Washington D.C. Police Say Its OK For Off-Duty Cops To Detain You For Not Showing Receipt

Remember Matt? He was detained by an off-duty police officer who was employed as a security guard by the Home Depot because he did not show his receipt. Matt complained about this to the Home Depot and received an apology from Frank Blake, the CEO. He also filed a formal complaint with the Metropolitan police. He says the police found his complaint to be unfounded.

My complaint to the police department was determined by them to be unfounded. The investigating official told me that the police officer was working off-duty employment to provide security at Home Depot, and therefore her actions weren’t those of the police department. He also stated that she had the right to detain me in her capacity providing security at Home Depot, even though she was wearing a full Metropolitan Police Dept uniform.

We’re not exactly shocked that the Metropolitan police would shrug this off as “not their problem”, but it’s still frustrating that they don’t take responsibility for people who are wearing their uniform. Since you were able to resolve the issue with Home Depot, however, we’d say your efforts were not in vain.

Anyone out there know more about Washington D.C.’s shoplifting laws?

(Photo: Marike79 )


Edit Your Comment

  1. thesabre says:

    Residents of DC are only “half-Americans”. They pay income tax, gas tax, property tax, sales tax but do not get a voting member of Congress, do not get to carry guns, and so on. Why should our police be bound to the laws of the country if we’re not even considered full citizens?

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    A city cop wearing their uniform while being paid by a private employer during their time off – and this is NOT a problem?


    Oh, Washington, D.C. – sad but believable.

  3. ffmariners says:

    I don’t really have much to add to this discussion other than the fact that I miss living in DC… and its only been a month since I left.

    Oh I will miss my amazing bike rides around that beautiful city.

  4. tedyc03 says:

    @thesabre: I’m a resident of DC and I agree completely.

    I was arrested for refusing to show my ID to an off-duty police officer when I wanted to dine at a Ruby Tuesday’s. Though the officer had no reasonable suspicion and no charges were ever filed against me, the officer was not disciplined and I was told that even though off-duty cops are required to wear their uniforms when working security jobs, the police department cannot hold them responsible for their actions.

  5. Jubilance22 says:

    @SkokieGuy: Lots of cities allow their off-duty officers to wear their uniforms while they serve as private security. I have no idea why though.

  6. tedyc03 says:

    @Jubilance22: In DC it’s not a permitted thing, it’s a REQUIRED thing. They HAVE to wear their uniforms.

  7. phatch says:

    If she was using the authority implied by her Metro P.D. uniform then she makes the M.P.D. liable for her actions, as well as Home Depot, in the event of any action on her part resulting in litigation. Otherwise, she should be wearing a generic security guard uniform.

  8. Munsoned says:

    No discipline based on being off duty is one thing. The decision that they had the right to detain the OP is another (I think more troubling) aspect. That opens the doors for continued detentions by all types of security officers…

  9. badhatharry says:

    I’m going to put on a Metro Police Dept. uniform and do…something funny. I can’t come up with anything right now. Check back with me later, maybe I’ll have a joke.

  10. girly says:

    “He also stated that she had the right to detain me in her capacity providing security at Home Depot, even though she was wearing a full Metropolitan Police Dept uniform.”

    –Was that a personal opinion or a legal one?!

  11. chrisjames says:

    Well, when there’s a conflict of interest like this, you shouldn’t expect anything of a complaint made to one of the involved parties. You must complain to a third party to get results. Are there even any such places in DC?

  12. girly says:

    Could be an interesting undercover TV news story to go to a place where receipt checking is routine, send in a bunch of people to buy a little something in a non-suspicious way and just walk out politely refusing, and see what happens.

  13. ludwigk says:

    so if a person is wearing a DC metro police uniform, but not representing the police, or acting in the capacity of a police officer, that person would be impersonating an officer. Not necessarily inthe legal sense (ianal) but in the literal sense. they are using their uniform to command a level f authority that they do not warrant.

