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The ‘SWAT nod': How to tell other cops what your duty assignment is without saying a word

This gem has been floating around the internet for a while, and while its original author is unknown, the truths are just too accurate not to share


Like snowflakes, no two police officers are alike. Similarly, no two duty assignments are alike.


Add to this list in the comments area below and read dozens of additional “cop duty assignment signs” made by other police officers. If you are not a PoliceOne verified member, it’s free and easy to join PoliceOne for immediate access to reader comments.

Like snowflakes, no two police officers are alike. Similarly, no two duty assignments are alike. SWAT cops and school resource officers are all cops, but they have vastly different training, responsibilities and types of citizen contacts.

Motor cops have the primary objective of enforcing traffic laws, while vice cops go after street drugs and conduct prostitution stings. Even instructors are different – an FTO uses different training methods than a DT instructor. Let’s not even get started on the differences between patrol officers and administrative guys.

What follows is a list of how to make it clear to everyone in your department (as well as any other department) what your duty assignment is. In many cases you don’t even need to open your mouth – your attire and behavior will do all the work for you!

An important note before we begin: Be advised that what follows is not of my creation so I do not claim any ownership or authorship of it. Various versions of this have popped up in my Facebook feed, but I’ve never been able to ascertain its origin or identify its author. So with that disclaimer, enjoy this excellent piece of internet levity.

And to whoever wrote this, thank you!


  • Grow facial hair and tell everybody you were ordered to do so
  • Start wearing “Tap Out” T-shirts
  • Start watching every episode of “Monster Garage”
  • Buy a biker wallet with a big chain
  • Practice the “Don’t acknowledge me, even in the police station” look
  • Ensure that every case involves overtime pay
  • Learn to play golf while drunk


  • Wear team T-shirts (size small), Oakley sunglasses and boots every day
  • Try to fit the word “breach” and “tactical” into every conversation
  • Have a mirror handy to check hair (if you have hair)
  • Never say hello to anyone who is not an operator – just practice your SWAT nod
  • Subscribe to Soldier of Fortune, Guns and Ammo, and Muscle and Fitness magazines
  • Learn to play golf wearing a gun, a tactical knife and a back-up gun (just in case)

Community Service Units

  • Hate SWAT
  • Work to make everybody love you
  • Paint your office in pastel colors
  • Think feng shui at all times
  • Subscribe to Psychology Today magazine
  • Learn to play miniature golf

Motor Patrol

  • Write tickets to EVERYBODY
  • Spend every weekend cleaning your bike and polishing boots
  • Annoy the shit out of everyone on the radio by having complete disregard for anyone else’s radio traffic
  • Talk about nothing but how many tickets you wrote in one day
  • Constantly ride by a building with big windows to see your reflection
  • Refer to the “other” law enforcement officers as “car cops”
  • Remember that “LBR” (Look Bitchin’ Riding) is your mantra
  • Golf is lame – motor rodeos are cool

K-9 Units

  • Become completely sadistic
  • Show pictures of your latest dog bite
  • Brag about your largest drug find
  • Smell like a dog at all times
  • Workout three times a day
  • Show off your bruises

Administrative Units

  • Attend three-hour lunches every day and tell everybody it’s a “meeting”
  • Upgrade department cell phone every month
  • Tell everybody you are published in a national law enforcement magazine
  • Update your revenge list on a weekly basis
  • Expert at PowerPoint, bar charts and graphs
  • Play LOTS of golf – golf is awesome

Patrol Units

  • Develop nerves of steel and tell everyone about said nerves of steel
  • Remain in a terminal state of nausea from department politics
  • Lose your ability to keep your mouth shut
  • Acquire a refined taste in alcohol
  • Beat the crap out of your caddy on any bogeyed shot


  • Automatically grasp the door handle until your knuckles turn white as soon as the car is put in gear
  • View a multiple-victim homicide in progress as a “good training opportunity” and ask to take primary
  • Develop a life-long case of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Remember that less than three hours of OT is a quiet day


  • Come in at 0800
  • Take “breakfast” from 0815 to 1030
  • Work from 1030 to noon
  • From noon to 1400, eat lunch and work out
  • From 1400 to 1700, sit in CID and plan your next RV, fishing or motorcycle trip

Patrol Sergeant

  • Remind everyone as often as possible “how we used to do it”
  • Try to fit the word “liability” into every sentence
  • Talk about “what you’re hearing from upstairs”


  • Don’t be ashamed that you are unable to grow facial hair
  • Watch every episode of “Cops” and “Southland”
  • Memorize the opening monologue to “End of Watch”
  • Try not to get too excited when the SWAT guys walk by
  • Arrive for work three hours early
  • Never drink on the golf course because it violates the open-container ordinance

New Corrections Officers

  • Show up for work 15 minutes early
  • Buy only the best ink pens (Pilot G2)
  • Wear t-shirts of your “dream department” under your uniform
  • Wear a full duty belt of gear even though you have to remove everything when you arrive at the facility
  • Become friends with every local police officer

Defensive Tactics Instructors

  • Remember to stretch before making an arrest
  • Spend hours debating the advantages of RCB vs. straight stick
  • Wear yoga pants off-duty
  • Always remember that Chuck Norris is GOD
  • Spend more than $50 on a quality wood baton
  • Giggle when a suspect starts to resist

Firearms Instructor

  • Respond to every question/statement with the word, “Huh?”
  • Remember that you have a lead/blood percentage level higher than the current chief’s approval rating
  • Operate under the assumption that the more beer you drink, the more of that lead leaves your system
  • Buy a new tactical handgun as a Christmas gift for the wife/girlfriend
  • Use an image of a custom 1911-A1 for a screensaver
  • Wear the latest high-tech electronic hearing protectors during normal conversation


That’s the list. Again, I have no idea (despite serious effort to find out) who came up with this gem. Now it’s up to all of you to add to it in the comments section below. Have fun my brothers and sisters, and stay safe out there.

This article, originally published 09/14/2017, has been updated.

Doug Wyllie writes police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug was a co-founder of the Policing Matters podcast and a longtime co-host of the program.

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