Mailman Crook: IPO!?
Mailman Crook: What's IPO?
Pearly Gates: Impersonating a police officer!
Mailman Crook: You mean to say we've been conned?
Pearly Gates: I mean to say you've been conned!
Crime is rampant on the streets. Drugs are being sold, people are dropping at the sound of two boards being slapped together, windows are shattering to make way for burglars... who knows what sort of craziness goes on every day? Then, police officers show up to either take back the loot or perform a vigilante killing, and it looks like the day is saved...
Not! Surprise, surprise; sometimes by way of a Traitor Shot, the police officers are revealed to be scofflaws themselves (or, at the very least, a bunch of people who have taken the law into their own hands). Naturally, this upsets the balance of law and order between criminals and the police; Hilarity Ensues (as does chaos every so often). At times, it's a single person acting alone; at others, it's an organized group; but in fact, impersonation of a police officer has taken place.
Related to False Flag Operation or Dressing as the Enemy. Compare Bavarian Fire Drill, a.k.a. getting people to do what you want by acting authoritative and letting them draw their own conclusions. Unrelated to No Badge? No Problem!, which is where someone affiliated with the authorities but who actually isn't one acts as though he were. Phony Veteran is the military equivalent.
Do Not Try This at Home — intentionally attempting to impersonate a police officer is a serious crime in most jurisdictions. With a few exceptions (including Zombi 2, which had cameos from actual off-duty NYPD officers in full uniform), live-action films and television shows with police officers in them use uniforms that are deliberately incorrect to avoid any hint of thisnote . Fancy dress police costumes are also deliberately different from genuine ones to reduce the chance of being mistaken for a genuine officer. In Real Life, police forces/departments exercise rigorous control over their uniforms — losing, giving away, or otherwise transferring any part of their uniform can lead to serious disciplinary measures being taken against officers and old and worn items are destroyed rather than risking the chance of them falling into the wrong hands. It's very usual for uniforms to be stored on police premises only and officers change into them on arrival for their shifts and at no time do they leave the building unless being worn on duty.
- In the children's anime Azuki-chan, Azuki's grandfather, who is an ex-police officer, humorously impersonates as a police officer to entertain his grandson, Daizu.
- A Certain Scientific Railgun:
- Mikoto Misaka impersonates a member of Judgment, to an actual member of Judgment, by wearing a Judgment-issue armband that one of her friends dropped. Well, to be more specific the Judgment officer assumes she's a new recruit and makes her help for the day. Mikoto learns a bit more about what the job actually entails, and gains more empathy for her friends in Judgment.
- Rita Iizumi brings out a Judgment armband to convince Mikoto that their Dark Side organization is actually a Judgment task force. She waves away their violent friend who already attacked Mikoto as a "civilian contractor." For the most part this plan works and both sides get what they want... but when the fight is going through an abandoned area, Mikoto says she'll leave the evacuation of the squatters to them, and they realize that they have to pretend they care about civilians.
- HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!: In Episode 5, Hime, a 14 year old girl, spots someone littering, so she dons a police uniform to pursue them,
- Lupin III: This happens to be one of Lupin's favorite tactics, often by disguising himself as Inspector Zenigata; usually at Zenigata's expense.
- In The Castle of Cagliostro, Lupin infiltrates the titular castle by posing as Zenigata, claiming that the real one Gustav saw was an imposter. It works. Gustav falls for it and attacks Zenigata and his men, allowing Lupin to slip inside unnoticed.
- Lupin also pulls this twice in The Secret of Twilight Gemini:
- The first happens, near the beginning, where he disguises himself as one of Zenigata's men in an attempt to slip past the inspector (which Zenigata doesn't fall for).
- The other happens about halfway through the film, when he disguises himself as a police officer to infiltrate Morocco's police HQ to dig up information on Galoux. Which leads to a run-in with Fujiko and a night of Sex with the Ex.
- Lupin poses as Zenigata again, in the Lupin III: Part II episode Albatross: Wings of Death, where he uses the disguise to try to get Prof. Lumbach to tell him about his bomb manufacturing plant. Lumbach stalls by pretending to fall for it, to buy time for the real Zenigata to show up!
- Lupin poses as the Inspector again in the Red Jacket series finale Aloha Lupin, to track down a group of imposters who were impersonating him and his gang.
- In an early chapter of Psyren a pair of goons show up at Ageha Yoshina's school trying to get his Psyren card. They flash fake police badges, but luckily for Ageha one of his classmates is the son of the local police chief and can tell the difference.
- This is part of Team Taiyou's backstory in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. Jinbei angrily left Taro and Yoshizo to do his own thing and ended up carpooling with some rich kids that pissed off the local biker gang. A siren goes off while Jinbei is begging for forgiveness, and the bikers begin to bail when it seems like Security has arrived. It turns out to be Taro and Yoshizo using a fake police siren, and Hilarity Ensues when they get caught and are chased around until dawn.
- The Punisher: Frank Castle has been known to use a fake ID to enter crime scenes and get firsthand information before the detectives arrive.
- Judge Dredd: "Jimp" is Mega-City One slang for Judge Impersonator. It's quite popular because of the immense power that the Judges have compared to most police.
- There's a gang who tried to impersonate Judges to carry out robberies on three separate occasions. The first group was spotted by a robot who warned the real Judges, the second group was killed by an Ax-Crazy stranger who happened to have a grudge against Judges, and the last group was recruited for back-up by Dredd himself to storm a building full of hostiles and were killed because they lacked training.
- Another criminal duo got a bunch of Judge uniforms to carry out a robbery as well, but their disguise was so bad (the crooks had bad posture, were horribly out of shape and even wore their eagles on the wrong shoulder) that Dredd spotted them immediately.
- One story in the Free Comic Book Day 2013 issue of 2000 AD features a gang of young men who impersonate Judges not for any gain but because being a Judge is awesome. Until one of them gets killed trying to stop a criminal on his own.
- Ralphy Bryce is introduced as a young Hero-Worshipper to Dredd and goes around dressed in a judge uniform, even confronting some criminals while doing so. They dismiss him as "a squirt with a squirt gun" and punch the boy out. As Ralph is an orphan Dredd has him inducted into the Academy to train as a judge, but Ralph breaks the rules and leaves the Academy to try and track some criminals. After being discharged, Ralph goes around arresting criminals dressed as a judge. Dredd arrests him for this and he spends the next two and a half decades hating Dredd and goes on a killing spree dressed in an imitation judge uniform to show Dredd that he's still capable of being a judge. Dredd ends up being forced to execute him in the end.
- One ex-Judge who was part of an extralegal killing squad within the high ranks of the Justice Department used his old uniform to carry out hits. He gets found out because he was using a non-standard weapon.
- In the story "Closet", members at a gay club dress up as Judges as a form of dom-sub roleplay. A raid by the Judges leads to their arrest for using the uniform for entertainment purposes.
- Button Man: At least one Button Man posed as an FBI officer during the killing game.
- After Robin was framed for murder, he snuck into the police station to look at the evidence and after being spotted he walked out during the ensuing chaos dressed as a GCPD officer.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Griffin didn't actually need to impersonate a peeler, but stole the uniform off of one because it was cold. (True to form, he killed the officer to acquire it...)
- Spider-Man 2099: When Miguel has to escape Downtown for the first time, because he is being pursued by the Public Eye, he puts on one of their uniforms, grabs a flybike and attempts to go back to his apartment.
- Point of Succession, a Death Note Alternate Universe Fic, has Matt impersonate a cop under L's orders.
- The Adam-12 fic "Wannabe Police Officer" has someone kidnap and chain up Malloy while taking over his identity and job. Jim was gone and Pete riding solo, so he got away with it for a few hours.
- Marionettes: Gear Shift and Cover Story claim they are agents of the Equestria Bureau of Investigations, but Twilight Sparkle sees through it because their badges are fake. "Because my big brother is Captain of the Royal Guard, and on the EBI seal, Celestia's wings go behind it not in front of it."
- A military variant is used in Origin Story, where in order to rescue Louise from a secure military base, Captain America, Spider-Man, and The Wasp dress up in military uniforms and use forged IDs and orders to get in. (It turns out that Captain America's uniform is real.)
- Batman 1939: In Three's Company two villains impersonate police officers to trick Zatanna into helping them.
- In Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders, the villains hire two unnamed men to pose as Military Police officers and order them to guard a secret location in the desert, which they claim to be a restricted government facility (it later turns out to actually be a lost gold mine).
- 22 July: Anders Breivik is shown dressed as a policeman until his arrest.
- Absolute Power (1997): Two snipers, each unaware of the other, try to shoot Luther when he arrives at an outdoor café to meet his daughter. They both miss, and Luther escapes through the police cordon wearing the uniform of a police officer he had hidden beneath his coat.
- Across110th Street (1972) opens with a mob gambling bank tallying their profits. There's a knock on the door and they see two policemen outside asking about an illegally parked car. The banker tells a henchman to just pay them off with a few dollars, but when he opens the door the cops are quickly revealed to be criminals of their acquaintance who are Robbing the Mob Bank.
- The Art of War (2000). Wesley Snipes' character is checking out a Triad hangout when the police raid it. He apparently evades them, but a black FBI agent starts moving in the same direction he did, gun at the ready. Later one of the perps is getting in the face of several officers when that same agent appears, slams the man's head into the table, then hauls him outside to the amusement of the officers. It turns out to be Wes wearing the FBI man's cap and raid jacket.
