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Around 10pm, I see red and blue lights through my window. I look outside, and I see 7 cop cars (and a bike) in front of my house. There are 8 cops standing around in a circle, laughing -- I'm concerned because I bought this (my first) home only months ago.

I go out and from a distance have the following dialogue:

me: "Is everything okay?"

cop1: "It's okay, was just a shark attack."

me: "What?"

cop2: "We caught the bad guy."

And they turned back around to their group, barring me from further conversation.

Did I just have a run-in with an arrogant group of officers, or am I in the wrong here? Can I legally pursue the question of "Hey, what's happening here?" Are they not required to inform me if I ask?

Edit: I live in west Florida, if that's relevant. I could see it possibly being based on local laws?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Feb 12 at 22:27
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    You might have got a different answer by leading with "I live here... " else you might be treated like the Press. – Criggie Feb 14 at 4:09
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    The interrogation tag seems incorrectly used here (based on the tag wiki description: "For questions about interrogatories, depositions, and witness examination"). Furthermore, I believe this question would benefit from the united-states and florida tags. Alas, I don't have enough rep to only edit tags. – John Feb 14 at 5:23
  • Cops have this dangerous, thankless job. Down here some seem too young and nervous to be out there. If you make it a point to get in their way enough times your odds of accidentally dying increase. – Hell.Bent Feb 14 at 22:49
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You are allowed to ask the police whatever questions you like. There is an upper limit that you can't refuse to obey a lawful order on the premise that you want to ask a bunch of questions, but they don't seem to have ordered you to do anything, so you can ask away. They have no obligation to tell you anything or to be truthful, except for certain questions like "am I free to go" when you want to leave and are testing whether you are under arrest. Even then they don't have to answer your questions right away. The police can therefore ignore you, especially if you are asking curiosity questions. It might be that they are restricted from giving information in certain circumstances (pertaining to the privacy of others).

If there is an issue of legitimate concern (e.g. Little Billy has been beating up on cats again) and you feel that you need to know this, then you can request the police record on the matter. Certain information will probably be redacted under state law, but you could get a report that states that some [redacted] juvenile was beating up on animals. The Florida records law is one of the first in he nation, dating back to 1909. You can read this, to see if you think the circumstances match one of the exemptions, though all you have to do is make the request and be told that the record is exempt, then you will have some idea what was going on.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Feb 12 at 21:20
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    They have no obligation to tell you anything or to be truthful, except for certain questions like "am I free to go" - This is very important. Most officers won't lie, but there's nothing prohibiting them from doing so. The (US) police can lie. – Mindwin Feb 13 at 14:58
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    One small caveat: You can generally trust the police to give you a straight answer when your safety is involved. They might ignore broad "What happened?" type questions, but focused questions like "Am I in danger?" or "Does this involve me?" will usually get an honest answer (but not always details). They genuinely care about your safety, they just don't have time (or permission) to hold a press conference. – bta Feb 13 at 22:55

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