For the car, see Police Car. For other law enforcement agencies in HD Universe, please see Law Enforcement Agencies in HD Universe.

An LCPD Police Cruiser on patrol in GTA IV.

Artwork of police in GTA IV

The police (also referred to as cops {most common}), pigs, popo by African-Americans, chota by Hispanics, babylon by Jamaicans, C.R.A.S.H., cherry tops, Five-O, fuzz, one time, flatfeet, or heat) are uniformed officers responsible for enforcing the law. They ensure public and social order, through the legitimized and restricted use of force. The police are present in all Grand Theft Auto games.

The main role of the Police in-game is to make crime difficult for the player - and to provide a brooding reliable enemy and a challenge both in and out of missions. They also make the game more realistic. This theme is present throughout the entire series, although the exact details vary between games.

The police, as well as all other forms of law enforcement in the Grand Theft Auto series, have been depicted as corrupt, lazy, aggressive, overzealous and often trigger-happy, although the levels of these vary greatly between each game.

Wanted Level

Main article: Wanted Level

The police work upon a Wanted Level system against the player. If the player is noticed performing a crime, he may gain a Wanted Star (increasing his wanted level). More serious crimes will grant a higher wanted level. Police responses vary depending on the wanted level, ranging from foot chases to calling in the helicopter, the Special Weapons and Tactics (NOOSE in HD Universe), the FBI (FIB in the HD Universe) or even the armed forces.

Relevant offenses include crashing into a police car, shooting pedestrians, having sex with prostitutes in GTA San Andreas, stealing vehicles, entering prohibited areas or occasionally unavoidable participation in certain missions (ex. bank heists). The police will not arrest you for trespassing on private property, traffic offenses (ex. speeding, running red lights). See a comprehensive list of arrestable offenses below.

If the player gets Busted by the police, the player will respawn at the nearest Police Station, but lose some money and all of his weapons, except in GTA San Andreas if CJ is dating Barbara as she is a cop. Higher levels of law enforcement are not concerned with arresting the player, but with killing the player, although will attempt vehicular arrest if the opportunity arises. Being Wasted is only temporary and the player will respawn at the nearest hospital with the loss of weapons and some money (no weapons are lost in HD Universe). In GTA Vice City Stories the player can pay a $2000 bribe to get their weapons back from either the hospital or police station.

Wanted levels can be reduced by the use of a Pay 'n' Spray. In GTA III, there may be rare occasions when police cars try to block the player's entrance to the Pay 'n' Spray, especially with higher Wanted levels. The Wanted Level in GTA IV system allows the player to evade a wanted level by escaping from a certain radius, based on the last place they were spotted. The higher the wanted level, the larger the area.

In the 3D and HD Universe, at 4-star wanted levels, heavily armed, highly trained police officers will come after the protagonist and try killing or sometimes arresting him. They all drive Enforcer trucks and are armed with weapons that will make short work of the player. Their Enforcers are fast and can smash up a vehicle in a small amount of time. Their trucks also form roadblocks. They have Micro Uzis in GTA III and San Andreas, and Uzis in Vice City, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. SWAT teams are a real threat to the player and come in 4 men per team. Also, in Vice City and Vice City Stories, undercover "Vice Squad" officers armed with Uzis in Cheetahs will chase the player at 3 stars and above. Their cars are fast, and they come two per unit.

The Police AI is more advanced in Vice City Stories, rendering them more tenacious in pursuing the player, even at a one-star wanted level. It is nearly impossible to carjack a police vehicle with cops inside without being instantly busted, and cops will also more aggressively climb on board vehicles and otherwise pursue Victor, which makes getting busted more likely.

Grand Theft Auto IV

In GTA IV, whenever NPCs are arrested and escorted to the Police Vehicle, the Police Officer will usually drive the NPC criminal around the road without even making effort to transport them to the Police Station. The criminal will eventually get off if something interrupts the arrest, without even being treated as resisting arrest, probably because the Police (like Paramedics) weren't programmed to drive a NPC criminal to a station. NPCs arrested by hand however, are treated as resisting arrest, If the criminal is aggressive or escape, the Police will try to stop or kill them. This mechanic can be used to the player's advantage; should the player lure an aggressive NPC towards one or more police officers, there is a decent chance the police will get the attacker off the player's back by arresting them.

