JUST ASK SHANE: Is it Legal for Police Depts. to use Unmarked Ve - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

JUST ASK SHANE: Is it Legal for Police Depts. to use Unmarked Vehicles?

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RICHLAND, WA - We want to clear up the confusion that some of you have about some of the vehicles that our local police departments use.  Austin sent me an email asking, "How can city police departments operate undercover police cruisers when it's against Washington's RCW 46.08.065?"

The RCW that Austin's referring to says it's unlawful for a public officer to operate a vehicle owned by any city, county or public agency unless it is clearly marked with the name of the city or county, and the department that's using the vehicle.  However, the second sentence of this statute also clearly states that it does not apply to sheriff's offices or local police departments who are using the vehicles for special undercover or investigative purposes.

You can read the entire RCW here.

I talked with the Richland Police Department about the unmarked vehicles in their fleet.  And while they may not be marked, it's pretty obvious that they're a police vehicle once they turn on their lights.

"It's not a question of generally just one little tiny glowing red light, or one rotating light on the dashboard.  Those are things that are left over from the 1960's.  These things are very bright, they're strobes, they're professionally installed," said Captain Mike Cobb with the Richland Police Department.

Captain Cobb says if you're pulled over by a vehicle and you're not sure if it's a legitimate police officer, you can call 911 and give the operator your location.  They will be able to tell you if there's an officer actually responding to your location.

Remember, if you've got a question about something going on in our community... send it my way.  You can reach me in the newsroom at (509) 737-6738, or send me an email at JustAskShane@nbcrightnow.com