The San Francisco Police Department (abbreviated as SFPD) is the main law enforcement which appears in Watch Dogs 2. They patrol and serve San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Marin County. A smaller but similar police force serves and patrols Oakland, the Oakland Police Department (abbreviated as OPD).
Police personnel across the Bay Area all wear blue uniforms, with some wearing short or long sleeve uniforms and a simple teardrop-shape patch on both shoulders with the word "POLICE". Like their real-life counterparts in both agencies, officers will wear a seven-pointed star badge, along with a shoulder radio and a body-cam. However, Enforcers, Elites, and, curiously, female police officers, do not wear any of these. Some police officers wear earpieces for communication. When the situation requires it, officers may wear external vests or wield heavier weapons, becoming more effective and protected during a fight. Police dogs are equipped with body armor with patches reading "POLICE K-9" on them to protect themselves from gunfire and stabbings. Most officers, especially in squad cars are armed with Handguns, nightsticks and hand-held tasers. Passenger officers are usually armed with a shotgun as well. SFPD and OPD SWAT units wear black uniforms with heavy body armor. Elite SWAT Units wear tougher armor and are usually armed with Goblins, on the other hand, a SWAT Enforcer boasts much tougher armor, seemingly modeled after EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) gear, and are usually armed with ATSG-12 automatic shotguns or the U100 LMG. An Elite SWAT unit will always takeover as marksman on Police Helicopters armed with SVDs.
All SFPD and OPD patrol cars are black and white with a San Francisco or Oakland Police patch on the sides, as well as "EMERGENCY 911" on the rear quarter panels of the cruisers. All cars are equipped with spotlights, megaphone, police radio, and blue and red LED lights with emergency sirens.
Differences between SFPD and OPD
There is no imagery unique to the agency's city on uniform patches. Vehicle livery differs, however, with door designs featuring a five-pointed star for San Francisco, and a row of harbor cranes for Oakland. However, more unique elements exist that help to differ San Francisco and Oakland Police officers. San Francisco Police officers always wear a peaked cap with a unique hat device (hat badge), that is a near carbon copy of those worn by actual SFPD officers. On the other hand, Oakland Police officers do not wear hats, with the exception of the military-style caps worn by Elites in both cities. Character models and racial diversity of the officers are different between the two agencies. For example, the SFPD has notably more female officers and Asian officers than the OPD, who, on the other hand, have predominantly male officers of African-American heritage.
Interestingly, police in Oakland have different (arguably poorer) equipment when compared with their counterparts on the peninsula. Like the SFPD, officers on patrol will wield SG-90 pump shotguns from Heat Level 2 and onwards. On the other hand, at Heat Level 3 and onwards, OPD patrols never carry Goblins, unlike their SFPD counterparts, who will equip Goblins if a situation escalates, and are just as experienced with the rifle as Elites, who utilize Goblins in both cities. Elites may also carry the OCP-11, a weapon considerably rare in free-roam. OPD Enforcers differ from SFPD Enforcers as well- Instead of the ATSG-12 as their primary heavy shotgun, OPD enforcers use the SGR-12, a less effective weapon for a heated situation.
An SFPD uniform is available for Marcus upon purchase of the No Compromise DLC. The uniform features a short-sleeve collared shirt with a badge, matching pants and shoes, peaked cap with hat device, an SFPD mask and and bag, neither of which can be seen on officers anywhere in the game. The DLC also gives an exclusive version of the Cruiser, known as the DedSec Patrol. The DedSec Patrol features exclusive DedSec-themed paint, and the siren plays a megaphone quote when the horn button is pressed, occasionally causing traffic to disperse erratically. The car is automatically available in Car on Demand. The DLC also gives an exclusive version of the Landrock Van 2500, specifically a modified WKZ variant, known as the Snoops. The Snoops features exclusive DedSec-themed paint, and the player is able to activate Nethack upon pressing the horn button. The car is automatically available in Car on Demand.
- Small blue dot: Police Officer on foot.
- Big blue dot: Police vehicle/boat currently in use.
- Red X's: Police Roadblock
- Red and Blue flashing helicopter: Police Helicopter currently in use.
All dots will flash blue and red colors if they are responding to something.
- Apart of these weapons, police also use Hand Grenades.
