5 Things I Learned as a Cop (That Movies Won't Show You)

#2. The Sight of Police Lights Turns People into Idiots


Myth: Cops use their emergency lights whenever they want, often just to have an excuse to break traffic laws.

Truth: Vehicles log when an officer turns on his lights. So someone abusing this will have to explain to an annoyed fleet sergeant why he keeps running down his batteries for no reason.

"But all the bathrooms nearby were gross."

And while you'll often hear complaints of police speeding just for the hell of it, in my home state (Texas), protocol sets our maximum speed at 80 miles per hour, regardless of emergency light use. We have instances where we turn on our lights to try to get to an emergency call and have people pass us on the highway due to the fact that everyday commuters routinely exceed the maximum set speed limit for police.

Now, in theory, a police car with its red and blue flashing lights on should be able to clear the path -- everybody knows to pull off the road, or at least clear a lane, when they see the lights and hear sirens. But some people see the left lane open up and rush over there, completely oblivious to the cop car racing toward them (yes, a lot of wrecks happen this way). Pedestrians don't pay attention either. It seems like the general attitude is "Oh, lights! What's the stupidest thing I can do right now to ruin everyone's day?"

"Well, I've always wanted to try grabbing a ride Back to the Future style."

Even more puzzling is what happens when the vehicle is sitting still with the lights on. Despite the fact that those lights are carefully designed to be bright enough and annoying enough to get even the most jaded commuter to pay attention, people crash into parked, lit up police cars constantly. We've actually been reduced to having two officers on foot shining strobe lights at drivers who don't seem to notice the blindingly bright blue/red flashing lights sitting in the middle of the road ahead of them.

Then, of course, there are the people who will pull up, over the road flares and around the traffic cones, and demand that I move. In most instances, they're just dumb. Telling them "No, something's going on" will usually make them curse at you while they turn around to find another way home. But once, at the scene of a house where a suspect had barricaded himself inside with a gun, I had a guy pull up to our perimeter and was not dissuaded by my assertion that I was literally the only thing between him and gunfire, and that he needed to leave.

"Dude, just shoot around me. I gotta catch Game of Thrones."

It was only when things escalated to the point that I had opened his car door and was preparing to restrain him that he decided to see things my way. Maybe he thought the whole thing was an elaborate prank?

#1. You'll Get Attacked by the People You Least Expect


The first person to attack me was an 83-year-old lady who thought I was an alien. A couple called us, saying she'd knocked on the door and they'd let her in. When it became clear that she was in the middle of some psychotic episode, they called the police. While we tried to figure out where she came from, she decided to punish our extraterrestrial selves via feeble punches. She was 5 feet tall and rail thin, so we had the luxury of just waiting for her to tire out.

Another time a (drunken) woman of impressive size decided to pick a fight with a wooden door. I'm not sure what you're picturing in your head, but it isn't ridiculous enough. She trash talked the door. Punched the door. Tried to scratch it with her fingernails. Kicked it in the shins. She fought dirty, as far as door fighting went. She felt the door was keeping her out, which is kind of the point of doors, but didn't realize that the door she was fighting wasn't actually her door. Some terrified person was inside that door, afraid that whoever was outside screaming and pounding might make it inside to them.

Steven Puetzer/The Image Bank/Getty Images
They tried to lock it up like the other guy, but the only brick they had was the one they shat.

Unfortunately, things escalated when apartment security arrived, followed by myself. Our young lady decided that security was a more sporting target and tried to fight them. I'll never know why she did that, but I intervened and got to add four more scars to my hand when she bit me.

On another occasion, I was attacked by a drunken man in a wheelchair with little nubs for arms (we wound up just letting that guy go, mainly because we had no idea what to do with him).

These were obviously out of the question.

Finally, my police career actually came to an end after a 19-year-old broke my leg. I was in the violent crime unit, and this kid had tried to murder his mom with a kitchen knife. We couldn't find him, it was three in the morning, and we decided to go eat at Taco Bell. Laugh all you want, but don't for a damn minute pretend fast food isn't the first thing you'd get after chasing a violent teenager around until the wee hours of the morning. Anyway, the kid turned out to be sleeping right behind the Taco Bell. (Police work!)

I cuffed him, but they decided to take his restraints off while we booked him. So while he was in the county jail, this now-unrestrained kid punched the booking officer. I tackled him, and in the ensuing fight he wound up wrapping his body around my leg and SNAP, I had two bones where there should only be one.

And that was enough of that.

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Related Reading: Interested in the truth behind more misunderstood jobs? Cracked's Dick Joke Journalists peel back the myths behind legal prostitution. We've also covered the world of espionage and the myths behind hacking. Oh, and we take a look inside prison too.

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