  14. Juggernaut says:

    @badhatharry: How about going to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, stop employees doing their jobs and question them re:(a)why they suck so much… (b)how their companies avoided getting further in the WCIA… (c)if they can bring some merchandise to you outside the back door… (d)where the white women at… (e)how to glue a toilet seat to someone’s ass…

  15. SkokieGuy says:

    Amazing. So they are required to wear the uniform off duty, which conveys the full authority of the police, yet their actions are not bound by police department conduct, but the conduct of their private employer!!!

    So if the customer refused to be detained, is he charged with resisting an officer or ignoring a Walmart hourly employee?

  16. Pylon83 says:

    I’m not sure that what the police said was that they could detain you for not showing a receipt. The way I read it the department was saying “We’re not going to punish the officer for doing this”. It’s not a legal conclusion, as the police as not judges (or even lawyers). Since the officer is in uniform, the Police Department would likely be liable under respondeat superior for the actions of the officer if they did indeed amount to false imprisonment.

  17. angryhippo says:

    Wait, what? They are required to wear the official Metro P.D. uniform while providing off-duty security functions, but the PD is not liable? Having cake and eating too? Enjoy the authoritah that the uniform imparts, but wait! They aren’t technically representing the department because (didn’t you know) they were off-duty. I know that I am damn sure representing my F.D. if I am out in public wearing my uniform.

  18. AintEephus says:

    D.C. police are known for a certain “flexibility” with individual rights. See e.g.

    Federal Judge Rules Arrests Were Illegal

  19. Nogard13 says:

    Well, seeing as there are no Home Depots in the Washington, D.C. limits, this must have happened in either Maryland or Virginia. In either of those states, Metro DC cops have NO JURISDICTION. So, again, how can she detain someone when she the state she’s working in has granted her no more power than Joe Bag-o-Donuts?

  20. tedyc03 says:

    @SkokieGuy: Here’s what I learned with my run-in.

    The officer retains the rights granted them as a uniformed officer, including the power to arrest, the right to carry and use a firearm, and the protections of the law (resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, refusing a lawful order of a police officer, etc.)

    However, the officer is not required to abide by the laws or Constitutional requirements of law enforcement.

    This is a hot button issue for me and any DC people should write their council members. Seriously.

  21. Nogard13 says:

    I stand corrected, I just remembered there is one in NE DC. Oops, maybe it happened there.

  22. I have been following Consumist for long time regarding the “show or not to show receipt upon exiting stores”. I understand the point that as a customer, we should not be treated as potential shop-lifters by the stores we visit.

    However, what about just spend the extra five to ten seconds to show your receipt so that you don’t have to deal with abusive security guards later?

    If you don’t like the stores that enforce this type of policy, keep a mental note and go somewhere else. If you really had some time on your hands, write a letter (an actual letter, not email) to the store’s corporate headquarter stating you will no longer visit their stores & why.

  23. Gopher bond says:

    That’s just not right. Nothing more to say about that.

  24. SkokieGuy says:

    @tedyc03: If everything you say is true, yes, local citizens should be screaming to their elected officials.

    How laughable that we are “fighting for the Iraqi’s freedom” (or whatever this week’s slogan is) when we are increasingly losing our freedom and protections.

    And I also think it’s outrageous that you are unable to Vote in the presidential election and the other limitations D.C. has on it.

  25. bukz68 says:

    @SkokieGuy: Good point. If the customer had pushed the cop/security guard would they be charged with simple assault or assaulting a police officer?

    If they’re allowed to wear their state issued uniforms for private employment do they get to use their guns/tasers/handcuffs/pepper spray if a receipt checked customer becomes hostile?

    Where does the line between security guard and police officer begin and end?

  26. AintEephus says:

    @SkokieGuy: D.C. gets 3 votes in the electoral college. What they don’t have is voting representation in either house of Congress.

  27. sean77 says:


    “You might find subjecting to the search annoying, but your refusal to comply with a security guard can have much more annoying consequences. The quick and dirty tip is to politely and calmly cooperate with the guard, and if you feel that a store’s search policy is too invasive, take your business elsewhere.”

    That should be quoted at the bottom of every single “don’t show your receipt” article here.

  28. Gopher bond says:

    Wait, can I hire a police officer for off-duty hours, have them wear their uniform, and then have them hassle people?

    That would be fun.

