Officer, could you send a MARKED car?

Whenever I’m stopped by any sort of police officer, I try to be as polite as possible. Not only do I genuinely respect them and appreciate their work, but I can’t help but suspect that this attitude has has them to be lenient with me, or to at least not hassle me more than necessary.

New reports often suggest that if I get stopped by a policeman in an unmarked patrol car, and I am suspicioius that this guy is merely impersonating a policeman, then I have the right to request that he send a regular marked car, and that I remain safely in my car, without surrendering my license and registration, while waiting for the official car to arrive.

My question: Do geniune policemen consider this a reasonable request? Or will they be annoyed that I’m making them go to so much trouble? I can easily see situations where the policeman from the unmarked car would have let me go with a warning, but the one who had to make a special trip will show no leniency. Has this happened to anyone?

The guys driving unmarked cars are usually looking for a short list of specific people/vehicles, otherwise they won’t bother. If a detective/support type did pull you over and write you a ticket, per one of my traffic school instructors, seriously consider challenging it before a judge. Apparently one of the more common issues for LEO’s who rarely write tickets is they end up citing you for incorrect vehicle code sections trying to pull it from memory resulting in an unenforcable ticket.

I don’t know about other areas, but Wa. and Or. are both using cars w/o obvious markings and lights for traffic control. I think all the officers are in unifom though. Catching road ragers seems to be one reasons for this. I have mixed feelings on the subject. I like the idea of nailing the road ragers and scofflaws, but I’d be wary of being stopped at night, or in an isolated area, by an unmarked car. I’m not sure what I’d do if the “officer” was in civvies, but it would make me very suspicious.
We had a couple of incidents, in this area, of guys pretending to be cops and pulling over cars. The most recent, a few months ago, was a security guard. When confronted he claimed to be making a “citizen’s arrest”, but he only stopped a woman and let her go w/ a “warning”, she was suspicious and reported it to police, who later located the guy.
He had been in his private car when he pulled her over.

Something very much like this happened to a roommate of mine a few years ago.

Driving around downtown, he noticed the unmarked car following him; he knew it was an officer by the plate and antennas. He assumed he was going to be pulled over and ticketed for the huge crack in his windshield, and that the officer was following him to observe any other possible violations worthy of citation. As it turned out, though, the officer was waiting for other reasons: it was raining hard, and the flashing lights didn’t go on until they were in the tunnel under the convention center. Thing is, there’s no safe place to pull over there, and my roommate didn’t want to just block up the road, so he continued forward, left the tunnel, and pulled into a parking lot just beyond the exit.

The officer was obviously pissed at having to stand in the rain, so he yelled at my roommate for not pulling over instantly (the delay was a few seconds at best), and then circled the vehicle, looking for any and all ticketworthy offenses, and wrote up a handful before wrapping up the encounter and releasing my roommate. Who thereupon went to the library and looked up the relevant law on traffic stops, and each and every state code itemized on the various citations, and discovered that most of them were plain wrong. One I specifically remember was supposed to be “failure to dim headlights,” but the section-chapter-paragraph reference pointed to “improper placement of fog lights on an off-road vehicle,” which is especially funny because my roommate was driving a K car. And best of all, the officer completely forgot to write the ticket for the cracked windshield.

Anyway, my roommate wrote all this stuff up and requested a hearing to contest the whole matter, and went in loaded for bear. When he came home, we wanted a full report, but he was enormously disappointed. “That wasn’t as much fun as I hoped,” he said. “The cop didn’t even show up. Judge dismissed the whole thing. Didn’t get a chance to present any of this stuff.”

Maybe the officer was just having a bad day…

We had a safety seminar at work a few weeks back, and one of Orlando’s finest came to speak. He said police officers who drive unmarked cars are aware and understand if you want to call 911 to check, and if they are not understanding, their superiors will want to know about it.

There’s been a lot of this happening here on Long Island.