Grand Theft Auto V

Main article: Wanted Level in GTA V

In GTA V, police officers now act aggressively towards NPCs, engaging in car chases and gunfights against pursuers. Like GTA San Andreas, choppers can be found flying around South Los Santos looking for crime. They can also be found in the skies during a pursuit, whether be an NPC or a protagonist. Unlike in GTA IV, the cops do not arrest NPCs and instead shoot on sight, whenever they are armed or not. This could be because the game may lack a "Busted" mechanic to NPCs. NPCs also react to cops unlike other games, such as prostitutes will not get into a player's car near cops, or if a police vehicle, driven by an NPC or player goes past them, they will flee the area. Families gang members will shoot at cops if they are pursuing Franklin on a 1 or 2 star wanted level, or if an NPC gang member is chased by cops, their homies will shoot at the cops. Cops also tend to be shot at when patrolling a gang neighborhood. Strangely, cop cars are only usually found near stations, they are rarely anywhere in the city. If a person is killed on street, the police will examine the scene before leaving back to patrol, however this usually happen only if the police has shot and killed the person. If the Paramedics do not arrive to treat the wounded people, the police may radio one or leave the scene instead. Sometimes, police officers might even use civilian cars to pursue the player when on pursuit, appearing on the radar as normal police vehicles. This happens more often when the player steals a police vehicle and abandons his/hers previous vehicle nearby.

List of Police Departments

Main article: Police Departments

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 and 1969

Grand Theft Auto 2

Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Grand Theft Auto Advance

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto V

Traffic Officer after the Jewelery heist

Arrestable Offenses

  • Beating a person with or without a melee weapon, even in self-defense.
  • Throwing things at people.
  • Aiming a weapon at an officer.
  • Grand Theft Auto.
  • Running a pedestrian over with a vehicle.
  • Running over a policeman (usually gives 2 stars if the player did run over people before; instantly 2 stars in GTA Vice City).
  • Shooting a firearm near an officer, even if nobody is hurt.
  • Using a chainsaw near an officer, even if nobody is hurt, with the exception of GTA San Andreas.
  • Damaging a police vehicle. Pushing another vehicle into a police vehicle will neither award the player nor the NPC a wanted level, regardless of how hard the impact is (damaging a vacant police vehicle in some games sometimes won't attain a wanted level).
  • Attempting to carjack a police car (with or without occupants).
  • Manslaughter.
  • Causing a petrol kiosk to explode.
  • Drive-bys.
  • Firing gunshots.
  • Robbing houses (unless the player escapes in 10 seconds successfully or not even being spotted).
  • Trespassing inside a police station. Only applicable in GTA Vice City and later versions.
  • Knocking off stores (GTA Vice City Stories, even after passing all Protection Racket mission).
  • Being spotted driving a vehicle with the alarm going off.
  • Bumping into an officer when he is holding an arrest (does not always give a wanted level).
  • Breaking through the tollbooth without paying (GTA IV onwards).
  • Spraying gang tags.
  • Entering a police station with a weapon (except for melee weapons).
  • Entering or flying over a restricted area, which could end up giving the player 4 stars wanted.
  • Entering parts of the map which aren't unlocked (applies to GTA San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV).
  • Exploding a propane tank, even if the player didn't do it. One example is whereby having someone else's car crashing into it. However, this bug has since been fixed in GTA IV.
  • Killing a shop owner - If Toni kills the owner of Phil Cassidy's Fully Cocked Gun Shop in GTA Liberty City Stories, the player gets 1 star wanted level. It also works in Ammu Nation.
  • Selling drugs - during the side mission Distribution in GTA Vice City Tommy will get 1 star per every four drugs sold; during drug dealing in GTA Chinatown Wars, a 'bust' of 2 stars sometimes occurs.
  • Smuggling drugs - the player occasionally gets 4 wanted stars in the Smuggling mission in GTA Vice City Stories.
  • Other missions - some of GTA's missions give the player 1~5 wanted levels: note the fact that the player cannot get a 6 stars wanted level unless the player kills FBI agents.
  • If Tommy completes a mission with a wanted level of 5 or 6 stars, it will be retained to one star if there are FBI or Army officers nearby (confirmed in GTA Vice City).
  • Destroying a Securicar with the use of weapons (applies to Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V).
  • Climbing on top of an occupied police vehicle (HD Universe).

List of Notable Police Officers

Main article: Police Officers

Online Multiplayer

GTA IV's Multiplayer

A Police Maverick in GTA San Andreas.

In GTA IV, the Police in Multiplayer Mode will not arrest the player, but will shoot at the player in an attempt to kill them, though they can still pull the player out of a car.

