Kimble: "Officer, officer! There's a man in a trenchcoat waving a gun around and screaming...at a woman!"
*Gerard comes running around the corner screaming with his gun drawn, and is seized by officers*
"Let him go! He's a US Marshal!"
So the Government Conspiracy
is after you for a crime you didnít commit, or maybe you really did commit one and the Secret Service is on your tail. Either way, the Spies In A Van
are parked outside your house and you canít leave. So what do you do?
Call the cops.
The weaponized version of Jurisdiction Friction
, this is when someone chased by a covert branch of law enforcement blows their cover by making them suspicious to another branch and then escapes in the confusion. When captured, a similar tactic is Police Brutality Gambit
, where the same effect is achieved by way of Internal Affairs
. This trope is often averted when the Government Conspiracy
creates a false criminal history for the pursued, so regular law enforcement is after them as well.
Alternatively, bystanders may call the cops if they see the covert agents behaving suspiciously, leading to an unintentional version of this trope. The odds of this happening are doubled if the agents are the good guys.
Compare Right Hand Versus Left Hand
, where the law enforcers end up clashing without
Film - Animation
Film - Live Action
- Thomson and Thompson of Tintin find themselves in police custody more than once due their bungling efforts at stealth.
- In at least one of the Bourne films, Jason Bourne calls the local police to confuse and deter the CIA chasing him. On other instances across the three movies, they show up on their own, because random secret service members probably shouldn't be able to go around shooting each other in France, Russia and the United States.
- In Enemy of the State, Will Smith's character sees the Spies in a Van parked outside a house that he needs to enter unseen. So he calls the city cops and spins a tale about conspicuous men in a van who might be doing drugs. Cue the spies when they hear the call on the police radio:
"Oh, eat me. Thatís us."
- Used by Richard Kimble in The Fugitive when being chased by Marshal Sam Gerard. At a moment when he's gained a temporary lead, he tells a nearby policeman about a man he just saw waving a gun around in a threatening manner, causing the policeman to intervene when Gerard shows up in pursuit with his gun drawn.
- Hackers. The title computer criminals harass their arch enemy, Secret Service agent Richard Gill, by creating a fake criminal record for him that causes the police to arrest him.
- At the end of Mercury Rising, Cowboy FBI Agent Art Jeffries is able to prove that he (and the Idiot Savant kid that he's been protecting during the whole movie) are being chased by murderous members of the NSA. The final encounter ends with a Big Damn Heroes attack by a Hostage Rescue Team, which curb stomps the Big Bad's Dragon and provides a distraction for Art to save the kid.
- A superhero variation occurs in Batman Begins when Scarecrow orders his men to call the cops when Batman shows up, knowing they'll go after the vigilante and let them go.
- In RED, Moses has just rescued Sarah from a CIA agent disguised as a New Orleans cop, and they are making their getaway in the cop car. When CIA Agent Cooper gives chase, Moses uses the police radio to call in an Officer Down, and gives a description of Cooper and his vehicle. When the cops corner Cooper, he drops his gun and surrenders rather than try to explain.
- Col. Picquart of An Officer And A Spy is being tailed by the Surete, the French secret police. He draws the attention of a beat cop to the two suspicious men that are following him, and thus escapes his Surete tail.
- Burn Notice
- In the pilot Michael at one point loses his FBI tail by paying a couple kids to tell a Miami-Dade PD bicycle cop that the FBI agents asked him to get into the car with them, and then leaving while they try to sort it out.
Michael: For fifteen [bucks] I wanna see some tears, okay?
- In The Teaser of "Hard Bargain" Michael calls the police on a guy from the Central Security Services (part of the NSA) he's supposed to meet with. In this case he's actually just trying to get a read on the man to make sure he isn't an assassin sent to kill him.
Michael (voice-over): Calling the cops on someone can teach you a lot: a foreign agent will run. So might an armed assassin. A bureaucrat's gonna ... act like a bureaucrat.
- Columbo: In "Murder, Smoke and Shadows", when eating in movie shooting area cafeteria, Columbo witnesses a pair of actresses discussing what seems to be vital evidence to push forward his investigation of murder. The discussion is later revealed to have been staged by the murderer in order to actually derail the investigation. Later, because a security guard stops Columbo on accusation of stalking actresses, effectively preventing him from following the pair and verifying things immediately.
- Graceland has a variation. The FBI discovers that a bounty has been offered by the Caza cartel for the capture of Mike "The Marine", one of Mike's undercover identities. They set up a meeting with the cartel thugs where Briggs will pretend to sell out Mike and then the FBI can swoop in and arrest the bad guys. However, the bad guys realize what is going on so they instead call the LAPD to bust up a dog fighting ring that is located in a building next to the meeting place. The resulting chaos makes a mess of the FBI surveillance and two thugs are able to abduct Mike right from under the FBI's noses.
- In Torchwood the Cardiff Police and the titular organization have an...interesting relationship. The police have been called on Torchwood multiple times, only to end up grumbling about "bloody Torchwood" when they are legally obligated just to let them just do whatever and have them take jurisdiction over the weird stuff. Communication between the two gets slightly better once Andy gets promoted to full on Friend on the Force.
- This happens from time to time on The X-Files, due to the strangeness of the cases that the main characters deal with. Like, for instance, when tracking down psychic children, onlookers thought that the Mulder and Scully were abducting them, and tried to call the police to stop them.
- In the fourth episode of Spooks, a suspect under surveillance realises that his house is being staked out by two MI-5 agents in an unmarked car, and creates a diversion by calling the police and telling them that the occupants of the car are creating a public disturbance of an intimate nature.
- In Real Life, cops get called on Private Detectives all the time, as this Cracked article describes.
- One of the victims of Stalinist purges in 1930s USSR, one military officer named Primakov, tried this trick on the NKVD agents sent to get him from the train he was travelling on. He ordered his men to immobilize and disarm the agents, then, when the train stopped on a station, escort them to the local police as "suspicious men in disguise". Surprisingly, it worked, but then Primakov continued travelling on the same train. At destination, a much larger and better armed party of "suspicious men in disguise" was waiting for him.