- The Big Night: At the arena, George sells his father's ticket but is accused of ticket scalping by a conman posing as a police officer, who takes the ticket money.
- In Black Rain, the yakuza villain's men plot to rescue him from the American cop protagonists as soon as they land in Osaka by pretending to be detectives carrying an arrest warrant for the villain, counting on the foreigners to not know Japanese and thus not notice that what they're brandishing is a housing contract. It works.
- Blake and Fenderbaum in Cannonball Run II dress as police officers when taking part in the race. However, we never see how effectively it works. This may have been inspired by a real life entrant in the race who tried using a police badge to get out of traffic stops.
- In Catch Me If You Can, serial imposter Frank Abagnale gets caught in a hotel room, knowing that an FBI agent is coming to arrest him. He brilliantly pretends to be a Secret Service agent who is also trying to catch Abagnale. He tells the FBI agent that they already apprehended Abagnale, and points out the window outside, where a man is being helped into a car by another man. note Abagnale is so convincing that he completely convinces the FBI agent that he has been arrested by another cop, and the agent allows him to leave.
- Carlito's Way: After Dave Kleinfeld narrowly survives an assassination attempt as retaliation for his murders of Tony Tagliucci and his son Frank, he's hospitalized. When Carlito visits him in the hospital, he notices a suspicious behaving police officer outside in the hall, who he takes to be an assassin here to finish off Kleinfeld. He helps said assassin out by discreetly emptying the bullets from Kleinfeld's revolver. After Carlito leaves, the fake cop comes out of hiding and relieves the real cop who is guarding Kleinfeld's door. Said cop turns out to be Tony T.'s other son Vinnie, here to avenge his family.
Vinnie: There's a delivery for you, Mr. Kleinfeld.
Dave Kleinfeld: From who?
Vinnie: [pulls out gun] From my father, and my brother!
- Corky Romano: The basis of the plot is Corky, a goofy vet, getting put undercover in the FBI for his gangster relatives to get evidence which implicates his father.
- The Dark Knight Trilogy:
- As Ra's al Ghul claims in Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is trying to defend "a city so corrupt [the League of Shadows] infiltrated every level of its infrastructure. Effortlessly." How effortlessly? The district attorney, Carl Finch, is assassinated by a League member who's actively working as a police officer. And in the climax, Ra's and his men enter the Narrows posing as a SWAT team.
- In The Dark Knight, this is part of The Joker's assassination plot against Mayor Garcia at Commissioner Loeb's funeral: they kidnap the honor guard that will be doing the 21 gun salute, and steal their uniforms. They fire off the first two volleys like they should, then before the third volley, all turn their guns on the Mayor. Gordon tackles the Mayor from the podium just as the Joker shoots. In the ensuing chaos, the Joker and most of his men are scatter into the crowd, where they become indistinguishable from other uniformed police officers. However, one of them gets tagged in the leg and is taken away by Harvey Dent to be tortured.
- Dick Tracy. Several of Big Boy Caprice's henchmen dress up as police officers, "arrest" Lips Manlis and take him to a warehouse to be murdered.
- In the film version of Dragnet, stolen police cars and PAGAN cult members disguised as officers are used to keep the locals away from the site where the Virgin Connie Swayle is due to be sacrificed.
- El Camino: When Jesse breaks into Todd's apartment to search for a hidden stash of drug money, two men dressed in police uniforms also enter the place to search for "evidence". After a tense confrontation between Jesse and the two "cops", they put him under "arrest" and restrain him with wires they picked up from the floor; at which point Jesse realizes that they don't have handcuffs, and he calls them out for their ruse. It turns out that the fake police detectives are in fact petty criminals (both of whom were associates of Todd's gang), and they too only wanted to find and take the money for themselves. Jesse convinces them to not kill him and give him a third of the money stash, by pointing out that it'll look suspicious to the actual police if they murdered him and left him in the apartment.
- Face/Off: When Castor Troy comes out of his coma and finds out that his face has been grafted onto Sean Archer for a deep cover operation, Castor gets his revenge by intimidating the surgeon into giving him Archer's face in return. After burning down the lab to destroy all evidence, Castor takes over Archer's job and begins abusing it for his own gain.
- The title characters in Flame & Citron (2008) sometimes pose as police officers when carrying out their assassinations for La Résistance, thanks to their handler who's a police solicitor and can get them official badges. This backfires when they dress in police uniforms to assassinate a Gestapo chief only to be arrested on sight, as the Germans are rounding up and deporting all Danish police officers, replacing them with their own collaborationist units.
- Fragment of Fear: After Tim first realizes he's being stalked, an officer named Sergeant Matthews arrives at his apartment to tell him about a false sexual harassment accusation against him. He listens to Tim talk about what happened and takes the evidence with him. Tim later learns that there is no Sergeant Matthews working at the local police station, meaning he just gave his only evidence to a member of the conspiracy.
- The Godfather trilogy:
- In The Godfather, Al Neri takes out his old police uniform when he assassinates Emilio Barzini.
- The Godfather Part III. The mounted police officer working crowd control at an Italian-American pride parade is actually Vincent Mancini, but we don't realise until he rides up and Double Taps mob boss Joey Zasa.
Vincent: How are ya, Joe! [shoots Zasa twice in the back] Zasa! [shoots him in the head]
- The Greatest Beer Run Ever: When Chickie Donohue goes on his mission to deliver beers to his friends fighting in The Vietnam War, several military officers mistake him for a CIA agent on a classified assignment because he's dressed in civilian clothes. Chickie rolls with it as it makes it easier for him to find his friends, but it leads to problems when he comes across a real CIA agent who quickly deduces he's an imposter.
- As seen in a flashback, Chow pulling one off sets the plot of The Hangover Part III in motion.
- The climactic shootout of Hard Boiled has several mobsters posing as Hong Kong policemen and taking part in herding the hostages into the lobby.
- In The Heist (1989), Ebbet sends his thugs to beat up Ramirez for winning a race he was supposed to lose. But when they get to him, they see him being tackled by a Border Patrol officer who handcuffs him, throws him into a van, and drives off with him. However, the 'officer' is actually working for Neil and this is Neil's plan to extract Ramirez from the track after the race.
- The Hidden: The good alien parasite poses as an FBI officer so it can enlist the help of local human law enforcement to hunt down the evil alien parasite who killed his partner. Admittedly it's a Space Cop in its own right, but pretty far outside of its normal jurisdiction.
- When we first meet Harry in Home Alone, he poses as a cop, checking in on all the houses in the neighborhood, seeing who will be leaving for the holidays, allow him and Marv to rob them later. Unfortunately, Kevin realizes who he is when he sees Harry and Marv driving around in the neighborhood in their plumber's van, and more importantly notices Harry's gold tooth.
- Identity: It turns out that "Officer" Rhodes was a convict just like Robert Maine, and he assumed the identity of the real police officer who was transporting the two of them after murdering him during the ride.
- Inferno. Vayentha, the Consortium agent stalking our protagonist, is disguised as a member of the Carabinieri. This makes Langdon reluctant to just call the Italian authorities for help because he doesn't know she's not a real police officer.
- Inspector Gadget (1999): Gadget, meet your Evil Twin Robo-Gadget, who's not so much impersonating a police officer as he is downright smearing the police officer's good name by committing all sorts of crimes.
- Jingle All the Way has Howard Langston briefly impersonate a police officer (or rather, an undercover detective) in order to stay out of trouble when the police raid a counterfeit toy operation that he was trying to buy a Turbo Man action figure at.
- The Spanish thriller La sombra de la ley (aka Gun City) has the protagonist Aníbal Uriarte transferred to Barcelona from another city to help with the investigation into stolen military weapons. It's only halfway through the movie that we discover his papers have been forged and he's not even a policeman but a military intelligence officer investigating army and police involvement in the theft.
- Let's Be Cops is this trope The Movie, as the two main characters Justin and Ryan wear realistic-looking police uniforms to a party and on the way home are repeatedly mistaken for real police officers and get all kinds of praise, respect, and women. Ryan has so much fun pretending to be a cop that he purchases all of the gear online, buys a car he modifies to look as close to a real police cruiser as he can, and learns official police procedures and tactics from YouTube. Ultimately subverted by the ending when, after the hoax is over, Ryan joins the police force for real.
- There is a notable moment late in the picture when Justin finds himself soberly looking up the actual legal definition of the act (and associated penalties). Apparently, the improbable events of the movie help them get off light at the end, including "Ryan becomes an actual cop".
- Looker: In the climax, Dr. Roberts incapacitates two police officers who are working for the bad guys and dons the uniform of one of them so that he can infiltrate the Digital Matrix exposition.
