Police Officer

Police Officer


10 Years Experience

Around the Way, FL

Male, 40

Cheating death and fighting communism: that is how a fellow officer once described our job. It was meant to be funny, but as time went on it seemed all too true.

I spent more than ten years in law enforcement, all of it on the street in uniform patrol. I've been a patrol officer, instructor, sergeant and lieutenant.

Do not report crimes here. Nothing here should be considered legal advice. All opinions are my own.

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615 Questions


Last Answer on October 29, 2014

Best Rated

What's the absolute bare MINIMUM I have to say to or do for a cop who stops me on the street? Do I have to show him my ID if he asks to see it? Do I have to speak to him at all? Can I just ignore him and walk away?

Asked by mister over 9 years ago

It depends on the circumstances. There are three tiers of police-citizen interactions: consensual, investigative detentions and arrest. Your question relates to the first two tiers. If it is a consensual encounter, you do not have to stop and talk with the officer. An example of a consensual encounter is an officer engaging in friendly conversation with a shop clerk, stopping out to talk to kids playing basketball in a park or talking to someone on a street corner. This conversation is another example of a consensual encounter. If it is an investigative detention, then you must stop and identify yourself to the officer. Depending on the circumstances, you may be required to give additional information (such as on a traffic stop, you would need to provide a driver's license, registration and proof of insurance in many states). An investigative detention is predicated by an officer's reasonable, articulable suspicion of illegal activity by the person being stopped. This is more than a hunch, but far less than probable cause (needed for a lawful arrest). Examples of reasonable suspicion that would warrant an investigative detention could include a subject hanging out at the rear of a closed business late at night or seeing someone matching the description of a person fleeing from a crime. The problem with just ignoring the officer and walking off is you don't know which of the encounters the officer is initiating. If you ignore and walk away from an officer who is attempting to stop you as part of an investigative detention, expect to get grabbed and possibly face obstruction charges. Your best bet is to stop long enough to talk with the officer and inquire if you are being detained. If the officer says no, then feel free to walk away. Of course, being friendly and introducing yourself to the officer is always an option as well. Cops are people too, and unless you are involved in criminal activity you might find that we can be quite engaging to talk to.

Have you ever worked with corrupt cops? Have you ever been offered substantial bribes to look the other way at the scene of a crime?

Asked by 305mayday over 9 years ago

No, I have never worked with corrupt cops. The only bribes I have ever been offered have been by drunk idiots who probably didn't know what they were saying. Regardless, there is no amount of money that someone can offer that would make me want to risk my freedom, and destroy my honor and integrity.

Are there any laws that even cops think are excessive and don't go out of their way to enforce? Like someone doing 60 in a 55, or jaywalking on an empty street, etc?

Asked by iceman over 9 years ago

Of course. There are a lot of laws that police officers feel are excessive. Different cops have different views, but most officers tend to have a libertarian streak to them. (I know - it's not what it portrayed on the internet and in the media, but it is true.) So, many/most of the laws telling people what they can/can't do with their lives & property don't sit well with many of us. Things like getting permission from the local government to cut down a tree on your property or how many cars you can park in your driveway really don't sit well with most of us. Ultimately, most cops try to apply a little common sense to a situation. From your example, most of the officers in our jurisdiction won't stop someone for less than 10 mph over the posted limit.

What kind of hazing do rookie cops experience?

Asked by Erik the Gr8 over 9 years ago

No one has time for hazing at any of the departments I have worked. The closest thing to a rite of passage for new officers is they tend to get all of the bad calls when they are starting out. This normally isn't a "dump job" on them for being the new guy, but rather part of their field training. We try to get them as many calls as possible during their first 14 weeks, which is the initial on-the-street training they get. We want them to get as many different experiences under their belt while they still have an experienced training officer riding with them. New guys are going to make mistakes, but with a field training officer with them, the mistakes are fewer and can be corrected immediately. Typically, the "first" kind of calls are small hurdles they cross. "First" chase, "first" arrest, "first" fight, "first" death investigation, etc. Once a rookie is on his or her own for a while and other officers know they can count on them in a dangerous situation, they are accepted as an equal.

What's the difference between a good cop and a great cop?

Asked by c-town over 9 years ago

Motivation. I know a lot of really good officers. But the really great ones are the ones who are self-motivated to excellence. The problem is maintaining the motivation over a career. Dealing with the stuff on the street is bad enough, but inept leadership in departments can crush morale and motivation.

Why do some cops still ride horses? Is that just for tradition's sake, or is there some practical reason for it?

Asked by naynay over 9 years ago

Depends on the department. Most agencies do not have mounted officers. However, horses are very good for assisting with crowd control. I think New Orleans and NYC still have mounted units exactly for that reason. Also, for rural areas, horses can go a lot of places that vehicles cannot. So, they also make sense for some departments that have to patrol or conduct search and rescue in rugged environments.

Are cops allowed to lie when interrogating a witness? Like, could they say "we already have your prints on the gun, so just confess to save time" even if it's not true? How about promising a lighter sentences - can they offer that and then reneg?

Asked by darrynscholes over 9 years ago

Yes and no. Some lies are ok, but some are not. Criminals lie to cops constantly, and it is my job to figure out what the truth is. Suggesting I have more information that I actually do is one way that I can get a criminal to trip themselves up in their lies. But, with all things, a court is going to determine if an officer's actions were reasonable. Generally, promises of a lighter punishment, not being prosecuted, etc. you cannot lie about.