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Law Enforcement & You

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Augustus    5

Law Enforcement & You

A Roleplay Guide by An American Law Enforcement Officer



Greetings! In this thread, we will be covering a variety of topics pertaining to roleplay as a modern American Law Enforcement Officer. For the majority of LEOs in the United States of America, their job - like many others, is simply that: work. Unfortunately, a false-narrative that dissociates society's understanding of Law Enforcement has been created; depicting police-work to be a gunslinging, high intensity profession. While there are times the job may demand a high-strung foot pursuit, or an individual being wrestled to the ground, work is more often than not relaxed - with an officer standing by for the 'better' calls for service from dispatch, face deep in YouTube videos on his phone while parked on the side of the road.


For myself, Law Enforcement is just that - serving in a community of over 130,000 constituents as a Deputy Sheriff, my work has often times been extremely boring, with occasional bouts of exhilarating experiences of adrenaline-fueled scenarios. The ironic part is that the majority of this post will be written on-shift tonight, in between times where I may actually be prompted to do things. Don't let this fuel you, however - the majority of those in this profession, particularly those on the road in uniformed patrol, have a great deal of control over how their night goes, which will be covered later in this thread.


Mind over Matter & Appearance


One of the most important aspects of Law Enforcement is the human behind the badge. In order to accurately portray a Law Enforcement Officer, it is important to understand the day-to-day mentality an officer possesses. The men & women of Law Enforcement are, for the most part, average, regular, everyday people - people who spend their time at work discussing their home life, sports, or just everyday 'chatter' of conversation. Just this evening, my partner and I spent a solid hour talking about food. These sort of experiences are what build camaraderie, and an environment you truly care about. Despite the training & conditioning surrounding us, as those with the military - our interactions with both internal(within the agency) and external(general public) entities are mostly fluid, human, dynamic engagements.  It is not uncommon that a large chunk of your shift is spent parked in a lot, side by side, talking about random things.


Another key point to cover is the patrol mentality. This is one of the most important - and overlooked, aspects of Law Enforcement Roleplay. For most Law Enforcement Officers joining an agency, their foremost goal isn't to 'become Lieutenant, Chief, Captain, Commander' or higher echelon positions, especially in a quick manner. The desire & scope of work for LEOs chiefly involves patrol & CID. As Officers get older, their desire for more relaxed, less intensive positions grows. People often want more time with their family, or less risk of injury in the jobplace as they grow in both experience & age. However, this typically does not occur until much later in a patrolman's career. The majority of young people(ages 21-45) who end up in 'specialty' positions often describe how much they miss uniformed patrol, and tell younger/junior personnel the 'tales of their time on the road'. Probably the most fallible aspects of Law Enforcement roleplay is a community's desire for 'special' positions, particularly when most of American LEOs often start & end their career behind the wheel of a marked vehicle.  


Mannerisms are another large topic subordinate to this subject. For instance, Law Enforcement Officers typically speak with their hands - leaving their hands present within an imaginary 'workspace' that exists from the belt to about the chest area. This is trained into us, for quick utilization of tools, weapons, or combative techniques should the situation arise. This also conveniently keeps the subjects attention naturally toward our torso/head area. If within a closer proximity to others, we typically 'blade' ourselves - offering our left sides toward individuals, out of instinct as well. This is for tool retention purposes - as most of us are right handed, our firearms are typically seated on our right side. We often find ourselves reviewing others' clothing for any 'printing', simply to remain situationally aware. 


Law Enforcement Officers are also extremely attentive to what they have to say. Profanities & vulgarities are common, but only off-camera. As soon as situations arise, and an officer is forced to be 'on', a very professional, firm, and forward syntax is followed. Remember, why would you want to risk discipline or place your career in jeopardy over words? Firm, fair, and consistency are the key ethics regarding the profession.


