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Fausnaught's avatar

In the near future, will all police wear plain-clothes?

Asked by Fausnaught (373points) March 19th, 2010

I live in New York City and many of the police you see on the streets are plain-clothes cops. For the few that don’t know, that means they wear regular street clothes.

Will this be a trend? As you see with military, private military contractors wear non-uniforms in battle, so will all cops be plain clothes? Do we need our cops easily identifiable? What will this mean for law enforcement in America?

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20 Answers

silverfly's avatar

This is just scary. Now we have to behave all the time?! I thought policemen had to wear uniforms. I hope they’re still required to show their badges… otherwise, what’s the point?

jaytkay's avatar

If they aren’t easily identifiable, how do you know they are police?

lilikoi's avatar

^ Exactly. Here in my city, they still are uniformed (of course I wouldn’t know they were cops if they weren’t) but the cars they drive are unmarked and only distinguishable by tiny little LED lights on their roof that blend in with the dark colors of the cars they drive.

If I ever get into trouble, I am not banking on a cop helping me out. Which begs the question – why am I paying taxes for a police force then? <rhetorical, please don’t try to debate.

Fausnaught's avatar

They have to display their badges here in New York. They aren’t pretending to be normal. They wear plain clothes but only plain clothes a cop would wear if that makes sense. They still have a gun on their belt and a badge around their neck.

CMaz's avatar

And a donut in their belly.

Bronny's avatar

i hope not, mmmm mmmmm.

Fausnaught's avatar

Or a hot dog.

ucme's avatar

They should dress like a pimp playing golf.That would be fine by me.

CMaz's avatar

Sometimes there is a time to represent and a time not to.

Snarp's avatar

No, a uniformed cop sends a special message, they are a visible reminder of the presence of law enforcement both to potential criminals and to people in need of help. The majority of patrol cops will always be in uniform.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

The presence of a uniform needs to be there. Detectives may not wear a uniform but they’re not beat cops.

Fausnaught's avatar

Do we really need reminders that there are cops on the streets? Did you ever wonder if your town had cops? Isn’t that just a given in the 21st century?

marinelife's avatar

I think that police will wear continue to wear uniforms for street patrol. Their presence sends a special message.

BTW, there are still plenty of uniformed cops in NYC.

Fausnaught's avatar

I said many, not all.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

No – the whole concept of a police force is to convince you to obey the law via probability of being caught doing something wrong – not to let you do something wrong and then catch you. NYC is a special case, as we have an oversized police force per capita.

Snarp's avatar

@Fausnaught Actually, you said all in the question.

JimmyG's avatar

No. The presence of uniformed cops probably prevents more crime than the threat of jail. Every police force on the planet wants higher visibility, not less.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Snarp no actually, the question asks in the future will we see all, but in the details, it says “many of the police” implying not all :)

Ron_C's avatar

I think it will be the opposite. The “visible police” will become more militarized, The majority will be “under cover” so that we can be more easily monitored. I also suspect that they will be run by corporations like Blackwater and not by cities or states.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

Here in Manhattan, the primary value of the police is as a deterrent. I’ve come to believe that they’re pretty much useless except when it comes to stopping or prosecuting violent crime. Got your apartment robbed? Tough luck. Plainclothes cops are typically specialized here—usually narcotics, although further uptown and in high-traffic areas I would expect some counterterror-oriented officers. This doesn’t strike me as a civil liberties issue. Think about it: the wealth of patrol cars and uniformed officers on the streets here is a wonderful deterrent, but all it means is that criminals will wait until the police are out of sight to do their dastardly deeds. The purpose of plainclothes cops is to find the people committing crimes and to put them away. The two forces complement each other.

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