Things Cops Know (and want the public to know)
The police [understandably] don’t want you to know many things, from interrogation techniques to their home addresses. The average LEO, however, does want the public to be more aware of some other bits of wisdom. Many are common sense, most should be obvious, a few are “Officer” Murphy’s Laws and a lot are hilarious!
NOTE: In response to numerous requests, I have just started a page where you, as a citizen, can let Law Enforcement hear What The Public Wants Cops to Know.
In no particular order, a few things that cops want you to know.
- Hazard lights are like a giant flashing sign saying “parked illegally.”
- You’re right I should be out catching real criminals, but instead I have to spend my time giving you a ticket because you can’t read the big sign with the speed limit on it.
- Motor-Cops know oil on the roadway is slick. Anti freeze is slicker. Both are nearly invisible at night, and will be strategically placed at the exact apex of a turn.
- After you’ve been arrested (for any offense) we do not care whether or not you’re “a good person” or not. We have a job to do and that job doesn’t have anything to do with how good of a person you are. We arrest people deemed to have violated the law.
- You can’t talk yourself out of a ticket but you can certainly talk yourself into one.
- If your city has a crime problem, you can thank the courts and your district attorneys. Don’t blame the police. They catch, the courts release. And that’s apparently stuck on repeat in many cities.
- No, I can’t shoot the stray dog/raccoon/possum that keeps getting in your trash.
- No, we will not give you a ride home. That’s not what we’re here for. You got yourself here, you can get yourself back.
- It’s your trip/destination, not ours. Take a minute to find out how to get there instead of getting mad at us for not knowing how to get to an obscure address in another city/county.
- I’ll gladly help you get back to the interstate, or at least get you pointed in the direction of your destination. This assumes I know how to get there myself. Don’t get mad at me for not knowing where your friend lives, she’s your *%@$ friend.
- And just because her ex-husband was a cop doesn’t mean we know each other.
- Please don’t stop and talk to me about anything less than a life-threatening situation if I am officially “interacting” with another citizen. I’ve had people stop in a traffic lane on the Interstate to ask directions while I was preparing to write a summons. (Surprise, guess who ended up getting the summons?)
- If I’m in the middle of the road, have blue lights flashing, a car is stopped in front of me, I have my hand on a gun and there is a semi-unbalanced individual screaming out of the window of the stopped car; please don’t walk up with a sanctimonious voice and tell me I’m blocking traffic.
- If you called me because someone committed a criminal act against you, you had better be willing to press charges.
- If someone is willing to steal your stuff, they’re willing to break your car window to do so. Stop leaving your valuables in plain sight when you leave the car.
- No, the security cameras on the building three blocks away don’t have footage of the kids that egged your house.
- No, I can’t sit here all night to see if the guy that stole your kid’s bicycle from the front yard comes back.
- “I don’t want to bother you while you’re eating, but…””Well you are bothering me, so you might as well continue. “
- No matter how many action movies you watch, you can’t tell what kind of gun was fired by the sound of the shots. If you tell me you heard two shots from a Glock I’m not going to think you know a lot about guns, I’m going to think you’re an idiot.
- You had your warning when you learned the traffic laws in order to obtain a DL…this is your ticket for not taking that warning seriously.
- Do not use me as a tool to scare your kids over trivial stuff. “If you don’t eat your veggies, I am going to get that policeman over there to take you to jail….”
- On a related note, from the “Things I Wish I Could Say dept…– “No little buddy, I will not take you to jail for not eating your vegetables, I don’t put little kids in jail. I put grown-ups in jail. How about we put mommy in jail and you and I go to Six Flags?”
- CSI and Law & Order are not real, and they are called “dramas” and “fiction” for a reason.
- When you see an officer clocking speeders don’t flash your headlights to warn other drivers that are heading his way. You may be alerting a criminal like Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. Most criminals are found because of traffic violations.
- Pulling to the right and stopping for emergency vehicles is a vast improvement to locking up the brakes, and stopping in the left lane.
- I don’t need to know what happened last week, last month, or last year. I need to know why I’m here right now.
- Everyone (who isn’t a cop) knows how to do the job better than you do.
- Everybody wants to be the police, but only when it’s convenient for them.
- When you take a fighting stance and threaten to kick my teeth in, remember 3 things:
1) this is what I do for a living, and I don’t get paid to lose;
2) I have all these pretty toys to help me accomplish #1; and
3) even if you do manage to win, I’ve got a whole mess of people coming to help me, and they are gonna be pissed at you! Think it through.
- 98 percent of the things you call us for are civil matters — call a lawyer instead.
- Just because someone is found “not guilty” does not mean that they are “innocent”.
- I understand that you are late for work/school and/or your child’s soccer practice. It is not my fault, however, that you were speeding and will subsequently be even later than you would be if you had driven the speed limit.
- No, I do not know who you are, nor do I care. The same applies to whoever your dad/mom/random relative may be.
- If you really do know ( my boss, the Mayor, the Pope…) then you should have no problem getting out of this ticket. Good luck with that….here is your ticket.
- I’m glad you pay my salary! And you’ll be glad you’re about to get your money’s worth.
- No, I do not have anything better to do. Something you have done has caused me to stop what I was doing and devote all of my attention to you.
- If you are kind, courteous, and polite to me, I will gladly return the favor. Yelling and screaming will certainly not win me over.
- Just because someone is a certain race does not make them suspicious and you don’t need to call us unless they are truly being suspicious. Let them walk their dog down the street.
- High-speed chases will always proceed from an area of light traffic to an area of extremely heavy traffic.
- The speed at which you respond to a fight call is inversely proportional to how long you’ve been a cop.
- If a large group of drunk bikers is holed-up in a house, the department will send one officer in a beat car. If there is one biker holed up in a house, they will send the entire S.W.A.T. team.
- Domestic arguments will always migrate from an area with few available weapons (living room), to an area with many available weapons (kitchen).
- The better you do your job, the more likely you are to be shot, injured, complained on, sued, investigated or subpoenaed on your day off.
- The longer you’ve been a cop, the shorter your flashlight and your temper get.
- The bigger they are the harder they fall. They also punch, kick and choke harder too.
- Watch out for the CSI effect. There is no machine that we can drop an eyelash into and come up with the DNA profile, fingerprints and mugshot of the owner in 2 minutes.
- When you see an emergency vehicle behind you with its lights and sirens on: pull to the RIGHT, and Stop. We are usually required to pass cars on the left.
- When a civilian sees a blue light approaching at a high rate of speed he will always pull into the lane the cop needs to use.
- Dunkin’ donuts have much better coffee than they do doughnuts.
- When you’re driving in the fast lane and you see a cop behind you don’t, go 5 mph’s under the speed limit. We are not impressed by how safe of a driver you can be, we’re trying to go help someone (or catch that guy in the SUV that just cut you off). Safely move over and let us pass by you, please.
- If you get a warning instead of a ticket from a motorcycle cop…go buy a lottery ticket, because you’ve already beaten the odds.
- When you see an officer conducting a traffic stop, [or with a suspect in handcuffs] it is generally not a good idea to approach him/her and ask for directions. If you do, don’t expect the officer to be nice when he/she tells you to get lost, and don’t expect the officer to take the time to explain.
- If a cop causes a car accident we usually get a ticket, and sometimes we get suspended. When is the last time you got 3 days off [without pay] for rear-ending a guy at Wal-Mart.
- If you think you can fan all the pot smoke out of the car before we smell it, good luck.
- We know you’ve had more than 2 beers. I’ve never had two beers and driven my car through the front doors of a Toys-R-Us, pissed my pants, and passed out with my foot on the gas.
- Here’s how to get out of a ticket, don’t break the law in the first place.
- If you drive a piece of junk car; this is why you’re getting pulled over. In one week I pulled over 10 cars for “minor” equipment violations.
- 8 out of 10 had no vehicle insurance,
- 7 out of 10 had suspended driver’s licenses,
- 5 out of 10 had warrants, 2 out of 10 had felony warrants,
- and 1 out of 10 was a known sex offender with his 12 year old niece in the car without her mothers knowledge.
- Of the 2 out of 10 that didn’t have any other violations, one was given a “fix-it-ticket”, and the other was given a warning. (if you are trying to do the math many had multiple violations)
- If you’ve just been pulled over doing 70 in the 35 Do Not greet the officer with “what seems to be the problem, officer.”
- We get coffee breaks too, and sometimes we run into stores and do some shopping during them.
- When you’re the victim of a burglary take the time you spend waiting for the officer to find the model and serial numbers of the stuff that was taken.
- Some cops are just jerks, but take heart in the fact that other cops don’t like them either.
- If it’s nighttime and you’re driving a vehicle with tinted windows and I pull you over. It’s not because of your skin color, I usually can’t tell if the vehicle even has a driver until the windows are rolled down.
- Cops do make mistakes, and sometimes they’re big mistakes.
- Some cops are bad, and sometimes they’re really bad.
- Every time you hear on the news about people running away from a crazed gunman, someone’s son or daughter in a blue or brown uniform is running TOWARD that crazed gunman.
- City cops don’t like the highway patrol and vice versa.
- Yes, it’s true, cops usually don’t give other cops speeding tickets. Think of it as an employee discount, and unless you’re a habitual speeder all you ever get is a fine.
- If your local police agency has a helicopter everyone knows it’s loud and annoying, but did you know it can cover the same area as 15-20 patrol officers, and safely chase criminals that are driving 90 MPH through city streets. Many times the guy has no idea it’s there and slows down.
- Your 5-year-old kid getting pushed down by another 5-year-old kid IS NOT a police matter, talk to the other kid’s parents.
- If your kid won’t do his homework or do his chores, 911 is not the answer for a uniformed second-string parent.
- If you hit your spouse in front of your children, your children will hit their spouse in front of their children.
- Police work is…writing reports.
- If you rob a gas station you’re only going to get $20, but I get to see a large K-9 dog use your arm as a chew toy. For all I care you can keep the $20.
- In 1 year of patrol work in a large city only about 10 mins. would be cool enough to be on the television show, COPS. But if COPS was about report writing and accident reports each show would be a year long.
- Every traffic stop could end in gunfire, but we have to be polite and professional until that time.
- I’ve taken about the same amount of men/women to jail for domestic violence, so NO it’s not always the man.
- People love firefighters.
- Attention Victims: I need to know the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW. Not what meds you’re on or what your 15 cats have peed upon.
- Some cops don’t like to be called cops I don’t know why, but most don’t care — we’ve been called worse.
- If you find crack pipes in the lady’s purse, there is a good chance they belong to her.
- When you are wearing pants and we find illegal items in your pants, a poor excuse is to claim the pants you’re wearing are not your pants.
- Cops know you pay taxes and that your taxes pay cops’ salaries. Cops also pay taxes, which also pay cops’ salaries so, hey, this traffic stop is on me. Now sign here; press hard.
- And a Variation On The Above— Irate Offender: My tax money pays your salary, so you work for me! LEO: I pay taxes, too, so I figure I’m self-employed.
- Yes, you have rights. But please bear in mind that with rights come obligations.
- When you see an officer walk into the room, a polite greeting of “Hello, how are you?” is much more appropriate than, “Uh-Oh Jim, it looks like they’re here for you!” or putting your arms up and exclaiming, “I didn’t do it!” It will surely save you from looking like an unoriginal horse’s arse.
- If there are police cars, fire trucks, or ambulances at your neighbor’s house then there is a problem. You don’t need to meddle in your neighbor’s business by asking us what’s happening. Your curiosity, no matter how strong, is not a reason to violate your neighbor’s privacy. If it’s something that YOU need to worry about, we would’ve knocked on your door and told you.
- If I have my gun pointed at someone, or even in my hand, it’s not the time to ask what’s going on or if everything is okay. It’s the time to stay out of the freaking way.
- Remember that you and I enjoy the benefits of Constitutional rights. And so does the guy you suspect of stealing your stuff. No, I can’t go search his house for your property just because you suspect he might be involved.
- No, I don’t know your cousin who’s a police officer in (fill in a location anywhere in the US)( IOW We Don’t All Know Each Other)
- No, your crappy band doesn’t have until 10:00 pm to blast your crappy music out of that garage.
- If I can see a 12-year-old in your house finishing a beer bong I don’t need a warrant.
- If you don’t know what the speed limit in your neighborhood is what makes you think it’s 65.
