For vehicles, see Police Car or SWAT Tank. For the police outfit, see Clothing in GTA Vice City and Clothing in GTA San Andreas.
Police in GTA IV.
A police officer in GTA Vice City, wielding a nightstick.

The police (also referred to as cops, pigs, babylon by Rastafarians, 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 reliable enemy and a challenge both in and out of missions. This theme is present throughout the entire series, although the exact details vary between games.

The police, (and all other forms of law enforcement in the Grand Theft Auto series), have been portrayed as corrupt, lazy, reckless drivers, stupid, selfish, incompetent, and trigger-happy, although the levels of these vary greatly between each game. In the GTA III Era, the police kill criminals regardless of the offense commited or other circumstances (such as gang affiliation). In the GTA IV Era the police generally attempt to arrest the criminal by pointing a gun at the suspect before putting handcuffs on, only using their gun in self defense.

Wanted Level

The police work upon a Wanted Level system against the player. If the player is noticed performing a crime, they may gain a wanted star (increasing their 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, FBI, or even the military.

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, most traffic offenses (ex. speeding, running red lights), carrying weapons in public, damaging property, or impersonation (ex. wearing police uniform). See a comprehensive list of arrestable offenses below.

If the player gets arrested by the police (or "Busted"), the player will respawn at the nearest Police Station, but lose some money and all of his weapons except in GTA San Andreas if after Carl Johnson starts dating Barbara Schternvart as she is a police officer. Higher levels of law enforcement are not concerned with arrest, but with killing the player. Death is only temporary, and results in being returned to a nearby hospital with the loss of weapons (except in the GTA IV Era, including the mobile versions of GTA III) and some money.

Wanted levels can be reduced by the use of a Pay 'n' Spray. The Wanted Level in GTA IV Era and Wanted Level in GTA V systems allow 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 GTA III Era, at 4-star wanted levels, heavily armed, highly trained police SWAT teams 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. In GTA III and San Andreas, the have Micro Uzis, and Micro-SMGs in any other GTA III Era game. SWAT teams are a real threat to the player and come in four men per team. Also, in GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories, undercover "Vice Squad" officers armed with Uzis in VCPD Cheetahs will chase the player at three stars and above. Their cars are fast, and they come two per unit.

Arrestable Offenses

  • Beating a person with or without a melee weapon, even in self defense.
  • Throwing things at people (eg. cans, bricks, GTA IV Era).
  • Auto-aiming a weapon at an officer (GTA Vice City onwards).
  • Grand theft auto.
  • Running a pedestrian or police officer over with a vehicle.
  • Discharging a firearm near an officer, even if doesn't harm anyone.
  • Revving a chainsaw near an officer, even if doesn't harm anyone (with the exception of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).
  • Hitting a police vehicle with a vehicle or by attacking it in any way (a wanted level is not given if the player hits a player-owned police car or an empty police car with another vehicle). Pushing another vehicle into a police vehicle will not give the player a wanted level, no matter how hard the impact.
  • Attempting to carjack a police car (with or without occupants).
  • Murder.
  • Causing a gas station's gas pumps to explode.
  • Drive-bys.
  • Starting fires or throwing any thrown weapons.
  • Robbing houses (unless you don't get caught).
  • Trespassing inside a police station without a cop uniform. Applies to GTA Vice City and later.
  • Robbing stores.
  • Being spotted driving a vehicle with the alarm going off.
  • Bumping into an officer when making an arrest.
  • Breaking through tollbooths without paying.
  • Spraying tags.
  • Using a Fire Extinguisher.
  • Entering a police station with a non-melee weapon (excluding the camera).
  • Entering or flying over Restricted Areas.
  • 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 (like by having someone else's car crash into it).
  • 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 a wanted level of 1 star.
  • Selling drugs - during the side mission Distribution in GTA Vice City you get 1 star per every four drugs sold; during drug dealing in GTA Chinatown Wars, a 'bust' of 3 stars sometimes occurs.
  • Smuggling drugs - the player occasionally gets 4 wanted stars in the Smuggling mission in GTA Vice City Stories; similar thing happens in GTA Liberty City Stories when Toni smuggles drugs with Miguel in the mission Contra-Banned.
  • Other missions - some of GTA's missions give the player 1~5 wanted levels: note the fact that the player cannot get a wanted level of 6 unless the player kills FBI agents.
  • If you complete a mission with a wanted level of 5 or 6 stars, you will retain one star if there are FBI or Army officers nearby (confirmed in GTA Vice City).

Online Multiplayer

A Police Maverick in Grand Theft Auto: 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.


  • In the GTA IV Era, it is possible to use the police as backup in gunfights and/or certain missions that involve large scale gunfights. To do this, the player has to start a gunfight with the enemies or let the enemies start shooting at you, then hide behind cover and call the police. Once they arrive, force the opposition to shoot you (without the use of firearms and/or thrown weapons) and the police will start shooting at them and killing them. If all the police die, the player can just call more over. However, the player must be careful not to fire a weapon or throw a grenade or molotov cocktail, or else they will gain a one star wanted level (which can be increased to two if it causes large scale damage, or three if it harms and/or kills any police officers).
  • In the GTA IV Era, it is possible to make the police arrest certain pedestrians, gang members, and/or taxi drivers. To do this, the player has to make the pedestrian, gang member, and/or taxi driver attack them, which can be done by hitting the taxi with a baseball bat or hitting a pedestrian or gang member. Once that is done, call over the police. When they see the person attack the player, they will arrest the player's attacker.

See also

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