Dear Cops of reddit, have you ever made an arrest you felt bad for?

  1. Not me, my dad. There was a little boy who died in the back seat of his grandmother’s car when she forgot he was there. She had been on night shift and her daughter had dropped her grandson off to be taken to daycare. Normally, the grandmother wouldn’t take him. It was outside of her normal routine. She was also almost completely deaf. She drove home, went for a nap, woke up and went to pick the little boy up from daycare. It wasn’t until they told her that he hadn’t arrived that day that she remembered he was still in her back seat. He’d been dead for hours.

    It’s easy to wonder how you could possibly forget about a child in the back seat, but all of the things I’ve totally forgotten about, as a young, well-rested person with all five of my senses…I don’t know.

    Anyway. I have never felt worse for someone in the history of hearing my dad’s arrest stories. That poor woman has to be destroying herself for that mistake.

    I’ll see if I can find a link to the news story.


  2. /r/TalesFromTheSquadCar has many good stories, but the one that hit me the most was People Are Assholes, about a cop arresting a man and woman and their four year old kid who doesn’t understand why.

  3. I worked in a group home. We had a gentleman who lived there who had a developmental disability and was very impulsive. On occasion he would leave the home and go down to the corner convenience store. He had no concept of money, so he would take a candy bar or a soda and leave without paying. The store knew us and would call us and we would walk down and pay.
    One day, the store got a new manager. This asshole decides that he is going to press charges against the guy. So he calls the police and has him arrested. They finger print him and everything. This guy has no idea what is going on and he now has a criminal record. The police felt terrible about it and were not shy with sharing that with me. My staff and I never walked into that store again.

  4. Had to arrest a veteran suffering from PTSD. Poor guy, really hope he got the help he needed.

    Edit: Without going into too much detail, he was an OIF vet who also suffered from schizophrenia. He wasn’t arrested persay, just detained so we could bring him to the hospital to try and get him some help.

  5. I once arrested a deaf woman who decided to steal a couple purses that were valued at thousands of dollars a piece. She told me her story on the way to jail and I just wanted to open the door and let her go.

    Basically her son had just died in a tragic accident and her husband died recently as well. She said she saw the purses in a commercial and thought they would make her feel better.

    Once we got to jail there is a printed warning on the sally port door that tells all the incoming inmates that any type of sexual activities and rape is strictly prohibited. She looked at the sign and looked at me and said (with tears in her eyes and that deaf person sounding speech) “that’s not going to happen to me is it?”

    That is one of many.

    I really hate bringing good people to jail. We all make mistakes.

  6. I’m not a cop, but I worked loss prevention for about seven years, so I had my share of arrests. Sometimes it’s just kids making stupid choices, sometimes it’s professionals who do it for a living, and sometimes it’s people who don’t see another way, usually because of their pride.

    Had this one lady, my first summer on the job. She comes in with a duffel bag, and the boss, the guy training me, he points at her and says to me: “She’s gonna steal.” No hesitation, he just knew. I was still pretty green, but I knew he knew his shit, so I watched her. I’m following her around the store, around corners, through the cracks of displays, hiding behind chip racks… every trick I’d been shown. And wouldn’t you know it? She was stealing all right.

    At one point she’s on one side of a bread display. I’m on the other, but crouched down. She can’t see me, but I can see her hands stuffing things into this duffel bag. Razor blades, soap, shampoo, towels, what have you. And I can see her infant child sitting on the shopping cart seat. And the kid? Well the kid’s looking right at me. He’s too young to talk, but he sees me.

    The lady of course walks out, and we arrest her, bring her back to the office. Usually, people try to put up a bit of a front, maintain some dignity until at least they get into our office. She was barely keeping it together, sniffling, moaning… and when we started to read her her rights, she starts bawling. Apologizing. Explaining. Begging for mercy. My boss said no. She’d taken hundreds of dollars worth of stuff, not just some bread and milk or something, for survival. Towels and shit. She says she’s broke, but her kids wanted to go to the beach, and she had no beach stuff (towels, shorts, soap – all of which she had). Boss said no dice. I felt like a piece of shit. Because I know she’s leaving in cuffs. So where’s that leave her kid?

    Her options were bad. Have us call CPS, because somebody has to have the kid while she’s getting taken downtown… or call up the dad, from whom she was separated, who was fighting her for custody, to have him come pick up the infant child because she was caught stealing to try and support them. Pretty much a lose-lose option, she was probably gonna lose her kids. She wails. Apologizes. It doesn’t get her anything. All we can do is tell the cops she was cooperative. The cops say she also has a history, and it’s not looking good. Dad shows up, throwing daggers with his eyes at the lady. Takes the kid. The cops take the lady. All we have left is a bag of product she tried to steal, an empty office, and the silence…

    I know that she made her choices herself, and I didn’t make her steal. I know those kids might be better off without her kind of bullshit. I know she’d get her day in court and get to talk to a judge. I also know I never got subpoena’d, so she probably didn’t fight it.

