1911Forum banner

assissting an officer

2947 Views 35 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  Swamprot
This was posted on the FFF board and thought I would ask you all.


Originally posted by Bigdaddy:
--------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'd like some help with a scenario that could happen to any of us. You are walking your dog or driving down the highway and you have your CCW. You come upon an officer in need of help. Possibly trying to contain 2 or 3 subjects that won't co-operate and are trying to circle the officer or maybe even in a firefight and is obviously out- numbered and possibly wounded. At any rate the officer could use a hand. How do you volunteer to help? How does one identify themselves as a good guy? The officer is probably going to assume everyone not in a uniform is potentially a BG at this point and rightfully so. You can't go charging in with a weapon drawn, you take the risk of being shot yourself. I'm not looking for answers to this specific scenario as much as I would like to know how I would be best able to offer help. I'm sure common sense would be your best bet in any situation but with all the current and retired law enforcement on this board someone ought to have some good advice.
1 - 20 of 36 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Tough question. First, I am not nor ever have been an LEO.

So much depends on the situation, your knowledge of all of the rules involved, your training, and most important, did the officer ask for your help??

Just injecting yourself into a situation may be the distraction the offficer did or does not need. Consider the possibility of the BU unit arriving just as you involve yourself.

I know what my actions would be in any situation but I would be drawing on 20 years of training at the hands of dozens of law enforcement officers/trainers. As an EMT, I try to 'do no harm'.

If you know some of your locals, talk to them, and listen to them. GLV

------------------
"Kindness to the bad man is cruelty to the good"
 

· Registered
Joined
·
853 Posts
I'm not a LEO, but here's my .02:

Frankly, unless the situation was "life-threatening" then I wouldn't intervene. If I was in the area, then I might just hang back and see what happens.

Even if I saw the officer get hit, then I'd still stay out of it (depending on the result of that hit.)

I personally carry a cell phone whenever I go out - (gee, I swore I'd never do that.) So, if things started getting out of hand, then I'd just call 911 for backup.

If I was a LEO in this situation, then I wouldn't want joe blow running to my rescue pointing a firearm. He or she just might make things worse.


-Nick
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,984 Posts
These, guys are right, this is a tough situation. First, depending on the situation, you should try to reach a phone and call the police department for help (because if the officer is out numbered running in and getting two people hurt or disabled won't help the problem). Secondly, you should try to take mental notes of every thing you see (for descriptions later on). Thirdly, if it is a deadly encounter, either involving firearms or serious deadly injury of any sort, it is your duty as a human being to go to the assistance of the officer or any other victim, to try and save their life. Taking the attitude of "it ain't my problem" is partly why our society is so screwed up today.

[This message has been edited by col132 (edited 10-13-2001).]
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,876 Posts
I believe it was in "The Best Defense" book that a real story was recounted about a fellow in Houston saw an officer get shot during a traffic stop. The officer went down. The hero was on his way to the range for the first time since having had surgery some months prior. He proceeded to provide cover fire for the downed officer by keeping the bad guys trapped behind their car, away from the officer. The hero did this by repeatedly shooting at the car the bad guys were hiding behind. Eventually, another officer who was off duty happened on the scene and produced his own gun to help protect the officer. While the Hero was reloading, a woman pulled along side and offer to let the Hero use her gun that she had in the car! The Hero was credited with saving the officer's life and actually got a nice award for his actions.

As noted prior to this, offering assistance may not be a good thing unless the situation is life threatening and at that time, there may be no time to query the officer as to whether or not he wants you to help. He is going to be too busy already. In the episode above, the downed officer had no knowledge of who the Hero was who was helping him or the off duty officer who was not in uniform

If the situation is not life threatening, such as in the situation where two or three guys try to flank the officer, producing your own gun may cause the officer to thing that you are also a bad guy and you might end up getting hurt by the officer. Also, if the episode is not life threatening, your query to the officer might provide a distraction the bad guys needed and who would then act on that opportunity.

Something else to consider. If you are watching an officer doing his job and you feel there might be trouble, one possible course of action would be to simply wait and observe from a location of cover. If the situation becomes life threatening, you will then be ready to act and be able to do so from your position of cover.

Also note, by helping the officer, you too will become a target for the bad guys and they could prove to be very detrimental to your health.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
If you're determined to assist an officer, realizing the risks involved, (not only from the bad guy(s) but also because the officer doesn't have any way of really knowing who's on his side) I would think the best approach would be to yell as loudly as possible, "Officer! Let me give you some help!" as you approach, and if you are going to involve using your weapon, I would add, "I'm a CCW Permit holder!" or whatever it is called in your state. I know that if I were off duty, I would yell, "I'm a police officer, let me give you some help!" if there were not enough time for me to produce my creditentials. (likely if things have gone south badly enough that he needs help)
Good luck!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Call 911!! I know that if I am the officer and I am already in a poor tactical situation, I am not likely to trust anyone who isn't wearing a uniform or a badge. Sorry, but I don't know you. The point about back-up arriving is a good one too.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,876 Posts
Something else to consider is that by intervening, you run the additional legal risk of being charged with obstructing justice or interfering with the duties of an officer. It sounds silly, but can happen. A Dallas tow(?) truck driver used his vehicle to help stop a bag guy fleeing in a car. He was charged with interfering.

Yet another point to consider is that by trying to communicate with the officer in a high stress situation, your attempt to inform the officer of your presence may prove to be a distraction to the officer. He is first dealing with bad guys and now is having to try to process the fact that a civilian has entered the situation and has offered help. He has to evaluate whether he believes you or not and if not. As such, a percentage of his mental powers he uses to make such a judgement is taking away from the mental powers needed to stay on top of the situation. Such a distraction may give the bad guy a chance to further harm or kill the officer.

