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Professional Courtesy : How To

OK after numerous pages of "the other thread" I think we all know how we feel about professional courtesy. However I think a real problem is that in different parts of the country different etiquette is in order so I thought perhaps we could have a thread that discusses these differences in some detail.

First of all professional courtesy is not a pass to commit crimes and I am not saying that it is. This is still being hashed out in the other thread so lets not start a second one here doing the same thing. My purpose here is to see what actions officers in different parts of the country would like to see you exhibit if you want them to even consider giving you a break. Let's keep it civil.

I'll begin with my department. I am retired NYPD and there (at least up to when I retired) the common courtesy shown to the officer on duty is:

1. Pull over immediately! Don't make me chase you. I don't want to have to go 100 MPH through traffic only to catch up to you and find out that you are on the job.

2. If it is night have your interior lights on and hands on the wheel. Usually that alone lets me know you are on the job because no civilian is nice enough to do that.

3. Identify yourself right away. Don't wait until I am writing to fill me on who you are. In NYC at least this is usually done by having your shield and ID on your lap (not waving like a flag so everyone can see) and usually stating something like... "I'm sorry bud. I'm on the job".

4. Be polite. Don't expect anything because nothing is for sure. Be thankful when courtesy is given. If courtesy is not given take it inside and see your or his PBA rep if this is between 2 NYPD guys. If yelling is to be done do it inside the station house. Not on the street where all the customers can see us. In the end remember the old saying "The man in the bag is always right". [The man in the uniform is always right meaning the on duty officer.]

From what I gathered reading the other thread I would venture to say that in other parts of the country the appropriate behavior for a traffic stop between two officers is vastly different. That difference in and of itself could be what ends up getting some of us a ticket since our behavior or difference of "style" could be construed by the on duty officer as arrogance.

So could some officers from different jurisdictions tell us the proper way to deal with an on duty officer in their neck of the woods if you hope to get any courtesy at all?


  • Excellant Post!!
  • Absolutely. Great post.
  • Impressive...well written
  • Just for thought ladies and gentleman...some areas of the country consider Corrections Officers as LEOs some don't. Some are actual members of the Sheriffs Dept, some aren't. Assuming these officers follow all the above steps during a stop, I'm curious what the general opinion is regarding discretional professional courtesy being extended to this arm of the profession. Any thoughts??
  • I agree, excellent post.
  • Yes, very well done.. 4 out of 4 Donuts for you... Be safe an God Bless...
  • MyMaria16, I think that no matter if they are or are not considered LEO's they should be given serious consideration and respect during a stop. We as street LEO's only deal with dirtbags on a part time basis and they have to deal with them everyday in a closed environment and for up to 12 hours a day. I give them kudos for doing what they do, I certainly would not want their job.
  • Very good post, where I’m from we always started with I’m an on/off duty police officer and i have a weapon on blank part of my body. Followed by my ID is here if it is ok I’m going to reach here to get it.
  • I never expect any courtesy even if they know me. I figured if i was breaking the law then i deserve the ticket anyway. I try to give courtesy when ever it is exceptable. Depends on the reason. If i get stopped i always do everything i would want someone to do for me if i stopped them. Being pissy and and handing me their dept id like it should be a given isnt the way to start off. lol.
  • When any LEO gets pulled over, on duty or off duty, retired or still on the job, this is the time to be humble. Not giving the officer that stopped you a hard time. Just remember, treat him or her the way you would expect to be treated. We all need to stick together because no one else is going to watch our back.
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  • 100% right to the point and 100% acceptable.
  • I give professional courtesy to professionals. This includes COs too. I've never written a fellow LEO, and I hope I never have to. Copping an attitude with me for doing my job and stopping you doesn't impress me.

