Police ride-alongs, mostly good but sometimes annoying

While most citizen ride-alongs are great experiences, others can test an officer's patience

By Stephen Sanzeri

Most of my ride-alongs are with people that have an interest in law enforcement. Some were just curious citizens, and a few wanted some excitement. I've had my mother with me a half a dozen times, my brother once and a cousin who recently retired from San Jose PD. The majority of the ride-alongs were great, but the other 10 percent of ride-alongs are the one's that inspired this story. I have a theory that the "Duke" had a lot more kids than people think. And how come they all want to be cops? Because they couldn't make it as cowboys. These individuals have the John Wayne syndrome. This is not a dangerous condition. If the syndrome gets out of control and makes it to the academy, that's the last chance for containment, almost. Good FTO programming will usually wash the syndrome away.


  • Ride-along touches the shotgun after you've told him four times not to
  • Ride-along is talking to neighbors with paper and pencil in hand, after you clear a burglary call
  • Ride-along starts sweating when you're dispatched as a cover unit
  • Ride-along's apparel is closer to yours than the school janitor's
  • Ride-along gets comfortable after a few hours and helps himself to the lights and siren
  • Ride-along wants you to search every car you stop

There's also the Einstein virus, and I think this one is worse. It's also contagious. I always get a headache when Einstein infected ride-alongs are on-board. These are know-it-alls. Most are infected by their father or an uncle who was on the job. It seems to be hereditary. Add to that a library filled with every episode of the "Adam-12", "The Rookies" and "Hill Street Blues." This virus is sometimes overlooked through FTO programming, and may result in promotion at a fast rate.


  • Ride-along confirms every code used over the radio
  • Ride-along asks to read your reports
  • Ride-along can recite the phonetic alphabet backwards
  • Ride-along carries his own clipboard
  • Ride-along's pants belt is basket weaved
  • Ride-along asks more than once if he can try the radio
  • Ride-along has explained three times he's applied to the explorer program
  • Ride-along skips his prom for a night out in your cruiser

Please note: If you have a ride-along with both symptoms, have them sit in the back.

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