The death of Baltimore PD Officer William Torbit Jr. underscores the tremendous danger of operating in plainclothes.
Somehow, in the chaos of a large fight outside of a nightclub, Torbit was mistaken for a suspect with a weapon as he was trying to break up the fight. Baltimore police say that fellow officers fired the gun shots that killed the plainclothes officer. Police say Torbit was wearing his badge but there were no other indicators he was police.
Other than the aforementioned, we don't know additional details of this tragic and deadly incident. The bottom line is that an officer is dead and the shots were fired by law enforcement.
Unfortunately, blue-on-blue shootings of off-duty/plainclothes officers are a reality of the job we have. A phenomenon of large police agencies and locations where a large number of small agencies co-exist in a tight geographical area, it is impossible for responding officer(s) to recognize the large number of officers in soft clothes that may pass through or have business in their patrol district.
This said, it’s the responsibility of the plainclothes officer who takes enforcement action to ensure that they are recognized by responding uniformed officers. Remember the basics of plainclothes encounters:
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