    And anytime I am stopped, I act professional and respectful - and I always tell them to do what they have to do.
  • I can't imagine what kind of a$$ you'd have to be to write a fellow cop. I've never done it, and I've been pulled over a few times and have never been written. Granted, I've never been doing anything insane, and I've always been respectful and apologetic. I would extend courtesy to CO's and even the Land Pirates on occasion, though they are often tool bags. My FTO taught me: a cop who writes another cop is a sc--bag. I agree wholeheartedly. I've only seen it happen down south.
  • Ok, question for the night: Dispatchers?
  • Approach determines response. In other words if you're acting like professional courtesy is your God given right, you may not like the outcome. It would also depend on why I stopped you, something minor versus something serious.
  • During my time on the job, I had the opportunity to pull over several city officers, it was an experience, every stop was different, and the last one tragic, there are sometimes when a LEO crosses the line, and this Cptn. was drunk & driving his unmarked city issued car, it truly broke my heart, I called his Major on his privet #, before I started any paperwork, he came to the scene, took one look at the guy, and he told me " Do Your Job ", so I called my Cptn. and one of my Academy Training Sgt's, by the time we left the scene, at least 10 members of his dept, and 15 of mine had been on scene, I spent 3 hours with my training Sgt. doing the paperwork crossing all the T's dotting all the i 's. I have No Regrets for doing my Job, it wasnt until 2 yrs later that I learned this Cptn., At The Time, was up for Promotion, and being fast tracked to take command of his squad, Internal Affairs Division.
  • I'm a Leo from Pa, and I will extend professional courtesy to a fellow officer. Just watch yourself in Ohio, they well right you no matter who you are
  • Professional courtesy works both ways. When I am stopped, I keep a very professional demeanor. Two things one should not do (both happened to me when performing a traffic stop): 1. Don't roll your window down and stick your badge out the window while failing to yield to my lights and siren. 2. Don't ask me "Do you know who I am?" because the answer will be "As soon as I see your license, registration and proof of insurance, I will." Turns out he was the Chief of Police for a neighboring city on his way to a meeting with my Chief and was late - hence his speeding through our town. First person - no ticket but a call to his Sgt. The second person - no ticket either although I really really wanted to write that one. Stay safe.
  • Great post. What is everyone's feeling on extending of professional courtesy to your dispatchers and 911 operators? As long as they follow along with procedure and are polite and identify themselves would the same apply?
  • well the National Police Officers Wall in D.C. Puts the names of Correctional Officers on the wall of fallen Officers killed in the line of duty. That's good enough for me to know they are Law Enforcement and after 42yrs. on the job they ARE my Brothers and Sisters in BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!! God Bless us ALL.............. ; ^ )
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  • Same rules, in my opinion, apply to dispatchers, firefighters, and a few other groups of people. Basically it comes down to officer discretion.
  • I am a CO in the State of Iowa. First off let me say that I appreciate the extensions of professional courtesy I have received from LEO's. Personally, if an LEO did write me, I would be pissed at myself, not the citing officer. I was the dumb sh.t for doing what I did. It is his job. When I am stopped, I pull over , dome light on, hands on the wheel. When he walks up I have a good attitude and cheerful. I don't tell him I'm a CO because I feel like that is an implied expectation of professional courtesy. I do not expect it, but really appreciate it. When I pull out my wallet, my state ID is visible, and my badge is under the little cloth flap. The outline makes it obvious there is a badge underneath. To those officers that have extended me PC, thank you. To those that haven't, well I haven't met one yet that didn't. Thanks guys for the job you do.
  • I haven't been pulled over in years, and I haven't been issued in more than 25 years, but when I was stopped, I pulled well off to the side if not into the nearest parking lot. I turned on the hazards and interior lights, rolled down all windows, turned off the vehicle and kept my hands at the top of the wheel, fingers extended. Like I mentioned, it's been years, but the last two times I was pulled over, I was asked "where do you work" before he even asked for the DL or Proof of Insurance. By the way, I've worked 1 officer involved DUI/TA. Other than that, I've never issued another officer.