At 4 stars the police send in an Annihilator with two NOOSE agents with assault rifles firing from the sides of the chopper. The police will arrive in cars containing two police officers. One will carry a Pistol while the other will (usually) carry a Pump Action Shotgun, regardless of what guns are allowed in the online game. NOOSE agents arrive in NOOSE Enforcers only, as the NOOSE Cruiser, the NOOSE Patriot, and the FIB Buffalo only appear in Race and GTA Race multiplayer modes, albeit they are only used by the players.

NOOSE agents are equipped mainly with Carbine Rifles and SMGs, but sometimes they have a Pump Shotgun and NOOSE agents will sometimes fall back to their pistol if they lose their weapon.

The FIB does not appear in multiplayer at all, and the Police Maverick also only appears in the Race and GTA Race modes. It is notable that Wanted Levels are usually cumulative if multiple players are riding in the same vehicle. When faced with multiple players with wanted levels, the police usually target the nearest player.

The player can still use a Pay 'n' Spray in multiplayer, though the same rules using them when police are nearby in single player apply to multiplayer as well. If the player is shot in a Deathmatch, it will count as a death on purpose and will lose $100. Police can be turned off online.

GTA Online

In Grand Theft Auto Online, the police are a constant threat, and cannot be turned off, though they don't appear in some missions and game modes. At one and two stars, officers in the area will be notified and will patrol the streets searching for the player. The police will open fire at all costs. At three stars, a Police Maverick will be sent after the player, making a possible escape much more difficult. At four stars, NOOSE officers are sent after the player, as well as more helicopters. Standard police units will become much rarer, as NOOSE begin to take an advantage. NOOSE officers will be armed with Pump Shotguns and Carbine Rifles. At five stars, the presence of NOOSE increases even more, and Police Maverick units being more accurate and the fire rate increasing.


Grand Theft Auto IV

  • If the player blows up an Enforcer with an RPG or with a grenade while in pursuit, the occupants might still survive, get out and start shooting at the enemy as if nothing happened.
  • If the player shoots a driver of a pursuing Police Car, he will fall forward onto the horn. The horn will sound regardless to whether the car is wrecked or not. The same can occur with other cars.
  • The police seem to walk through fire and die whereas people will run away from fire.




Vice City

San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto V



  • If the player is fighting with a pedestrian when in sight of the police, a one-star wanted level will be attained automatically, and the pedestrian will run away.
  • Creating havoc continuously using Molotovs in public during free roam or a gang warfare sometimes grants an instant 3-star wanted level.
  • In some 3D Universe GTA games, if the player has a one-star wanted level and lures a police officer into attacking an NPC with his nightstick or fist, the NPC will either fight back or just flee from them.
    • If the NPC attempts to fight back, the officer will often not retaliate after being hit by the former and just continue going on the combat with the player until the player is arrested/killed or the officer dies. In some games, like GTA III, the officer will run away and the NPC will chase after.
      • However, if this happens while the player has no wanted level at all, the police officer will often decide to kill the NPC regardless.
  • In the 3D Universe GTA games, police officers will oddly ignore gunshots as long as the shooter is an NPC. And they will run away if one of the bullets hits them.
    • However, in GTA San Andreas, if they get shot while they are in their car, they will come out and open fire at the shooter.
    • In every 3D Universe game except GTA III, if the shooter is a gang member or a street criminal, the shooter will run away in sight of the police and the police officer will chase after him. However, if the shooter is neither a gang member or a street criminal, the police will not chase after it and the shooter won't run away.

Grand Theft Auto III

  • If pedestrians are attacking Claude at the moment the police starts chasing after him, the pedestrians will run away from them.

