5 dumb questions people ask when they learn you're a police officer
People ask cops a lot of questions, from "How many people have you killed?" to "How do I get out of a ticket?"
After becoming a cop, you'll quickly discover you are now the go-to source for any topic related to law enforcement.
And, when you're introduced to someone new in your personal life, it'll no doubt be followed by, "He's a cop." When that happens, brace yourself for the usual questions. Because no matter where you work, they're always the same.
1. How many people have you killed?
News flash: most cops never discharge their firearm in the line of duty. Statistics from the FBI, police management textbooks and even the NY Times state that only about 1% of police officers will ever fire their weapon. In addition, due to modern medical technology, a good number of people who have been shot will live.
I don’t know a single officer with a career goal of killing someone. Psychological testing tends to weed these people out of the hiring process. As for the small percentage of officers who have been involved with a shooting, I assure you that they’d rather talk about the lives they saved versus the shooting they were in.
2. What is the worst thing you have ever seen?
Seriously, why would you ask something like this? Public safety personnel see people on their worst day all the time. No one calls 911 for happy events. So yes, we see many horrible things. And every time I think I’ve seen something that is the worst thing ever, something even worse will happen.
I have nightmares. Some calls have made me question my faith and my career path. Now you ask a question that makes me drag all that up into the forefront of my brain. Thanks a lot. Maybe I should ask you to tell me about the worse day of your life before I share mine.
3. What is the best way to get out of a ticket?
Don’t break the law!
That is the only answer I can give you. No, we don’t have a secret handshake. No, there is not a secret password. There are no crazy tricks to get out of something you earned.
Now that being said, if you are courteous to a cop and they are in a good mood then yes, MAYBE you will get a break. But I make no guarantees.
4. Can I ask your opinion about how a cop treated me this one time I got pulled over?
Let me get this straight. Years ago when you were a teenager, you got pulled over in some other jurisdiction and thinking back on that night you feel that the officer was rude to you. Guess what? I have no way to construct an opinion on that event.
Sorry, but I’m sure that in the decades that have passed since that night, your recollection of the events has changed. It is human nature. Each time you tell the story, the cop gets meaner and you are more innocent of the violation.
Maybe that cop was a jerk. Maybe you were the jerk to him. Maybe no one was a jerk; you just got a ticket and are still pissed about it.
5. Is it true that … ?
There are so many damn myths about police out there that it is not even funny. Some of those include:
- Is it true you have quotas? No (at least where I work we don’t).
- Is it true undercover cops have to say they are undercover when asked? No, if that was true every undercover would be outed in 30 seconds.
- Is it true you can’t arrest someone in church? No. You are thinking about the guys from the movie Highlander, and they were not cops.
Is it true…is it true…is it true… NO NO NO! Stop believing everything you see on TV and read on the internet! Except this, you can believe everything I said, trust me.
This article, originally published 03/13/2016, has been updated.