Training >> Browse Articles >> Patrol


10 Tips for Ride-Alongs

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

10) Follow Instructions

The most important of the ten tips in this PoliceLink column is to follow the instructions of both the department and the host officer or deputy sheriff.  This is a major liability and responsibility for the agency and the officer; it’s important to respect that.

Be aware that not all officers may be happy with your presence.  Some police officers view their world as being closed to non-sworn folks, while others will welcome you with open arms.  You have to be prepared for most mindsets.

Whether the officer volunteered or was volunteered by their supervisors certainly makes a difference in the quality of the ride-along experience.  Even more crucial, though, is whether you listen to what you are supposed to do.  Following instructions will go a long way towards creating goodwill.

For example, many agencies require that the ride-along stay in the car during calls for police service.  If that is the case, do so unless the officer has you move for safety or other reasons.

Ask questions to clarify your limitations and instructions before you begin the adventure.  If you fully understand your boundaries and follow instructions, your ride-along experience will be a terrific two-way bridge of understanding for you as a member of the community and for the law enforcer serving the community.

Dr. Richard B. Weinblatt, Ed.D., M.P.A., is the Director of the Institute for Public Safety (over Criminal Justice, Basic Police Academies, Fire Science, etc.) for Central Ohio Technical College. He can be contacted at

Related Reads:

Earn Your Criminal Justice Degree!
Campus or Online Programs – Featured Opportunity
Want to help prevent crime and protect your community? Get started on your goals with a criminal justice degree. Get free information about criminal justice programs online and in your area.

Get more information

  • New_avatar_4_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    When I first moved to San Antonio, I took a ride along with an SAPD officer who had eighteen years experience on the force.He was working day shift, so we didn't see a lot of excitement.It was fun and I learned a lot.My agency recently discontinued the practice of allowing ride alongs due to the liability.

  • Av-109_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Great information, though its a shame many agencies fail to realize the usefulness of the ride long program. I would also say ask relevant questions. I mean sure small talk is nice, but often times some questions are well, just plain stupid to ask if they aren't relevant to the field or the situation.

  • 12_week_old_brindle_male_pm_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Awesome !!!!!! Thank you so much!!

  • 13739_1324712157564_1223686236_972375_5153671_a_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Lol my first ride along sucked, I rode with my old man, he cuffed me and threw me in the back seat. Lol He thought it was funny...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Mostly a good article. I disagree about the meal though. As an officer, it would be rude of me to take a rider to a place that will be costly for them without a discount. I would never expect or accept a rider paying for my meal either. In fact, I pretty routinely buy dinner for my ride-a-longs. I have been where they are. I know what it's like looking for a job. Plus it's a good opportunity to show off your agency.

  • Wind_therapy-_angel_max50


    about 4 years ago


    informative, Regular citizens can request a ride along, you have to fill out the request form and await your background results.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    They should expand this to include most regular citizens too. Most of them are completely unaware of how most of the interaction is driven by their behavior and response to the officers more than what the officers need to do. Just remember as a citizen you should be - truthful helpful pleasant respectful and appreciative - and you will double your warnings versus citations for driving mistakes or whatever.

  • Maa_class_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    When I was a Police Explorer, we got to go on ride alongs. They were definately fun and intense. I have been on traffic stops, loud parties, dead body call, grave yard surveilance, etc. these definately are some good tips to hold on to.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    I can't wait to be involved in one of these. :)

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Very helpful! Thanks!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    About to go on a ride along soon thanks for the tips ... and DALLASCRANE good add in

  • Pug_max600_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Number 11... Bring a small, powerful flashlight. In an emergency or wreck it may come in very handy.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Ok, I get that a ride-along can be dangerous, but my town put on (3) of these and I enjoyed each and every one! They were a great bird's eye view into LE, and I still am a CJ student & active member of my community. I feel that a lot more communities would benefit from better Police/Community relations if all Police depts. were able to enact these. If anything, esp. in communities where "racial profiling" occurs, so that these citizens can see what the Cop sees. And let me tell you, there is no way in Hell that if I was on a ride-along & the officer I was with got attacked that I would do Jack Shit Nothing! Yeah, somewhere in the back of my head would be little nagging thoughts about the "trouble" I'd be in, but really, I would deal with that later. I mean, I'm on a ride-along...Our PD did a fantastic job of showing us how to use the radio during re-enactments, so at the very least I would use the radio. Who knows, maybe I would be a good distraction(hahahaha), maybe I could even get some Black & Blues to brag about later(if I had any teeth left). Seriously though, the ride-alongs were the frosting on the cake...they came after(my PD did it along with a Citizens Police Academy that lasted 3 months each)we had classes on basic laws & regulations, scenarios that officers face in which we commoners, the little townies got to play the "Cops" and the officers [that had volunteered to be a part of this Citizen Academy]got to turn around and be us jerky "Townies" instead. It was great fun & very informative on both sides of the fence. I wish they'd do it again, as there are more officers on our PD and I don't know them all now.

  • Cimg4853hero_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    This is a great article! Being a police explorer I have been on my fair share of ride-alongs. All of the officers I know would strongly agree with these key topics. Remember you are a guest in their "office" so you need to treat the car and officer with respect.

  • Jack-sparrow-pirates-of-the-caribbean_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    I have had 3 ride-alongs so far and they were all great!! I am currently setting a second one up with the Des Moines IA police dept. My other 2 were with the Polk County Sheriff and those were awesome!! It was kind of interesting how both of my sheriff ride-alongs were mostly quiet the whole time, than at the last minute of their shift, something major happened, which made my most recent ride-along last 16 hours lol. Both of the departments have very good officers and they all have a really interesting but funny sense of humor. I can't wait to go on my next one!!

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Htownphantom commented on: "Rick Matayabas", about 1 hour ago.
Htownphantom commented on: "lydia urb", about 1 hour ago.
Htownphantom commented on: "Antonio Bruno", about 1 hour ago.
Htownphantom commented on: "Dani Bergin", about 1 hour ago.
Htownphantom commented on: "Arthur Tukes", about 1 hour ago.