  • Ouch Golrish2109!!! In my part of the I-10/65 corridor All officers are extended as much professional courtesy as possible. I've stopped cops from Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta and many more places and when I see that they're a cop I smile, wave and wish them a safe trip. Never had to stop a cop for anything other than a minor traffic offense though. I have worked a few domestics involving cops but that is for another thread. LOL!! Stay safe out there brothers and sisters and let's take care of each other.
  • I have never "flashed" my credentials at any officer, there have been times while driving my pov, that I have been pulled over for speed by local, county or state agencies. My responsibility. I do not expect any special treatment. Beware, there are a "few" of those NM State Police that seem to take pleasure and smile (I did notice that) when they issue a citation to a USBP Agent (or other LEO). I have been asked "where do you work", and will let them know and will only bring out my creds if asked. It's weird, I can back these guys up on a 2a.m. traffic stop on a very lonely interstate (I-10) and they will get a kick out of writing a cite. And yes, citations have been issued to others here and there either in uniform going to/leaving work. Oh well. Many thanks to those who have granted professional courtesy. "Let's be careful out there."
  • I'm in South Mississippi and professional courtesy is the norm, The traffic stop you described is pretty much what you could expect from most of us when being stopped. Its common practice for officers to put a thin blue line sticker or some type of indicator on their pov so that fellow officers know to inquire about their LEO status. I've seen that dispatchers and CO's, as well as doctors, nurses, and any first responder are typically extended a professional courtesy. We all know that some volunteer firefighters may try to take advantage of this and they are typically reported to their superior as opposed to citing them. You never know when any of these people will be the one providing care to you should the need arise and Personally, I would hope that they may go that extra mile when providing my treatment. I have never written an LEO and have never been cited as long as I have been in law enforcement.
  • Thank you all for your service and scarifice.
  • I am retired and worked in the traffic enforcement section. I only wrote two police officers in my time. One said to me "What the F do you want" to start the conversation. The other argued about professional courtesy and said that he would not give it and would not accept it. I have surprised officers from other areas of the country who did not except courtesy as it was given where they are from. I have FOP tags on my car and hope that any officer who stops me will at least recognize that there is only one way to get them.
  • I've written tickets to two officers in my career...neither one identified themselves as officers during the traffic stop, and I only found out later that they were officers. I had two problem officers that used to travel through my jurisdiction...both regularly drove at 75-85 mph, in a 55 zone. After the second stop, I told both of them that I wasn't going to give them tickets, but I had no problem stopping them for a 30 minute conversation every time I clocked them. On flippantly said he might just not stop, and I let him know that WOULD change the rules of the game.
  • State Trooper from PA. All LEO and dispatchers get a pass from me for minor traffic offenses. Immediate family of LEO also. DUI/DWI is another story, no sympathy, no breaks, period. Quick story: I cited the nephew of an NYPD officer one time for 95 in a 65. The kid told me by handing me a NYPD PBA card out a window he only opened half an inch and was very disrespectful. Then his uncle contacted me and was shitty with me saying "i guess professional courtesy doesn't exist in Pa" even after telling him how disrespectful his nephew was. Firefighters, paid, yes...volunteer, no.
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  • BTW, pull well off road and as soon as possible, ID yourself immediately and let us know if you are armed.
  • edited 18 Nov 2012
    I am not a cop, but i appreciate everything you do for us. I would watch your back in a heartbeat. I just have a question. Is putting lights on inside the vehicle something you would want us to do if we get pulled over at night? It just never occurred to me before.
  • I am a city police officer from Ohio, and I have always extended professional courtesy to fellow officers, COs, dispatchers, firefighters, and their wives. It didn't matter if they were retired or on the job still. The only wives I have ever written did not tell me who their husbands were until they were signing the citation, and my old chief would never have allowed me to void the cite for that reason. Darran19 is wrong when he said all Ohio officers will write. I have heard of some troopers who will, but again, not all of them will either.