- The main villain of the Maniac Cop slasher movie franchise is an undead former police officer who was framed for Police Brutality and still dresses in his old uniform while he carries out his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- In A Man Called Sledge, to gain access to Rockville Prison, Sledge is taken to the prison by his accomplice Ward, who poses as a U.S. Marshal needing to lock up his prisoner for the night.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Iron Man 3: Ellen Brandt tries to impersonate a Homeland Security agent to cover her abduction of Tony. Unfortunately, it backfires as the sheriff of Rose Hill happens to be having a drink at the bar, sees the commotion, and states that flashing a badge and trying to brush it off are not sufficient to get him to back down. So Brandt instead kills him and his deputy.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Nick Fury is targeted for a Conspicuously Public Assassination — his SUV is rammed on all sides by police cars, then a SWAT van pulls up discharging a team with assault rifles who open fire on him, then try to force their way into his bulletproof car with a hydraulic ram. The intent is two-fold — to get close to Fury (when he sees the 'police' staring at him, he assumes it's because he's a black man driving an expensive vehicle) and to delay anyone calling the police given the time they need to get past Fury's defenses (the SUV is both armoured and weaponised). Over the course of the movie, its made clear that HYDRA has infiltrated high into the US government, so its possible (though never confirmed) that they were actually cops. The action itself however was clearly a HYDRA operation, not a police one.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: The FBI manage to arrest Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne thanks to a tip off from Sonny Burch. To break them out of custody, Scott uses Hank's ant colonies to sneak them disguises. Hope dons her Wasp costume and shrinks down, while Hank is given an FBI windbreaker, hat, and sunglasses, allowing him to walk out the door with no one being any the wiser.
- Captain Marvel: Talos and some of his Skrulls impersonate SHIELD agents upon arriving on Earth. One of them impersonates Phil Coulson, and gets killed when the real Coulson inadvertently blows his cover. Talos himself impersonates Nick Fury's boss, though blows his cover when he first accidentally addresses Fury by his first name (something no one, not even Fury's own mother, does) and then confirms he's an imposter when he fails Fury's follow-up test question.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home: It's revealed at the end that the Nick Fury and Maria Hill that Peter's been interacting with the whole movie are actually Talos and his wife Soren, while the real Fury is in space on another mission.
- In Miami Blues Junior Frenger impersonates Det. Hoke Moseley after stealing his gun, shield, and false teeth (long story), in order to carry out a one-man crime wave around Miami.
- In Midnight Run Walsh and Mardukas pretend to be FBI agents so they can "confiscate some counterfeit money".
- Mission: Impossible Film Series:
- The Night Flier: At one point Dees poses as an FBI Agent to get the details about a grisly double murder from a local sheriff.
- Nite Tales: The Movie: In "Storm", Tom gets a phone call warning him about a psycho on the loose who impersonates a police officer (amongst other things, including a clown. He turns out to be the cop in the house, and the same cop who stopped the last surviving bank robber in "Karma".
- Nurse Betty: Charlie and Wesley use fake police badges to get information from people in several scenes (other times they pose as insurance investigators). They fool everyone but Joyce the bartender, who's ex-husband is a cop.
- Variation: In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a Noodle Incident in Jack Sparrow's list of charges has him impersonating an officer of the Royal Navy (who did double duty as colonial law enforcement in those days, especially where piracy was concerned). Another has him impersonating a clergyman of the Church of England (he smiles at the memory).
- Later, in the fourth movie of the series, he impersonates a judge.
- Psycho Cop has a similar premise, although the killer is mortal (or as close to it that your average slasher villain gets).
- Raw Deal (1986) opens with the confusing sight of Arnold Schwarzenegger in civvies driving a jeep, chasing a motorcycle cop. Turns out Arnie is The Sheriff and the cop actually a Con Man stopping speeders and taking 'fines' off them. Later on, The Mafia disguise themselves as a bomb squad to steal a huge stash of confiscated drugs and cash from police headquarters.
- In Rehearsal for Murder, Alex hires actor Frank Heller to pose as a police officer to prevent the suspects from leaving.
- Resurrection (1999): The serial killer is revealed to have been posing as an FBI profiler who was "assisting" the cops with tracking himself down earlier in the film. This becomes apparent when the main character, a Chicago PD homicide detective, visits the local FBI headquarters and discovers that the actual agent by that name is African-American, not white.
- Runaway: The villain Charles Luther dresses as a policeman to enter the department and hack into their database for information on Ramsey. Strangely, everybody on the force is on the lookout for this maniac, but no one in the station recognizes his face.
- In Running Scared (1986), the drug dealer Julio Gonzalez has his men capture the police officers guarding a government building and put on their uniforms to masquerade as them. He then uses the building as the location to trade a woman he captured for the cocaine the protagonists seized.
- Rush Hour: Tsang kidnaps Consul Han's daughter Soo-Yung by pretending to be a motorcycle cop who pulls her car over during rush hour, killing her guards and chasing after her when she tries to escape (though not before she scars him).
- The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Heroic version appears when Celine has two men disguised as cops pretend to arrest him at the airport, narrowly saving him from actually being arrested by real Haitian secret policemen.
- In Seven (1979), two of Kimo's hitmen pose as police officers and guide the senator's car into an ambush, and then kill the senator's driver afterwards.
- McCarty in Silver Lode isn't a Marshal, and consequently his companions aren't deputies, either. They just use their fake credentials to be able to grab Ballard on the pretext of arresting him for murder without arousing too much suspicion. Unfortunately for them, Ballard calls bullshit and the townspeople have his back. At least at first they do...
- Spaceballs: To rescue Princess Vespa and Dot from prison, Lone Starr and Barf mug the guards outside for their uniforms. When Barf wears his, his tail is sticking out of the back.
- The hitman in The Star Chamber does this, unless he really is a police officer.
- In The Streetfighter's Last Revenge, shortly after being double-crossed by the Owada clan, Terry Sugury intercepts a group while disguised as a highway patrol officer. He directs them to pull over in a car crushing lot and then reveals himself. He then sends a lone assassin, Wolf, back to the Owada clan alive to tell the patriarch that he should fight Sugury for the money he had stolen.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The preferred form for the T-1000 Terminator to take is that of a Los Angeles patrolman. Not surprisingly, an LAPD cop was the first person the T-1000 encountered upon arrival from its time-travel. That form also avails the T-1000 to plentiful information and resources, but it backfires when it actually finds John: being a Delinquent kid, John just runs from it, and this unknowingly saves his life.
- In Terminator: Dark Fate, REV-9 disguises itself as a US ICE Border Patrol officer while searching for Dani at the illegal immigrant processing centre.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003): "Sherrif" Hoyt at first appears to be simply a Dirty Cop, but the prequel reveals that not only is he a leading member of the Cannibal Clan, he murdered the original Sheriff when he tried to take in Leatherface after his first murders and stole the lawman's uniform to lure in more victims.
- In Theatre of Blood, Lionheart and the Stage Manager pose as constables to lure Maxwell into the ambush at the squat.
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead had two main characters pose as police officers to stop their mark. Given that one of the criminals had a short fuse, it went From Bad to Worse very fast for everybody involved, putting into motion the main plot of the movie.
- In the Swedish film The Third Wave, a Professional Killer who is stalking his target through an anti-globalization riot kills a riot policeman and steals his gun, uniform, and face-concealing helmet. This enables the hitman to get close to the protagonist and execute him with a shot to the head — unfortunately it turns out the gun he stole is loaded with plastic bullets.
- In Tiger House, one of the gang dresses as a police officer to accompany Mark's stepfather to the cash depot. This causes Mark's mother to mistake him for a real police officer when he returns to the house after the robbery.
- The killer in the 1984 Clint Eastwood movie Tightrope is first shown via his trainers as he stalks a woman. She's aware someone is following her but runs into a uniformed police officer who escorts her home safely. The camera then tracks down to show the 'police officer' is wearing the killer's trainers. This plays into the theme of the movie which has a parallel between the killer and the cop investigating him. The killer is eventually revealed to be a former policeman.
- The Tournament: When Father MacAvoy is in the alley attempting to throw up the tracker, a police car pulls up and a uniformed officer steps out. Father MacAvoy starts towards him before he pulls out a submachine gun as Lai Lai yells out that he's a player.
- The Town: For the climactic robbery at Fenway Park, Doug and Jem disguise themselves as Boston Police Department officers to sneak into the stadium and rob the cash room. Afterwards, they (along with Gloansy and Dez) disguise themselves as paramedics to make their getaway in an ambulance, only to find themselves cornered due to the police and the FBI being tipped off by Jem's sister about the robbery. After a shootout in which Gloansy and Dez are killed, Doug and Jem put their cop disguises back on to blend in with the real police as they enter and secure the scene. Jem is caught and killed after Agent Frawley catches him walking away from the scene carrying a satchel full of money, and Doug uses the chaos caused by this to get away by stealing a patrol car.
- Barricade from the Transformers Film Series takes this to the next level by making his alt mode a police car, complete with a Decepticon logo on the side badges and "To Punish and Enslave" as his motto.
- The Untouchables (1987): Frank Nitti disguises himself as a police officer to assassinate the bookkeeper the Untouchables have persuaded to testify.
- War (2007). The Yakuza pull the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre version during a heist of a truck guarded by Triads. It helps that they've got a corrupt police captain with them whom the Triads know; they think he's just shaking them down for more money until the fake cops open fire. However, the fact that the Triad goons left their guns in their vehicles tips off the feds what happened.
- What About Bob?: Bob pretends he's a police detective to get Dr. Marvin's number out of the telephone operators who earlier rejected his request, claiming that he's killed himself, with the cops investigating. He shows no psychological hang-ups when doing this, perhaps oddly, though maybe role-playing helps with his neuroses.
