While Performing Police Duties an Enlisted Person May Apprehend an Officer When Ordered by Which

Title: While Performing Police Duties, Can an Enlisted Person Apprehend an Officer When Ordered? Exploring the Boundaries of Authority


In the realm of law enforcement, clear lines of authority and jurisdiction are essential for maintaining order and ensuring public safety. However, there may be certain circumstances where an enlisted person may find themselves in an unusual predicament – being ordered to apprehend a fellow officer. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of such situations, examining the legal and ethical considerations surrounding an enlisted person’s ability to apprehend an officer when specifically instructed to do so.

Understanding the Boundaries of Authority:

While performing their duties, enlisted personnel are expected to follow lawful orders, adhere to departmental policies, and respect the chain of command. However, the question arises as to whether the authority to apprehend an officer extends to enlisted personnel when explicitly ordered by a higher-ranking official.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and civilian law provide some guidance in this regard. According to Article 92 of the UCMJ, failure to obey a lawful order can result in disciplinary action. However, the definition of a “lawful order” remains subjective and may vary depending on the circumstances. Additionally, civilian laws may come into play, particularly when incidents occur outside of military jurisdiction.

Factors Influencing the Decision:

1. Violation of Law: If an officer is suspected of committing a crime or violating regulations, an enlisted person may be ordered to apprehend them. This scenario typically involves a clear and immediate threat to public safety or the integrity of the law enforcement agency.

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2. Chain of Command: The enlisted person’s obligation to follow orders from their superiors, even if it involves apprehending an officer, is deeply rooted in the chain of command. However, it is crucial to consider the legality and legitimacy of the order given, ensuring it aligns with departmental policies and applicable laws.

3. Safety Concerns: The safety of all individuals involved, including the enlisted person, the officer being apprehended, and the public, must be considered. If the situation poses an immediate danger, the enlisted person should prioritize taking appropriate action to mitigate risks.


Q1. Can an enlisted person apprehend an officer without being ordered to do so?
A1. While an enlisted person has a duty to report any wrongdoing, apprehending an officer without explicit orders may exceed their authority. It is advisable to inform a superior or report the incident to the appropriate internal affairs division.

Q2. What should an enlisted person do if they believe the order to apprehend an officer is unlawful?
A2. In such cases, an enlisted person should consult with their immediate supervisor or seek legal advice to determine the best course of action. Challenging a potentially unlawful order should be done through appropriate channels.

Q3. What safeguards are in place to prevent misuse of authority?
A3. Police departments often have internal affairs divisions responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct and ensuring the accountability of officers. These divisions play a vital role in maintaining transparency and upholding the ethical standards of law enforcement agencies.


While the circumstances under which an enlisted person may apprehend an officer when ordered are complex, it is essential to consider legal, ethical, and safety implications. The decision to apprehend an officer should be guided by a careful evaluation of the situation, adherence to the chain of command, and compliance with applicable laws and policies. Ultimately, the goal remains to safeguard public safety and maintain the integrity of law enforcement agencies while ensuring the fair treatment of all personnel involved.

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