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How to Identify an Officer

How to identify undercover officers when pulled over

You're driving along and notice flashing lights in the car behind what do you? First and foremost, a driver must pull over to the side of the road for a marked police vehicle using flashing lights and siren.

There are unmarked police vehicles on the road and they come in all sizes and models. There are also off-duty officers who are not driving police vehicles, marked or unmarked, who may be compelled to act on a suspicious driver. That being said, you may find one day that a driver in a car behind you is indicating that you should pull over to the side of the road.

The first rule is, don't speed up or try to get away. Take a moment and take a critical examination of what you're doing as a driver and what the driver behind you may to trying to do. Now you have a number of options:

1. Drive to a well-lit area that has a lot of people present, such as the mall parking lot, a convenience store, or service station.

2. Stay in your car and lock your doors. Watch the person in the car following you.

3. If that person is a Maryland State Police officer, he or she must park behind you, turn on the interior dome light of the car, and put on the distinctive Smokey the Bear hat that is part of the Maryland State Police officer's uniform. Most state troopers follow similar procedures, but check with your individual state troopers officer for specific tips on identifying an officer.

4. The officer will approach your car and ask you to roll down the window. If you see the uniform, the hat and the badge with a picture, you are talking to a real officer.

Most off-duty officers when making a traffic stop in a personal vehicle will first call in to the barracks a description and license number of the car being pursued. If you are suspicious about the car behind you grab your cell phone and dial 911 anywhere in the country to reach the local state police barracks. Tell the dispatcher you are being followed by a suspicious car that is indicating you should pull over, and you will be routed to the state barracks. Let them know you don't believe it's an officer and you'd like confirmation. If it is an officer, the police dispatcher will be able to tell you what kind of car you're driving and then confirm that you have an officer behind you. Generally the barracks will also send an on-duty officer in a marked vehicle out to meet you. If you do pull over to the side of the road for an unmarked vehicle, make sure the person approaching your car shows you a badge and picture identification. Do not unlock your doors, and roll down your window only enough to speak and visually inspect the identification. You can decide from there how comfortable you are with the situation. If it still seems suspicious, use your cell phone again and call 911 to talk to the dispatcher. That person can advise you from there.

The Maryland State Troopers provided this information; you should check with your state troopers for helpful tips in on identifying an officer in your area.

(Source: Safe Smart Women)