    I arrested a lot of people after that. None of them made me as sad as that woman. What I remember most is her kid, looking right at me… that eye contact, that brief exchange of glances with an infant that would give shape to the memory of the whole event.

    I guess what makes me feel worse is knowing I’d do it again – HAVE done it again – and it didn’t make me feel bad anymore.

  7. I usually say fuck my command, and only make arrests I feel comfortable making. The few I have felt bad about were when I first came on, and I was pressured to get my “numbers” up. Mostly they were for driving on suspended licenses, which is a stupid thing to get locked up for. Most of my arrests are for domestic violence, cause I don’t play with that shit.

  8. Cops can use their discretion if they catch or see someone doing something illegal, but if someone is pressing charges they have no choice.

  9. Sheriff Intern here!!

    I was part of a 3rd Shift ride-along (2300-0700) ride along on Valentines Day. It was about 11:30pm (2330) and we ran a plate that showed an expired licence. We pulled over the SUV.

    The license that came back was registered to a woman. That woman was the passenger of the vehicle. Also, should add she was pregnant. The driver of an SUV was an African American man who was dressed SUPER fly. I mean argyle sweater, matching Nikes, dress pants, etc. He was on probation for something, I don’t exactly remember. He had not been drinking, smoking, speeding, he was doing NOTHING wrong. We simply ran plates on the basis of reasonable suspicion, which is perfectly legal.

    But the driver was on probation. We called up his parole officer and they called a hold on him (arrest him). It is Valentines Day. This guy was doing nothing wrong, probably driving back to get some, and we are arresting him. Should also add Valentines Day was on a Friday this year. This means he was not released until Monday morning.

    Felt really bad for the guy.

  10. Good buddy of mine is a new cop. His very first arrest was a 19 y/o, public intoxication. The kid just got out of a mental institution 3 days before for a suicide attempt. He felt pretty bad.

  11. I’m not a cop, but when I got arrested for stealing alcohol I met a cop who had a great sense of humor and was possibly trying to lighten the mood. I don’t know if he felt sorry for me or not, because I was obviously scared, but I really appreciated it, because I still laugh at it.

    I was handcuffed to a rail on the wall of this room, as I waited to be processed. He was just passing through and asked me and the guy being detained across from me what we did. He was also there for retail theft, but stole a bunch of jeans. When I told him I was there for stealing alcohol, he looked down at my shoes, which were a pair of beat up Chucks and said,

    “Man, you should’ve tried to steal a new pair of shoes, because those are fucked up.” I couldn’t help but laugh and the other guy did too, as the cop walked away.

    Edit: a couple of pronouns

  12. I have a question. Do cops have a good reason for issuing DWI’s for people who are sleeping in the passenger’s seat of the car, or are otherwise showing reasonable doubt that they do not intend to drive?

    This has happened to a lot of people I know, and I’ve had to rely on sleeping in my car plenty of times after drinking. I put my keys inside the gas cap door that could only be opened from the inside, and prayed that it was enough to keep me out of trouble.

    I know the whole quota thing is more or less a myth, but what is the reasoning for DWI’s in those conditions?

  13. ITT: people who still think being a cop is black and white.

  14. I was on the receiving end of this arrest, but I know the officer felt bad about it because he said so.

    It was back in high school, 4 friends and I were out at night goofing off in our suburb when we decided to prank a girl we knew. She had been our friend until we found out that she was spreading nasty rumors about each of us, as well as some of our other friends (In my case she had told the best friend of a girl that I had almost managed to make into my first girlfriend that all I wanted was a blowjob. I would have been happy for a girl to hold my hand but whatever.) So we went to her house and found a recycling bin full of newspapers, as well as an old sack lunch, and decided that it was all we needed. So we put the dry newspapers all over her car until it was nearly covered, and I put some apple slices that were left in the bag on her car as well. Thinking we got away with it we scampered off into the night.

    Well turns out we weren’t so lucky. The girl had called the cops and wanted to press charges, so the next day at school my friends and I received the dark red office notes and went in to face the music. When I got to the office they sent me back to the principal and he had a cop with him. The first thing the cop said to me was, “I really wish that I didn’t have to do this because it is incredibly stupid, but I have to place you under arrest.”

    Turns out I was guilty of criminal mischief III, thankfully my diversion councilor said that I just needed better things to do with my time. So I went and watched “what the bleep do we know”, told him about it, and poof it was gone from my record.

  15. I had a friend of mine who had to arrest a teen for verbally assaulting his mother. In the car, he notices cigarette burns under his sleeve and he learns that the kid went off on his mom for doing that, and that she called the cops for him calling her a bitch. Poor kid had to be taken at the station anyway. If I was the officer, God help me…