duh.

Yeah. Why do police carry nightsticks?

beats me

Ya know, you’re not supposed to say “fuck” to a police officer.

Unless we’re off duty and she’s offering!:smiley:

Thanks, I’d never heard it used that way.


I found it interesting that in the Jackie Stewart story posted above, that the police stop was in a suburb of Indianapolis named Edinburgh. Stewart is nicknamed “The Flying Scot” and sure enough, Edinburgh IN is about 40 miles SSE of Indianapolis Motor Speedway (map,

Charles Grodin’s take on this

You meant the 4th amendment, right? The 3rd amendment doesn’t remotely apply here, not even as an edge case.

Housing soldiers during peacetime is most likely the angle he is applying with that. Taking an RV is like taking over your home. Yes, its a stretch.

My point is that policemen aren’t soldiers, and commandeering isn’t quartering (living and taking meals in a domicile).

One could argue that the framers didn’t account for police, because policing is a slave-control innovation that came somewhat later. They likely would look at today’s police and correctly see them as soldiers, military-armed tyrants drunk on power with almost no accountability, and pass an amendment abolishing them.