Unsplash | Emiliano Bar

Police Officers Reveal The Laws They Don’t Enforce

Some laws are meant to be broken... well, not really, but bear with me. While a lot of people will dispute that common saying, apparently there are police officers who agree with the sentiment. Police officers can have a very stressful job, and in some instances, they may let people off with smaller/less serious crimes.

One person took to Reddit to find out what some of these smaller crimes are that police officers may often turn a blind eye to, by asking, "Police officers of Reddit, what are some laws that you feel uncomfortable enforcing because you disagree with them?"

Below are a series of statements from employees in various areas of law enforcement detailing instances where they may turn a blind eye to enforcing the law.

Arresting Homeless People

Unsplash | Mihály Köles

"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" — Galemianah

They went on to say that at first, they were worried about getting caught for this breach of protocol; however, the more they did it, the more that worry went away.

Marijuana Possession

Unsplash | Matthew Brodeur

"When I was a police officer I hated marijuana laws. I would just tell the person to dump it on the ground when I found it. I did the same when I’d find underage kids with alcohol; dump it out and be on your way. Aside from that I pretty much never wrote tickets for equipment violations such as a headlight out, etc. I would just politely let the person know they needed to fix it." — JDDL0602

There were actually a considerably high number of officers who wrote that they were not happy with the current laws against possession of marijuana in certain states.

Broken Taillight

Unsplash | Humphrey Muleba

"My uncle is a police officer. He's always said that he tries not to write tickets for broken tail lights. He says that in most cases people driving around with a broken tail light are doing so because they can't afford to fix it immediately, and giving them a ticket on top of that just makes it even more difficult for them to fix it." — SuspiciousPromotion

A lot of people also pointed out that it can be quite easy to be caught driving without knowing you have a taillight out.

Corrupt Politicians

Unsplash | Randy Colas

"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." — Nevets52

This is disgraceful, nobody should be above the law. This person also wrote that their superiors weren't proud of this rule, and said that it was mainly due to the fact that those with boats etc were elected officials. I wish this person could leak this information with evidence.

Arresting Homeless People For Getting Food Out Of Bins

Unsplash | Hidde van Esch

"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." — EGDad

There is a big ethical question as to whether that should be an arrestable offense. I mean, it's going to waste anyway, so why shouldn't it be given to those in need?

"No Puffing Laws"

Unsplash | Andrik Langfield

"Where I work there is a statute prohibiting leaving your car running unattended. It is called no puffing laws. This is very popular during the wintertime because nobody likes to freeze while their car is warming up. However, doing this makes your car more likely to get stolen. It's our policy that if an individual reports their car being stolen because they left it running, they will be ticketed. It Basically penalizes the victim of a crime." — drypaddle

I'm too much of a security nut to ever be able to leave my car running while unattended, even for a second.

Being Forced To Arrest Someone In Domestic Cases

Unsplash | Bart Jaillet

"There's a policy in the Province that I work that basically says if you're called to a domestic you have to arrest and charge someone. So you basically have to pick who the main aggressor was and arrest/charge/tell them they can't go home. A lot of times there's no injuries or evidence that anything even happened so it puts you in a difficult spot.

"Also, I dislike pulling people over and giving tickets. If I see something awful, I'd be compelled to give a warning. The tickets where I work are just too expensive for the average person." — JAG1955

Being forced to make that judgment on the spot must be incredibly difficult.

Charging Kids With Assault

Unsplash | Hudson Roseboom

"In Texas there’s two versions of Assault, a Class C misdemeanor which is literally just a fine and Class A which is punishable by jail and a fine. When I worked as a school resource officer, parents wanted to always file charges for a Class C assault, which is technically unwanted touching that didn’t equal any injury. Kids are kids, and they are always touching or hitting each other and if one of them took it too far, here come the parents wanting blood.

"The worst-case I had was a girl who bit the inside of her boyfriend's lip when they were making out. Mom had an sh*t fit and since blood was drawn and technically an injury, I had to arrest a 14 yr old for Class A assault. After that case, I quit the force. There were other factors but that was the one that broke the camels back." — PM_ME_Your_RESUME133

Tinted Windows

Instagram | accents_customz

"Tinted Windows (CA). I can argue good reasons to HAVE tinted windows all day long. I refuse to write a ticket for them (unless you’re being an asshole to me)." — AHSQU1RR3L

I didn't even know there were places where having tinted windows was illegal!

