Can a cop arrest another cop? Well, this part of being a cop is what nobody talks about. But you do understand that lawbreakers, in general, can be arrested. How about cops? Is it the same as in movies where a cop rethinks arresting a fellow cop or making up excuses?
Now, let’s begin with you. Suppose you’re a police officer and a fellow officer commits what would warrant an arrest. Would you arrest them? Yes? No? Honestly, the decision is not as easy as being a civilian.
You may need that police officer as a backup after the drama, and, depending on their attitude, they might disassociate with you. Of course, their arrest was beyond your powers, but you did the needful.
Can a Cop Arrest Another Cop?
Sincerely and legally, yes, a cop can arrest another cop. When an officer breaks the law, they face similar treatment as members of the public. However, arresting a fellow cop is not common due to “professional courtesy”, which is frowned upon, especially when both cops serve in the same police department.
Professional courtesy gives the wrong impression that a cop is above the law instead of enforcing it. But depending on the police officer’s crime, this attribute may not influence legal actions.
In a recent social experiment conducted on Quora and Reddit, most police officers confessed that it’s no fun arresting a cop, especially where the arrestee is a friend.
So, the real question should be, “are arrested cops treated the same way as the public?” To a large extent, it depends on the police department and the unwritten policies when punishing a cop. Sometimes, depending on what you would call “crime”, the department might cover up wrongdoings by officers. However, only “pet officers of the administration” receive favorable treatments.
In one instance in Texas, officers on duty arrive at work (midnight shift) drunk, drinking in their vehicles, drinking in the station, falsifying reports, etc.
A police friend confided in our website content manager during chitchat about a sergeant allegedly raping a female prisoner while on duty, plus she managed to pass the lie detector test. The prosecutor happened to be the bad cop’s good friend and put no charges against him. What’s worse? The bad cop eventually became an Assistant Chief.
In another instance, a drunk Lieutenant attempted to rape a female officer and a dispatcher (two different incidents). He enjoyed a brief period of no query and went on to become Deputy Chief. However, on the course to become a Chief, the attempted rape reports hit the local news, cutting his adventure short. He retired at full pay without prosecution.
Lots of incidents, like in public, happen at police departments. Fortunately, the legacy of numerous good cops over corrupt cops keeps these ills minimal.
You would also want to note that when a cop arrests another cop, corrupt cops might threaten and harass them for doing the right thing. The good cop knows he’d need his colleagues during backup/emergency calls and would not be willing to ruin the relationship for their safety. So, you can’t entirely blame cops for finding it difficult to arrest colleagues, especially from the same department.
An Instance of Cop Being Arrested
As mentioned earlier, a cop arresting cops is not a new development. A spectacular instance was the arrest of the NYPD’s Dirty Thirty in the Harlem precinct.
The modus operandi of these 33 corrupt cops was to make fake radio calls that cover up raids on known drug dealer’s apartments in the location. These raids were merely theft because the corrupt officers for half the market value out of the station house.
Internal Affairs recruited a cadet fresh from the academy, tasking the recruit as undercover at the precinct to monitor and obtain evidence of other cops.
William Bratton arrived as the department’s new commissioner in 1994. Not only did he plan arrests, but he also made a statement and started by visiting the station house with Internal Affairs’ arrest team. Bratton had the units arrest the officers in uniform while doing their paperwork after their shift.
Unlike NYPD’s culture, the arrested cops were walked out through the waiting TV cameras. 1 Police Plaza ordered this exception because the cops’ accusation was awful. Typically, police officers try to avoid perp walk from happening, whether the cop arrested is on the uniform or not, and regardless of the accusation.
Meanwhile, while the cameras were still rolling, Bratton took the badges off the 33 dirty cops and dumped them in the trash, saying that the cops did the same thing by their actions. (NYTimes).
In essence, when a cop commits a crime, another cop with jurisdiction at the crime locations sees it, he can arrest the offending officer legally.
Regardless of familiarity, police officers do not shy away from arresting other officers—even law enforcement arrests locals in their jurisdiction. Most cops would not cover dirty cops. Moreover, the media might publish that upright cops hate dirty cops.