While not perfect, the Police AI is better than in Watch Dogs. The police now react realistically to Marcus' actions and will also react to other NPCs realistically and much better than the predecessor. Police officers will usually apprehend the player more often unless the player is actively resisting arrest by either refusing to pull over as ordered to do so, speeding when already being chased or even walking/running away from officers on foot which at this point all officers in vicinity will engage with lethal force on the player.
While the police will react if Marcus does certain crimes such as wielding firearms in the street, run over a civilian, steals a car and a lot more, other NPCs are not excluded to such crimes. The police will also attempt to arrest other NPCs or even gangsters (By either framing them up or gangsters themselves breaking the law), this way it provides the player more ground support as well as a distraction for the player to continue his mission safely long as he does not get involved. However, gangsters often turn resisting arrest into a gunfight and police officers are usually short-lived.
Police will arrest the player for:
- Openly carrying a one-handed gun
- Climbing onto their vehicle
- Hitting a civilian with a melee
- Insulting or not complying with police
- If called to arrest Marcus with Level One Heat
- Breaking and entering/hijacking a car
- Gentle or small collision with an occupied police car
- Approaching a police-controlled restricted area
Police will kill the player for:
- Openly carrying a two-handed gun
- Stealing and driving a police vehicle (However, if the player loses their wanted level in the same vehicle, the police will no longer engage the player)
- Murder of a civilian, gangster or legal agent
- Aiming a weapon
- Using any weapon against anyone
- If summoned to diverge on Marcus's location at Heat Level Two or higher
Most citizens will surrender peacefully to the police. However, as described above, gang members will usually fight back or run away. If an NPC attempts to run away from police, they are chased and tackled if the police catch them, which they usually end up doing. Police officers will also initiate a vehicle pursuit if the citizens or gangsters they are chasing after are currently fleeing in a vehicle. If an NPC resists arrest repeatedly, the police will kill the suspect.
The sequel introduces Faction Wars for the first time. While the player has themselves a Heat Level system, enemy NPCs also have a heat level system for them as well. For example, if a NPC has killed several police officers in an area, SWAT may eventually respond in Talos or even in MRAPs after them.
San Francisco and/or Oakland police officers will not hesitate to pose themselves for a photo if Marcus is trying to take a photo of them. An emoticon system has been implemented where it indicates certain moods on officers. Happy or Excited officers will not hesitate to pose for a photo. Furious officers will warn the player to leave, and if they (the player) fail to do so, the police officer will push the player backwards. Failure to listen to further orders will result in getting tased which does little damage. Strangely enough, an officer may get involved in an argument with another officer, resulting either of them pushed and tased. This rarely happens.
As well, police officers will not condone any harassment by the player. If the player chooses to insult a police officer repeatedly, they will get themselves arrested or shot, depending on the player's actions. Police can also be called on scene if a civilian reports another NPC for a certain crime, for example if a couple of civilians are involved in a physical alteration, resulting in either of them incapacitated, bystanders can dial 911, summoning one or two police cars on scene to arrest the aggressor. Civilians can also dial 911 if they hear gangsters opening fire on the streets.
Interestingly enough, if vehicle hacks are executed on an occupied patrol car repeatedly, the officers will get out of their vehicle and investigate the source of hack. Police officers may also disable CTOS if Marcus executes some hack abilities around the area. If the player or a gangster opens fire in the air, the police will also investigate the source of gunfire and may radio in a backup unit. In the aftermath of a situation, especially a shooting, police officers may still investigate in the vicinity of the situation, even though the threat has been neutralized.
San Francisco and Oakland police forces employ police dogs as well as female police officers. Female and male police officers have no behavioral differences. Police boats also make an appearance and give chase to the player if they are on the sea, bay, or close to the sea. Police officers will also wear external kevlars at two or later heat levels, making themselves more armored and a bit difficult to be killed, especially SWAT units.
Whilst the Police A.I has been improved to a great extent and is much more realistic, it still has some odd behavior. Police officers will often abandon their patrol cars and jog endlessly around the map until they are despawned, thus making it hard to spot a proper foot patrol officer. However, police officers jogging around will still react to certain crimes committed by the player or NPC.
Police officers in search mode are still cheated but to a lesser extent. Police cars will only drive around the area the player is in and will never approach them. No foot officers spawn on foot either. However, it has been noted that the police cruisers are sometimes cheated by using double speed in order to catch up to the player. This can be easily noticed if the player is driving a police cruiser and being caught up in long distance by the police. Strangely enough, police officers may not always react to NPCs being armed with weapons unless they are actively trying to attack someone.