- What a Carve Up!: Inspector Arkwright arrives at Blackshaw Towers, telling the surviving guests that Mr. Sloane had made it to the village and informed him of the murders. However, when Ernie and Syd later discover Sloane's body in the garden, they realise that Sloane never made it to the village and that Inspector Arkwright is really the murderer Gabriel.
- An early comedic example of this ploy in play is The Wrong Arm of the Law, where a gang of Australian crooks upsets the established rules of the cops and robbers game in London. Shortly after this gets taken too far when a couple of paranoid lower-level criminals unwittingly attack actual police officers, the criminal underworld decides to forge a temporary alliance with the police to capture the IPO mob.
- In Another Note, Rue Ryuuzaki is really the notorious Serial Killer and former Wammy's kid, Beyond Birthday. He poses as an "unprivate detective", as well as copying L's dress and mannerisms.
- In the John Connolly novel Every Dead Thing Louis gains the trust of a possible witness by flashing a gym membership and claiming it's a badge.
- Kate Shugak: In No Fixed Line, two criminals named Gaunt and O'Hanlon show up in the Park posing as ICE agents and attempt to abduct the two children found in the plane wreck; claiming to be taking them into custody as illegal immigrants. The twist is that Gaunt and O'Hanlon are actually former federal agents so know all of the correct procedures. Unfortunately for them, but for fortunately for the children, Kate and Jim are very familiar with law enforcement procedures and sense something is off immediately.
- In The Laundry Files Bob frequently impersonates law enforcement or other government officials when doing field work, facilitated by a Laundry-issue warrant card that compels the person to whom he shows it to believe him. Given that the Laundry's main job is occult counterintelligence and everything they do is classified under a section of the Official Secrets Act that is itself classified, he doesn't have much choice.
- Slight twist there, as a warrant card only works for its legitimate owner, actually identifies said owner, and can only be used to assert said owner's actual legal authority over somebody who is subject to said authority: it just does so in a very mind-screwy way that tends to leave people needing to rationalize what they saw.
- Ostap Bender tries to do this with the underground millionaire Koreiko in The Little Golden Calf. Ostap wants Koreiko to admit that a large sum of money was indeed stolen from him, to confirm that he's richer than he seems. However, it's a Paper-Thin Disguise consisting of only a police hat, and the hat has a coat of arms of the wrong city, to boot. Koreiko later points that out.
- Modesty Blaise novels:
- In A Taste for Death, two criminals steal a police car and the uniforms of the officers in it, using them to impersonate police and get the drop on Willie.
- In The Night of Morningstar, when one of the Watchmen is arrested after failing to subdue Modesty, another impersonates an investigator from Special Branch to gain access to the police lockup and kill him before he can tell what he knows.
- The Silver Sword: In the first chapter, Joseph escapes from the camp by knocking out a guard, and stealing his uniform.
- Star Wars Legends:
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two: Sort of. Darth Zannah disguises herself as Jedi Padawan Nalia Adollu to infiltrate the Jedi temple on Coruscant.
- In Iron Fist, the Wraiths are nearly captured in the first chapter by Imperial agents disguised as local security forces who have a confederate start a Bar Brawl with them. They use the tactic themselves later, as part of a complex infiltration of a military base: to whit, two Wraiths start a fight with some pilots, the rest show up dressed as stormtroopers to "arrest" them, and then they flag down a real military police patrol, saying their vehicle broke down.
- Invoked for a Paranoia Gambit in Testament, by David Morrell. The protagonist writes an expose on a right-wing underground organization with sympathizers in all levels of society and finds himself targetted by them. His eight-year-old daughter is taken out of school by a man posing as a police officer and sexually assaulted. A detective says they confirmed the location of every officer that day, and the attack was clearly meant to make him suspicious of the police and refuse their help. But what, the protagonist replies, if a police officer lent his uniform to the attacker?
- The Three Investigators: Book #9 (The Mystery of the Screaming Clock) has the Classy Cat-Burglar Hugenay arrange for two of his men to dress up as a police officer. When the cops show up and try to use that as a charge, he points out the fake cops are in fact wearing New York Police uniforms, and as such cannot be accused of impersonating the local police since the series is set in California.
- This is a key facet of one of the cons that Mr. Wednesday says he once favoured in American Gods, while lamenting that its time, most assuredly, has passed. The con involves one artist purchasing jewelry or stones with a legitimate roll of banknotes, but on one of which the ink has been smudged. The jeweler calls to verify the veracity of the notes, and finds that they are real — but then a 'police officer' comes in, harangues and accosts the first artist, and walks off with partner, notes, and the merchandise that the first guy attempted to purchase. For evidence, of course.
- Jason And The Intragalactic Troubleshooters: In the climax of book 3, Jason dons the duck hat (a hat with a fake duck on it) he'd bought earlier in the book and bluffs the villains by claiming to be "Inspector Duckles of the Galactic Police, Bat and Duck Division", using his library card as a pretend badge and having knowledge of their previous (failed) plot to rob a certain location. General Batso falls for this imposture, allowing the heroes to escape.
- Terminal by Colin Forbes involves the sinister activities of a clinic in Switzerland apparently guarded by the Swiss army. When the protagonist gets a close look at the guards, however, he realises they're members of a security company whose uniforms are deliberately similar to army uniforms, to make it appear the clinic has official sanction. It also helps that there is a high-ranking Swiss military officer secretly assisting the clinic.
- The Bourne Identity. Jason Bourne takes Marie St Jacques hostage, but she escapes from him and tries to get help from the men searching for Bourne, who are quite willing to play along with her assumption that they are police. It helps that they're highly organized and use radio communication just like real police would. She only finds out otherwise when, after Bourne is captured, their leader orders his men to take her to the river to be killed.
- Girls Don't Hit: Joss pretends she's a New Orleans detective and FBI agent while infiltrating law enforcement to get near a target.
- In the English version of 19-2, a fake Service Police Métropolitain officer was busted while trying to do a fake traffic stop in downtown Montreal. One of the arresting officers mentions that he's an example of scammers who the SPM have to arrest and let go because of a judge's order. Sadly, the fake cop heads to Station 19 and shoots up the place, killing several officers including JM. He dies of a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. During JM's funeral, a high-ranking SPM officer is upset that the fake officer was the man responsible for killing JM.
"Well how could ya [know that the fake cop was the shooter]? Goddamn judge cut him loose."
- In an episode of Adam-12 there's someone out there claiming to be a particular detective in the LAPD, flashing his badge around and insisting on bribes. They aren't sure until the end of the episode whether it's really that cop turned bad or someone impersonating him. It's someone impersonating him.
- Altered Carbon
- The so-called Ghostwalker is just a Mysterious Watcher until he does a Kill and Replace on a uniformed officer so he can infiltrate the Bay City headquarters and free a prisoner.
- Takeshi Kovacs discovers that the body he's been resleeved into used to belong to a Cowboy Cop called Elias Ryker. As he's Working the Same Case with Ryker's former partner Kristin Ortega, it's convenient to pretend to be Ryker as well. The only problem is that every criminal who had it in for Ryker is now gunning for Kovacs.
- The Americans: In the series premier, Philip and Elizabeth are tasked with apprehending a Russian defector. After they catch him, Philip makes a point of loudly reciting his Miranda Rights for the benefit of any onlookers as the Russian screams "They're not police!"
- Angel: In one episode Angel manages to extract information from the officers at a crime scene by acting like a pissed-off plainclothes man - largely through scowling and demanding coffee.
- Are You Being Served?: In "The Hold-Up", Captain Peacock and Mr. Spooner do this as part of a gambit to rescue Miss Brahms from a brace of burglars.
- Arrow. In "Home Invasion", the hitman Mr. Blank holds up a police badge to the peephole to get Laurel Lance to open the door for him. It doesn't work as she's the daughter of a police officer, and realises the badge number doesn't match the rank of the police lieutenant he's impersonating.
- Banshee combines this with Dead Person Impersonation. Lucas Hood was the sheriff of a backwoods town in Oregon who decides to take the job offer of sheriff in Banshee, Pennsylvania. However, on his way into town, he stops at a bar on the outskirts of Banshee and is killed by two robbers. The robbers are then killed by the protagonist, a master thief who just got out of prison and is in Banshee looking for his old girlfriend. The thief realizes that the only person in Banshee who actually knew what Hood looked like recently died of cancer, so he assumes Hood's identity and becomes the new sheriff. He has no police training but his brutal methods are quite effective against the local toughs so people just assume that he is a Cowboy Cop.
- In an episode of Barney Miller, a man claiming to be a detective from the 12th precinct is accosting men as they leave gay bars and demanding money or else he'll beat them.
- Played with in Better Call Saul: At one point, Chuck attempts to intimidate a copy-shop clerk into giving him evidence against Jimmy by referring to himself as an "officer of the court" (a generic term that encompasses anyone in the legal system, including lawyers) in the clear hopes that the clerk will think he's a cop and give him what he wants. Instead, the clerk outright asks if Chuck is a cop and he immediately admits he's not, since doing otherwise would cross the line into impersonating an officer and thus comitting a far worse crime than anything Jimmy has done.
- The Bill. The police are raiding a pornographer, who accuses the police of harassing him. Inspector Monroe points out that two raids in three years is hardly harassment. Turns out several 'fake' police officers had earlier confiscated his stock. Monroe's comment tips the pornographer off about what happened, and he goes after them.
