7 Simple Ways Cops Can Lose Their Job

Fired Cop

A simple warning

It is nothing new that cops live under a microscope.

Now more so than ever.

Unless you have lived in a cave or have been in a coma for the past 3 years, the scrutiny is at an all time high.

Most of the vitriol thrown at us has been unwarranted.

Sadly, some of it has.

Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering, just the type of screw ups that allow the haters to shout “you see, we were right all along”.

I have picked 7 but in reality there are easily over a 100.

This article will serve foremost as a warning to those rookie and seasoned officers that may need a little reminder of the things that get us hemmed up.

See Also: “3 Leadership Traits to Avoid With Street Cops”

Remember, cops are held to a higher standard than the general public. I think we can all agree that the infractions listed below may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, but these transgressions always seem to knock our profession back a step.

Also, I am not coming from a place of supervision but rather as a “been there done that” standpoint. Meaning, I have either done it myself or have known officers who have.

Think of this article as the Salty Sarge giving his younger brothers or sisters some wisdom from the front lines.

And if my bosses think they have finally gotten their smoking gun on me, “good luck”.

As always, this list is in no particular order of importance (#7 will get you canned the fastest).

The List

1. Drunk Driving – When a regular Joe gets a DUI, nobody knows about it and nobody cares. When a cop gets one, it’s front page headlines or at the top of everyone’s news feed.

Now, most officers have body worn camera’s and in-car video which can be obtained by the media. Not that I would ever condone professional courtesy when it comes to drunk driving. Because of this technology, the officer who made the stop could be at risk if DUI protocols are not followed.

Being convicted of drunk driving is usually a 100 percent guarantee that you will be working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car or some other job that doesn’t have “police” in the job title.

2. Engaging in un-ethical behavior with other women or men – I’m just going to, as they say, leave this one right here for ya.

3. Wrecking your police car – I am not referring to having an accident in your cruiser while on duty. I’m talking about wrecking your car and not reporting it. In my 2 plus decades on the job, I have seen several officers lose their jobs over it.

Shockingly enough, most accidents were very minor. Like backing into a fire hydrant or clipping their side mirror.

I’m sure some university study might find an answer but to this day I am stumped why officers would risk so much for something so minor. Please, if you wreck it, report it.

Oh, and if you go over a curb while pursuing a bad guy, make sure there is no damage to the under-carriage.

4. Calling out sick when you’re not sick – This one causes more arguments and brings out more Department of Labor and Human Resource experts in cops than almost any police issue. I have seen more officers lose their job, or worse, be relegated to a dreaded “Brady Unit” for abusing this type of leave.

Many will argue that it’s their benefit and if they have accrued the time then they should be able to use it as they see fit.

Sorry, wrong answer.

Now I get that there are some days you just don’t “have it”.

I get that.

I would much rather you call out sick then not bring me your “A” game to work. Especially if you work the road.

But for the love of god, please use common sense.

See Also: “Great Cops and the 4 Traits All of Them Possess”

Like, don’t call out sick and then sneak off to the golf course and find the entire police executive branch, to include your Lieutenant, at the clubhouse getting ready to have a staff meeting in one of the conference rooms inside the clubhouse.

Just saying.

5. Signing up for extra-duty but not actually working it – This one is beyond stupid but I could name numerous officers who have been shit-canned for doing this. Simple, if you sign up for it, work it.

And actually be present at the job you have signed up for. There really is nothing else I can say about this one.

6. Resist the urge to punch someone who is in handcuffs – Don’t even try to say that you have never at least thought of doing this.

At the end of the day, cops are human beings. We have human emotions and human instincts. When we are threatened, disrespected, humiliated or assaulted, our lizard brains can turn savage.

“But Sarge, I would never in a million years think of doing something that would violate the police code of ethics….”

Oh really? Have you ever been kicked in the nuts or spat in the face by someone in handcuffs?

It has happened to me.

I had to use every ounce of my non-savage, former Marine, rational part of my brain not to lash out. I’ve known of some officers who couldn’t.

They are no longer cops.

7. Lying – If there were a ten commandments of policing, this one would stand head and shoulders above the rest. From our first day in the academy until our retirement luncheon, this one platitude is preached to each of us without let up.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the most important value a cop must protect (like how I did that).

What amazes me are the cops who get busted for it usually didn’t have to.

The cops who typically get called out for lying don’t tell grandiose whoppers that everyone knows is bullshit. No, they tell borderline “white” lies with little significance that mushroom into full blown IA investigations.

You can lie to your wife, your children, even to yourself.

Just don’t lie when you have that gun and badge on.


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


  1. There are times to lie….such as to a suspect to make him think something happened or that you have more than you really have on him.

  2. I went into the California Highway Patrol March 1971 –Before Affirmative Action and altered height requirements. An Old Instructor Sergeant told us: “Credibility is like a wine glass–Break and you can never put it back together”

    Have to agree with Comment #1 above

    Although you get some novel ones: One officer was selling real estate in his off hours. It was revealed to our Office that he was laundering money for the Mob

  3. This is the two that came to mind first for me. Booze, Women and Lying, and usually all three are connected.

  4. My first Sergeant told me “Don’t fool around, women and lies have killed more careers than guns” and it was a lesson that stuck with me.

  5. The one that always stuck with me is “the badge will get you ****y, just don’t let the p**** get your badge.” That’s been proven over and over during my 20yrs.

  6. A look-before-you-leap catchphrase to think about before you do something real smart … “How will I explain this at the Inquiry ?”
    Maybe while you’re pulling your pants off you’ll have time to think, other times you may not have time to think.

  7. I have seen decent officers fired because of everything listed. But the biggest was lieing. Unless it’s felony as long as you tell the truth they might take days or yell at you but you’ll normally keep your job. I always told that to every shift or section I supervised.

  8. The first 4 should be Lying, Booze, Bucks and Broads . But lying should be number one, Tell the DAMN Truth, they might yell at you, demote you or even suspend you, but you’ll still have a job !!!!!!

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