The police no longer chase the player for traffic law violations such as speeding and/or vehicle collisions. However, they will react if the player collides with an occupied patrol car. If Marcus collides into the police vehicle gently, he will gain Heat Level 1, which is the arrest/non-lethal phase. If a direct, high-speed collision occurs, police will not hesitate to attack and will instantly enter Heat Level 2, which is the beginning of the kill/lethal phase. Police will also arrest Marcus for standing on a police vehicle, occupied or not. However, if Marcus is spotted driving a police car, the police instantly enter Heat Level 2.
Only one police helicopter at a time can give a chase against the player at heat level 3 or later. All police helicopters will have a regular SWAT unit in them taking the position as marksman and shooting at the player periodically at four heat level and onwards. However, unlike the predecessor, the marksmen can miss shots fairly easily if the player is driving too fast or dodges the shots constantly.
If an NPC opens fire at the helicopter, the marksman will usually shoot back. Police helicopters will never spawn if a gangster kills a large number of police personnel, as they spawn only if the player has more than 3 heat levels. However, if Marcus is trying to frame someone who is on a boat, away from the city, a police helicopter may spawn and shine the spotlight on the framed suspect and a police officer will spawn to detain him/her. The helicopter is fairly easy to take down, provided the player has unlocked either the Helicopter hack or the YourBoySerge Sniper, as the helicopter can only take one shot to damage it and send it away.
San Francisco and Oakland police forces employ police dogs to patrol in the streets as well as assist their human partner. Police dogs are very useful for the agencies as they can spot the player very quickly in search mode from long distance, making escape on foot difficult. However, they usually spawn at mid or late heat levels and are not so nuisance but they do cause moderate damage to the player, killing the player after lunging at them twice. The police dog will lunge at Marcus once, to catch him off guard and possibly push him out of cover, then immediately after a second time to finish him off.
SWAT also employs police dog units at later heat levels. Marcus can incapacitate a dog by using the Thunder Ball or by shooting at it, as they are very weak but that will trigger more heat level on the player.
This unit coordinates with the FBI, DEA, and ATF. They train in-house and with FBI and private military firms. They are an elite unit of law enforcement.
SWAT is a special and tactical unit of the San Francisco and Oakland Police forces who are dispatched into police chase at four and five heat levels. At this case, regular officers are being withdrawed and are replaced by SWAT regular units who are always armed with GOBLIN and will be driving Talos and MRAP.
At five heat levels, a very heavy SWAT unit, an Enforcer, gets into combat and is the driver of every MRAP with the passenger being a regular SWAT Unit. All enforcers are armed with either an SGR-12, ATSG-12 or U100 and are very dangerous foes for the player to combat with, especially where all passengers of every police cruiser begin to shoot through the window at the player, making escape very difficult and dangerous.
San Francisco and Oakland Police Departments strictly enforce the law to everyone and will not turn a blind eye on illegal factions. While the police can not involve in faction conflict with regular civilians, they can however get in faction conflict against a gang member of a faction such as Tezcas, the 580s, etc. If a message that the police is in conflict with a certain illegal faction, gangsters most of the time resist arrest and begin shooting at the police until they are killed or themselves killed. Sometimes if a large number of police personnel are called into an action, SWAT may eventually be dispatched against the gangsters even though the player is on active heat with only two heat levels. Police can be summoned by civilians if two illegal factions are in conflict each other, thus making the shootout pretty chaotic and very dangerous for the player to enter.
The Police will rarely get involved in shooting with legal factions as they rely more often on arrests of a member. The only legal faction they fire upon is Umeni-Zulu. UZ have a relatively low chance of resisting arrest and will flee or open fire at the police if they do. Police will kill framed Umeni-Zulu if they are in combat with another faction, or if they resist arrest. Innocent Umeni-Zulu members will not aid the framed operative if they flee or attack the Police. In very rare situations, the player can frame a Police Gunman or Armored Gunman. FBI or affiliates cannot be framed or get into combat with police, with the only exception being an FBI Faction Affiliate NPC that spawns as the hacker of an offline data hack mission.