Professional Courtesy is the unwritten rule of 'aiding your fellow LEO' when it comes to enforcing the Law. At present, the narrative is that if you're a cop - you can pretty much get away with anything. This is the farthest from the truth. While there is truth to Professional Courtesy, it is only on small offenses(such as traffic violations, alcohol related crimes, et cetera) that officers may find themselves subject to the courtesy of discretion. However, drug-related offenses, or felonious offenses, will leave offending officers hanging dry. Integrity is one of the larger things they drive home with Law Enforcement.


Remember, the majority of employees in Law Enforcement are often overworked, and underpaid - particularly in larger cities. In an area like San Andreas or Los Santos, it wouldn't be unreasonable to believe that overtime is exceptionally available, if not mandatory in some areas. Think about how this plays into your character's appearance - physical fitness often suffers due to intense schedules, uniforms may sometimes have an unkept appearance, patrolmen start carrying less on their belts, wearing their vests less, and are found napping in their vehicles somewhere secluded more often than not.





One of the more important things of my day-to-day work environment is being as comfortable as possible. Typically, you can tell who is new based on how many tools they have, or wish to carry, on their belt. Naturally, the essentials(if not the patrol 'minimums') are:


  • Service Weapon(pistol), holster(9mm Glock 17 Gen 3-5, .40 Glock 22 Gen 3-5)
  • Radio/shoulder mic(earpieces are practically normal for patrol officers, so suspects who have memorized radio codes do not hear their information being 'hit).
  • Handcuffs.
  • Key-ring(digging in your pockets is often harder than you think).
  • Magazines(two magazines is the public safety standard).
  • Flashlight(rechargeable streamlight/strion series)
  • Tourniquet(TQ)
  • Taser(X26, Axon)
  • Axon FLEX Bodycamera(industry standard)


Of course, officers are issued a ballistic vest, ASP(baton), OC spray, glove pouch, and much more - but, when you spend the majority of your job on your feet or sitting behind the wheel, comfort and practicality come into effect rather quickly. It isn't uncommon to see officers with only the essentials on their persons - some go without vests, some go without batons, some go without OC spray - some go without everything aforementioned, and then some - it all is based on the individual. Just remember, if it were YOUR lower-back, how would you feel in a few days? Few months?


By default, your average agency will issue the following equipment in total:

  • Service Weapon & Holster(Level 3, which means three points of retention.)
  • Three Magazines(50 RDS)
  • Radio & Holster, Shoulder Mic
  • Magazine Carrier(two pistol magazines)
  • Ballistic Vest
  • Handcuffs & Handcuff Holster
  • OC Spray, Holster
  • ASP Extendable Baton, Holster
  • Tourniquet, TQ Holster
  • Glove Pouch
  • Key Ring
  • Flashlight, Flashlight Holster
  • Axon FLEX Bodycamera(audio & video)
  • Axon X26 Taser, Two Cartridges(One In Device)
  • Plate Carrier(Level 3 Plates, Discard After Use)
  • AR-15/5.56 Series Rifle(Not M4A1s)
  • Three 30 Round Magazines
  • 12 Gauge Mossberg M590A1
  • Three Cases of Shells(Slug, Bird, Buck)
  • Police Shirt(3 Work, 2 Dress)
  • Pants(3 Work, 2 Dress, 1 Shorts)
  • Boots(1 Pair)
  • Campaign Hat
  • Baseball Hat
  • Reflective Vest
  • Rain Jacket
  • Heavy Jacket
  • Regular Jacket
  • Physical Training Gear(2 shirts, 2 shorts, 2 sweats)
  • Badge(You get one.)


These are all of the items associated with your 'patrol' usage pertaining to you.


