Police Officers Explain Which Laws They Hate Enforcing
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The law is the law... or so the saying goes.

The law isn't always moral or just, in fact. It's even downright silly and problematic, for both the average Joe and the individuals––namely police officers––who have to enforce it.

"Police officers of Reddit, what are some laws that you feel uncomfortable enforcing because you disagree with them?" was today's burning question from Redditor MageFood –– and it's an eye-opener.

"Chief got up for the daily briefing..."

My friend is a cop in an area with real gang violence and other issues. Chief got up for the daily briefing and told them they needed to prioritize reducing "recycling theft" which was homeless people digging through recycle bins to get CRV items.


"The two that stand out the most..."

Ex-police officer here in the US. The two that stand out the most is how much officer discretion is used in each scenario for someone to go to jail. Could be the same person with the same amount of illegal substance. I could destroy the evidence and send them away, or I could take them to jail. Up to the officer.

The second would be the ability to ticket each window as illegal tint instead of one just for the car.


"I got funny looks..."

Traffic tickets.

I'd pull people over, give a verbal warning about whatever dumb or unsafe thing they just did, check for warrants and let them go.

I got funny looks for the blank spot in my work card where the tickets were supposed to go, but since it's illegal to officially or unofficially have a quota system, it could never be used against me in my job evaluation.


"When I was a parking officer..."

When I was a parking officer, there was an internal policy about not ticketing cars parked in this very wealthy neighborhood even if it was clearly an unsafe violation. They would park their trailers or small boats very close to intersections and that made it dangerous to navigate around there. Because there were too many "big wigs", we could have risked our jobs if we ticketed someone there so they decided to not have the parking officers enforce it.


"Arresting homeless people..."


Arresting homeless people. We usually just bring them in but forget to file paperwork on them, so they get a warm bed, a breakfast, and no record.


"Prior to legalization..."

Prior to legalization here in Canada, my city for years had a marijuana-related arrest rate almost 70% lower than the national average. This is in a college town where students make up 20% of the population, so it's not like there wasn't a lot of it in town.

There wasn't any policy or directive regarding marijuana issued. It was just a result of all officers personally turning a blind eye to pot unless the citizen was being a jerk.


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"If a dog..."

Back in my LEO career days, I was always very uncomfortable with using dogs to search for drugs. Yeah, they really can sniff out drugs...but the false positive accuracy is so far out of whack with what SHOULD be a legal standard for reasonable suspicion that it's little better than guessing.

If a dog hits on 100 cars, and 50% of them have no drugs in them...you just violated the civil rights of 50 people based on what a dog said.

Dogs aren't people, you can't interview or cross examine them in court.


"There's a statute..."

Driving while impaired with resulting grievous injury or death.

There's a statute on the books where I work that prohibits ANY amount of schedule 1 drugs in your bloodstream while operating a vehicle. Marijuana is still illegal here and is still classed as a schedule 1 drug (by state law). If you are unaware, the byproducts of marijuana use can be detected in your blood WEEKS after your high has passed.

That means that you could legally smoke marijuana in any one of several nearby states where it is completely legal to do so, wait a few weeks, come to my state, get crashed into while stopped at a red light with the other driver COMPLETELY at fault, pass the field sobriety test with flying colors, then get banged for our version of Driving while impaired with resulting grievous injury or death.

I didn't actually know the marijuana provision of the per se DWI statute when I joined the county-wide crash team as an evaluator. Someone told me a story about a guy they'd done who been completely faultless in an accident wherein two people had died and had admitted to smoking marijuana a few weeks earlier. That'd formed the basis for a search warrant and he was convicted of the felony based on the bloodwork. I started advising unimpaired, faultless drivers of the marijuana provision. The attorneys told me to stop, so I quit the team.


"So here is one that bugs me."

So here is one that bugs me.

John leaves the bar feeling OK, gets in the car and starts to drive home. During the drive he realizes that he's drunker than he thought, or his BAC is still ramping up from his last drink (yes, you can be drunker a half hour after leaving a bar).

He makes a decision to not drive the rest of the way home and pulls off the road at a rest stop or a parking lot, puts the car in park, turns off the headlights but leaves it running to listen to the radio, run the heat or AC, whatever, moves the seat back and starts sleeping it off a little.

IMO at that point he is not driving while intoxicated, he did drive while intoxicated but realized he was impaired and stopped. Maybe a PI if he's obnoxious or was obviously severely impaired.

I argued with my instructor about this, the goal is to not have drunks on the road, the drunk got off the road on his own. If we pop those people for DWI, the lesson learned and retold to all of their drunk friends is, "If you start to drive drunk, don't stop, keep driving, all the way home."

Of course it's ideal if they Uber or have a DD, take a cab or public transport but I'd rather have people who went a little overboard comfortable with the idea of getting off the damned road as soon as they realize it than thinking they have to make it all the way home or get a DWI. Then they hit some family car with a baby in the car seat.