When Officers Have To Identify Themselves

Undercover Officers Identifying

GREENSBORO, NC --  There is still so much to look at with the deadly officer involved shooting in Charlotte. At this point we know a plain clothed police officer wearing a Police vest and serving a warrant confronted Keith Scott.

"The officers approached the vehicle to engage the subject. The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands to drop the weapon, " explained  Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney. 

Full disclosure, the WFMY team  had a long conversation at the news table Wednesday morning about recognizing plain clothed officers with or without a Police vest.  It's easy to recognize someone in uniform and know their commands carry weight. But what if the plain clothes has you wondering who is commanding you to comply?

By state law, officers are only required to identify themselves when they're making an arrest or the functional equivalent. NC state statute 15a-401 states the only time an officer has the duty to identify oneself as a law enforcement officer is when making an arrest. The statute also states while a traffic stop isn't an arrest or functional equivalent,  the officer does have the duty to identify.

2WTK  talked to several law enforcement agencies, spokespeople said while it's not a state law in most situations,  it is simply good practice to identify oneself as an officer, but not every situation allows for that.

The bottom line message from authorities, identifying or not has nothing to do with what we, as the public should do, which is comply.

(© 2016 WFMY)


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