  29. jimconsumer says:

    @tedyc03: I was arrested for refusing to show my ID to an off-duty police officer – This is interesting. A security guard can’t arrest you for jack diddly. So, if the police officer is “not really a police officer” – if the department disavows all knowledge of and responsibility for their actions – then it stands to reason the officer lacks all powers of a police officer when acting as a private citizen.

    I sure as hell can’t go detain and arrest you for refusing to show me your ID. A cop can. But a cop who isn’t working on behalf of the police force? Sounds like a private citizen to me.

    The government can’t have it both ways. You can bet your ass if you’d tangled with that prick local prosecutors would nail you for assault on a police officer. And he clearly had the power to arrest you, which makes him a police officer, ergo, the police department is fully responsible for his actions.

    I’d have sued the ever loving fuck out of the department. It’s high time the citizens of this country stop putting up with abuses of power like this. They don’t have the right to arrest you for not showing ID in the first place, and they sure as hell don’t have that right if they aren’t actually acting as officers of the state. I’d argue that makes them nothing but a citizen, in which case I have the right to beat the shit out of them for laying a hand on me.

  30. Gopher bond says:

    @sean77: I think a better response is for everyone to immediately return everything they bought. That would put an end to it rather quickly.

  31. ratnerstar says:

    To be clear, DC residents can vote for President — the District has three votes in the electoral college. What we don’t have is Congressional representation.

  32. Gopher bond says:

    @jimconsumer: “The government can’t have it both ways.”

    Hahhhaahahhaaha! oh man, that’s a good one, thanks.

  33. girly says:

    @sean77: that, and what your rights are

  34. angryhippo says:

    I guess if an employee asks for my receipt I can say no, but if a uniformed officer (who may or may not be on duty) asks I should show it to avoid being pistol-whipped. Metro PD: “Hey, he was off-duty! Not our fault!”

  35. JulesWinnfield says:

    Bullshit that her actions weren’t those of the police department. The D.C. police are subject to liability under 42 USC § 1983 for violating his civil rights “under color of” the authority conveyed by their uniforms. Not worth suing about at all, but nevertheless BULLSHIT.

  36. mike says:


    …the police department cannot hold them responsible for their actions.

    Does this mean that you can’t file a civil case against the police officer? I would think you can…you just won’t have the large police settlement money.

  37. Juggernaut says:

    In NJ uniformed security guards (police, off-duty police and otherwise) are protected by and enjoy some rights not afforded to the public i.e if you were to assault a uniformed security guard you would be charged under a different statute.

  38. tedyc03 says:

    @jimconsumer: An off-duty officer is still required to act as a peace officer if they witness a crime, thus their power of arrest is not diminished by their on or off-duty status.

    In fact, an officer in DC was fired for not acting when she observed another officer assaulting a citizen. She should have arrested that officer for breaking the law, because she is sworn to uphold it.


    @linus: You can file a civil complaint against the officer, and establishments are required to carry $1 million i liability insurance.

  39. SkokieGuy says:

    I’m going to dress up in the uniform of the TSA and frisk random strangers.

    Hey pretty lady, you look like you could be a jihadist. I need to squeeze your breasteses in the interest of national security.

  40. johnva says:

    It seems to me that even if the cop was on-duty they have no right to detain you. Refusing to show a receipt is not probable cause to believe that you’ve been shoplifting or committed any crime. On what grounds could they possibly arrest you, legally?

  41. RagingBoehner says:

    @Nogard13: Yup — right off Rhode Island Ave NE. I actually kind of like that HD as far as they go — it’s generally quieter than Seven Corners (plus, no snipers there. Probably because no guns allowed in DC)


    We even have a Target now in the District!!!

  42. tedyc03 says:

    Forgot the Washington Post quote:

    Another officer, Tara Resper, returned to work in April because the department had taken too long — 68 days — to notify her of a decision. Resper was fired because, while off duty in 2003, she saw an off-duty officer get into three fistfights with another woman. She did not take police action or notify supervisors, officials said.

  43. SkokieGuy says:

    I’m going to dress up in my old Boy Scout Uniform, but intentionally not be thrifty, reverent or prepared.

