This is a follow-up to this question. In it, I talk about how I see it as problematic that the identities of LEOs investigating an active case can be publicized. If that case concerns a serial killer, or perhaps members of organized crime, it seems like the investigators could become the target of assassination, threats, blackmail and bribery.

According to this article, LEOs are not mandated by federal or state law to disclose their identity, though this may be mandated at a municipal level. Given I'm writing a fictive work set in NYC, I'm specifically asking the following questions, in relation to that jurisdiction in particular:

  1. Are on-duty officers required to identify themselves in NYC?
  2. Are on-duty officers allowed to lie about their identity in NYC?
  3. Are on-duty officers allowed to show a fake badge in NYC?

If the answer to 1. and 2. is 'yes', but the answer to 3. is 'no', perhaps they're allowed to swiftly flash their badges whilst stating a false identity?

  • Police are allowed to go undercover and lie about all aspects of their identity. Is that what you’re asking?
    – cpast
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 1:29
  • @cpast Kind of, but more precise than that. Are they, when simply questioning a witness for example, allowed to, on their own accord, go undercover and lie about their identity? And if so, can they go as far as using fake badges?
    – user110391
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 1:38
  • 1
    Note, the article you link to says: "several states have adopted laws and regulations requiring law enforcement to identify themselves. *" so it is not fully correct that "*LEOs are not mandated by federal or state law to disclose their identity," Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 3:47

1 Answer 1



At least, not in all circumstances.

Obviously, a uniformed police officer is automatically identifiable: and usually displays a precinct number, badge number and name (depending on the uniform). A plainclothes officer, not so much.

In most circumstances, a police officer is not required to identify themselves as such. This includes normal interactions, like buying a sandwich for lunch and actions that might be thought of as "police work": investigation, surveillance, and undercover work. However, when they are executing a "police power", like entering premises subject to a warrant or probable cause, making an arrest, or issuing an order they need to identify themselves as a police officer - not doing so can lead to confusion: always a bad thing where firearms might be involved.

As to lying, a police officer has no general duty to be truthful except in very narrow circumstances. They must tell you if you are under arrest if you ask and they must read you your rights if they place you under arrest. Aside from that, they can lie their asses off.

A police officer could use a fake badge if the circumstances warranted it. For example, if they were investigating fellow police officers in an undercover role.

  • I see. So even in cases where they are required to identify themselves as police, they can show a fake badge and lie about who they are? Is there any requirement to state their badge number if a person requests it, or perhaps a person subject to an act of police power (like a search)? Feel like I've seen videoes stating this is a requirement, but I'm not sure.
    – user110391
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 15:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .