6 Strange Character Traits Common To All Cops

Strange Traits

A bunch of weirdos 

Yes, cops are weird. How do I know? Because I’ve been one for a long time.

Maybe weird is too harsh of a word. To say we are only different would be a big underscore. If you are one of those cops or deputy’s who thinks otherwise, this article may sting a bit.

From the day we graduated from the police academy, up until the first murder case we worked, the change has happened.

Very slowly and very subtle.

Some of you may not even be aware of your weirdness.

Don’t worry, like I said, it didn’t happen overnight. For you rookies reading this, you may have already noticed the distance that has begun to grow between you and everyone else.

As time goes on the reality of your world has become vastly different. Without trying to sound too much like Joe Friday, this change has happened for a reason.

The longer you stay on the job, the more habits or characteristics you begin to develop that run counter to everyone else. I’ve come up with this list of 6 but in reality there are many more.

And let’s not get caught up with semantics on this one. I call them traits for the sake of readability. You can call them anything you like.

Some of these “traits” you may have already heard of or read about. For that I am eternally sorry. I have never claimed to be Earnest Hemingway or Stephen King.

I’m just a cop like you.

Except I have a blog.

I write down what you already know anyway.

Okay, on with the list. These are in no particular order or importance.

1. Cops are control freaks 

Because we have to be.

Most jobs don’t require their workers to repeatedly immerse themselves in chaos everyday. Cops don’t have that luxury. Cops usually have about 5 seconds to take control of a scene.

If they don’t, it usually ends up with tasers and batons coming out with Chelsea Handler providing the play by play on late night TV.

Some cops can turn this off but others can’t.

Everyone knows that one cop you absolutely dread having in your car. They not only insist on telling you how to drive but also what kind of cop you should be.

2. Cops are king at catastrophic thinking

This is what I like to call the “we’re all gonna die” mentality.

Guilty as charged. My wife loves to remind me of the complete freak-out I had over a play set for our boys in our backyard.

I just knew that they would both end up paralyzed or suffer double broken femurs within a week.

“The Top Ten Rules of Good Police Leadership”

I didn’t always think this way.

I guess after your sergeant tells you and your trainee to go through an intersection and pick up the rest of the body parts from a pedestrian accident, it might have some residual psychological effect on you.

Just sayin.

3. We have a sick and sometimes twisted sense of humor

And as much as I love doctors, nurses and morticians, please stop saying that your profession compares to ours in this category.

Nothing is off limits for cops.


Not moms, wives, kids, girlfriends or even grandmothers.

I have a co-worker sergeant that I interact with on a regular basis who routinely greets me with the varying ways he has had my mom since we last spoke.

Another blurted out to me one time, after taking an almost lethal zinger from yours truly, “at least my kids live with me”.


Cops reading this know exactly where I’m coming from.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4. Everyone is a liar

This is not just applied to the vermin we deal with on the regular. When I say everyone, I mean EV-REE-ONE!! This is another one of those habits or traits that is developed over time.

I love to see brand new detectives emerge from their first interview. It really is the cutest thing you will ever see.

Almost without fail, they all come out of the room saying the same thing.

“He gave his side of the story….and I think he’s telling the truth..” they solemnly avow.


They are lying.

Everyone lies.

5. Cops suck at relationships

I have thought long and hard about this one.

There is no better friendship than that of a cop. A cop’s natural inclination is to help those in need.

I remember seeing a comment from a family member once praising their husband for always looking out for the one’s he loves.

Cops routinely make the giant leap of looking out for people they don’t even know.

But when it comes to interpersonal relationships, mostly of the sexual kind, cops struggle.

I’m not sure if it’s the wall we must build to keep us from going crazy from the things we see or something else.

These are not excuses, just stating my observations over a couple of decades. I think that the way cops must bury their feelings to cope plays a major factor in their struggles in relationships.

Or I could be completely wrong.

6. Cops work way too much overtime and extra duty

As far as pay, cops don’t make shit.

Oh, is that language too harsh? Sorry not sorry. That article will have to wait for another day.

This is where cops essentially shoot themselves in the foot. I used to kill myself too trying to pay the bills. But let’s face it, cops are notorious for living outside of their means.

I always know when the new academy is about to graduate.

The recruit parking lot suddenly becomes full with brand new Mustangs and F-150’s being driven by a bunch of shower shoe rookies. Even worse, and it was quite sad, was watching a bunch of cops fall for the ARMS (adjustable rate mortgages) back in the late 2000’s.

I can’t think of anything more pitiful than having your dream “McMansion”, but can’t actually live in it because you have to work 110 hours a week just to keep it from foreclosing.

A better option would be to get your college degree if you don’t have it or develop a nice side hustle that is sustainable over the long haul.

“Cop Extends Streak to 12 Years on Day Shift”

**If you have other traits or habits that I failed to mention please feel free to comment. I may not always respond to each individual comment but I read every single one.

You can find other ORIGINAL articles like this one and more at The Salty Sarge Facebook Page.


  1. I always worked someextra shifts but it was more something we wanted but didn’t Have to have, although my daighter’s college tuition was more in the “essential” category. Unfortunately, a high school disploma will not get you anywhere anymore.
    I’ve always bought new cars, but then kept them until were no longer viable to keep. My current modest SUV has 145,000 miles on it and no payments. It’s still in pretty good shape, looking at another couple of years. Same with my house, modest in size and payments. Leaves you enough money to take care of it.

  2. I walked into the locker room once, at the end of a shift and 2 guys were, of course, insulting each other from across the room. One said “I hope you get into a horrible car accident on the way home, but have just enough life left to get home, crawl into your kids bedroom and then die on their floor”. We all laughed our asses off! I tell people who aren’t on the job this story and they are shocked. Horrified. But, this is how we are.

    • Hilarious!!! I used to work in LE, but am now in banking, but, unfortunate for them, kept my LE sense of humor….When I go off on someone like that they look at me like I’ve just shot them. I actually made a grown man cry the other day because I wouldn’t let him pass until he showed me his badge….Civilians, geesh!!!!!

  3. Yeah. Sounds about right. Curious… What if you already had these “traits” BEFORE becoming a cop. Is that bad?

  4. Yeah. My wife is a nurse. She has shown up at some demos I have done and heard crap I have said to her co-workers at various social function and there is laughter that I don’t realize is uncomfortable until we get home. Most people don’t understand, we have to laugh at the worst stuff or we die inside. I have worked a big city and now a rural county. I have worked sex crimes, homicides and patrol. After 23 years, I am a different guy. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

  5. We always ASSESS people. And the conclusion is usually “must be an asshole” or “what’s he up to?” And grown men riding bikes wearing jeans and boots have DUI’s.

  6. Damn. Guilty as charged on every single one of these. Except maybe the relationship one. I’m still married after 20 years. But it could be she finally gave in and assimilated into my way of thinking.. or the fact she has been in some form of criminal justice profession since I met her.

  7. I agree, but I also think it depends on where you work. I don’t know where this author works, but Cops here in Nj do pretty well. Some northern Nj patrolmen (lowest rank here) make $120,000 per year base. You look at sheriffs departments in Virginia and they’re making $50,000.

  8. I retired after 25 yrs. on the road and you are right on. You also begin to suspect everyone. I have been dignosed with PTSD and find it hard to have any non-police friends because they just don’t understand.

  9. My wife says I am a tiny bit fast to judge people. I don’t deny it at all, after 27 years I trust me snap judgements. You have those first few seconds on every call to judge people. Sure I have been wrong but I have been right a heck of a lot more, saved myself from getting stabbed a few times and shot once. After a while we all learn to use our “spider sense “. Besides we all know a grown man riding a ten speed in Levi’s is suspended!

  10. I have been retired for 23 years after working for a little over 28 years for the California Highway Patrol. You hit the nail on the head. I still have no tolerance for assholes. I may be misinformed, inexact, bullheaded, fickle, ignorant, even abnormally stupid but I am a Sergeant and I am never wrong.

  11. Martin, I was treated for about a year and a half for PTSD and I did not even know why I was having such a hard time. It was a relief to let go of a lot of grief. Today I try to avoid triggers and so far I have made it for 23 years after 28 years in the trenches.

  12. Regarding marriages and LEOs – I’ve noticed that if the person is married BEFORE he/she becomes an officer, the marriage is likely to fail. The officer changes too much mentally/physically/socially over the life of his/her career and the changes are often very difficult for a spouse to deal with. If the officer gets married AFTER beginning his/her career, the marriages have a better chance of surviving. The spouse typically “knows” the officer’s good and bad traits from the beginning of the relationship.

    • I agree totally, My husband wasn’t a police officer when we met however after 24 years on the job he ended our union just like that without even a tear. His lack of empathy, emotion or compassion for destroying our family has left us broken

  13. my son has been a police officer for almost 3 years he worked at a prison for a year before he became a police officer. I don’t have to put in the multitude of horrible horrible things he’s seen or has to do on a daily basis because you already know them. And I get to listen to them because my son’s father doesn’t necessarily want to hear the really bad stuff. So Mom listens to it because I love him and I want him to have someone to talk to and many times after we hang up the phone I Cry, because my baby has chosen this profession and the things that he has seen has had to do I don’t think any mom wants their child to go through that. But I’m very very proud of him and I think he’s very good at what he does and will only continue to get better. But I want you to know that reading your articles really helps me to understand Jared and reading your articles gives me Comfort because you do still have a sense of humor after years of doing this and you’re still here LOL. So I want to thank you thank you for helping me to understand my son and what he’s going through. So even though you may not know it you’re helping a lot of people other than officers. I will continue to read your articles and be thankful for the perspective that they give me so that I can be a better mom to my cop son

  14. Retired cops see all traffic violations and there is never a cop around. I have also found that in relationships, we as cops fail to listen to concerns of our spouses. We don’t have to respond, but we need to listen more.

  15. Great article! Some you don’t even realize you do. Retired federal officer I get told I walk with my gun hand away from My body like I still have my duty belt on. On a date once I opened the car door for her and pushed down on her head as she got in ..old habits die hard.

    • I have to laugh about your habits,…

      First date:
      What do you think about cops? (Uh, hm, we met while you were in uniform. No big deal.)
      What do you think about weapons? (As I look down to his waist,…I’m a vet.)
      What do you think about guns? (I’m still a vet, it’s not a big deal and I want to learn how to trap shoot.)
      Oh, great, I’m a fire arms instructor.

      Second date:
      He walks into my house, sees my row of shoes lined up because I really am a veteran and that’s how I roll. Then puts his shoes in the same row. (Nice!)
      Now about that grounding technique for your PTSD, let’s do it. (Ok, just stand there in front of me without touching and stare into my eyes for five minutes—23 minutes later we’re still staring—and grounding, strike that, vertically “bonding” in all sorts of ways,….lol)

      Third date:
      I’m sure it’s going to be fun,…what could possibly go wrong?! Uh, yeah, lol.

      FWIW, from Walter Reed PTSD therapy: To re/connect with a loved one try standing (or sitting) without touching directly in front of a loved one without speaking for at least five minutes while staring into each other’s eyes. Research has shown that you can and will fall in love (again) after about ninety minutes in a controlled study. There’s a bonding level of trust knowing the other has your six. It works, it can be replicated and not just with my favorite cop who is now in my crosshairs of fun adventures.

      • CORRECTION: He asked about guns first–which is why I looked at his, um, waist. Then he asked about weapons. All of us vets know which is for fun and which is for shooting.

  16. I read the Traits article out loud to my wife this morning. She laughed her head off recognizing those traits of mine. I was an officer for 6 years before she met me and our marriage is going on our 26th year. She loves your articles. Do the math. I retire next year.

  17. Twenty-five years OTJ and retired for eleven. I have experienced most of this personally but found a way to limit it. Though for most of us it requires seeing it in yourself early enough to make a personal decision. Limit your immersion into the “cop lifestyle” and culture.

    Some of my best friends are the brothers and sisters who are the only ones who know what I’ve lived, as I know of them. They aren’t the ones that keep me grounded, sane, aware and in touch with the who I was before I put on the uniform and adopted “The Badge” as a vocation though.

    My civilian friends who don’t want to hear my war stories, feel for but don’t want to know about all the suffering I’ve seen, and don’t care that I use to tell other people what to do and there were consequences for disobeying me, are the ones who keep me grounded in a civilian world. They are the majority. In a democracy they rule (alledgedlly). They are our ultimate commanders. They are our significant others (PC world speak), children, family and the friends who, if we are lucky, limit the effects of police work that cause all the above.

    Certainly have your friends from the job. Support them and let them support you. Resist though the temptation to be in their constant company. Don’t finish a tour and hang out with your LE friends after most of the three me. Don’t have the job fill the majority of your time by being around it constantly via your after hours associations. Spend most of your down time with your civilian friends. Especially those you’ve known for years before you were “on the job”.

    You’ll still not sit with your back to the room, the door, the cash register. As you drive through a neighborhood you’ll still see all the people conducting “business” while your wife discusses the unique architecture of the buildings. You’ll still tell tasteless jokes steeped in very dark humor that most but your law enforcement friends will only groan at.

    You’ll also be happier, saner and more in touch with a world where very few of the people in it are cops. You wont be the “us” in the adoption of an “us and them” group think. You’ll still be different, and you can (and should) even celebrate that difference with your LE friends. You just won’t be as different as you might have been.

    • Just ended dating a retired cop….never admits fault or says sorry or even feels remorse…..so very sad as feel his insides are there but cant come out. Very Disapointed

  18. To be honest if you had actual decided to pick a worth whilke career maybe you wouldnt be so stressed out and paranoid.

    I dont know anybody who would legitimately want such a shitty and under paying job. I guess you only really have yourself to blame for all of this bullshit you are talking about. It’s easy enough to blame society but hwo is the one at the end of the day that decided to pick such a shitty job.

    why anyone would intentionally become an leo is completely beyond me.

    • It’s a shame you have so many judgmental negative comments to make for a profession you know nothing about. There’s no greater reward to know that at the end of the day that you have made a difference for someone or something, whether it’s saving a life to comforting a lost child. Not many can say that their profession affords them a front row seat to the “Greatest Show On Earth”. I’m sorry for you, that you never had a chance to experience the “Ride” and a chance to make that difference. If you haven’t walked the walk, then you don’t deserve the right to “talk the talk”.

    • Yet you will always call the cops when you are scared, threatened , destressed, and we will always come and take you to your safe place. Maybe we will give you a teddy bear and you will feel safer knowing you feel safer because we came. it is what I did to keep the dragons away and why you sleep at night knowing we will come when you call. we see the worst of the world and some of the best. Take a ride-along with some cops and see what they see! Complete your education of what life is really like!


    Maybe you should pick a job where you spend more time with your family then if that’s the case stupid lol

    Gotta love the excuses leo’s give as to why their jobs and life are so tough, Meanwhile here you are carrying a licensed firearm and badge. Please continue to relate to us your first world problems as to why your life is stressful lol..

    Gotta love how most cops at the end of the day relate that they have some form of ptsd on the job, what a load of nonsense. You chose your field of career, dont bullshit to us about how you cant accept your own personal responsibility of being a control freak, plain and simple.

    This article was a good laugh, Thnk you for spending the time to post this utter nonsense.

  20. When I started patrol in 2013, my starting salary was $21,900, but I was in a very rural county in east TN. I was the first POST cert. female deputy the county had hired as well. I’ve since moved on to greener pastures with another county agency, but I’m grateful for my meager beginnings. It taught me a lot.

  21. Hahaha! I still do that without realizing it. And carry everything in my left hand… And unbuckle my seatbelt as I’m pulling into a parking lot or driveway…


    The habit and traits that are ingrained in you will stick with you for life! Even in post retirement I still carry everywhere- just the way I was brought up. Unfortunately I have noticed some of the newer folks don’t.

    I was fortunate enough to haveworked the jobs, SWAT, K9, Narcs, the jobs you frequently poke fun at! So fuck you very much, sir.

    We had a saying, “No crime will be solved before overtime.”

    But let’s face it folks we have or had the BEST job ever!!! A front row seat to the greatest show on earth! I may be a permanently fucked up human being but I wouldn’t change a thing!

  23. I hate to say it but firefighters are fu*ked up too. Majority of my friends outside of the firefighters are cops. We all stay close cause we eventually will need eachother some time. But the jokes are the same.