- Blue Bloods
- In "Down the Rabbit Hole", serial killer Thomas Wilder kidnaps Nicky Reagan while dressing as a police officer. He's still in the uniform when Danny catches up to him.
- In "The Price of Justice", Jamie and Edie are on loan to the NYPD Movie and TV Unit for the filming of a Rizzoli & Isles-esque cop show. A former cop is a special consultant hired to handle the "research", but it seems he does not grasp the reality of police tactics (like having female cops in heels, a big no-no in a foot chase), with Jamie and Eddie being more on-par with tactics. The consultant is outraged and threatens to report them to "their commanders", which confuses Eddie because, in the NYPD, the correct terminology is "commanding officer." After a few more arguments where the man yells he's the expert, Jamie and Eddie get a detective to do some digging and find that this "consultant" has never worked for the NYPD, and his only law enforcement experience is as a mall security guard in New Jersey. The consultant is fired in the end, though not for the fraud, but for sexual harassment.
- The Boys (2019): Billy Butcher claims he's an FBI agent at first when recruiting Hughie into the Boys, despite his obvious British accent. "Can't a guy immigrate?" Hughie only discovers otherwise after it's too late to back out of Butcher's anti-Supe vendetta.
- In Burn Notice the heroes do this with some regularity.
- In "Identity" Fiona and Sam impersonate Detectives Cagney and Lacey to get a couple wannabe scam artists to leave town so their boss won't kill them. (This doubles as an Actor Allusion to Sharon Gless, who plays Michael's mom on Burn Notice and played Cagney on Cagney & Lacey.)
- In "Hot Property" Michael combines this trope with a Bavarian Fire Drill when he breaks into the Miami-Dade Police Department to steal intel. When his intrusion is discovered, he breaks a second-floor window, borrows a police jacket, and then acts authoritatively to play on a rookie's "obey superiors" gene and send the cops on a wild goose chase.
- Parodied in "Almost Famous" when Castle and Beckett respond to an "officer down" call. Except instead of a cop, they find a male stripper in a police costume who was killed on his way home from a gig.
- Used straight in "Knockout". When Professional Killer Hal Lockwood is arraigned for killing another inmate three patrol officers stride into the courtroom. Something about them rubs Beckett the wrong way, then she realizes their collar pins aren't made of NYPD-issue brass, just as they pull out flashbangs and break Lockwood out of the courthouse.
- In "Probable Cause" Serial Killer 3XK, dressed as a cop, visits Castle in the precinct's holding area to reveal that he's the one who framed the writer for the Murder of the Week. Castle later gets "someone who owed me a favor" to impersonate the officers that are supposed to transport him to Central Booking, wrecking 3XK's plan to have him shanked in lockup.
- In the Criminal Minds episode "A Badge and A Gun", the Killer of the Week's modus operandi involves using an FBI badge (stolen from a retired agent he killed) to get into victims' homes.
- Used on two episodes in the first season of CHiPs. In the first one, a man in a CHP uniform pulls over young women in an effort to have his way with them. It's repeatedly said that he bears a strong resemblance to Jon which causes problems for that character. In the second, the brother of an officer killed in the line of duty does this in a well-meant attempt to carry on in his brother's legacy. (This impersonator was kept out of the police academy only by his color-blindness; he then uses his late brother's old uniform and a replica motorcycle.) Near the end, Jon gives him a lecture about all that could go wrong (safety and legal ramifications) and demands that he turn himself in on the next day.
- In The Closer episode "Tapped Out" a police academy reject poses as a 'Detective Dick Tracy' and is one step ahead of the Major Crimes Division by posing as the various detectives and Assistant Chief Pope. When the Division finally arrests him, he wriggles out of the impersonation charges by handing over the evidence he collected over in exchange for immunity. He still gets arrested because the impersonation charges he beat don't cover using a fake warrant; which he did to gain access to the victim's apartment.
- CSI: NY: Shane Casey escapes from jail during a prison riot by getting a friend on the outside to smuggle him an NYPD uniform, which he uses for several episodes afterwards.
- Day Break (2006): Fencik and Buchalter are former sheriff's deputies, but they don their old uniforms when they're preparing to stage a hit on the Grand Jury meeting.
- In "Graduation Day", Villalobos steals Joseph's uniform and key card to escape LA County Jail. After this he kidnaps a girl as punishment for her father taking from his cartel, initially getting inside due to his disguise.
- "10-8 Do No Harm" sees a woman disguise herself as a deputy sheriff to take hostages in a jail infirmary.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor's psychic paper, which (usually) appears to the viewer as whatever kind of ID will get him past them, has been used to pull off impersonations of police, as well as other authority figures.
- "Aliens of London"/"World War Three": After the Doctor and Rose are taken to 10 Downing Street, Rose's mother gets questioned by Commissioner Strickland, who as it turns out is actually Sip Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen wearing a skinsuit.
- "Fear Her": While Rose is talking to a council worker who's dealing with cars that are breaking down on the stretch of Dame Kelly Holmes Close where kids are disappearing, the Doctor enters the scene having been caught snooping in Tom's family's yard trying to figure out what happened to Dale Hicks (who vanished there):
The Doctor: I'm, I'm a police officer! That's what I am. I've got a badge and a police car! You don't have to get–- I can, I can prove it! Just hold on! [reaches for his psychic paper]
Tom's dad: We've had plenty of coppers poking around here, and you don't look or sound like any of them.
The Doctor: [gestures to Rose] See, look. I've got a colleague! Lewis.
Tom's dad: Well, she looks less like a copper than you do.
The Doctor: Training. New recruit. It was either that or hairdressing, so, voila! [brandishes his psychic paper]
- "The Unicorn and the Wasp": Upon the discovery of Professor Peach's murder, the Doctor claims by psychic paper to be an inspector from Scotland Yard because he doesn't want anyone calling the real police, especially when he's just discovered evidence that the murderer is an alien. The paper also claims Donna is the "plucky young girl" who helps him out (since female cops were very rare in the 1920s), to her offense.
- "The Eleventh Hour": When the Doctor first meets Amy Pond as an adult, she pretends to be a policewoman in her kissogram outfit, our Celibate Hero failing to register the extreme brevity of her hemline. She later uses the costume to get into the closed-off top floor of the hospital after Prisoner Zero attacks.
- One episode of the '60s series had a pair of scam artists going about impersonating Federal Reserve bank inspectors. Gannon poses as a mark and asks the fake inspectors if they're carrying identification.
Con artist: We always carry it. (gets out fake credentials)
Joe Friday: (comes in from the next room with his badge out) So do we. You're under arrest.
- Another Frauds Division episode involved a scam artist claiming to be representing the LAPD's Widows and Orphans Fund. Donations supposedly meant you could just tear up any traffic tickets and ignore them. That one got Friday seriously pissed off because it meant people distrusting the department when Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurred.
- Yet another episode had a Gideon Dengle impersonating an officer and doing the job despite not being one. He then switches jobs and is arrested while impersonating a firefighter.
- Behind the scenes, the LAPD took pains to make sure that this trope did not happen in Real Life. As a signal honor, the badge 714 carried by Joe Friday was a real, authentic, LAPD badge. The badge was carried by police escort to the set every day and returned to LAPD headquarters in police custody every night. The badge number was officially retired upon Jack Webb's death out of respect for Dragnet.
- One episode of the '60s series had a pair of scam artists going about impersonating Federal Reserve bank inspectors. Gannon poses as a mark and asks the fake inspectors if they're carrying identification.
- The Enemy Within: Tal sent two of his people to get Erika's daughter at the park. Video of her and knowing she was there in their custody gets Erika to give up the information he wants.
- The Equalizer. The episode "The Sins of the Father" opens with a team of mercenaries pulling a well-planned snatch of a mobster's child. While others provide distractions or take down the bodyguards and nanny, a man dressed as a policeman lifts the baby from the carriage and quickly walks off with him.
- Friends: Phoebe finds a cop's badge and pretends to be a cop. This works well until she tries it on the cop to whom it belongs.
- Gotham Knights (2023): Cullen's been able to sneak in and out of the GCPD while disguised as a rookie cop, and the only time he ran into trouble was when he failed to bring a coffee for the cop on desk duty. Except for a fake mustache, glasses and accent, all Cullen does is put on the uniform, acting like he belongs.
- In The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, in the episode "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom", The Hardy Boys see Nancy Drew unsuccessfully trying to talk her way out of trouble at an airport, and go over to help. On the spur of the moment, Joe pretends to be undercover airport security, and the brothers "apprehend" Nancy:
Nancy: [to another traveler] I'm telling you there was another man here trying to get into your suitcase!
Frank: Excuse me, what seems to be the trouble here?
Traveler: [suspicious] Is she with you?
Joe: [flipping open his wallet and flashing an ID too quick to see] Airport police. Juvenile Division. I thought we told you to never work this airport, Trixie.
Frank: We'll take care of this, sir. I'm sorry there's been any inconvenience to you. [grabbing Nancy by the shoulder] Come with me, thank you very much...
Traveler: You're probably all in this together!
- An episode of Hawaii Five-O called "Welcome To Our Branch Office" had a crew of lookalikes that impersonated McGarrett and the rest of the team as an extortion scheme to get businesses to pay the fake Five-O "protection money".