  44. mxjohnson says:

    @Tian, it’d be nice if I didn’t ever have to shop at the Home Depot. But since they came to town, just about every hardware store has closed. I buy lumber at the lumber yard, and plumbing equipment at a specialty shop, but Home Depot is the only place to get certain things. I can’t always wait three days for Amazon to ship me a router bit.

    You would cede to them the authority to make a voluntary search mandatory because of what, their size? Their notoriety? After how many illegal detentions would you grant them the right to do so with impunity?

    You’re wrong if you think cooperating prevents being hassled. There was a recent posting here about a man who was detained at Wal*Mart because he couldn’t produce his receipt for four bags of sugar. His mistake was cooperating. He did precisely what you advise, and it got him into a mess. Had he refused to show his receipt, I bet he could’ve walked right out without being detained. But he cooperated and that gave them the toehold they needed to stop him.

    You don’t have to show your receipt, any more than you have to empty your pockets or your purse. When you do, you have nothing to gain by the encounter.

  45. SacraBos says:

    There are two ways to make this work without everyone having to go through potential legal hassles.
    1) Don’t shop there.
    2) Make the receipt checkers REALLY do their job. Check every single item, match it up with the receipt, make sure every price matches, make sure the item and dollar totals are correct. If they fail to properly check the receipt, ask for the manager. Demand that your receipt be properly checked to insure that you will not be subject to false accusations of shoplifting later – which is what they will do if you avoid the checker. Buy lots of small items. Shop during busy times. Film the encounter. Post it on YouTube. Tell Ben.

    If lots of people did that, they would need as many receipt checkers as cashiers, making the practice overly inconvenient and costly – all while just insisting that you and the store fully adhere to their own policies and no fear of legal confrontations.

  46. cmdrsass says:

    @testsicles: Yes, you can hire an “off duty” cop to hassle people for something like $100-$150/hr. Lots of people hire them for their big parties – especially New Year’s Eve. It helps protect the host in the event that one of the guests drinks too much and wraps their car around a pole.

    My favorite part of these stories is that the cop is always “off duty” when he gets into trouble and it’s not the department’s responsibility. Aren’t we always told that cops are cops 24/7?

  47. floyderdc says:

    There is a Home Depot on Rhode Island Ave

  48. mike says:

    Only in DC can the government spent half a BILLION on a baseball stadium and only spend a few thousand for students…who basically are at the bottom of the education barrel. And only in DC can the government have assault rifles and residents are left to defend themselves in the “safe city” with pitchforks and dinner knives.

    This doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    The DC government is insanely corrupt. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been much shake in the rank and file.

  49. RagingBoehner says:

    @AintEephus: I’m torn on this. You know, I appreciate people’s right to protest as much as the next guy — but if you’re in a crowd that’s destroying property you should probably remove yourself from the situation.

    I don’t know the particulars of that Adams Morgan incident and whether people who weren’t actually committing crimes had a chance to leave (it sounds like they might not have) but just because we live in the District doesn’t mean that protesters have the right to destroy our property, and I have little tolerance for those that engage in that kind of activity. I’ve seen groups of protesters breaking car windows and knocking over garbage cans and generally intimidating citizens.

    The peaceful protesters are fine, but criminals need to be dealt with, and harshly.

  50. mike says:

    @SacraBos: I like your style.

  51. mthrndr says:

    Home Depot is NOT a membership club. therefore, they CANNOT LEGALLY require you to show a receipt without suspicion.

  52. backbroken says:

    My experience with DC police is that they have the predictability of a wild bear. Take a tip from me, if you ever think you need the help of police in DC, you don’t. Just walk or run away. Calling DC police will only make a bad situation worse.

    Like for example, if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. You might think in that situation that you should call for the police. Not so in DC. In such a situation, you will end up handcuffed in the back of a squad car accused of filing a false police report and driving while drunk, even though you had no drink that day nor was there any reason to think you had a drink. Some DC cops might even say something like “We got called all the way here so we aren’t leaving without someone getting arrested.”

  53. girly says:

    I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. But I can’t stand the idea of someone detaining, assaulting, or arresting you illegally.

