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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

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  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 5 years ago


    What about pocket knives? I carry mine everywhere I go. Since I sometimes need to cut up my lunch or do things people do with scissors. Then I carry my mag light in case something happens or to avoid stepping in dog mess and so I can see where to put my key. As for difficult or dangerous situation I've been in more of those than I want to think about. I'd say visit the bathroom every chance you get it hurts when things get crazy and you need to you know what. I'd agree to leave the mag in the trunk and leave my pocket knife in there if it was a problem. I don't want to be doing that with a person who is deliberately trying to scare me. I'm hoping it will be routine if I do that. I've seen enough really horrible things in my life. 115 mph that'd certainly spook me. Going that fast something goes wrong and you've had it.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    about 5 years ago


    A FEW EXTRA POINTS: Most of the time the drive is fairly routine. I always suggest you carry a small pocket flashlight. Be aware of how the radio functions. Body armor is always an option. If you have body armor check the expiration date and condition. Rain wear is appropriate in some situations simply leave it in the trunk till needed. Please fasten your seat belt before you are asked! Have a good ride!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    Eilene: "They couldn't scare me, didn't work, I knew i wasn't in any danger, traveling on the highway at 115 mph." wow, the overconfident ridealong... i hope you would hold your composure that well when all heck breaks loose.

  • 375956_401447159923274_1109023972_n_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Great Article, I have been on several ride a longs, too many to count. Although, I did all of my paperwork before I went and was totally prepared. Some things you are not prepared for, I knew the deputies I was riding along with and it seemed their only task for the evening was to try to see if they could scare me. Didn't work, I knew I wasn't in any danger, traveling on the highway at 115 miles per hour. In fact, one call we had that night the deputy I was riding with locked me in the cruiser. I rode with a deputy and we went on a child abuse call, he handed me a flashlight and said "you know what to do with this" if you need to. Another ride-along I had to go into a house with an Officer for a drug search. Everything depends on who you ride with, but knowing your boundaries is an excellent point. I wish I had read your article before those ride alongs. Thank you

  • Hard_rock_3-20-11_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Thanks for the tips. I plan on scheduling a ride along soon and hope that I get paired up with someone that has volunteered!

  • Aug_sept_2007_098_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Good article! Wish we had this system in Sweden too.....

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    This was really good information. I have to say though, I really didnt think that people who had warrants would honestly try to go on a ride a long! That is hilarious.. I thave went on a couple with Pierce County and King County Sherffs dept. Both agencies were great...and I have to say that I was surprised/disappointed that there wasnt more "action" going on the nites I chose(Fri and Sat) but looking back at it now.. I know that was a good thing!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    Great information! Thank you, for quality and suggestive tips. I plan to go on a Ride-Along soon and I can't wait. Hopefully the Officer appointed to me was the one that VOLUNTEERED :)

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    Good article.

  • Gun_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Great article Doc! As a reserve officer I always want to ridealong with other agencies. Just to observe and see the differences between larger cities/departments and smaller ones.

  • 9_11_01_max600_max50


    about 5 years ago


    thank you for posting this article

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I found out the hard way make sure that the lieutenant or other officer in charge had chosen a patrol officer who welcomed a ride along..if they don't it will not be pleasant venture, When the patrol officer was ok with a ride along it was always a fascinating few hours, quickly leanred that most just love their jobs. Thins can escalate in a hurry. Do not carry hot coffee into the cruiser! I did and it spilled!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    To me this seems like stuff people should know going into this situation. If they don't, or act stupid they have no place being in the car.

    Only thing is about the food and eating out. At my local PD they would never let me pay for even myself lol. They are really a good group of guys, and when you are around enough and they like you especially with small departments everyone is family.

  • Pro_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I've been a Sheriff's Explorer for 4 years, and have 1000+ hours logged just in ridealongs. My biggest advice to those riding with a Peace Officer would be "USE COMMON SENSE". If you don't, you can get yourself or the officer killed.

  • Picture_013_max50


    about 5 years ago


    A very useful article. When someone talks to me about doing a ride-along I let them know the following.
    1) Fill out the ride along application and get you background check early. We are going to check your background, and yes we’ve seen worst.
    2) Our officers are requires to check-on 15 minutes prior to their shift so they can respond to calls. Be early and ready to go.
    3) Remember that our shift revolves around the publics needs. You may not get off on time, so be prepared for an extended ride-along.
    4) It’s not our fault if nothing exciting happens during your ride-along. We don’t control the universe, we only respond to it. With that being said, understand that sometimes it’s quiet and we look forward to a nice shift. Other times we pray too for the world to explode.

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