Can a civilian pull his vehicle, to the side of the road, and walk back to a police vehicle? The police vehicle didn't have lights on; nor initiate the stop. The police car followed the vehicle, making several turns, and seems to be following the vehicle. Can the civilian ask the officer, if he is following the vehicle? The street last turned onto is leaving the city, only going to a country area, beyond the city cop's jurisdiction.

This happened in the state of West Virginia.

  • 1
    there is nothing against the law about asking a police officer a question. There is also no requirement that they answer you. The danger here is getting arrested for "Contempt of Cop." My opinion is that nothing good can come from the encounter.
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 27 at 15:29

A Civilian can certainly ask the police officer whether the officer is following the civilian, and if so why. But, at least in the US, the civilian cannot demand an answer. That is, the police officer has no legal obligation to answer the question, nor to answer truthfully if an answer is given.

Some officers might take exception to even a polite question, and might take lawful or unlawful action against the asker.

It would be wise not to act in any way that the officer might see as threatening. In particular, approaching the officer with hands in pockets or hidden would be unwise.

One could also call the local emergency dispatch (9-1-1 in the US) both to verify that the car is in fact a police car, not a imposter, and to ask why one is being followed. Criminals have been known to use imitation police cars to get civilians to stop. If safe, such a call can be mad without stopping.

  • I would highlight the second and third paragraph
    – Ron Trunk
    Aug 27 at 18:15
  • 1
    @RonTrunk but only in the US. Police officers in civilised countries are usually happy to chat with the public (unless they’re busy of course).
    – Dale M
    Aug 27 at 20:50

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