Bowman: We took $50,000 from Hess, the wholesale baker! You guys rigged an explosion in his oven, right?! There was a hundred from the factory man, Travers! And a hundred from Rodman, the plastics guy! That was it! What does it add up to?! Now you tell me, what does that add up to?
[Lights come on, and Bowman realizes he was talking to the real McGarrett]
McGarrett: Extortion. Kidnapping. Conspiracy. It adds up to thirty years to life, that's what it adds up to.
- Hunter (1984):
- After a controversial police shooting where an innocent bystander is killed, the detectives get a lucky break when the Cop Killer uses a badge he stole from one of the dead police officers to 'arrest' a prostitute to get some free sex.
- A Serial Killer is apparently a Killer Cop when he dresses in uniform and enters a police station. It turns out the police station is an abandoned building due for demolition and the killer is a madman who thinks he's a cop.
- In From the Cold: One of the terrorists dresses as a police officer to get near the prime minister, whom their group is plotting to assassinate.
- Richie first meets Ezra while he's faking being an FBI agent to track down the woman who'd conned both of them. Ezra quickly sees through it however.
- In Season 2, Max and Sally impersonate two police detectives, bluffing a photographer into turning over photos he took which can reveal the Doctor's identity this way. Ezra and Richie later pretend to be FBI agents while they're investigating the Doctor too.
- Alluded to a few times on It Takes a Thief (2005). Some of the homeowners who signed up for the show were either police officers or married to police officers. Matt always made a point of talking about what would have happened if a real burglar, instead of Jon, had walked off with police uniforms, badges, and firearms.
- Joe Pickett: A U.S. Marshal who shows up to take custody of murder suspect Nate is really a hitman working for Nate’s old black ops superior. After the deception is revealed, Sheriff Barnum lambasts his deputies for not checking the man’s credentials.
- Stupid crook Dewey Crowe decides to rob two toughs who stole a large amount of drugs from the Dixie Mafia. When the local clothing store does not have any ski masks in stock, he instead buys a suit and a cowboy hat. He then proceeds to impersonate US Marshal Raylan Givens and successfully pulls off the robbery. When the real US Marshal Raylan Givens finds out about it, he is quite pissed and tracks Dewey down. It does not help matters that the two toughs have also tracked Dewey down and when Raylan identifies himself, they open fire on him since they will not be fooled by the same trick twice.
- In season four, a Detroit hitman is tasked with killing Drew Thompson but no one knows what identity Drew is currently using. The hitman disguises himself as a sheriff's deputy and goes to the houses of men who could be Drew and shoots them dead. He is exposed when he tries to arrest Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens is present. Raylan just spoke to the sheriff and the sheriff would have mentioned if he sent someone to arrest Boyd. Before Raylan can check in with the sheriff, the hitman panics, draws his gun, and is shot dead by Raylan.
- Law & Order: SVU:
- The episode "Counterfeit" has a Serial Rapist who pretends to be a police officer to get close to his victims . He even hangs out in cop bars. It also means that when he drags away one of his victims, no bystander thinks anything wrong is happening. The squad initially think he's a real cop before they recognize he's a fake. When they do work this out, there's talk about the dangers of informing the press. Namely, real police will have a harder time doing their jobs, particularly pulling people over for traffic violations (his MO).
- There's an episode in which a teenager impersonated a uniformed police officer, arrested a suspect, and handed him over to Benson and Stabler. Once the ruse was discovered, it led to a big legal issue in the suspects' trial. This one wasn't intentionally committing a crime. He was just overenthusiastic about becoming a cop one day and didn't realize that impersonating an officer is a felony and would get him blacklisted from the force.
- Another episode had a couple PIs who carried NYPD badges to scare people off. After they had been found out they tried to pull the "undercover" bit on Captain Cragen and Fin.
PI: [flashes badge] Get lost, all right?
Fin: [holds up his badge] I got one of those too. Where's your ID Card?
PI: [to Fin] Hey, you know what? Gold shield [Detective] doesn't mean I answer to you, okay?
Cragen: [slaps his Captain's badge against the window] You answer to me.
- There are few if any law enforcement agencies that the protagonists of Leverage don't impersonate at some point or other, from local police to the FBI to Homeland Security. Hardison does most of the work setting up false identities and making or obtaining fake credentials for the team to flash around; in the season 3 episode "The Morning After Job" he makes up police identification for himself and Eliot which is so convincing they are able to successfully requisition a real police cruiser for their part of the con... and are then tapped to transport a prisoner and dragged into a domestic disturbance call because theirs is the closest car to the scene.
- In "The Double Blind Job", the Client of the Episode is pursued by two such henchmen, claiming to be FBI agents (“she’s in our custody!”). Hardison flat-out states that he isn’t fooled by their “fake-ass” badges. Then he directs their attention to Elliot, whom was barreled into during the chase and thus ended up with hot coffee all over his white shirt. While Hardison rounds up their soon-to-be client, Elliot pummels her pursuers.
- In an episode of The Listener a gang of robbers use fake cop uniforms to gain access to secure locations like high-end jewellery stores and rob the place. Their disguises are very good and they even make sure that their getaway car looks like an authentic police vehicle. Later in the episode, they steal an ambulance and commit a robbery disguised as paramedics.
- Lois & Clark: Superman himself does this when the supercriminal organization Intergang threatens to kill people if he shows up. He dresses and acts like a beat supercop handily beating down thugs with a bunch of self-defense Hoist by His Own Petard methods.
- The Major Crimes episode "Return to Sender" has Rusty's stalker pretend to be an undercover officer in order to find out the details of Rusty's police protection and lure him into an easy place to kill him. It helped that they did not reveal to him all the members of the undercover team.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Daredevil (2015): In "Cut Man", one of Vladimir and Anatoly Ranskahov's henchmen pretends to be an NYPD detective to search for Matt Murdock in Claire Temple's apartment building.
- The Punisher (2017): To lure Frank Castle out of hiding, some of Billy Russo's men disguise themselves as police officers to abduct David's family. They succeed in grabbing Sarah and Zach, but Leo manages to avoid detection.
- WandaVision: In the mid-credits stinger, a Skrull impersonates an FBI agent to enter Westview and approach Monica Rambeau with a job offer.
- The Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up" features a serial killer called Wheeler who drives a truck around the woodlands to look for victims. If anyone asks Wheeler too many questions or questions his credibility, he just shows them a sheriff deputy's ID to convince them that he's actually an off-duty officer.
- In Mission: Impossible, members of the IM Force often impersonated police officers...as well as soldiers, security personnel, and other officials.
- In Mob City, two mob hitmen infiltrate a police safe house dressed as LAPD patrol officers and murder a witness and a police detective. They had authentic uniforms and were posing as the regular shift change so it is clear that they were helped by Dirty Cops inside the department. As a result of this incident, the mayor authorizes the formation of the LAPD's first Internal Affairs department.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger" concerns a police officer seen running away after seeing Sidney Teal get shot. Turns out it was an actor in a cop costume that Teal had hired as part of a scheme with his killer Archie Modine designed to impress Modine's date.
- In one episode of Murdoch Mysteries, a criminal who required medical assistance stole Constable Crabtree's uniform so he could sneak into the Morgue across the road from the Police Station and coerce the coroner, Dr Ogden into helping him, since the police were monitoring all of the hospitals in Toronto.
- My Name Is Earl: Earl stole a cop's badge and used it to get free food and other stuff. Then someone stole it from him.
- October Faction: Presidio's agents pretend to be FBI when they take over the town in the series finale.
- Orphan Black has petty criminal Sarah witness the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her - who ends up being a seemingly loaded police detective. Wanting the money for her daughter, Sarah impersonates her and attempts to ingratiate herself into her life - it works, for the most part, until the other cops catch on. Of course, since she and the woman were clones, it's not like Sarah had a particularly hard time of it.
- Caspar Locke, an ARGUS mercenary, poses as an Evergreen Police Department captain in order to infiltrate the force and shut down Detectives Song and Fitzgibbon's investigation into Peacemaker's killing of Annie Sturphausen.
- In the climax, Peacemaker kills a Butterfly-possessed police officer, then has Economos wear the cop's uniform in order to sneak Peacemaker's sonic boom helmet into the Butterflies' compound.
- Seen repeatedly in Person of Interest.
- John Reese has repeatedly used the badge of Detective Stills, a Dirty Cop he killed in the first episode (this backfires on him when a Victim of the Week sees a Missing poster of the real Stills in a police station). He has also used the ID of Jennings, a wife-beating U.S. Marshal he deposited in a Mexican prison.
Criminal: Leon stole more than enough, in fact to make it worth us killing a cop so maybe we can make a deal. You leave Leon here with us and you can keep looking for your friend.
Reese: You know, the guy who owned this badge would probably have accepted that deal. But I'm not him.
Criminal: So who are you?
Reese: The guy who shot him and stole his badge. [violence ensues]
- In Season 4, the Machine gives Reese the cover of an NYPD detective to avoid being identified by its Evil Counterpart Samaritan. This causes some conflict with his Friend on the Force Lionel Fusco, who takes being a detective a lot more seriously than Reese does.