A little bit of background about your equipment & training;

  • Tasers only 'shock' for five seconds. Most agencies place a maximum exposure standard of 3-5 cycles on each subject, before other tools should be utilized.
  • Tasers don't always connect properly to complete the current. Loose, baggy clothing is often used as a counter-measure against tasers.
  • The closer the distance, the less effective the taser is. X26s rely on NMI, or neuro-muscular incapacitation. The greater the distance between the two prongs, the greater muscle-seizure offered. Prongs only separate farther based on distance.
  • Tasers can be re-used, but most officers only carry one or two cartridges. This means after you've fired the taser, you can't shoot someone else.
  • Drive stunning is a practice used for pain-compliance techniques. A drive stun is performed when the cartridge is removed, and the electrodes are used in direct contact to certain areas. Agencies typically train for drive-stuns to the thighs.
  • Glocks DO NOT HAVE TRADITIONAL "SAFETIES". There is absolutely NO such thing as unholstering your Glock, and switching the safety "OFF" or on.
  • Glock 17s are more prevalent among agencies than Glock 22s. Some agencies issue both. They both offer the same magazine capacity, however, Glock 17s are chambered in 9mm, whereas Glock 22s are chambered in .40.
  • OC Spray is extremely hard to get off of you, and guarantee prevents you from seeing completely. You are forced to work through it during Academy exposure, but without guidance, you are virtually useless. Most patrolmen don't carry OC, because it has a tendency to bust while in your patrol car - leaving you crying every time you work.
  • Class 3 weapons(military grade MP5s, M4A1s) are reserved for your tactical response units/situations.
  • Your uniforms & boots will fit fine, as you're fitted to them.
  • Wearing a vest is not enjoyable, but you get used to it.
  • Carrying an extra set of handcuffs is typically heavy.
  • Your belt can't stay on you without BELT-KEEPERS. It isn't just 'click & go', unfortunately.
  • Removing your weapon, in the real world, takes on average two-to-two and a half seconds with a Level 3 holster.
  • If anyone tries to grab your gun from your holster, they can't/won't be able to. A level 3 holster can only be opened from the user, or someone grabbing you from behind who knows how to work the holster.
  • If you have a ballistic vest(soft armor that patrolmen wear), and are shot by a rifle or shotgun, you are wounded.
  • You did not learn kung-fu. DTAC, or Defensive Tactics, do not mean you can immediately subdue anyone and everyone. Control techniques assist in this, but getting people to the ground is the key. Nowhere does an agency train to just 'slug it out' without the purpose of subduing and restraining a subject. Knees & elbows, friends.
  • Your Panic Button doesn't alert all of the officers that YOU need help. It clears radio traffic for 10 seconds, transmitting only your end to everyone. Dispatch is notified you pressed the button, and will send units if you don't respond. It's not a magic 'all cops to me' button until Dispatch comes into play.
  • When handcuffing, it's important to 'check-for-fit' in the real world. A pinky between the flesh & steel of the handcuffs is optimal. It's also important to 'double-lock' handcuffs when applied, to prevent self-injury or the handcuffs cutting off circulation.


While using your equipment, roleplay-ed in or scripted, remember the human element behind things. It is standard for Law Enforcement agencies to require officer exposure to their tasers, and definitely academy standard to expose students to OC spray. 




Before we go into this topic, let's take a look at what your vehicle will always have. On average, you can find the following in each patrol car:


  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small Road Cones(3)
  • Road Flares
  • Small Fire Extinguisher
  • 'Work Bag' consisting of ticket book, clipboard, and other small items
  • Spare Tire
  • Tire Changing Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Front Cab Gun Rack(Shotgun, Patrol Rifle)
  • Gunbox(Trunk)


Of course, each officer might take one or two things into his house & leave it there, but for the most part, it's rather standard.


Now, one of the larger things about vehicles - the majority of them are old, beat-up, and falling apart. I have been blessed to be behind the wheel of an almost brand new Explorer Interceptor, but many of my friends are stuck with decrepit Chevy Impalas and Tauruses. Obviously, the new flagship vehicles for Law Enforcement are the Dodge Charger, Taurus Interceptor, and Explorer. These are reflected through the in-game lore equivalent vehicles, as well as the 10 year+ old 'Crown Victoria' packages. Remember the wear & tear your vehicle undergoes, and who may have drove it before you.