People Putting Hammocks In Trees

Unsplash | Esther Tuttle

"I was a Seasonal Park Ranger over the 2019 Summer. I went into the job thinking that I'd be doing more... Ranger things. You know, wildlife, information, etc. Instead, I quickly learned that Park Rangers are on the same level as State Troopers and that us Seasonals were the grunts enforcing the other laws that the Full-Time Rangers were too busy to handle. The Park I worked at was built in the 80's, so the campgrounds and whatnot were exceptionally small by modern-day standards.

"Some things I hated enforcing and would turn a blind eye as much as possible: Keeping your vehicle parked on the asphalt, keep your dog on a leash AT ALL TIMES, and no hammocks in the trees." — SplitDiamond

Apparently, the reasoning behind the no hammocks rule was that it damaged the trees; however, this person said that they never saw any damage caused to a tree as a result of a hammock!

Misinterpreting Reasonable Force

Unsplash | John Cameron

"It's not a specified law as such, but in the UK people can use 'reasonable force' to protect themselves, others and property. I remember going to one job where a bloke was sat on his couch with a beer watching TV when a drunk bloke has just walked straight into his living room via the front door. A confrontation ensued and the drunk trespasser had become aggressive.

"Long story short the trespasser was given a proper shoo-in, so much so he's ended up in the street where he has then called the police. We attended and his injuries were substantial enough that the house occupant was arrested for Grevious bodily Harm and it most definitely rubbed me up the wrong way in being involved in that job because I totally sympathized with the guy and felt any of us would've probably done the same thing if we were in his position." — KingStannis93

Refusing To Search A House Based On One Marijuana Plant

Unsplash | Drew Taylor

"There was one case, where a bunch of guys in my agency would have arrested in a heartbeat, and honestly, by law, I was required to investigate, but didn't. A car drove through the back of someone's house because the driver confused the brake and gas pedal. The house that was driven through, had one lone marijuana plant in another room which is a felony in my state (and growers get S**T on in my state).

"I stepped in front of it so the firefighters and others wouldn't notice and raise hell about it. This homeowner was a good ole boy and a church-going father who worked a nice job and contributed greatly to society. I'm not trying to ruin his family's life over a plant. When I walked out of the house and came back in, the plant was missing, he was probably shitting bricks the whole time I stood there. Now that I'm not a cop, I thought about leaving a letter in his mailbox telling him I knew about the plant, but I don't want to make him paranoid lol." — TOWonthewire1

They explained that if they thought someone was dealing in a large scale operation, they would have acted differently.

Having To Send People Back Who Washed Up

Unsplash | Linus Mimietz

"Not a police officer, but still technically law enforcement at the time. When I was in the Coast Guard, I did a lot of drug and migrant interdiction down in the Caribbean. Chasing drug smugglers was pretty fun, but interdicting the migrants was always sad.

"We would usually find Haitians or Cubans and the Haitians were always much worse off. It was pretty heartbreaking having to send them back after seeing the state they were in, and the state of country they were trying to leave. They would go through such great lengths to leave and we had to stop them. One guy tried to light himself on fire and others would try and injure themselves to try and get us to take them to US health care facilities." — raym0ndv2

They went on to say that the only saving grace was that a lot of the time, the boats they had arrived on were normally death traps, so they had to think of it as saving them from drowning.

Underage Drinking

Unsplash | Iulian M.

"In my college town there were really only 4 bars within walking distance to campus, and they were all notoriously lax on their ID policy. Any fake got you in the door, and sometimes you didn't even need that.

"But the cops always kept their distance because that meant students were drinking under the regulation of bouncers and bartenders, which was obviously preferable to the alternative of constantly throwing house parties." — BinarySpaceman

Traffic Tickets

Clem Onojeghuo | Unsplash

"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." — FangoRocket

They went on to reply to someone else explaining that if the person was driving in a manner that was dangerous to other people, then they would ticket them. They specifically meant they would let people off for most "ticketable offenses that are relatively minor in consequence or simply keeping up with paperwork or a tail light".

Finding A Child Trying To Return A Firearm Home

Unsplash | Fredrik Öhlander

"I live in a community that is basically addicted to hunting. So most kids have their own rifle and car by 17. Our school obviously has a rule about not allowing guns on the property in any way, shape, or form. Sometimes people are hunting before school though and forget to drop the gun off at home first. My friend did this once.