Oakland Police Department
If Marcus or a NPC commits a crime in Oakland area, only Oakland Police Department will respond as SFPD do not patrol that area. However, there is little difference between the two agencies other than different insignia and police car livery. If the player manages to have SFPD pursue them all the way to OPD's jurisdiction, they will still chase and open fire on the player and vice versa.
SFPD officers only appear in Oakland under one of three conditions:
- "The Hunt" DedSec event- Regardless of whether the event is taking place in Oakland or elsewhere, the event always consists of SFPD officers in two Cruisers chasing a Baumsteiger.
- FBI Backup- If an FBI agent with the ability to call for reinforcements is able to do so, backup may arrive in the form of SFPD officers. This is notable in many of the game's FBI-centric missions.
- Police Roadblocks- All roadblocks in Oakland are made up of SFPD vehicles and officers. This is notable at Heat Level 3 and 4, where the roadblocks consist of Cruisers (Level 3) and Talos (Level 4) and are manned by SFPD officers, notably distinguished by their hats.
- The police will now arrest any pedestrian depending on the circumstances, unlike Watch Dogs. Especially when their vehicle is hacked from unalerted, they will randomly arrest a pedestrian.
- The police no longer rely on CTOS Scans to search for suspects. They often patrol around the city, unlike the first Watch Dogs, where police can rarely be seen patrolling or only be dispatched after a 9-11 call was made and a CTOS Scan was initiated.
- The more 911 calls the civilian executes on the player or other pedestrians, the more patrol cars will be dispatched. One 911 call means one cop car, two calls means two cars, etc.
- Unlike the Chicago Police Department, the dispatcher is male, utilizes police dogs, and sends out female officers in addition to male officers.
- During the pre-release, police would be able to arrest fellow officers and it is assumed to have been removed. But, it is still possible to frame officers, however this is quite rare. As due to it's infrequency, it's unknown if the framed officer opens fire on the police or if they can flee.
- During the pre-release, police officers would summon multiple patrol cars when chasing armed suspects and vice versa. This ability was nerfed down possibly due to performance issues or the player could easily clear areas full of thugs. Police officers in Police Garages have the ability to call reinforcements, so if a gang attack is initiated on them, police officers can summon multiple patrol cars.
- The dispatch quotes are pretty similarly from the predecessor except they are voiced by a male dispatcher instead.
- While driving a police vehicle, one can hear the police dispatch radio.
- If the police spot the player driving a police car, they will gain heat.
- Only female officers use the megaphone to order the player to pull over. This also happens if there are no female officers in a patrol car. This is obviously a developer oversight.
- Female officers use a megaphone on the car and in the helicopter. But a male officer can be heard on the megaphone when on a police boat.
- Big blue dots will keep flashing even after the situation and not responding to anything. This may be a bug.
- The SWAT officers seen in game lack helmets, except for Enforcers. Despite this, they can survive multiple headshots. This indicates that in the beta, they were most likely meant to wear helmets, just as Chicago PD, Umeni and FBI Elites do.
- Police officers still have a tendency to run over pedestrians, especially when making arrests in out of the way locations. This is most likely a developer oversight.
- Even if the police see Marcus punch civilians, they will still shoot him when he's caught doing it. This is a developer oversight.
- If the police kill an online player, the kill feed will always refer them as "SFPD," even if they are in Oakland, Silicon Valley, or Marin. This is a developer oversight.
- If a DedSec ally gets killed by the police, the player can hear radio chatter saying the suspect has been neutralized.
- The FBI are similar in behavior to the SFPD, but they drive black TBT-7000s instead.
- There is a glitched spawn of the Cruiser on the parking lot near the Oakland PD garage. The car is spawned mid-way through a barricade. Getting into it will cause the vehicle to disappear and may also teleport the player a short distance away. A video of it can be seen here.
- The Police are the most dangerous faction in the entire game. Despite lacking the Jammer and Grenadier in their ranks, they are the hardest faction to escape from, and have a wide array of vehicles at their disposal: Cruiser, Talos, MRAP, Helicopter and Coast Guard. In addition, the Jammer and Grenadier are more suited for vigilance rather than active combat, which would make them rather useless while engaging other factions and the player in combat. The Police can also shut down CTOS 2.0.
- Some SFPD officers wear riding boots akin to those worn by motorcycle officers. However, no police motorbikes or associated officers are otherwise present in the game.
- The police can sometimes glitch during side missions, in which they spawn without patrol cars and they do not engage the player when they pull out weapons.