    A potential flaw in the “make the follow their own policy and check the whole receipt” idea is that if they get sick of it they can tell you to leave, and if you don’t get out you are trespassing

  54. girly says:

    I’d say the most logical thing is for stores to recognize the legal rights of their customers, and make clear to customers each time that the checks are voluntary.

  55. jimconsumer says:

    @tedyc03: An off-duty officer is still required to act as a peace officer if they witness a crime, thus their power of arrest is not diminished by their on or off-duty status.

    Ah ha – then they are therefore acting as agents of the government, and, as such, the government agency that employs them is responsible for their actions whether that agency likes it or not.

  56. Erskine says:





  57. Dakine says:

    Police are corrupt everywhere.

  58. Having lived in DC… what can you say except that the Metropolitan Police investigating officer is probably incorrect. And having lived in DC, you could probably complain to the chief of police or commissioner and they’d probably be incorrect, too.

    It’s like living in the third world.

  59. Pylon83 says:

    Exactly. This is the overall problem. A private security guard, off-duty officer or not, CAN detain someone that they have a reasonable suspicion has shoplifted. However, failure to show a receipt is not likely to be considered probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Thus, detainment by a private guard is not lawful under the shopkeepers privilege, making it false imprisonment.

  60. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Don’t worry, guns will be legal again in DC in less than 2 weeks.
    That’s when the Supreme Court’s term ends & they will have issued their ruling declaring the DC gun prohibition unconstitutional.
    The first casualty will be Mayor Adrian Fenty who will be shot by some of the anti-gun people for taking the original District Court decision to appeal.

    Then watch Chicago’s Little King, Richie Daley get all red in the face & scream at the SC for doing this horrible thing to us.
    Of course the Little King has about 40 Chicago cops protecting his corrupt ass!

    For more on the idiocy of Chicago gun laws read John Kass’s column from the Tribune

  61. ShadowFalls says:


    Wasn’t this what a lot of the Revolutionary War was about? Taxation without representation?

  62. thomanjones says:

    @Nogard13: There’s one up on Bladensburg I think, across from the Giant.

  63. CRNewsom says:

    I wonder if he would have punched the officer if the police department would have changed their tune? Is assulting an off-duty officer the same as an on-duty officer?

  64. thomanjones says:

    @linus: DC is on the top of the charts for per-pupil spending. Granted, most of that is eaten up at the top, not the bottom.

    * On average, for every student in 2002-03, about $4,934 was spent for instructional services. Expenditures per pupil for instruction ranged from $3,103 in Utah to $ 8,213 in New York. Support services expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($5,331) and New Jersey ($4,757), and lowest in Mississippi ($1,966), Tennessee ($1,885), and Utah ($1,461). Expenditures per pupil for noninstructional services such as food services were $329 for the nation.

    Source: [www.parapundit.com]

  65. Paintbait says:


    Last time I checked we ‘voted’ these idiots into office. And by we I mean the easily swayed ignorant masses that think Mac is the hottest shit since sliced bread.

    That’s a bit harsh, but when it comes right down to it who voted the lawmakers into office? We’re being fully represented.

    Shoplifting laws are the same everywhere: Prepare to get the 1950s casino backroom treatment. The laws are so murky it’s up to the staff to handle the situation until the police arrive -that is if they’re called with any sort of expeditiousness.

  66. Scudder says:

    @SkokieGuy: Woohoo, Skokie…why does it suddenly seem hot (and not a violation of my rights) when you put it that way?

  67. AnxiousDemographic says:

    Is there any law against storing my receipt in my underpants? I’ll be sure to hold it with two fingers and have a disgusted look on my face when I hand it over for inspection.

  68. InsaneNewman says:


    Why, they’ll arrest you for resiting arrest, of course.

  69. InsaneNewman says:

    err…resisting arrest… I can spell…

  70. DHT says:

    What do you expect from a municipality that has decided they’re going to set up checkpoints into a particular neighborhood and prevent anyone who doesn’t live there from entering? How is that even remotely Constitutional?

    D.C. should just be turned back into the festering swamp that it came from. Literally, as opposed to the figurative festering swamp it is now.

  71. jgodsey says:

    this will not end well.
    Police are not supposed to be used to enforce private rules.