As Ivy alluded to, I find it reasonable to verify the officer is supposed to pull you over if you have a cell phone and dialing 911, otherwise requesting the officer to send a marked car.
If my memory serves me correct (my father was a plain clothes police officer for 40 years) you can always demand to have the officer send his superior officer (I’d like to speak to the manager) but for most cases will only worsen the situation.
There’s absolutely no way I would pull over if an unmarked car signaled me to without verifying that not only is he a police officer, but that he is supposed to pull you over (told by my father). Most unmarked cars are supposed to be ‘invisible’ to detect/prevent serious crimes, going 20 miles over the speed limit would not constitute that.

If you’re in MacDonalds and a ‘police officer’ tells you over the phone to strip, definitely ask them to send a car instead. :eek:

Does an unmarked car have sirens or flashing lights? :confused: If not how is one supposed to know that it’s a police officer or that s/he’s trying to get you to pull over?

I know here in Oregon they have lights inside the car, on the dashboard that they turn on when they’re pulling you over.

My view is that if you’ve given a police impersonator the tactical advantage of approaching your stopped vehicle with the window at least partially cracked to make the request that they summon a uniformed vehicle, you’ve given them too much tactical advantage.
I suppose if you’re driving a hybrid you could balance your option of pulling off with a 1/8 second notice if things got dodgy, but with a standard internal combustion vehicle, that gets ugly.
I’ve always considered conducting a traffic stop via my sunroof, but I expect that would turn out poorly.

If you genuinely fear police impersonation, I’m thinking that slowing to the speed limit and parking in front of the nearest well-lit, populated business would be satisfactory.
If it’s a real cop, it’s also a great way to summon properly marked vehicles.

Heh. The life of a litigator, in one. The better your case, the more chance you’ll never have to present it. Been there, done that.

I’ve always been told that if an unmarked car is trying to pull me over, don’t stop… Rather, immediately call 911 to verify if it’s a real cop or not. I agree that pulling over and letting a potential impersonator even approach your car is a huge risk. Besides, if they’re trying to pull you over in an unmarked car, I’m sure they’ll understand. 911 should be able to vouch that you were attempting to call them and not flee, anyway.

Excellent comments. Thanks, all!

I find it odd that most people assume the worse and think the guy is trying to kill them and kidnap them…This is not Lifetime, this is real life. Now while you do have that right you will probably just make things worse.

Well, let’s go with this quote:

“The safety of the public is at stake,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark Gregoline, whose agency and the Illinois State Police are leading a multi-agency crackdown on police impostors.
More than 1,000 cases in three years…
====== from

I hadn’t realized it was that common.
Still, pretty danged rare.

Here in Connecticut, most of the state police vehicles that do highway enforcement are unmarked cars. However, almost all of them are Ford Crown Victorias (Police Interceptor version) with plain hubcaps, no chrome, and a monotone plain color (white, dark blue, or dark brown). They also have a spotlight on the driver’s side door, and dashboard flashers. Also, the police are in uniform.

Most people don’t drive such full size cars anymore, so they really stand out. In any event, I have learned to associate the shape of Ford Crown Vic with “police.” The first thing I look for when I see such a vehicle is to look for the spotlight on the side.

It’s kind of funny that they even go to the trouble to make them unmarked cars, since they stand out so much.

Anyway, if some other make of car tried to pull me over, especially if the driver was not in uniform, I’d be much more suspicious.

I’d be somewhat concerned about “whackers” - a geeky police wannabe subculture whose members often drive surplus police cars equipped with lightbars (no blue lights, so technically legal) and push bars. There seems to be a strong correlation between whackers and places where volunteer fire department culture is strong, such as exurban and rural upstate New York. Whackers are also not uncommon among ham radio operators.

Around here it’s much the same except that the cars are actually marked – if you look very very closely. The markings are in some magic paint that blends in with the car color from all but a specific viewing angle. Not that this would help if you thought you were being pulled over by an imposter.

Pic here:

To read the full article:
Scroll down about 80% of the page, look for pic of red Camaro.