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10 Ways to Generate Complaints on Patrol

10 Ways to Generate Complaints on Patrol

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

With a public always looking to give law enforcement officers the benefit of the doubt and high profile police officers and deputy sheriffs never making mistakes that catch the public eye, this article is devoted to giving the aspiring and veteran law enforcer alike ten sure fire tips on how to generate complaints from the public and your supervisors. If you want to get attention from your agency’s top administrators, be sure to pay close attention and adhere to these proven ways to garner the ire of the taxpayers.

Better yet, the truly devoted administrative complaint-generating officer may even aspire to the loftier criminal complaint level. At those heights, the pay off for a negative adjudication is having your room and board paid for by those same complaining taxpayers.

1. Keep your holster unsnapped and your hand on your gun at all times

You should ignore all the studies and experiments from my fellow firearms instructors. Just because they say that having the holster unsnapped at all times defeats the handgun retention advantages is no reason for you to do so. Ignore all those studies that show an officer that practices can draw and fire their weapon from a secured holster in an acceptable amount of time. By having your holster unsnapped and your hand on it, you’ll be sure to create that adversarial relationship at every police-citizen contact you have during your shift.

2. Take your time getting to calls

Figuring that people think we in law enforcement take too long to get to calls for police service anyway, take your time. Make that complaint a good solid one by stopping for ice cream on the way. If you get held up on a higher priority call, be sure to tell dispatch not to contact the other caller and advise them that you will be enroute as soon as the exigent call is completed.

3. Use profanity

Lowering yourself to the level of street gangs and being disrespectful to the public will certainly irritate them. They will not view you as a professional or focus on the substance of what you are trying to tell them. Instead, they will fixate on your perceived disrespect and conjure up different ways to complain on you and otherwise damage your career.

4. Assault and Batter Suspects

Throw out all allegiance to the department’s use of force policy and make yourself no better than the people we arrest. Be sure to assault and batter suspects without provocation or justification. Better yet, be sure that those injuries are visible so that they can be photographed later and used against you to sustain the complaint.

5. Downgrade all Calls for Service

In the vein of being responsive to your bosses concerns on crime rates, be sure to artificially lower those local crime trends by reclassifying calls for service as you handle them. Make that assault a disorderly conduct and so on. For example, tell young men that if it is an assault, it meant that they were in fear so therefore they are chicken. Trick and browbeat people into changing the facts of the incident to meet the elements in lower crimes.

6. Smoke and eat at calls

When you do show up your calls for police service, be sure to smoke, eat, and engage in other such sloppy and unprofessional conduct. Don’t worry about how such behavior appears or the role model influence that you have on young people.

7. Hassle Dispatchers

Ignore the conventional wisdom that dispatchers are your lifelines and hassle these folks no end. Be rude, demanding, and cut them off on the radio. You could even scratch the microphone with your nails to signal your unprofessional attitude. With the identifier technology embedded in today’s communications equipment, the agency will be sure to be able to track down such behavior to you.

8. Mishandle Reports and Forget About Submitting Evidence and Crime Lab Items

Be sure that all of your reports are incomplete, fraught with grammatical and spelling errors, and inaccurate. While you are at it, be sure to omit any written voluntary statements, any photographs, and use of force reports. Forget that the police are the world’s biggest record keepers and that detailed, factual, chronologically reported documents are need for years to come for investigations, as well as the criminal and civil proceedings. And while you are at it, lose that evidence and forget to submit that evidence to the crime lab. Leave it in the trunk of your cruiser and ignore that chain of command evidence tag that is supposed to lead to your evidence custodian.

9. Shortcut calls

When you are at those pesky calls for service, be sure to ignore the need or requests to take fingerprints. Forget about canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses. Try to dispose of the call in the quickest possible so you can go on that coveted meal break.

10. Drive Fast

Be sure to drive fast, so you do not force drivers behind you to slow down. Fast driving, along with aggressive lane changing, are sure to garner attention. Most folks will assume that you are getting a pizza and not on the way to a call (even without your lights activated).

Theses ten items, while not all encompassing, are sure to generate complaints that you will have to answer. That may give you much desired time off during an administrative professional standards investigation to contemplate your new career and welcoming friends at the local car wash.

Better yet, some of those complaints may even lead to a separate criminal investigation and charges being pressed. Ignore that annoying idea that if we in criminal justice break the law, we’re no better than them. Instead, focus on how much you’ll enjoy meeting new friends and learning new activities when you get locked up for breaking the law.

On the other hand, if you want a long, productive, and rewarding record of respectfully generated service to the community, be sure to do the opposite of this negative list. There is some truth to the theory that active, professionally behaving officers do statistically generate more complaints. However, by acting in a diametrically opposed manner from the above, the incidences of complaints will be greatly minimized.

Dr. Richard Weinblatt, a former police chief and criminal justice educator, has written articles and provided media commentary since 1989. He can be reached via

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