"The gun was unloaded, in his trunk, and locked in a case like it was supposed to be. He went to the office to ask if he could be excused to return it home, it would take him maybe 15 minutes tops. Nope, the school called the police. One of the cops came, listened to the story, searched the vehicle and found the gun, perfectly and safely packed away. He looked the superintendent dead in the eye and said he wasn't going to arrest a kid for trying to do the right thing." — EJX-a

Apparently, the superintendent of the school tried to have the police officer fired following this incident.

Breaking Up Parties

Unsplash | Jens Johnsson

"My dad was a cop. He said he never busted many high school parties because he did the same stuff in high school and figured everyone deserved to party every now and then. People in my town really liked him as a cop". — NonexistantSip

Turns out that the police officers in Superbad were based on this person's father. (This obviously isn't true, but can you imagine that was your claim to fame, that would be incredible!)

Using Sniffer Dogs

Unsplash | Christoph Schmid

"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." — McFeely_Smackup

Gun Ammunition

Unsplash | Kenny Luo

"My cousin is a cop and often times he looks the other way on stupid gun laws like not being able to have the ammunition in the gun while it's sitting in the vehicle." -AWEL9869

Someone's Trash Is Another's Treasure

Unsplash | Hermes Rivera

"Trash theft" -LittleUrbanPrepper

This makes a lot of sense, considering those who would be "stealing" trash are likely just looking for something to eat.

Traffic Violations

Unsplash | JJ Ying

"Turning right on the red or people driving through red in the middle of the night without any cars nearby." -Z1NK_ONE

Petty Possession

Unsplash | Wesley Gibbs

"Arresting anyone for possession of weed is pathetic. I just don't see a point in filling prison up with these kinds of people when there are far more dangerous people out there." -macocwbyz72

Drunk Driving

Unsplash | Hamza Bounaim

"My mother used to be a police officer in a college town, and she had several occasions where she would pull someone over, realize that they were impaired and not far from home, so she’d toss them in the back of her patrol car, bring them home and pin a note to their chest telling them where their car could be found the next day." -EmRoXOXO


Unsplash | Tammy Gann

"Refusal to provide a breath sample. I’ve actually had to arrest people who have medical conditions and can’t blow into a breathalyzer due to the way the law is written as there are no exceptions to it." -Dacus_Rex


Unsplash | Tom Grünbauer

"I’m not a cop, but I have a friend who his, and him and I both disagree with the fact that in New York where we live, and in some other states, not having a front license plate is illegal. It’s 100% a victimless crime. Who is it hurting? Literally no one." -Hvvinylworks

Keeping Dogs Leashed In National Parks

Unsplash | Richard Brutyo

"Keep your dog on a leash AT ALL TIMES. God I hated this rule. I'm a dog person, and if I saw people with their dog off-leash running around in a field by themselves, I would leave it. The entire season there was only one instance when an off-leash dog got aggressive, and that's because the owner was drinking and got into a physical altercation with another park-goer and the dog was trying to protect his master." -SplitDiamond

Definition of Terms

Unsplash | Matt Popovich

"How broad the term "family member" is when it comes to domestic battery. It could include college roommates. Adult Male brothers who don't live together.

Like...no. these people are not what people imagine when they think inescapable abusive relationship." -Harai_Goatse


Unsplash | Brandon Griggs

"Tenancy disputes. Some tenants are crap and deserve to be evicted. But there are a lot of landlords who treat tenants badly by not fixing urgent repairs, misusing their entry powers, etc. But if a tenant stops paying all of their rent then they can rightfully be evicted. Sometimes the tenants can become upset and we are called in. We always made sure we transported the evicted tenant to a place of safety." -Ironeagle08

Prison Masturbation

Unsplash | Emiliano Bar

"Correctional office here. There are a few rules in place at my prison that I disagree with. The biggest rule I disagree with has to do with inmates beating off in their bunks. Technically, if we catch them on a 'Prison Date' we are supposed to put them in cuffs and escort them to solitary, but I don't always do that. I don't see a big reason to lock somebody up for enjoying themselves on their own time, provided that they aren't irritating anybody else. If they're in their bed and not being loud or obnoxious, or they're not beating off to a CO, i usually just tell them to stop." — ThrowayAcount1543

What a strange thing to have to arrest someone for. Also, did you know that cornflakes were invented to stop people masturbating? Apparently Mr. Kellogg thought that the bland flavor would discourage sexual desires.

Officer Discretion

Annie Spratt | Unsplash

"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."

They also pointed out as an example of how they could either ticket someone for each individual illegally tinted window on a car, or they could just ticket for the car as a whole.