Police Harassment

Posted by admin | Miscellaneous | Wednesday 28 July 2010 6:32 pm

Recently, a CA Police Department ran an e-mail forum (a question and answer exchange) with the topic being, “Community Policing.” One of the civilian email participants posed the following question, “I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?”

From the “other side” (the law enforcement side) Sgt. Bennett, obviously a cop with a sense of humor replied:

“First of all, let me tell you this…it’s not easy. In Chula Vista , we average one cop for every 600 people. Only about 60% of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “patrol”) where we do most of our harassing.

The rest are in non-harassing departments that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. And at any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60% patrollers are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 5,000 residents.

When you toss in the commercial business, and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 10,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average ten-hour shift runs 36,000 seconds long. This gives a cop one second to harass a person, and then only three-fourths of a second to eat a donut AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to this challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilize some tools to help us narrow down those people which we can realistically harass.

The tools available to us are as follows:

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. “My neighbor is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment.

Another popular one is, “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or no driver’s licenses and the like. It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

RUNNERS: Some people take off running just at the sight of a police officer. Nothing is quite as satisfying as running after them like a beagle on the
scent of a bunny. When you catch them you can harass them for hours.

STATUTES: When we don’t have PHONES or CARS and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are
called “Statutes”; Criminal Codes, Motor Vehicle Codes, etc… They all spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people.

After you read the statute, you can just drive around for awhile until you find someone violating one of these listed offenses and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, there’s this book we have that says that’s not allowed. That meant I got permission to harass this guy. It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well.

We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.

Next time you are in my town, give me the old “single finger wave.” That’s another one of those codes. It means, “You can harass me.”

It’s one of our favorites.


  1. Comment by Julie Krauss — November 26, 2010 @ 6:09 am

    Please convey my gratitude to Sgt. Bennett for his clear and cogent explanation of the difficulties that must be overcome by those officers who are serious about their harassment duties. We civilians are far too quick to fault them for underdoing their doughnut detail, never giving thought to the time that proper harassment must take from this far more compelling job requirement.

    I always like to see people who are responsible about their work. Especially when they also leave me laughing!

    Seriously–the commentary is informative and entertaining. Good job! Passing it on to the Individual-Sovereignty group.


  2. Comment by jeff — December 21, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    i liked it too but there are some cases, some of which I have witnessed first hand, of police officers displaying racisim. I believe that most law enforcement officers do a wonderfull and great service protecting us. But there are the few who should be fired for there trespasses against society. I’m sure you all know who you are. RESPECT TO THE REST OF YOU. SHOOTS

  3. Comment by Mike — March 17, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    Why is it that cops feel it’s ok o put their hands on citizens for no reason. Should I give an officer my I’d if he doesn’t show me hi. Badge number.. Or should I just react in a violent way toward the offending officer for violating my civil rights. I’m tired of being harassed because I live in a project development. How would they like it people from projects all over my went to westchester county and harassed their citizens. An uprising is sure to come and I will be more than glad to join.

  4. Comment by admin — March 17, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

    You’r kidding, right? This is a put-on?

    If not, this is a forum for responsible adults. Yours is neither.

    Can I recommend http://www.YOinthehood.com or http://www.pullupyourpants.com?


  5. Comment by "gunner" — March 24, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

    i suggest you read the essay above, by a serving police officer, on “police harassment” then review your own lifestyle and attitudes for possible clues to why you might be attracting frequent police attention.

  6. Comment by Paul1734 — October 6, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Sgt. Bennett From the “other side” (the law enforcement side)
    You sir. fit the following to a tee

    How to be an arrogant cop
    Author Joel Shults

    Arrogance is a poor substitute for confidence — arrogance appears where confidence is lacking
    Genuine confidence shows in a competent officer’s speech , bearing, and most importantly in the quality of work he or she does. Confidence is associated with career success, street survival, and it engenders the respect of peers. Confidence comes from real knowledge, experience, and skilled performance of one’s work. None of these positive attributes are associated with arrogance.
    Arrogance is a poor substitute for confidence — arrogance appears where confidence is lacking. Arrogance is shallow, serves no purpose beyond one’s own ego, and is an impediment to real success. Arrogance continues because it works on some level with some people. It is sometimes mistaken for confidence, success, or genuine superiority. There are always the ignorant groupies that have no ability to filter out the baloney and will mistake arrogant posturing for genuineness. It also relieves the arrogant person of a drive to learn more, be a better person, and invest in the wisdom of others since he or she believes they have achieved the pinnacle of knowledge.
    If you feel that arrogance might work for you or a colleague, here are some tips to increase your arrogance quotient.
    1.) Work on “The Look”
    Lean your head back a little bit and almost imperceptibly squint your eyes so that you appear to be looking down at everyone you meet. Cock your head slightly to the side as a sign of disbelief and skepticism at everything you hear. Roll your eyes subtly, or at least flutter your eyelids. Pose with one foot slightly ahead of the other, as though you were sipping a martini at a Hollywood party. Let your head bob and use a condescending laugh when someone else proposes an idea or plan – or just come right out and say “yeah, right.”
    2.) Make Your Organization Your Shield
    You’re a state cop, an investigator, the top paid agency, the biggest organization, with the best cars, the baddest bad guys, or whatever makes you feel superior. Whatever job you have, it’s the best and we should all envy you for it. You might have gotten where you are by a fluke or the seat of your pants, but your association with some notion of superiority bolsters your reputation. By merely carrying a certain badge you’ve obviously seen more, done more, been braver, been better trained, and seen more awful stuff than the next guy. The discussion is over — if you ain’t like me, you ain’t nothing.
    3.) Prop Yourself Up By Putting Others Down
    Amplify the mistakes of others. Make no effort to put yourself in their shoes – they should be in yours. Assume the worst of others and play your own mistakes off as professional discretion. You’re a rule breaker because the rules are for other schmucks. Other professionals will eventually stop sharing their experiences with you since you always have to have the last word and the better story. They’ll know if you’re talking everybody else down then they will get treated the same way behind their back.
    Eventually all you’ll ever hear is yourself repeating how great you are with no one wasting their breath to tell you otherwise.
    4.) Shut Yourself Off from Learning
    After all, there are two ways to do something: your way and the wrong way. When you go to a class, be sure to tell any instructor how you see it. Talk to the people next to you about your experience and ignore the trainer. Lean back with your arms folded, avoid participating unless it’s to challenge or correct. Don’t put yourself in a position to be vulnerable or admit you’re not an expert. If you are motivated to be the best, do it to beat your peers, not to improve yourself or be a better public servant. Rely on your past achievements and tell the same war stories over and over.
    5.) Make Sure the Public Knows
    Establish your authority in citizen contacts by bullying behavior. Be personally offended by traffic violations and petty offenses. Lecture everyone and treat them like wayward teenagers. Point out the obvious, and be ready with a tart response for every predictable excuse or comment. Don’t ask sincere questions seeking information; ask questions with a goal of embarrassing the person. Make sure they understand you and make no effort to understand them.
    If you know a cop who just isn’t quite arrogant enough, share this article with them. Maybe they’ll correct me on something. After all, they already know everything, right?

    Visit for more; http://www.policeone.com/police-jobs-and-careers/articles/3464802-how-to-be-an-arrogant-cop/

    About the author
    Joel Shults currently serves as Chief of Police for Adams State College in Alamosa, Co. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He currently serves on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.

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