I am not saying one should not help, only that good intentions do not always translate into actions that are actually beneficial to the good guys.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
What if: The uniformed cop is really crooked/corrupted dirt bag running away from plain clothed Internal Affair henchmen? Now, who's the good guy and who's the bad guy? Who do you shoot?

Sorry to throw a monkey wrench into your scenario. Been watching too many Hollywood cop movies. :) :) :)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
i've thought about it more than a few times and this is the best i've come up with.

If its one on one, leave him alone and let him work. most cops will come out on top in a 1 on 1 fight, assuming there are no weapons out. observe from a safe distance. use your phone, as he's too busy to key the mike for himself.

if he's clearly out-numbered and in trouble, announce yourself as a police officer off duty in your best drill instructor voice. make sure people on the next block hear it. especially if you pull your piece. the cop will assume you are a friend, and the BG will know the tables are starting to turn against them. hopefully they will get distracted and give the cop an opening or break off altogether.

It's my best guess that if your intentions are good and you don't COMPLETELY screw up, you won't get hassled after the fact. After all, if they fry you for being a good samaritan, what are the chances that the next cop in trouble will get an ounce of help when he really needs it?

If i'm wrong on this, i'm counting on Berger and all you others to correct me.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
knoxvegasdaddy said:
if he's clearly out-numbered and in trouble, announce yourself as a police officer off duty in your best drill instructor voice. make sure people on the next block hear it.
And then get arrested for impersonating a police officer????

That will only work if you ARE an off duty police officer.
 

· Banned
Joined
·
13,763 Posts
knoxvegasdaddy said:

if he's clearly out-numbered and in trouble, announce yourself as a police officer off duty in your best drill instructor voice.
No, please don't do this. That will not help the situation, and will just add more confusion at the scene, when B/U officers do show up. If you honestly see the need to get involved, then do so. A concerned citizen can use as much force as necessary to prevent bodily harm to the officer and other bystanders without needing to act under the pretense of being a LEO.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
The reason I say this is evident a few posts up in the list. Another opinion said that if I enter the fight the LEO may easily assume that I'm NOT coming to help HIM and I may cause him more harm (by distracting him), or cause him to harm me in confusion.

In my thinking, OFF DUTY POLICE OFFICER, FREEZE! is more effective in a split second than "I have a carry permit, do you need any help?" In any large city, it is obvious that all cops don't know each other, so there's no way he would think to himself "He's lying, I don't recognize him." He's more likely to think "thank God, backup is here.

As I said in my post, I really don't think that after everything settles out that I would be charged with impersonating, as I have no criminal intent, and I was assisting the good guys. Burning good samaritans is a poor policy, and 99.9% would be more grateful than pissed.
 

· Banned
Joined
·
4,533 Posts
In our state, if the officer requests your help, you break the law if you refuse to help. Just another twist.

If you're going to use a ruse with the perps make sure you whisper "not really a " and then yell "Police Officer!" That way you can honestly say to the liberal prosecuting attorney, No I said "Not really a police officer." I guess the bad guy just didn't hear me.

Regards,
Sam
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,876 Posts
The fascination with helping police officers is a good one. Usually, helping an officer means helping the good guys. If you saw a guy on the side of the road in conflict with three others, you would not consider helping because you don't know who is the good party and who isn't. You might call 911, but not get involved. If you see a cop in conflict with 3 guys, there is an extremely high likelihood that the cop is the good guy and has ended up in a crappy situation. When you choose to help a cop, it most certainly is the right thing to do, assuming you don't screw things up.

So why not help cops and firemen who lay their lives on the line for us? In the situation described, there are many reasons not to help the cop in a direct manner.
1. Situational awareness. Do you know what is going on? Maybe the three dudes in street clothes are part of a sting until trying to catch a cop impersonator which they are currently trying to corral.
2. Cops and firemen are trained in their jobs. You aren't.
3. By entering the situation, you may have doubled the responsivility of the good guy cop as now he not only has to look out for himself, but you as well, you the untrained well intentioned guy who has just increased the danger level of the situation.
4. Being trained for such situations, another cop entering the situation will be better prepared to deal with the conflict and bring the situation to an end. Have you had that training?
5. If the cop is injured or killed, there is compensation for him and or his family. If you get injured or killed, is your job going to give you the three months off for rehabilitation or do you have a life insurance policy high enough to cover your family until they can get squared away?
6. If you are a CCW person and enter the situation, even if you gun is not drawn, you have increased the risk of injury by firearm significantly by bringing a gun into the situation, a gun not known to exist by the cop. It is possible that you will lose your gun in the scuffle and the gun end up in the hands of the bad guys. Think of the number of cops who are shot with their own guns, often the only gun in the situation and yet they get shot with it. By the way, do you have a good retention holster on and are you well trained in gun retention skills?

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting officers no be given aid, but that the complexities of such situations may go way beyond what you are able to comprehend with what little information you have. If you are passing by in a car, one of the best things you might be able to do if the altercation is not a firefight is to simply use your car as a slow barricade and wedge it between the officer and the bad guys. You don't have to hit them or run them over, but make it an obstacle or barrier. Your decision to do such may still end up aiding the wrong guy if the person in uniform really isn't a cop, but at least you have not actually harmed anybody by your actions.

Few cases you roll up on are going to be clear cut.
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top