Now, your vehicle is equipped technologically with the following:


  • Lights(Strobe)
  • Loudspeaker Console/Terminal
  • Mobile Data Terminal Charging Station
  • Night-Light(Red)
  • Signal Booster
  • Setina Push-Bars
  • Cage(Doors Only Open From Outside)


Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Police/Law Enforcement vehicles are not equipped with GPS tracking. Dispatch can track units in 'real-time' based on the location of their Mobile Data Terminal / Computer-Aided-Dispatch laptop, issued by the Department. This has 'intranet', which is hooked up to the county's internet system.


It's important to try to take some time to file your reports while you're in-game. You pulling over to the side of the road to work on your 'CAD/LERMS' is probably one of the more realistic 'finer touches' you could exercise.


While pursuits are fun, Due Regard is a nationally-expected practice when operating an emergency vehicle. Due Regard, in summary, is the regard required of a Law Enforcement Officer when operating his vehicle toward public safety. As a result of 'Due Regard' and vehicle pursuit policies across the nation, the majority of agencies have a no-chase policy for most circumstances, unless there is an imminent danger to the public and exigence can be articulated. With that in mind, it is important to not operate your vehicle recklessly or without regard to public safety, in order to mitigate liability.


Things to Consider


It's important to remember:

  • The more gear, the more your character will feel uncomfortable.
  • Bloused boots are uncommon, particularly in regular patrol environments.
  • Unkempt grooming or uniform appearances will often raise discussion during 'roll-call', so it is best to avoid unnatural or too 'unique' appearances with colored hair, mohawks, or anything of the sort.
  • Militarized appearances reflect uncomfortable personnel, and aren't commonplace among 'beat' cops.
  • We're not afraid to use weapons, but it's also not our first-resort either.
  • Communicate like a human being! Not everything is a huge, drawn out 'look what I know' of radio codes.
  • Get to know eachother. Camaraderie is almost always absent among in-character officers.
  • Remember to roleplay the finer things, they're what add to immersion at the end of the day.
  • Not everything is 'cops & robbers', sometimes it's giving a homeless man a ride to the shelter, or playing basketball with abunch of people on-duty.
  • Your gear, vehicles, and other equipment have realistic limitations.
  • You're not RoboCop.
  • You don't know everything. Even in my agency, some people have to pull up the lawbook PDF for our state for charges before writing an ABR.
  • You're not Forrest Gump. Sprinting for blocks with equipment is practically powergaming without roleplaying effects.
  • Your character is a real person, not a clone. Make your character have a background outside of Law Enforcement!
  • Police Officer doesn't automatically mean tactical genius.
  • Roleplaying mistakes is realistic roleplay.
  • We speed everywhere, but not dangerously. There's a difference between 15 over and 50 over.
  • Interacting with citizens for the purpose of just talking to them in a positive way is important, and required in the real world.
  • If your backstory includes your mastering of Tae Kwon Do & 10 years in the Green Berets, your backstory is wrong.
  • Remember to roleplay what's normal. It would be equally irritating if every single illegal faction were just Sopranos knock-offs, so why should policing all be high-speed?


I plan to add more to this thread & edit things where needed. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!




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JustAnM43    67

This was an incredible read and it provides people with much needed info. This is one of the few guides that really deserve to be pinned. This is brilliant, thank you for it.

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Keane    75
Posted (edited)

I'd consider this a mandatory read for anyone interested in RPing a future, current or former law enforcement character. Pinned!

Edited by Keane
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Tseard    18

Very good read, thanks brother.

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CloutToken    7

This was actually a pretty good read and I believe it can teach quite a bit to the average roleplayer or people new to police roleplay. I’m working on something similar that is more oriented to the LSPD.

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