10 Tips for Ride-Alongs
Dr. Richard Weinblatt
5) Eating Etiquett
Officers work hard and rely on each other in sometimes life-threatening situations. Eating on meal breaks is an important part of the culture of policing. Sitting at the table will give you a personal and in-depth understanding of their world and their perspective.
Let the officers pick the eatery. You should eat prior to going on duty since you may have a high call volume shift and be unable to stop. If you and your host officer are able to take a break, the picked establishment may not be the type of food you would normally eat. Pick food off the menu wisely, so that you don’t end up needing the officer to make a high speed run to a bathroom.
While many agencies have policies that prevent officers from accepting free or discounted food, it is not your place to discuss it at that point in public. If a discount is not extended to you as a civilian guest, you certainly should not pound your fist and demand that your bill be adjusted. On the contrary, if you are able to, I suggest you pick up the tab for the officers present in appreciation for them including you in their world. If the restaurant management insists on cutting the bill, you should leave a tip on the table that equals or exceeds the full-price check.