- Carl Elias' number two, Anthony "Scarface" Marconi, was first seen impersonating a patrol officer. He continues to enact this trope when needed, something he has in common with Reese.
- One episode had a pair of ex-FBI agents who had been forced out for corruption but were now pretending to be FBI while acting as hitmen. Another episode involved a Heroic Wannabe who created an alternate persona as a tough detective; inevitably he gets himself into trouble and Team Machine have to rescue him.
- In season 3 Root shows up as FBI Special Agent Augusta King. In her case, the credentials technically belong to her or at least belong to a fake identity based around her. She got it with help from The Machine, which means it's as real as can be.
Fusco: [to Reese] She had a warrant — a real one. What was I supposed to say? "Sorry, boss, Agent King is actually a superpowered nutball. Just ask my buddy, the urban legend."
- In Season 4, Samaritan agent Martine regularly impersonates federal agents when hunting down our heroes.
Martine: FBI; drop your weapons or we'll shoot.
Fusco: I thought you were DEA?
Martine: What does it matter? We'll shoot either way.
- John Reese has repeatedly used the badge of Detective Stills, a Dirty Cop he killed in the first episode (this backfires on him when a Victim of the Week sees a Missing poster of the real Stills in a police station). He has also used the ID of Jennings, a wife-beating U.S. Marshal he deposited in a Mexican prison.
- The Professionals
- In "Old Dog with New Tricks", a London Gangster is planning a big job involving a "top cop". CI5 assume this refers to a Dirty Cop after finding a police badge in the gangster's home, but instead he dresses his men like police officers to seize a police station where the Home Secretary is expected to visit, planning to exchange the politician for his brother who's in prison.
- In "Hijack" another gangster rejects the idea of a fake accident to stop a lorry-load of silver because someone else might see it and call for help. So the lorry is waved to the side of the road by fake policemen doing a road census check.
- In "Need to Know", Bodie and Doyle dress up like uniformed officers to raid a Chinese gambling den, prompting them to do a Dixon of Dock Green impersonation even though Doyle is a former policeman himself. Doyle claims it's because the Chinese respect authority, and if they went in plainclothes they'd run into trouble. Which they do anyway.
- In the Rescue 911 episode "911 He's Not an Officer", a young man in a Mustang honks at a woman driving her car and flashes a badge in an attempt to get her to pull over. Suspicious of his behavior, she calls 911 on her car phone — a rarity in 1991, when the segment takes place — and tails him when he tries to flee. And yes, it turns out he was not a police officer and was using a stolen badge.
- Roswell, New Mexico: Jenna's sister Charlie is introduced while pretending she's an FBI Agent. She often uses the "Agent Powell" persona afterward.
- Scorpion: In "Rogue Element", Happy borrows Cabe's ID and uses it to gain access to a crime scene by posing as a Homeland Security agent.
- Kramer exhibits this in Seinfeld in "The Statue"
Ray: Are you a cop?
Kramer: Yeah I'm a cop. I'm a good cop, I'm a damn good cop!!
- Seven Days: Two inner-city hoods steal Frank's and Olga's NSA IDs, and are later seen at a bar demanding that the bartender give them a bottle of some expensive alcohol, but the bartender isn't buying it. "OK, if you're with the NSA, what does 'NSA' stand for?"
- In "Static", when investigating murders at the docks, Clark Kent claims to be an officer to the coroner, who believes him.
- In "Bulletproof", when investigating whether a Dirty Cop was the one who shot his friend John Jones, Clark goes undercover as an officer, complete with forged papers claiming he is "Joe Fordman". His assigned partner Dan Turpin eventually figures out he's a fake and tries to arrest him, but Clark and Green Arrow manage to convince him that they are the good guys and they arrest the corrupt cops.
- In Supernatural Sam and Dean regularly go undercover as FBI agents (as do several other hunters), with Bobby backstopping their aliases if someone wants to call their superior. One episode shows Bobby has a whole wall of phones labeled with each alias, though in the same episode the trope fails because it turns out the sheriff they're talking to knows Bobby. In another episode, it's played for laughs when Bobby advises a Hunter to call the FBI as he's apparently stumbled across a non-supernatural crime. Moments later, he gets a call on his FBI phone.
Bobby: Willis, FBI. (beat) No, Garth, not me the FBI, the real FBI! How are you still alive?
- That's So Raven: In "Five Finger Discount", Raven finds out that the kids Cory has been hanging out with are shoplifters who are pressuring him to shoplift as well. She becomes worried for his safety when she has a vision of him shoplifting again, so she follows him to the mall and disguises herself as a security guard to make sure he doesn't steal anything. The security guard in the vision was none other than Raven herself, making her vision come true.
- Threshold: Agents of the eponymous agency usually pretend to be working for a federal agency whose very existence isn't classified, most often the FBI or the Department of Agriculture. However, they have the authorization to do this.
- In an episode of Time Trax Lambert's police badge is stolen and is later used for a Flashed-Badge Hijack by the guy who stole it.
- Tracker liked this. Mel and Cole once used old police badges to get info and another time, Cole was looking for a fugitive in London and played along with a guy who thought Cole was an inspector.
- Veronica Mars: In the third season, Keith Mars, who was the former Sheriff of Neptune, dons his old uniform to grill two women for information. It fails when one of their friends recognizes him as the previous Sheriff and berates the other two for their ignorance. Later, there's a hilarious bit when Keith drives past the incompetent current Sheriff and gives him a mocking nod.
- An early episode of White Collar first implies this when Neal requests an FBI jacket for his part of the investigation. Then subverted when Peter makes Neal promise not to wear it and impersonate an FBI agent. Neal assures Peter he wouldn't do that. Double subverted when we cut to Mozzie wearing the jacket.
- Yancy Derringer: In "Ticket to Natchez", Yancy helps U.S. Marshal Duke Winslow escort an army payroll to Natchez on his riverboat, the Sultana. However, it turns out the real Duke Winslow is dead, and the man accompanying Yancy is a bandit planning on stealing the money.
- Yellowjackets: In "Digestif" Amateur Sleuth Walter pretends to be an FBI agent to question a potential witness about a missing person case. Somehow, the poor guy does not catch on to the fact that Walter does not show him a badge, is interrogating him in an out-of-the-way location (Walter's boat) and resorts to hitting him.
- In The Adventure Zone: Balance, Taako tries to bluff his way past Sheriff Isaac by showing him a fake police badge he picked up at the Fantasy Costco. Needless to say, it doesn't work.
- In one Jasper Carrott routine, he describes being on his way to film an episode of The Detectives, in a police uniform and a false moustache, when he suddenly realised all the other cars on the road were being very cautious. Once he realised why, he started to wonder just how slow he could get before anyone dared overtake him. When someone did, he gave the guy (who looked pretty tough) a look ... and then his moustache came loose.
- Happens a few times in the Grand Theft Auto games; the most common variant being when a mission requires you to appropriate certain police vehicles to take advantage of the badge.
- In the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City mission "Cop Land", when Tommy and Lance disguise themselves as cops. Also, just Tommy in the mission "No Escape?" (Interestingly, both of these missions bear the names of movies starring Ray Liotta, Tommy's voice actor.)
- In the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mission "Breaking the Bank at Caligula's", Woozie orders two of his men to wear police uniforms to escort their armored truck with stolen police bikes after stealing the money from the casino.
- In the Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories mission "The Shoreside Redemption", Toni has to take a police cruiser and discreetly join the prison van convoy transporting a recently-freed Salvatore Leone to his courthouse hearing. The convoy is ambushed by Sicilians leaving Toni as the only 'police' enforcer left to defend Salvatore from further ambushes and pursuing enemies.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko can appropriate police vehicles to access their criminal database, either to take up the Vigilante side-quest and earn some bounty, or certain missions have him track down certain targets for clients. The mission "Crime and Punishment" has Niko steal a police car in order to pull over vans suspected of holding contraband TVs that the Faustins hope to steal for themselves.
- In the Grand Theft Auto V mission "I Fought the Law...", Franklin is tasked to taunt and sucker two rich kids into an impromptu drag race while Michael and Trevor disguise themselves as San Andreas Highway Patrol officers on police bikes in order to pull over and then steal the rare sports cars for their client.
- In GTA: Online Heist Setup, "Prison Break - Station" has two players dressing up as LSPD officers and steal a police car. They have to use their disguises to walk into a police station to steal the prison bus manifest for the finale mission. In the Heist's finale, two players, one dressed as a prisoner and a prison guard respectively have to infiltrate the Bolingbroke Penitentiary to break their target out.
- Saints Row: The Third has a radio advert of the Steelport Chief of Police explaining his methods of running the force and recalling all the good he's done for the city, then revealing that he's actually just a homeless man who bought a cop uniform at a costume shop to stay warm and was mistaken for a genuine officer by everyone. Enjoying the respect, he decided to clean up his act and start doing it for real. The ad in question is for the costume shop.
- In the Team Fortress 2 spin-off comics, Miss Pauling dons an ill-fitting police officer disguise to rescue/recruit the Soldier after he breaks into his former roommate Merasmus' house and kills his new roommate, Tom Jones. Oddly enough, Soldier immediately recognizes Pauling, but Merasmus goes along with her obvious attempt to frame him for the crime.
