What is your most embarrassing moment as a cop?

From being found in uniform without your duty weapon to having a prisoner escape, cops face many red-faced moments on a daily basis

A question posted on Quora asked, “What is the most embarrassing/humiliating experience for a cop?” Former officer Justin Freeman gave his professional opinion on the topic below. Check it out and add your thoughts in the comment box below.

1. Being found in uniform without your duty weapon. Where I worked, officers were not allowed to take their weapons into the jail and had to either stow them in the trunk of their patrol car or in a special bank of lockboxes at the entry port. It was always possible to forget to re-holster your weapon after processing an arrest, and you can imagine how incompetent you'd look arriving at an active disturbance with an empty holster.

2. Having a prisoner escape. There have been instances in the area where I worked of prisoners "slipping their cuffs" (having flexibility enough to slide their cuffs under their feet from the back to get their hands in front of them) and subsequently stealing the patrol car they were in. 

You never want to run out of gas while on patrol.
You never want to run out of gas while on patrol. (Photo/Pixabay)

3. Accidental discharge of your duty weapon. When I was in the police academy, I attended the retirement reception of a lieutenant during which an accidental discharge he'd had as a rookie was brought up.

4. Getting locked out of your patrol car.

5. Running out of gas while on patrol.

6. Missing contraband while searching an arrestee and having a jailer find it.

7. Getting bested by a defense attorney while testifying, whether them walking you through a procedural anomaly or letting them get under your skin.

8. Losing a suspect during a foot pursuit. Also during a vehicle pursuit, but far less so, because you have to drive much more cautiously than the suspect will in order to preserve the safety of innocent drivers and bystanders.

9. Losing your keys or electronic access card.

10. Having to be accommodated during police academy (falling out of formation while running and so on).

11. Falling victim to the dreaded hot mic. This happens on computer terminals, too. We had a system on the patrol car laptops that allowed you to send a message to an individual officer, a squad, or all officers on duty. One of us second shifters got sent to a complicated call late in our shift, and an officer on my squad thinking he was set to squad-wide messaging, typed, "Where is third shift?" He, unfortunately, sent that to the entire city instead. A third shifter responded, "We're right here, buddy." Made for a bit of tension in the station.

12. Spraying another officer with OC (pepper) spray while trying to subdue a combative subject. It's understood that there's no way of totally avoiding crossfire or cross-contamination, but some hits are more direct than others.

13. Lasering (pointing the muzzle of a firearm in someone's direction) someone on the firing range.

14. Forgetting or miswearing a uniform component (name badge upside down, for example).

15. Getting your directions mixed up on your way to a call and either driving the wrong way or driving well under the speed limit trying to get your bearings. Exponentially worse if you're running code (lights and sirens).

16. Having someone discover (typically your field training officer doing an inspection) that you don't have a round in the chamber of your duty weapon.

17. Being late for shift or training, or missing a court date.

18. Being forced to use the restroom in a private residence, or to ask a citizen on a scene for a favor of most any kind.

19. Having to backtrack for information you should have gotten the first time. I once had to go back to the jail because I forgot to ask certain interview questions during a DWI investigation, and have had to drive to witnesses' residences well after the fact to ask an important question I duffed during the initial interview.

Police1 readers respond

  • Forgetting to put unit in park and having it roll by you and the complainant while taking information for a call. Then watching it hit a parked car thinking what an idiot the other cop was for hitting the car and then realizing no one is in it and it was your unit!
  • Where to start? I have experienced most of what was mentioned. I guess getting locked out on a TS and the vehicle you stopped was a lock smith. Needless to say, they got a verbal warning!
  • Beginning of shift, put my posse box on the roof of the patrol car. Made it to the overpass before it fell off and burst open. In full uniform, within full view of the freeway, running around trying to pick up all my papers in the middle of the afternoon.
  • 3: Leaving my doppler radar on top of the cruiser, and at a red light, watching other motorists laughing at me, realizing the doppler was still there. 2: CrownVic stuck in the mud, called for tow truck, other police car made fun of me on radio and then got stuck himself in mud right beside my cruiser. 1: Intercept car for seat belt ticket, left my car on (D)rive, yelling at offender for "backing into my cruiser." He got away without the ticket.

  • Leaving that one accessory light bar on and wondering why people are pulling over to let you pass.

  • Investigating a potential motor vehicle accident into a fence at the caller's residence. Well, it turns out the caller did not actually see what happened. I try to show details of damage not lining up with what he claimed happened. Then he advised me he was "visually impaired." Visually impaired? Oh. He might have poor eyesight. "Sir, do you have any glasses that could help?" "No." Turns out this man was not simply "visually impaired," he was completely blind. I asked a blind man if glasses would help him see.

  • Halfway through my shift I realized my badge was missing from my shirt. Spent a few hours re-tracing my steps but couldn’t find it. Told my Sgt. and was preparing for the coming discipline. Had to get something out of my locker and found my badge hanging on my jacket that I had taken off earlier because it had warmed up outside.

  • Having your broken-down unit towed away in front of the entire high school just being let out for the day!

This article, published 10/09/2015, has been updated.

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