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ASK A COP: If I See a Policeman Doing Something Illegal Can I Arrest Him?

A reader wants to know if he sees an officer do something plainly illegal, what should he do about it?

"I can't imagine any time that someone would get out handcuffs and arrest an officer," says Sheriff's Deputy Aprill Skalland.

"Maybe you see that on TV, but not in real life."

A Patch reader wondered not only about actions such as making an illegal turn or going through a stop sign, but what if a federal officer was enforcing federal marijuana laws in a place where the drug is legal.

Skalland didn't want to deal with the complexities of that issue. However, she did have advice for what to do if you see a cop do something that appears to be a violation of the same laws he or she enforce.

Report it to the department's Internal Affairs division, she says. And, possibly, report it to the officer's shift supervisor.

"A lot of times people see cops doing something and they don't know why. If they saw the facts A to Z, they would get it. Sometimes cops do the wrong thing and that's where internal affairs comes into play."

If you see a cop talking on a cell phone while driving, don't bother to report it. They are exempt under that law.

Next week: Why don't officers tell us how much a ticket will cost?

Angela Elmore- Gallardo January 23, 2013 at 09:50 PM
I see cops driving and talking on cell phones all the time.. They should not be exempt... Why are they exempt??? They are human... And they don't need cell phones to communicate with one-another, so that can't be why. They already have devices to do that with.
Chris Jordan January 23, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Depends who is bigger- cops work out! "If I See a Policeman Doing Something Illegal Can I Arrest Him??"
Sarah Jackson January 24, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Why are police officers expemt from using cell phones? Early in my career, I investigated an unfortunate collision in which a young man lost his life. Because the car and body were 150 feet down a steep, muddy embankment, the time it took to investigate and clear the scene was extended. I did not have cell or laptop reception and instead had to communicate his identifying information over the radio. Imagine the ramifications if the media (as well meaning as they are) were to overhear and use that information as it was heard over the public airwaves before anyone was able to notify his family? We send and receive very private, sensitive information on a daily basis. We also have to respond to incidents in a timely manner. Allowing officers to communicate this information in a more private manner while they actively respond is in the public's best interest.
Angela Elmore- Gallardo January 25, 2013 at 04:06 AM
That is why police officers r equipped with special radios special channels and codes ... not driving around using cell phones.
Mal Crocker January 25, 2013 at 05:00 AM
Sarah, if a police officer needs to make an important cell phone call, he or she can pull over like everyone else is supposed to do, or use a hands-free device. It's a matter of public safety, and it seems quite ironic that police officers, who are employed to promote public safety, are allowed to jeopardize that safety by talking on cell phones while driving.

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