10 funny habits that follow you off-duty

From sitting with your back to a wall in a restaurant to always having your gun hand free, check out these off-duty cop habits

This article is being updated with suggestions from Police1 readers. Make sure to keep reading for more funny off-duty habits and submit your suggestions at the end of the article.

These funny habits follow you home – even after retirement – proving that officers are never truly off-duty.

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1. I constantly look at people's waists and ankles. My wife knows what I'm doing but it's awkward when I do this to waiters and waitresses and they think I'm checking them out. – Bert Estrada

Officers are never truly off-duty.
Officers are never truly off-duty. (iStock image)

2. Put a seatbelt across my groceries on the front seat...just like my duty bag. – Michel Vigeant

3. Do you ever sign a receipt for dinner or store purchase and automatically add your badge number? Cashiers are like 'What's this number?'  – Joe Moore

4. I will be off duty at the store and wave at kids and smile. Their parents look at me like I'm a perv. – Art Walgren

5. I always unbuckle my seatbelt about 30 seconds before I bring my truck to a stop. – Roger Dillon

6. Stand to the side of the door, foot in front of any door that might open out. – Ralph Streicher

7. When I retired, it took me forever to start using my gun hand for anything. After years and years of having it drilled into my head to keep my gun hand free at all times, it was hard to remember I no longer carried a gun. – Scott Roder

8. My husband needs to sit with his back toward a wall so whenever we are in the middle of the restaurant I have to stop and ask him what side he wants and I stand there till he decides. – Victoria LeBlanc

9. I read every license plate around me. I touch my computer screen at home...it’s not a Toughbook. – Adam Christopher

10. I'm retired almost 25 years and I still look at other drivers, I still look for bulges under sweaters, shirts and jackets. I still look for one pants leg hanging longer than the other. – Roy Zinkiewicz

Police1 readers respond

  • If I am getting something from the back of a store, before I walk back up front to the cashier, I take a position of advantage to see who's up there and what's going on for a minute before walking up with my purchase. Sometimes I get strange looks from people wondering who is this guy standing there behind a counter or shelf just scanning the cash register area.

  • Watching people watching me. I always think they can "see" me as a cop, and for some reason, they always ask me questions in stores, like I work there. I am either nice, or I look like a Target clerk.

  • Dispatchers do it too! I've been retired for three years, and still see license plates in phonetics: "Edward John Robert..."

  • While driving, reaching out to rest my left hand on the spotlight handle.

  • Stopping before exiting a building to check for anyone loitering in the shadows.

  • When off duty and see a vehicle in the opposite direction speeding, I would reach for the radar remote that I usually kept in the seat between my legs.

  • Every time I exit my personally owned vehicle I reach for my belt line to turn on my portable radio, which isn’t there.

  • When I’m a passenger I always call out "clear right" after I check traffic when entering an intersection.

  • Whenever I pass vehicles, I check for out-of-date validation stickers, cell phone use and seat belts. I also make note of plate numbers of suspicious vehicles.

  • When needing to go to the bathroom while driving off duty, I will pass gas stations just to get to the ones with the kids changing tables in the stalls only to remember I am off duty and don't have my duty gear on.

  • When speaking to a person, I turn my strong side away from them and stay at least an arms-length from them.

  • Before I enter a store or restaurant, I scan the place as best I can before going in. Once in, I look for exits and cover vs concealment. I then check out everyone in the store to observe body language that could indicate potential robbery and theft suspects.

  • I scan a room before entering to the point where others say, "What are you waiting for?"

  • Having a conversation with someone and only making eye contact after I have found every exit in a room.

  • I catch myself trying to lay my forearm on top of my duty weapon while in a crowded area off duty.
  • I keep locking my keys in my car that still uses a key because I am used to having a fob in my pocket.
  • When turning the dome light on in my personal car, I reach for the switch on the side of the circle in the squad, only to realize it isn’t there.
  • While stopped at a red light I leave enough distance between my vehicle and one in front of me so I’m not boxed in. Never know when a hot call comes and you're stuck!
  • Always backing into a parking space.
  • Reaching for the mic to go 10-7 when in my personal vehicle and getting home.
  • I still watch in the rearview mirror for cars following me from where I started driving. If I see a suspicious car, I will pull into a housing tract and dust myself off.
  • If I am a passenger in a vehicle, I can't help but notice every traffic violation the driver commits. Sometimes I will say something to the driver, but mostly I bite my lip and keep it to myself.
  • Always looking to see who is next to me at a traffic light and not stopping door to door with the car next to me. Also, tactical parking with an area to always be able to get my car out without being boxed in.

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This article, published on 04/18/2013, has been updated.


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