- Happens to the protagonists in Mafia II. After buying a shipment of heroin from the Triads, Vito, Joe, and Henry are caught in an apparent police sting. It's only when Joe notices the suspiciously expensive-looking shoes of the lead officer that Henry realizes that they are rival gangsters trying to rob them.
- In the remake of Resident Evil 2, Ada Wong's cover story was changed from "I'm looking for my missing boyfriend" to "I'm investigating Umbrella for the FBI".
- The Outer Worlds lets you use the holographic disguise to impersonate corporate security officers and Groundbreaker Mardets on several occasions.
- A variant in Bug Fables; Cenn and Pisci impersonate an exploration team (which consist of professional adventurers given adventuring and fighting permission by the Ant Kingdom), complete with the fake permit, to abuse their "rank" in order to take anything they want.
- In The Great Ace Attorney, it's eventually revealed that Inspector Tobias Gregson has been paying Daley Vigil to make public appearances as him, with the latter even being given the former's official identification card on those occasions. The purpose was to provide Gregson with iron-clad alibis for when he carried out extralegal assassinations. After this is revealed in court, Daley Vigil is shown to have received a prison sentence for this.
- Etra-chan saw it!:
- Akamatsu runs a scam by impersonating a police officer to fool elderlies into giving him their bankbook under the pretense that their bank account is being used for criminal activity. After successfully scamming Tsutsuji, he attempts to do the same scam on Karin, though she manages to outsmart him by making him come to a particular house under the pretense that the occupant is her son. It turns out that the owner of the house is a retired police officer, with two police officers monitoring the situation, causing Akamatsu to be arrested for fraud.
- Hiiragi dresses up like a police officer in an attempt to break into Yuri's apartment and possibly rape her by pretending to return her boyfriend's bag he stole earlier. Fortunately, Yuri manages to find the red flags in Hiiragi, and he eventually gets arrested for thievery and police impersonation.
- In The Order of the Stick, part of Nale's plan to frame Elan for his crimes involves Sabine shapeshifting into a member of the Cliffport Police Department.
- Inverted in Schlock Mercenary, where one arc features cops so incompetent the Tough's lawyer is considering suing them for impersonating a police force.
- In The Joker Blogs, The Joker and Ted the bum do this after getting caught in a police shootout. Hilarity Ensues when Jeremiah Arkham, who had escaped from their previous vehicle, runs to their car for aid and is quickly recaptured.
- Shishihara: A criminal named Sumashi Narino wears a police uniform in an attempt to silence Sota after he saw him accidentally dropping some "package" which is suspected to be drugs. A real police officer who recognizes Sota stops for a while to talk with him and also warns Sumashi about Sota's past as a delinquent. Unfortunately, he ignores the officer's warning and calls Sota short, causing himself to be intimidated by the former delinquent. He decides to turn himself in due to Sota's intimidation and he tells the same police officer about the stuff he dropped earlier which turns out to be some candy he stole from a store.
- In an episode of Archer, the terrorist that ISIS is escorting back to Canada tries to break free with the help of friends dressed as Mounties.
- Sterling had anticipated this plan, but he and Lana end up threatening the real Mounties moments before the actual impersonators arrived.
- One episode of Batman Beyond shows people from the criminal organization KOBRA dressing up as cops to get Batman to willingly hand over a boy they've been targeting, who knows what Batman looks like under his mask.
- Garfield and Friends: "Speed Trap" has Jon getting ticketed for speeding by what he thinks was a police officer, but it turns out he was ticketed, and later falsely imprisoned, by P. Dempsey Weevil, a wanted Con Man who impersonates police officers to extort peoples' money, and if they don't pay him, he will also impersonate the judge, the bailiff and the defense attorney in a Kangaroo Court, and then he imprisons his marks until they agree to pay up, especially since the "sign" displaying the posted speed limit of 8 MPH is so tiny, that one has to use a magnifying glass to read it. When Garfield and Odie show Jon's ticket to real police officers, it gives them the break they need to finally arrest and convict Weevil and exonerate and reimburse his victims, including Jon.
- A bizarre variation in one episode of South Park when the boys start out the episode playing make believe as Cops. They do such a "heroic" job saving a little girl's doll that the local Police Chief makes them honorary Junior Detectives... then sends them to go bust up a suspected meth lab as if they were real police officers.
- Dick Dastardly suddenly becomes a de facto cop in the Wacky Races episode "Whizzin' to Washington" when a motorcycle cop pulls him over for speeding. (Dick's alibi was that he was pursuing the Ant Hill Mob, who in this series appear to be fugitives.)
Policeman: You were doing ninety miles an hour!
Dastardly: So were you, officer, but I'll drop the charges.
- Inspector Gadget: The original RoboGadget, in "Doubled Agent," did this long before the 1999 movie. Also see Presto Change-O, who impersonated Gadget and Chief Quimby!
- In the Motormouse and Autocat episode "Slappy Birthday," Autocat schemes to stop Motormouse from throwing a surprise birthday party. In one instance he impersonates a motorcycle cop and pulls Motormouse over for speeding. As he hops off his cycle, Autocat accidentally plummets off a cliff.
- Looney Tunes: Happy Rabbit pulls this on John Sourpuss's dog in "Hare-um Scare-um," citing the dog with speeding and DWI before giving himself away as a Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Bugs Bunny does this to Elmer, both as babies in the flashback sequence of "The Old Grey Hare."
- This is Truth in Television, with the legal offense subdivided into verbally claiming you're a cop, using a fake badge or warrant card, using a fake or stolen uniform, and using a fake, stolen or decommissioned police vehicle (regarding the latter, certain accessories used on those vehicles, such as the antenna, the push bar and the spotlight, aren't always bothered to be removed). The laws regarding this vary by jurisdiction: in Michigan, for example, it's only considered a felony if you're impersonating an officer while committing a different crime.
- This also extends to Security Guards, and in fact, it's not unusual for Security Guards to lose their jobs and serve jail time for say detaining a suspect, as a mall cop does not actually have any legal authority. Most security companies these days provide mandatory training that stress how important it is for a guard NOT to fall into this trope, whether intentionally or not.
- The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929 saw hitmen hired by Al Capone's gang dressed as police officers, captured members of the North Side gang, and executed them.
- Tom Mabe did this by phone to troll a telemarketer, pretending to be a police officer investigating his own murder.
- When he wasn't pulling his Wounded Gazelle Gambit, this was Ted Bundy's other tactic at enticing his victims to come away with him — in particular, at least two would-be victims who got away stated that he approached them in this guise.
- The Hillside Stranglers did this too.
- Anders Breivik, perpetrator of the 2011 terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway. It's how he gained access to Utøya island in the first place, pretending to be a cop so that he would be ferried to the island where the summer camp was being held, then gathering the teenagers together... and gunning them down.
- According to Brock Yates' book Cannonball! World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race, one driver procured a police badge before one running of the Cannonball to get out of a ticket. It failed miserably. The police officers who pulled him over saw right through the deception and his team lost three hours before getting let off with a warning.
- A rather popular choice in shall we say adult content, most of the uniforms are either the standard fetish outfits or are near enough to the real thing, with actual police and what they wear...or take off, being fairly unknown compared to other, well, services that might be portrayed in such films.
- Verily this is one of the things that eBay watch out for. Say you place a police badge or police-style jacket for sale. They will take it down along with a very polite email explaining in detail the hows and whys of what items cannot be listed.
- One of the more audacious ways Allied POWs attempted to escape prison camps in World War II was by impersonating Gestapo officers; as long as you could obtain/forge a convincing uniform, speak fluent German and act like you owned the place, you had a decent chance of pulling it off, since literally everyone, both military and civilian, were absolutely terrified of the Secret Police and therefore reluctant to ask too many questions lest they end up being Reassigned to Antarctica, shipped off to a labor camp, or just executed on the spot. There's even a tale about an American airman who disguised himself as a Gestapo officer and actually stopped on his way out of the camp to berate a camp guard over his sloppiness before simply walking out the gate and making his escape.
- Many Fan Conventions outright ban modern law enforcement and military costumes for this reason, even if the costume has some intentional liberties with the design.
- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in March 1990 was perpetrated by two men posing as police officers who were responding to a disturbance call. They tied up the security guards and proceeded to steal thirteen artworks valued at $500 million. To this day, neither the thieves nor the artworks have been recovered.
- In Florida, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg allegedly used his badge to act like a police officer and intimidate people despite his position not coming with any policing powers.
- In 1998, Florida man Jeremy Dewitte was arrested for impersonating a police officer at a Mobil 1 gas station, simply to get out of paying $14.50 for gas. Police also found that he had equipped his car with police equipment, including emergency lights. At the time Dewitte was in the Oviedo Police Department's explorer program, which, due to his arrest at the Mobil 1 station, he was kicked out of. Impersonating an officer also meant he would never be a true law enforcement officer due to the former being a third-degree felony. So what did Jeremy do? Go on to found a company called Metro-State Services, on the surface seeming like a funeral escort company but in actuality being a way for Jeremy & his "employees" to "play cop". Jeremy was arrested (& released) numerous times for impersonating a police officer after Metro-State was founded in 2010, before finally being sentenced to 18 months in prison sometime in 2021.
- Gabriel Wortman, perpetrator of the 2020 Nova Scotia killings, not only wore an RCMP uniform during the attacks but also used a replica RCMP car to drive around while searching for victims to kill.