    As to the article. I totally agree with how you expect off duty officers to act when stopped. The only thing I like is for them to hold their badge and ID low and not have their hands on the wheel. Some departments have to record every interaction with the public, and the not so friendly media has made issues in my area where officers have identified themselves on a stop and not been cited. Best to let the on duty officer identify you with your badge right away and control the conversation.

    Finally, if you know what you did wrong, acknowledge it, be polite, humble, and thankful if you are let go.
  • In Oklahoma, it is required for anyone with a weapon to notify the officer upon contact.
    Hence saying, " I'm an off duty xxxxx and have a weapon.". That pretty much solves the issue of identification without being a douche. Everyone I know extends Professional courtesy with the exception of the Repeat high speed offenders.
    It is an unwritten courtesy to extend to firemen, ems, and nurses (they may save your ass). CO's are extended courtesy as long as they are not abusing it (they seem to think we won't write them for anything). I think that pretty much goes for everyone. Just don't abuse it and be brotherly when we make contact.
    With that being said, I've been stopped by OHP and Louisiana State and both extended courtesy (I didn't realize speed on bridges was lower in LA. Totally HUA).
  • I am a private security officer in Ohio. I'm not a law enforcement officer, I'm private security, but I have NEVER been written while in uniform. Most of the time the officer doesn't even run my license. I always tell them if I'm armed (which is the law) and I've never EXPECTED to be treated any differently in uniform than out. I'm always respectful and always thankful when professional courtesy is extended. I've also never had an interaction on the job where a sworn police officer didn't treat me like a professional. Most sworn officers realize that we do the same job they do, and a lot of times without the same resources, so yeah, I find it hard to believe that Ohio cops aren't professional and courteous to fellow sworn officers because it's been my experience that they ARE professional and courteous to those of us in the private sector. I even once had a sworn police officer ask me, while I was in uniform coming home from a job, to help him direct traffic at an accident until his back-up could get there. At least in the Dayton area, cops are very courteous to private security professionals
  • >>Firefighters, paid, yes...volunteer, no.<<

    Just out of curiosity, why no love for volunteer firefighters? Is it because they're not on the city payroll? That seems kinda short-sighted to me. I mean, whether you're on payroll or not, you're doing the same job. It could be said that volunteers do more because they do it as a selfless service to the community and not as a job
  • I'm on the job in north jersey right across from new York city. Everyone in my department takes care of other brother and sisters. When I walk up to your car and your badge is on your lap , I see it and say have a nice day and turn around. I usually won't engage you in coversation but there is a reason for that also , which I'm sure everyone here knows. Pretty much the entire NYC area of NY and NJ we take care of each other and our families.

    I did hear that after hurricane "Katrina " there was a convoy of 10-12 police vehicles (mostly from a north jersey sheriffs office) that were driving fast , lights on, in the left lane on their way back to jersey when they were stopped by a west Virginia state trooper. The trooper broke their chops and told them to cut the lights off and slow down.

