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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

  • You_talkin__to_me_max50


    about 4 years ago


    And always remember everyone's is watching where the uniform is going and what the uniform is doing and how the uniform does it. It's a youtube world and a youtube moment lasts forever.

  • Img_2238_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Someone was obviously having a bad day and need some humor.

  • Img00015-20101105-1530_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I recommend all trainees to read this.

  • Asstd_021_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Drill Sargeant: It's obvious that you aren't on the job and you are in your online fantasy life of being a cop. What would make me think this besides the ridiculous post and non-verified LEO status? Check the spelling of sergeant before you use it for your user name.

  • Sheepdog-thumb1_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Drill Sargeant I hope to god you are not a LEO. If you are do the rest of us a favor, eat your gun now, everything will be better I promise.

  • Punksmileybest50_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Yuk, yuk, yuk! This is great...and most of it is very true. Although I do not currently serve in a peacekeeping role...I comisurate with anyone who has witnessed these 10 items in person as well as tend to believe those who say it happened to them. Just like that security guard at the mall, working for 7 bucks an professional and stay focused-but dont be some off the cuff melow drama actor! Keep it real.

  • Blue_line_decal_max50


    about 5 years ago


    These all sound stupid to me.

    This guy thinks we're NEVER supposed to cuss at a suspect? I'm sorry, it's going to happen. And, odds are, it WON'T generate a complaint, because that's just the language the people we deal with speak.
    Speeding without lights on? Done it. Why? Because I was in the area of a burglary in progress and thought it prudent to turn off my lights and siren so that I didn't alert the suspects that I was three blocks away and getting closer.
    Shortcut a call? Everyone does it. Every PD has that same person who calls about trespassers, or something like that, and we all know it's a bogus call. No one's going to spend time canvassing for criminals we know don't exist just to appease someone we all know is mentally ill.
    Hassle dispatchers? Only when they're screwing up. Nothing is more annoying than having a dispatcher ask me to repeat myself SEVEN TIMES when everyone else heard me the first time and says so.
    I don't think you should ever keep your holster unsnapped at all times, but generally, as a matter of comfort, my hand rest on my gun when I'm talking with people: witnesses, victims, etc. It's just at a comfortable level for me to rest my hand. It's like resting your hand on your hip. I don't find that offensive. If they're bothered by it, don't call the cops next time, or get my department to let me wear a lighter duty belt that doesn't weigh 30lbs.
    There are plenty of times it's completely justifiable to downgrade calls. Suspicious activity calls replace attempted burglaries all the time, because there was no attempted burglary. It was the wind, a newspaper delivery man, etc.

    This guy's bio says he's a former police chief, but I have to wonder about his qualities as an officer in the field. He's basically saying "Hey cops, don't break the law, and always remember the customer is always right." Sorry. In this profession, the customer isn't always right. In fact, they're very often wrong, and this joker seems to have forgotten what it's like to police by giving these ludicrous examples and tips.

  • Txbadge_max50


    about 5 years ago


    #10 gets to me because it is the complaint I hear the most. I spend 90% of my time patrolling 15-20 MPH BELOW the limit--face it, you can see more, it's safer, and you're more visible--and if I'm going anywhere non-emergency then I am religiously observing the limit. If you see me going anywhere without lights on at any amount over the limit, then there's a damn good reason for it...which may or may not be an emergency. Maybe I'm trying to catch up with a vehicle that matches a stolen car wanted in a homicide, and I want to verify the plate and driver description before I either call in the cavalry for nothing or jack some poor stockbroker on a felony stop who is just trying to get home. Maybe the rookie in the next sector called out on a traffic stop with a known kook and now isn't answering his radio--which most often means he forgot to turn his portable on but could mean that he's getting his butt stomped by said kook high on angel dust. So no, I'm not blowing your doors off because the "hot now" sign came on at the Krispy-Kreme, but because something MIGHT be an emergency, but we just don't know yet. Seriously, folks, I spend 10-12 hours in a sector that's two miles square...I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere if there isn't a good reason for it!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    TennMotorman I agree 100%. There is a fine line between being a crook and a cop. We do a lot of the same things, hold on keep reading. I have had my pistol in some one's ear and even a few eyes. but just to get their attention in very bad situations. just remember Why are you doing it. Is it because he pissed you off and you want to get even, or do you need a "shock and all" to get control. I have smoked on calls, sorry was going through a burn out period. But really common sense and make sure you are doing what you are doing for the right reason because you may be on a grand jury one day explaining it. And we as police officers will never have a jury of peers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    Most of these ways are common sense, and some of them are just down right illegal, even if you are a police officer. If a civilian were to forget about "submitting evidence", they could be charged with tampering with evidence. Harrassment is illegal, no matter which way you do it and so is assaulting and battering someone without justification. It doesn't say it's illegal, unless your'e a police officer. I am a criminal justice student and I hope to have a long career in the law enforcement field. I have to say though that the law enforcement familly is only as good as the integrity it upholds. There are good and bad of all occupations and law enforcement isn't any different.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    From a civilian POV:
    #2: I had the distinct pleasure of being the only thing between 6 guys with pipe wrenches and the bloodied victims they were trying to kill and watch the responding officer go into a drive through across the street. It wasn't until the person on the line with 911 said that she could see an officer across the street getting food that I saw lights flip on and the officer drove across the street. I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt that there could have been some communication issue, but it sure looked bad.

    #10: I've never met a person LEO or not that hasn't seen this at least once.

  • Avatar_di_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Assault and Batter Suspects.

    Dang, we can't do that anymore? lol!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    I've had all I can take...I have read this guy's BS for about two years now and every time I see it I want to puke...I'm all about being professional and providing courteous service, however, there are times when you have have to piss people off. I'm can agree with some of his points, like not eating on calls and submitting your evidence and all that....Use common sense.....

    This guy is an ass clown....look at his's all pictures of him on TV and claims of all of his "expertise"....his house must be extremely has to be to fit his ego in it. The bottom line is, this guy is a paper pusher with very limited time on the road and all of his knowledge and "experience" comes from textbooks...not from fighting with drunks and thugs, working homicides, directing traffic in blistering heat, and certainly not by being a "police chief" in North Carolina. Randleman, NC has a population of less that 4,000 people and probably closer to 2,500 when he was there.

    I'd like to write an editorial on how to not get complained on, but, I'm leaving for go be the real safe, everyone.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    i started laughing at the very first part an rolled out of my chair just as i was getting to the last

  • Rosemary_max50


    about 5 years ago


    This is hilarious! This list is perfect and all of my patrol drivers at All Phase should read this for laughs and giggles =]

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