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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 thecopdoc.com.


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