- If a neighborhood association asks for police to start ticketing in their neighborhood, one of the first five ticketed is on the board.
- When you’re blocking an area to traffic (both foot and vehicle), “No, you can’t go that way” doesn’t mean, “You’re special, so by all means, go ahead.”
- If an officer is standing in front of you with his hand outstretched, waving furiously at you, plus he’s yelling for you to “Stop”, it’s usually a good idea to do as he asks. Please don’t keep driving toward the officer (as happened to me the other night).
- Flares + cruiser parked at an angle = Place you can’t go, even if it’s a ramp to the interstate.
- Don’t run from the police and then attempt to hide in a warehouse. Especially don’t do this if the officers tell you that the dog is going to be let loose, as this will generally result in the dog winning. They leave some pretty marks, by the way.
- Stop resisting means exactly that. Don’t say “I’m not resisting” as you throw a punch at the officer’s face.
- Just because you’re handcuffed doesn’t mean you won’t go on the ground if you attempt to assault an officer. We try not to make exceptions for pregnant women who bite us, either. You may go down more gently, but if you resist, you will go down.
- Did you really think I wasn’t going to find that large lump of crack you got clenched in your butt? Come on, it’s either the world’s largest ‘roid, or you got something you ain’t supposed to have.
- If they tell you they borrowed the jacket from a friend, just before you search it, they’ve got something, and it’s still gonna be their jacket.
- For some reason, you think I’ll believe it when you tell me that you don’t know how it got there. (see above)
- Stopping a green man in a blue shirt and pink pants a block away from an armed robbery when a suspect’s description is a green man in a blue shirt and pink pants…IS NOT racial profiling.
- Just because you have your hazard lights on, doesn’t mean it is okay to park in the fire lane and run into the store. Even if you really need milk!
- No, I will not go get your 6-year-old from their friend’s house, because it is 1:00 am and you don’t want to drive for 3 minutes. Maybe you should set a curfew, and enforce it. I am not a bad police officer, you’re a bad parent.
- Often we have to work in environments where we are the only ones that have to follow the rules.
- A veteran Sergeant told me on my first day of patrol “when you wear that uniform everything you do is a liability.”
- We do make mistakes and due to the nature of the job sometimes they have horrible results.
- Sometimes even minor mistakes cost Police Officers their lives, at a rate of 1 every 50 hours.
- What do you MEAN you can’t evict my renter/significant other/drug buddy?! I want them gone so that tomorrow when we’re both sober, we can make up and repeat this whole cycle again next weekend!
- When I contact you for something, be straightforward with me. Chances are, I saw you do something, or I know the information already. You playing games and lying about it won’t make things any easier or go faster.
As a matter of fact, you might end up going downtown for a while or being detained longer than needed. I’ve let many people go with warnings who were upfront and truthful and I have arrested or towed people’s cars who wanted to play games and ended up getting themselves into more trouble than what the original contact was about.
- I’m Officer Friendly until you give me a reason to stop being Officer Friendly. How our contact goes is up to you to dictate. You are cool. I’ll be cool. If you want to get aggressive and put me on alert, being polite and courteous becomes a secondary concern.
- If I pull out the TASER and you yell “don’t tase me,” but are still running toward me …. chances are you will be getting tased.
- We’ve heard it all, some more than once, some on almost a daily basis.
- These aren’t my pants.
- There shouldn’t be anything illegal in the car, officer.
- I was keeping up with traffic!
- I have the right to see the radar gun!
- Possession really is 9/10ths of the law in this case. So you can tell your friend that they are your pants now. Once you’re out of jail you can give them back.
- Yes, it’s a Glock, and no, you can’t see it.
- And not the least: the majority of Police Officers do their job honestly and with great pride. We try to do our job well. You seldom read about us, or see us on YouTube. Only the minority of cops that are bad apples make exciting headlines.
NOTE: Comments made in the first person, I, We, etc., are assumed to be from the LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) perspective. Many thanks to the members of GlockTalk for their suggestions and contributions.
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NOTE: The publisher of this page is a former US Intelligence officer, and has never been a member of the US Law Enforcement Community. The purpose of the page is to foster civil communications, open dialogue, and an occasional chuckle.
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