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

  • Female police voices will quite often be heard during wanted level scenarios, ordering Carl to surrender, etc., yet only male police officers ever actually appear on screen. It's possible female police officers were meant to appear in the game, but were removed.
  • Killing police officers guarding the impound garages won't get CJ a wanted level, probably because if he spares the officer, a 3-star wanted level would be given for going into the garages without a stealth enter or a police vehicle.
  • Even though when the player targets a cop with Fist or Brass Knuckles, a Wanted Level will be still attained (it is because the Fist and Brass Knuckles are counted as a weapon).
  • Rarely, cops may not notice the player when pointing a weapon or committing a crime when their back is turned.
  • If a pedestrian armed with a firearm starts shooting at the player while a cop is nearby, the officer will attack that pedestrian with a pistol.
  • A possible glitch occurs in which Carl gets a wanted level if a police officer sees him getting on one of the bicycles or motorcycles associated with the courier side-missions, even though Carl presumably has been given permission to take those vehicles to make deliveries with.
  • Certain pedestrians will instantly run away in sight of the police, like the one with glasses and a green jacket.
  • Sometimes, there is a glitch that causes the other city's police officers spawn somewhere in the city which CJ is in (e.g. An LSPD officer spawns in Pier 69; A rural officer spawns in Idlewood; Rural officers driving around Rodeo and Vinewood in Rangers.)
  • If the player goes into an impound garage in Los Santos, a beaten up pedestrian and police standing around him can be seen. It is evidence of Police Brutality in Los Santos, as well as Easter Egg.
  • When the player gets 1-star wanted level while on an interior of any accessible buildings and goes out, they will use their fists to fight against them but, strangely, they won't try to arrest them.
  • Police officers of a specific region/city can also use Hydras starting on a four-star wanted level when the player operates an aircraft despite the fact that it is a military-exclusive vehicle.
  • Occasionally, police officers will run away in fear when getting shot at by an NPC, this is most likely a glitch.
  • If a bullet hits a Police Car, regardless if it was an accident or not, the officers will come out and open fire at the shooter.
  • When getting punched by a pedestrian, the officer will open fire at it, even if it is unarmed.
    • However, the NPC have a chance of getting a pistol after punching the officer, causing a gunfight between them.
  • At a 1-star wanted level, the police will fight the player with only their nightsticks. If the player draws a gun, the police will open fire (melee weapons will not make the police shoot at the player). At a 2-star wanted level or above, the police will shoot at the player regardless.
  • At a 2-star wanted level or above, CJ will often yell insults at the police while running away from them.
  • If a NPC fires a gun in front of a police officer, the police officer will turn around.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

  • Police officers are far more aggressive in pursuing Vic, even on a one-star wanted level. In particular, once a policeman opens the door to the player's vehicle and climbs on, it is nearly impossible to shake him off, and being busted is inevitable.

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • Police officers are much stronger. Even on a one star wanted level, Police Officers will try to arrest the player. If the player runs, the police will shoot with pistols and sometimes shotguns.
    • The Police will shoot at the player even if the player has been "wasted" or "busted".
    • The Police can arrest or attack people attacking the player.
    • The Police will pull out their pistols and shoot at an Ambulance if it drives recklessly and runs over people.
    • Police Officers will not arrest Firefighters who are attacking civilians or the player, but they will arrest the other party if they retaliate, probably because Firefighters are a part of the emergency department in the city, along with the Police, and Paramedics.
    • The player will rarely earn a one-star wanted level sought to give a punch in front of a police officer.
  • The Police may sometimes carjack other people's cars (e.g. taxis and trucks) to chase the player. But there is a glitch in where the car the cop is in seems to magically have a bull horn in which the Police Officer will shout to stop.
    • Sometimes Police "steal" a car from a random civilian. If the police officer steals a cab, and the player evades them off and find that cab with the police officer driving it and whistle it at them and get in, the cop will be a normal taxi driver and takes the player wherever they want to go, he is just in a police uniform. Although if getting/regaining a Wanted Level, he will be chasing after the player along with all other Police Officers.
    • If being chased near one of the safehouses, the police may even steal a vehicle from the parking space to continue chasing the protagonist if the player had parked vehicles before.
  • Attacking one of the Police Officers at a bridge roadblock in the original game while not unlocking a borough will automatically trigger a 6-star wanted level.
  • Sometimes when a police officer survives a fire he says; 'This shit never happens to firefighters'.
  • If Niko calls the Police by typing "911" in the in-game phone, and there is a Firefighter that already beats another pedestrian and had a fight with the protagonist, Niko Bellic, they will immediately start shooting at Niko. They will shoot at Niko even if the player doesn't have a wanted level at all.
  • In GTA IV and its episodes, Their logo is alike the NYPD's logo.
  • If the player goes into an impound garage in Algonquin, a beaten up pedestrian and police standing around him can be seen. It is evidence of Police Brutality in Algonquin.
  • In Drug Wars in TBoGT, the player is able to call the police or call the backup to eliminate the enemies in the Stash or Stickup side-missions. The player would get a wanted level if they fire a gun at the police officer or anywhere.

GTA V & Online

  • Driving a stolen vehicle while in a police officer's vicinity gives the player one star. The player can avoid this by respraying their vehicle or buying one.

See also

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