  72. Dakine says:

    @Paintbait: “And by we I mean the easily swayed ignorant masses that think Mac is the hottest shit since sliced bread.”

    Mac IS the hottest shit since sliced bread. Of all of the makes and models of computers I’ve used since 1993, my new 1 month old iMac is far and away the sweetest machine I’ve ever touched.

    Microsoft has been doing the wrong thing since 3.1 and Vista is easily the worst operating system yet. Combine that with shoddy workmanship from the hardware guys, _______(fill in any random crap computer maker…. like Dell maybe)…. and you get something that is supposed to be a TOOL, but instead becomes the catalyst for frustration, anxiety, hostility and ultimately despair.

    I bought a brand new Dell laptop, fully loaded at a cost of around $4500, shipped with Vista…. 6 months later it was sitting in a bucket in the garage. Completely useless. Would no longer connect to Internet, LAN, or its own keyboard. Vista crashed / seized at least 25 times a day. Had 3 spyware scanners, 2 anti-virus programs, 5 different registry “cleaners” and several other various “tools” running constantly just to try and keep Vista going, to no avail. 5 OS re-installs, no use. Attempted 4 times to install XP, but the hardware wouldn’t allow it.

    I also have a $3500 HP laptop. Some days it just decides to not start up at all. It shows the windows logo, then shuts down. It erases data at random. A folder that was there yesterday may not be there today. The list of problems is extensive and exhausting…..

    This isn’t some sort of isolated defective machine or two. This has been the theme for every single Windows box I’ve had at least back to ’97. Processors melting down, screens that don’t work, data corruption, disk trays that don’t work, viruses galore, hackware, shareware, bundleware, spyware, sneakware, trojans, hijackings…..

    So yeah…. Mac is without question, VASTLY superior in every single way. How dare you blaspheme.

  73. badhatharry says:

    @Juggernaut: I pick E. And then, maybe tell them “If you help me find my keys, I’ll drive us out of here.”

  74. hi says:

    Where are all those people who usually comment “Just show them the receipt”? You like being treated as a criminal?

    Don’t show a receipt for something you just paid for and walking out of the store and get detained or thrown in jail? What happened to INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY? Thats the law right? Innocent. Not guilty until you prove to me your not a criminal.

  75. Banned in DC says:

    I sent a message to the DC police message board and here was the response from Charnette Robinson of MPD:

    “We still have accountability for our officers even when they are working in an off-duty capacity. Officers are required to wear MPD uniforms and take appropriate police action.

    “Although the officer is working for a specific venue (church, store, hospital), in an off-duty capacity, when an offense occurs in their presence, they are still required to take police action. “

  76. hi says:

    @badhatharry: I’ll go with d.

  77. badhatharry says:

    @Paintbait: Dude, my Mac got me laid once. Once.

  78. haoshufu says:

    There is a conflict of interest here. If the off-duty was working as a security guard, why was she wearing PD uniform. If anyone is detained by a uniformed police wear a badge, why would anyone think they are being detained by a security guard. Is the DC MPD getting money allowing their off duty police to wear PD uniform posting as security guard at HD? At the time of detention, was the poster informed whether he was being detained by the police, or a security guard disguised in police uniform? I think DC’s PD has an implied responsibility when they allow their staffs to use the PD’s uniform to perform other paid or unpaid duties for third parties.

  79. badhatharry says:

    @hi: I actually meant D. Dammit, I’m an idiot today.

  80. buckfutt says:

    D.C. has the most corrupt and least functional local government in the country (and that’s saying something). Why is anybody surprised?

  81. kantwait says:

    …And that is why I live in MD and commute. Anyone with half of a brain ends up living in the VA or MD suburbs near-by after dealing with the ridiculous, ineffective bureaucracy that is the local DC government and PD.

  82. SacraBos says:

    @girly: Yes, but they will look like an ass (if you’re polite but forceful). Then the YouTube viral effort takes over! A really good viral video of this nonsense, and you can bet more people will do it. And you win.
    If they don’t want you to come back for following their own policies, launch an EECB. Again, you win.
    Or, they get tired of dealing with you and never check your receipt again, and you still win.