  24. That’s funny because just yesterday my wife sent me and my daughter to neighbors houses to drop off Christmas goodies. Each door my daughter was mad at me because I stood to the side and she was the only one visible until door was opened. I didn’t realize why I was doing that. Now I do

  25. I was 6 out of 6. However being retired since 2011 I can say I have been working on a few things. Thank God for everything. The Good and the Bad

  26. Don’t forget that if you get a DUI or domestic assault or anything off duty, your career could end. Most regular jobs wouldn’t even know about these nor would it effect their job. Its something we as police officers accept, but it cam be stressful.

  27. Lol!! I worked undercover narcotics for most of my career, and learned shortly in that we were not a “middle of the restaurant group!!” I love our cop humor, and as a female I was just as good at dishing it out as well as taking no it!!

  28. Obviously you are not one of us. Maybe you could spend your useless time studying grammar rather than posting idiotic comments.

  29. Cops are always checking out license plates. I was out with a girlfriend and noticed Feb 2018 and we are in March. I was pretty sure her birthday is near summer. I asked, “so, who has a Feb birthday?” My friend looked at me weird and then said her husband does. I just pointed at the expired tag…

  30. There are people in this world who actually want to make a difference, in a good way. They want to help their fellow man from deep in their heart-not for recognition or high pay, but from their deep commitment to humanity and society. They like helping people and taking care of people who are in need of their assistance. When it works out, they are happy and fulfilled. They find that sometimes doesn’t work out and people are hurt or injured despite their best efforts. It pains them, but they don’t give up. They tend to seek out helping professions. These selfless people are sometimes shunned for their efforts by the very people they are trying to help.

    Then there are those people who have a very selfish outlook on life. They seek a career that will give them monetary reward or fame. They don’t care about anyone in the world around them, only themselves. Those people are very self centered, only looking for self gratification and frustrated when it isn’t handed to them without working for it. They realize they have nothing positive to contribute to society and are jealous and envious of those who have a higher calling. They know deep inside that they have little value themselves, so attempt to boost themselves up by trying to tear down the bigger and better people of the world.

    How sad and pathetic it must be, Robyn Force Thompson to be even below the selfish, bitter second group. A head shake and disdain are all you are worth.

  31. Very good blog you’re spot on. I’m a 28-year veteran of a large department. If you have already or if it was one of the ones you were saying you left off please disregard this.
    Constantly being on guard sitting with your back to the wall and away from the front door. Knowing where all the exits are. Watching people’s body language and how their clothing is hanging. Vehicles for Halloween or getting too close to you. Those types of traits my wife constantly tells me I do LOL

  32. As far as relationships, I’ve seen it so many times with friends and relatives. In most cases the problem boiled down to this: girls look at the guy in his uniform, with the cuffs and baton, and they imagine themselves getting used and abused with naughty abandon, ravaged at the hands of a rough and tough macho-man. And these are not sleezes and sluts, but the kind of nice girls you bring home to mama. Meanwhile, Mr. LEO sees both her and himself in totally different roles. He as a protector, kind and gentle, and her as someone who really wants such a man. All the time. And that’s where the problem comes in.

  33. If it weren’t for people who take this thankless job, your world would be a horror story. So rather than be judgmental, just say thank you and move along…….

  34. Robyn, your ignorance is amusing. We don’t take it personally, we have been insulted by halfwits our entire careers…

  35. Been OTJ for 40 years next month. I’ll be pulling the plug next year. Everything in the article, and much more, are true. Despite the costs to mind and body, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Survival requires adaptation and I am a survivor who has few regrets. It is one of the greatest professions in the world! Thank you for condensing and relating some of the things that only we and those close to us know. BTW, I’m a Salty Sarg also. LOL

  36. I am a civillian who is immensely facinated by this profession and I found this article and all of the comments interesting and amusing. Thank you to all LEO’s for the work you do and the personal sacrifices you make to protect and serve, with much respect.

  37. Thanks for mentioning that a lot of jobs don’t have their employees immerse themselves in chaos every day. My brother is thinking about voting for Carmine Marceno for Sheriff because he appreciates how Marcen engulfs himself into protecting the city. I think it’s a good investment to vote for a reputable professional that can manage the difficult task of providing safety and enforcing the law daily.

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