Have you ever wondered if a cop can pull over another cop? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. In recent years, there’s been a surge of interest in the way cops treat others, and that includes other officers. A bright spotlight has been aimed at this group of people to figure out what needs to change and how to make those changes happen. This question—can a cop pull over another cop—naturally comes up because we wonder about special treatment and privilege within this profession.
In this article, we’re going to explore the answer to the question, “Can a cop pull over another cop?” The straightforward legal answer is yes, a cop can pull over another cop. However, the less straightforward answer where social factors and moral issues come into play requires a cop to consider the consequences he or she and the community will face should they pull over a fellow cop.
Cops Are People First
We stated above that the straightforward legal answer is yes, a cop can pull over another cop. A police officer is such by trade. But, underneath the job, an officer is a person who is part of the general public. Being a cop doesn’t give anyone the right to drive any faster, drive under the influence, or drive a vehicle that’s missing any lights. This person isn’t allowed to endanger others on the road because they have a specific job.
Look at it this way. Just because someone works in a retail store doesn’t mean they get to just take merchandise home with them without paying for it. They may get a discounted price, but they still have to purchase items just like everyone else. They’re still part of the general public.
Cops are not above the law just because they work to uphold it. They’re people who are still expected to be law-abiding citizens.
What Can Cops Pull Over Other Cops For?
Police officers can pull over fellow cops for the same reasons they pull over non-cops. Here’s a look at things that we can all, including cops, get stopped for:
- Driving too slow
- Damaged or missing lights on your car
- Cell phone use
- Cutting another driver off
- Suspicion of intoxication
- Illegally performed U-turns
- Window tints that are too dark
- Driving without lights on
This list doesn’t include everything that may result in an officer pulling over another, but it does contain the most prevalent reasons for traffic stops.
Can a Cop Car Pull Over Another Cop Car?
An off-duty officer who gets pulled over would be in his or her own car, so that’s likely to happen a lot more. Most of the time, you wouldn’t even be able to tell the person is a cop. But, what about when they’re driving a cop car?
Technically, an officer can be pulled over in a police car by another police car. They may be traveling at dangerous speeds and in a reckless manner without their emergency lights on. You may ask then, why not just turn on their lights? There are strict guidelines for when the lights and sirens are allowed to be used, and as those lights attract attention, cops who know they’re breaking the law aren’t going to want to draw eyes their way.
This is where it gets tricky though. One officer pulling over another officer that’s in a police car and likely in uniform too is something that is highly visible that will create a lot of buzz. Passers-by will easily be able to see what is going on and it will strike the community and their police department with a lot of after-effects.
This is something that has happened in some communities and it usually sparks a feud between the different entities involved. It’s rarely an isolated incident as retaliation becomes a factor. There’s a story of this happening in southern Florida. A Florida Highway Patrol officer pulled over a Miami Police Department cop that was driving a marked vehicle. The Miami PD cop was driving well above the speed limit trying to make it to an off-duty paid event on time. In the end, there was an arrest of the speeding cop who was in uniform at the time.
The consequences were extensive. The Miami cop was fired, there was an ongoing feud where more and more cops were pulled over by others that took place between the two departments, and the arresting officer from the FHP suffered a lot of taunting and bullying from fellow officers.
The moral of this story is that while it is perfectly legal for a cop driving a cop car to pull over another cop driving a cop car, it needs to be weighed very seriously. The traffic stop may be quite routine, but the aftermath will be anything but routine.
What Happens When a Cop Pulls Over Another Cop?
When a cop gets pulled over, it should go the same way every other traffic stop should. The reality is though, that it probably doesn’t. There should be a discussion of what the reason is that the officer has been pulled over for. The officer should be asked to provide a license, registration card, and insurance card to show proof of legal adherence. If there is a more serious reason for the stop, such as suspicion that the driver has been drinking, then he or she should be asked to step out of the car. Depending on the findings and the interaction between the two parties, there will be a warning given, a ticket issued, or the offending cop will be arrested.
In some cases, the offending officer will say they are a cop and likely show proof of it. There’s nothing wrong with that, the cop who pulled him or her over will be finding out momentarily anyway. What happens next will be up to the officer who made the stop. He or she will either decide to proceed as they would with any other traffic stop, or they’ll follow an unwritten code and allow the other cop to slide.
We’re not offering an opinion on what should happen here. This discussion is about what is allowed to happen legally and what does happen sometimes. The reality is that sometimes the cop who is pulled over gets treated strictly based on the law while other times there is another outcome.
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Can a cop pull over another cop? Yes, absolutely. It’s just not always going to be treated like a routine traffic stop. Cops can be pulled over for the same reasons the rest of us can be. There are some other factors to consider if an officer is thinking about pulling over a cop driving a police car at the time, but the law does allow for this too.
Many of the guidelines police officers follow to decide whether to pull someone over or not leave a lot up to the discretion of the cop. Traffic stops are meant to be teachable moments that help to keep everyone in the community safe. As long as they’re being done to promote the safety of all, it doesn’t matter what the offending driver’s job title is, and that includes if he or she is a cop.
What happens if you don’t pull over for a cop?
If you decide not to pull over when you see those lights come on behind you and hear the sirens blaring, you are turning something potentially simple into something much more serious. You are then evading a police officer, a criminal act that is punishable by jail time and monetary fines. Depending on the severity of the pursuit and its outcome, you could also be charged with a felony.
Do police officers have to tell you why they pulled you over?
Yes, eventually. They do not always, however, have to tell you right away why you were pulled over. Procedures can vary from department to department. Some officers will tell you right away why they pulled you over. Others will talk to you in such a way as to try to get you to admit to what you were doing wrong before they discuss it with you. Even if they don’t tell you immediately, they will eventually tell you at some later point during the interaction.
Are cops required to show ID?
There are police department regulations that do require a cop to show ID when asked to. They can provide their name and department serial number, a business card that’s provided by the police department, or their badge when requested.
That being said, there are specified situations where a cop would not be required to identify themselves. These are times when revealing their identity as an officer would put an investigation in jeopardy, cause a safety concern, or hinder any type of police operation.
When you are being pulled over for a traffic stop, the approaching officer should be in uniform. You do have the right to request identification though should you feel the need.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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