  83. flipx says:

    Well this post proves one thing everyone is typing too fast or not being in crayon it can’t be read, not one cop has spoken great words of wisdom yet.

  84. Difdi says:

    The question to ask, is not “Is assaulting an off-duty cop the same as assaulting an on-duty one?”

    No, the question to ask, is “If you catch an off-duty cop breaking the law and the choice is to comply with the criminal or physically resist, is such resistance illegal?”

  85. davestroup says:

    I work in retail management in Washington, D.C. and according to local laws shoplifting does not occur until you leave the store. So, technically, you can not accuse anyone of shoplifting until they leave without paying. You can’t stop them on the way out, because they can always say “Oh, I was going to pay for that.”

  86. arl84 says:

    @sean77: No, that shouldn’t be.

    This is exactly the type of attitude they’re hoping most people will have. “Just shut up and do it. It’s easier that way.” Well what if Martin Luther King, Jr. took that attitude? What if Rosa Parks did?

    Sure, that may be a little extremist and dramatic, but my point is that change is never easy. They start with receipts, they’ll end with strip searches.

    Don’t ever submit to this. Take your business elsewhere, and write to complain.

  87. arl84 says:

    Almost forgot to actually comment on the article, haha…

    It actually kind of scares me that they HAVE to wear their uniforms but they aren’t bound by the usual rules of them.
    Where I’m from, I was told by cops that even if you’re off duty, if you’re in the uniform, then you’re on-duty. No matter what.

    People allow this to happen, and then they’ll take a little more 6 months or a year down the road, after the dust settles. Just take a little bit at a time. Hey, that worked for Hitler. Anyone else know about appeasement?

  88. Televiper says:

    Does anybody have the actual statement that the police made? Not just the OP’s summation of it?

  89. newfenoix says:

    I have no idea how law enforcement certification works in DC. For the rest of the nation, a law enforcement officer is commissioned by the state that they live and work in. That authority DOES NOT end when they finish their shift. A cop is a cop 24/7. I made several off-duty arrests and I did work security and was required to wear my uniform.

    In Arkansas, a cop working in this capacity is bound by the regulations of the company they were working security for, HOWEVER…the officer follows the same rules and regulations that they follow when on duty AND can and will be held accountable for any violations of civil rights, etc.

    A police officer is a police officer, period.

  90. arcticJKL says:

    Contact the FBI

  91. forgottenpassword says:

    I dont understand. Security guards do NOT have the right to detain you for not showing a reciept for an item you bought. And since the police say that the cop was working in a security guard capacity & not as a cop…Then the cop (working as a guard) shouldnt be able to detain you.

    And yeah, most PDs dont take a citizen’s complaint seriously. Cops DO protect their own. I remember a hidden camera investigative report here in KC where multiple PDs refused to give a complaint form without wanting to know who was being complained about & basically intimidating the person making the complaint.

  92. Parting says:

    The picture is creepy.

  93. Lambasted says:

    I do not see why taxpayers have to foot the bill for off-duty cops to make money on the side using city funded vehicles, uniforms, etc. DC is not the only culprit in the area. Every night Alexandria City police in Virginia sit parked outside TGI Friday’s in their patrol cars for a few hours until closing. They even have reserved parking spaces just for them. The keep their car motors running so in the summer they can have A/C and heat in the winter. They sit, making off-duty money, as gas and taxpayers dollars go up in fumes. City employees should not be allowed to make private money using government-funded equipment and facilities.

    This is an unfair practice and misappropriation of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers are in essence paying for double the coverage because they have to pay for the on-duty patrols while they are also paying for vehicles that aren’t on the clock. And because vehicles aren’t turned over for use by other officers, the City has to purchase more vehicles and gas than would otherwise be necessary if they were shared. The Washington Post recently had an article about this very thing: Officers’ Free Rides Questioned In Fairfax

  94. forgottenpassword says:

    You know… I was thinking. The whole wearing the police uniform while acting as a security guard yet the PD not being held responsible for the cops actions (Having your cake & eating it too)……. is probably a law that was made because Police unions wanted it. This is probably because police make an insane amount of money moonlighting as security guards. I mean they can REALLY rake it in.

    Police unions are EXTREMELY influential!