    Personally I would have told him he was a a$$hole. Especially after he was told we were coming back from volunteering a week of our time, unpaid, to help other brothers and sisters out so they could get a few hours sleep and check on their own houses which were destroyed by the storm.
  • A month ago while traveling back to Oklahoma from New Mexico, my wife got pulled over for 7 over. I was asleep in the passenger seat. The state patrol officer approached the passenger side, told us why he pulled her over. I told him I was an off duty LEO, he replied "I trust no one, mam step out of the vehicle. My wife had never been stopped before. He belittled her to the point she began to almost cry and called out my name. Hearing this I pulled my credentials out and leaned out the passenger window, only to be ordered to get back in the car. After the contact was over with my wife and she was ticketed, I noticed she didn't have our insurance card. So I took my gun laid it in the glove box, got out of the car to switch drivers and told the officer I'm unarmed and I was going to approach. As I got within 9 feet of him he told me to stop and keep my hands away from my pockets. I forgot that I was still carrying my knife. I responded, I'm not that stupid to bring a knife to a gun fight! He said again "I trust no one!" I identified myself again (3rd time) as an off duty LEO, and asked if he still had the insurance card. I remained polite but upset at his treatment of both my wife and I!
  • That sort of treatment in uncalled for even toward a regular civilian. I hope you reported that officer
  • Was that NMSP or OSP?
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  • If you have done something wrong, whether it is a small or big violation, say involving traffic citations etc. you are still not above the law but still when the officer writing the ticket doesnt even care about anything but his quota for the day then maybe he should remember that that officer might be his back up sometime and think about that!
  • Got written a couple months ago. Didn't make my position known. I should have been more attentive to my speed, 42-30. I was really hot, but no need to get nutty with the brother, I was controlling the vehicle. We are sworn to uphold and enforce, how can we, if not observing and being compliant.
  • edited 20 Nov 2012
    I've been doing traffic safety in nyc and came across lots of diff LEO fron diff states never have i thought of writing and or giving a lecture to an another brother or sister no matter what no reason why we can't look out for one another some do think they are better than other but they do forget that were here and we all do the same job shame on does who do write other cops. Its a dam shame perps look out for each other but us cops cant.
  • I've been doing traffic safety in nyc and came across lots of diff LEO fron diff states never have i thought of writing and or giving a lecture to an another brother or sister no matter what no reason why we can't look out for one another some do think they are better than other but they do forget that were here and we all do the same job shame on does who do write other cops. Its a dam shame perps look out for each other but us cops cant.
  • I do not write fellow LEO's for traffic. I figure it like this.If I was in a fight on the side of the road a fellow LEO would be one to stop and help. I also would stop and help a LEO that was in trouble, We as officers are the TBL we need to protect our own. I am a Chief and have been a LEO since 96 I have been stopped and have stopped officers and have only written 1 because he pissed me off but ended up dropping the ticket a few days later after chewing on his ass for a while.
  • I would like to thank my brother and sister officers for the courtesy allotted me while traveling and to say that the post is very close in Hawaii. The only difference is we like to see hands out the window and no furtive movement. I believe in being respectful and courteous. I never expect anything, it's up to the officer, but it's a rarity when one officer will not help another. Thank you, once again, be safe, take care of each other, Aloha.
  • Tickets belong to the officer/deputy. No one can tell a officer they can not drop a ticket just like no one can tell you to drop it. Lots of city's now think they control this but it all boils down to officer testimony in court. Bottom line it belongs to the issuing officer. I never write Leo and will never take Leo to jail unless I have no choice. Most of the public doesn't have our backs hell I have even worked for departments that don't have your back. We need to watch out for one another. Just don't abuse it
  • Times have changed. My father started as as a Deputy Detective in CA in the 60's. Then he was a Detective Deputy Sheriff Clark County, Nevada, Badge #5 in the late 60's and stayed in that position for 21 years before retiring. That was during the days of the Mob, as some of us refer to as "The Good Old Days"! He started in Criminalistics. Which is referred to now as CSI.

    I remember when he was pulled over he showed his badge and that was all it took. Nothing really said except have a great day! They had respect for each other. But that was for a traffic violation.

    I was so very proud of who my father was and what he chose to do. Even as I got older, Vegas was still small, if I were at a HS Party and the cops came to break it up they either knew me from the Police Picnics or when asked my name. Then the look...GO HOME!! Yes sir and I was gone. But always told my father before he found out from someone else.

    Things have changed. I don't see the loyalty or brotherhood as it was then.

    My husband is a Federal Agent and have seen the issues between FBI, CIA, and local cops. Maybe where I am (ID) it's different then other places. Where if a cop showed his badge to another cop there was respect and a handshake.

    One thing my father always told us do is say "Do You Know Who I Am"? His feelings were you're not a cop number one, he is, and show respect. If he didn't know you or who you were he would in about 10 minutes.

    Funny! My brothers friend along with my brother and others were involved in a minor accident. And his friend said it! BIG mistake. The officer called my father, told him what happened and then what he said.

    All my father said was to charge him accordingly and no favors.

    So I have lots of Law Enforcement friends who work in many different capacities. Two in Corrections, a few who did or does Dispatch, a Sheriff, Narc Officers, OSI, etc.

    Let me finish by saying they're all LEO's and deserve respect for the job they do. But don't disrespect the job by allowing a fellow officer to drink and drive.

    That's not only disrespectful to the badge and the job but the public you swore to protect.

    Phew...I'm done.
  • I will give professional courtesy for traffic violations, NEVER, to anyone, for DWI. Other fellow officers in my jurisdiction will issue traffic citations to fellow officers regarless, they want that tick mark!
  • Other professions give professional courtesy , why can't we? We don't really get any other "discounts" from our employers. Granted the off-duty LEO has to show respect to the on-duty LEO but properly showing your ID should get you nothing but a "Have a nice day" and a handshake. I've met some great guys on traffic stops that are friends today, years later. Nothing excuses a DWI or an accident but even then there are some courtesies that can be extended. We have to be our own BFF's on and off duty. STAY SAFE
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