Questions to Ask a Police Officer – List with 12 Questions

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We get a lot of inquiries from our readers about what questions they can ask police officers they meet on the street. 

Many want to interact with the police but are afraid to say something stupid or insult the officer. 

We have written a list of questions you can ask when you meet an officer, either while they are on the job or in their private time.

This article does not address questions you may have when you’re the victim of a crime or even if you have committed a crime. It is meant to give you tips on what you can ask cops during casual, friendly encounters.

“Slow day/night?”

This is the most common question civilians ask when they see us taking a break or having a bite to eat. 

Beware that some of our less socially capable colleagues take this as an accusation of being lazy. However, most officers understand that it’s a phrase to start a conversation.

If you ask this, you will probably get an answer about how busy their shift has been, facilitating a further conversation.

“Excuse me, how do I get to…”

Police officers are expected to be familiar with the area they work in. And rightfully so! Few people know their local streets and sites as well as police officers, ambulance workers, and cab drivers. So if you ask an officer for directions, you can expect a good answer. 

Three persons looking at a map

Make sure you don’t ask someone busy with something important.

“What’s going on?”

We often get asked this when securing a crime scene, ensuring no one gets in. If the answer to the question is obvious, like a car accident, you can expect to get an answer to your question. 

Crime scene with flashing lights in the background

However, if something more sinister has happened, like a murder or a serious violent crime, the police officers, in most cases, aren’t allowed to answer. They must wait until the commissioner, police chief, or spokesperson has hosted a press conference, giving an official statement. 

Be sure to only ask this question if the scene is calm and quiet and not if the officers are having a serious talk among themselves or talking on the radio.

“Can I take a selfie with you?”

You need to assess the situation before asking this question. In our opinion, the only situation where this is allowed is when cops are quietly patrolling the streets on foot. You must read their body language about whether they seem to be heading somewhere or are receptive to talking with random strangers. 

Selfie with a police officer
Some cops may let you take selfies with the.

Even if you read the situation correctly, the officer(s) might not want their photo spread on the internet. If they tell you no, you have to respect it.

Pro tip: you will have the best chances of succeeding if you ask an officer that looks laid back and informal. 

“Is it hard to become a police officer?”

Kids or young men who aspire to become cops often ask this question, especially young men who are mildly drunk and secretly want to join the force.

“How many years does it take to become a police officer?”

Some people want to point out that training in police academies is seldom longer than six months at most.

What they don’t consider is that many departments require you to have a degree before applying. On top of that, cops have to go through a rookie period where they have their own training officer.

“How will you make a positive impact on our local community?”

You should ask the cops that patrol your home area. They may not have thought about it before, and you make them somewhat more accountable for their actions because they have to say it out loud. 

“What are all the things on your belt?”

Police duty belt

Don’t touch it! Keep your hands far away from said things. You can point at it from a distance. 

Most of the gear the police officer carries on their person is placed in their belt.  

Do you know what else cops carry in their belts? Their gun!

Suppose a cop senses that you are very interested in things in their belt, without keeping a respectful distance. In that case, the officer will get bad vibes from you. This can lead to them not being as laid-back as you’d wish.

There are plenty of nutcases out there who have a gun obsession, and many of us have experienced them trying to touch or take our gun. 

“What is the thing you are proudest of having achieved?”

Here you give the police officer a chance to shine! Everyone has one or several stories that they are really proud of.

In my experience, these are the most common things cops are proud of:

  • Saving a child from an abuser or an accident.
  • Saving a fellow officer.
  • Finding a vulnerable missing person.
  • Arresting a dangerous criminal.
  • Making a big drug bust

“How did your friends and family react to you becoming an officer?”

Depending on what surroundings the cop is from, their friends and family might have been proud or disappointed with them becoming a cop

There are some subcultures and groups that hate the police, and there are others that love it. What they have in common is that their idea of what being a cop is about is almost always entirely wrong.

What do movies and TV get wrong and right about police work?

This is a question that might humor a lot of cops, and you can get a lot of interesting answers.

One thing is sure; almost every show gets a lot wrong! If I were to pick one thing, it would be that something exciting always happens. For 99,99% of officers, there are extended periods between when something extraordinary occurs.

“How do you keep yourself calm in high-stress situations?”

People are different. Some get stressed out from everyday situations. Others stay calm in the most stressful conditions. 

The answers to this question might vary a lot. 

Some use breathing techniques.

Others go to their “happy place” mentally.

The officer you ask these questions might have a routine you can learn from. But don’t be surprised if someone tells you that they don’t know how to cope accordingly and get very stressed out.

“What sucks the most about your job?”

I’m sure every cop you meet has made up their mind even before you ask this question. 

The answers will vary a lot. Some hate waiting, and others hate stressful situations. Some dislike traffic duty; others love it.

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