    There was a class action lawsuit a while back here in KC about the insane fees they (the police commission) were charging non-cop individuals who wanted to work as regular security guards. The fees were made large to discourage Regular people from becoming security guards so that more cops could work as security guards instead (thereby making serious $$$ moonlighting).

  95. forgottenpassword says:

    What I want to know is ….does a cop have reasonable cause to suspect you of shoplifting (and detain you)for not showing a reciept for an Item you just purchased? (sorry, I cant word it perfectly)

  96. macMD says:

    Its DC, they re-elected a mayor who was busted undercover buying and using crack cocaine, so what does that tell you about a that shitty city.

  97. oldwiz says:


    It is a required skill for any government to not only have it both ways, but to have it a third way (whatever that is). The only way anything like this can be tested is in court; you would have to file an expensive lawsuit and involve not only the officer, but also Home Depot, and the police department. You might win, you might lose, but it would cost a lot of money. They bank on people not knowing their rights and also it costs too much for people to stand up for their rights. You might be able to afford a lawyer, but your lawyer will be up against a TEAM of lawyers from Home Depot, the Police, and the officer.

    Smart thing is to not shop at Home Depot.

  98. whuffo says:

    Why does this never happen to me? I don’t often stop for receipt checkers but they seem to be so well trained that they don’t try to stop me.

    If someday some foolish store employee actually touches me or tries to detain me then the store is going to pay.

    It’s the store that’s on the hook in situations like this. They’re responsible for the actions of their employees – including their hired security officers. Let’s see what we have in the current situation: Home Depot illegally detained a citizen. The off-duty cop was on their payroll.

    So rather than mess around with expensive lawsuits, I’d start by contacting the District Attorney’s office and swearing out a complaint – false arrest, illegal detainer, assault (and if contact was made, battery). These things are all criminal acts and should be charged accordingly.

    Then, file a small claims lawsuit for the maximum amount citing the crimes committed and other valid causes for action. Name the CEO of Home Depot as the respondent and sit back and watch him fail to appear. A small claims filing is cheap and easy – even if the named respondent does actually show up they’d have a very hard time explaining why their employees are engaged in criminal acts. For bonus points, subpoena the cop. He won’t want to play; if a judgment is rendered that states that the officer violated the law this would become part of the public record and that officer’s career would be severely limited at best.

    If you just absolutely have to talk to the police department about this event – you should direct your communications to that department’s internal affairs department. They’ll be able to do something about that officer’s actions.

  99. jake.valentine says:

    I refuse to stop and show a receipt for my own property. The moment they accept payment for the item ownership of that product(s) transfers to the buyer. Why anyone puts up with this social conditioning of shoppers is beyond me. They figure if they can do it long enough it will become part of our culture. I will defend myself if some retail employee lays a hand on me just because I won’t show a receipt. When the police arrive I will ask that a crime report be taken for misdemeanor battery and that the person be cited. That’s just the small potatoes though because it will be in civil court where the corporation feels the pain.

  100. TaliaAlcyone says:

    Orlando police do the same thing, off-duty work in their uniforms.

    It’s a blatant conflict of interest and a violation of equal protection.

    I don’t complain though. I’m not stupid, I drive an uncommon vehicle
    (red bicycle) and seem to have a recognizable face. I don’t need the

  101. SayAhh says:

    Remember the Oscar(R) winning movie “Crash”? Imagine off-duty police in uniform pulling your Congressman’s car over then giving his wife a cavity search. I wonder if the
    police will find that complaint to be unfounded.

    Anyway, say I work as a “Ronald McDonald” clown for McDonald’s in D.C.. I get a private gig at a children’s birthday party wearing my “Ronald” costume and expose my “unit.” Would McDonald’s be held liable? Not a great analogy, but that’s my take.

    Seeing how private Black Water mercenaries are working in US Military-looking uniforms are given full military rights/powers/privileges with double the pay and none of the drawbacks (no real discipline, not bound by US civil law, US military law, nor any Iraqi law), I’m shocked to hear how anybody can be surprised to read this post. If Wal-mart paid enough, I’m sure there will be a boatload of Metro police lining up to apply for receipt checkers!