General Question

SuperMouse's avatar

Does an undercover police officer have to reveal him/her self?

Asked by SuperMouse (30723 points ) December 2nd, 2008

Someone told me that if someone interacting with an undercover police officer asks if they are a cop, said cop has to answer truthfully thereby blowing his cover. Is this true?

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10 Answers

cak's avatar

SuperMouse! What have you been doing?!? ;-)

cak's avatar

I have no idea, I’m just in a mood! :)

mrjadkins's avatar

An undercover officer does not have to be honest when asked a direct “Are you a cop?” question. I think the Drug Enforcement Agency would have had many a dead officer if this practice were employed. I also think that the take-down of the mob would have had problems too if this were a fact for police officers.

Just think of the idea of “entrapment” – and how police and federal agencies use this tactic to fight crime. I think they can help someone commit a crime but they can’t commit the crime themselves. They can’t coerce or threaten someone to commit the crime.

It’s a tough way to look into law enforcement to see them working to help someone commit a crime. But, it is one of many tactics used.

This reminds me of 21 Jumpstreet. I loved that show but only when Depp was on it. They replaced him with some wacko copycat and the show lost cred.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I hate that there are people who avidly believe this. I mean come on if it were true do you think there would ever be any stings at all?

kfingerman's avatar

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there’s no way this is true. Also, as I understand it mrjad, “entrapment” is a line of defense against conviction. Nothing that complicated. Simply put, if someone commits a crime in police presence that they would have committed anyhow, they’re busted. If the cop somehow talked them into it, it’s entrapment. Buying drugs off a dealer is evidence, paying some poor kid to go get drugs for you is entrapment.

asmonet's avatar

No they don’t, it’s a common misconception. :)
It’s also a misconception that an officer doing drugs in front of you isn’t a cop. If you offer a cop cocaine he can do it if he’s in the DEA or in a pinch, their drug tests regularly show drugs in their system.

It’s so the dealer won’t kill them the second they walk in the door.

cheebdragon's avatar

There are a lot of things they dont have to tell you….you should check out FlexyourRights…..

21. Are police allowed to lie?

“Yes. Police are generally permitted to lie if it helps them make arrests. The best example of this is when undercover officers claim not to be police. The rules regarding entrapment usually tip in favor of law-enforcement, so police won’t hesitate to trick you into incriminating yourself or others. This is particularly common during interrogations in which officers might tell you that “your friend already gave you up, so you might as well come clean.”

The best defense against these manipulative tactics is to avoid saying anything to police without first speaking with an attorney. ”

cwilbur's avatar

Watch any episode of Cops where they go undercover. The suspect always asks if the undercover agent is a cop, the cop says “no,” and the suspect is surprised when he or she is arrested for prostitution or soliciting.

@SuperMouse: I suspect your friend would be one of the surprised ones.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cwilbur, you are probably right; he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the neon. He told me this years and years ago for some reason I just thought of it the other night and got to wondering.

john65pennington's avatar

The Supreme Court has ruled that the police can tell lies, if it justifies the results.

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