Cop Talk Live!

October 11, 2006 | Karin's Blog | 8 comments

Due to a large volume of questions this week (Officer Friendly is getting quite popular) I’m pulling the first set of three that came in. The balance of questions will be answered next week. And there is still room on next week’s blog for additional questions, so please don’t be shy.

So here we go:

Dear Officer Friendly,
How does a police officer become a detective?

In most departments, an officer must have been on the job for a certain length of time, pass a written examine and an oral board. In some of the larger city departments many are promoted to detective for a particular piece of work or body of work.

Okay, Officer Friendly, what does choir practice mean?

A ‘Choir Practice’ is nothing more than a gathering, almost immediately after a shift. It normally involves just the cops who worked the shift but could include outsides, predominantly females from outside. Alcohol is a staple at these gatherings. Food is optional. It doesn’t matter what time the shift ended, meaning Day shift would go early evening, Swings sometime after midnight, and Mids first thing in the morning. A choir practice can be held at someone’s home, in a park, at a bar, in an empty parking lot, a covered garage structure or any other damn place. Behavior is usually rowdy, loud and raucous. It’s a way to blow off steam, usually after a rough shift. Many a morning did Mrs. Friendly wake at 0830 to find a bunch of drunk cops partying in her backyard and pool. Ahh, those were the days…

Dear Officer Friendly,
Does an officer have to report the discharge of his weapon and what would be the procedure in the following situations:

a) Accidentally going off – i.e. didn’t mean to fire the weapon.

An officer should always report the discharge of their weapon and most departments will have a departmental order requiring them to do so. However, if the discharge occurred off duty and no one knew of it… Any on duty discharge would be reported to the Watch Commander. An investigation into the “accidental” discharge would result as well as any disciplinary action warranted.

b) Discharge of weapon on purpose but not shooting anything – e.g. a warning shot fired

For the record, police officers do not fire warning shots, this is a Hollywoodism. Again, any on duty discharge should be reported as described in answer A. i.e. Dispatching a wounded animal requires the approval of a Sgt. or Watch Commander. For a deer, which is not property, usually no report. Dispatching a dog, which could be someone’s property, the cop will probably have to write a short report to cover the incident.

c) Discharge of weapon resulting in the wounding or death of a suspect

Most definitely would be reported. The involved officer’s gun would be taken as evidence. They would get a mandatory three days off with pay. They would be offered but not forced to get counseling. The D.A. would run its own investigation into the shooting as would the department. The officer involved would be read his rights and thoroughly interviewed. The D.A. wants to make sure no laws were broken by the officer and the department wants to make sure none of their General Orders were violated.

d) Discharge of weapon resulting in the wounding or death of a bystander
See answer to question C.

If you have any questions pertaining to these questions or the answers, comment away.



  1. Tracey

    Thanks officer friendly – good to know about warning shots. You are a gem – as Mrs. Freindly has said often.

  2. Amanda

    Thank you Officer Friendly. I would have gone on believing in warning shots. In the premise of shootings, are there any other ‘Hollywoodisms’?

  3. Officer Friendly

    The one glaring Hollywoodism that always drives me crazy is the racking of a round before the big dangerous scene. “What is the racking of a round?” you ask. The racking of a round is the action of pulling on the slide (top movable part) of a semi-auto handgun. This action moves a bullet or round, from the magazine, where the bullets are stored, into the chamber, where the bullets are fired from. It’s very dramatic… not! i.e. Crocket and Tubbs are about to enter the bad guy’s hide out and they expect a shoot out. Looking great in their Armani pastels, they hold up their semi-auto with their gun hand and using their off hand, grab the slide and quickly pull it back to rack a round. Now the gun is loaded with a round in the chamber and they are ready for whatever might wait on the other side of the door. My heart is just pounding from all this excitment.

    This action implies that the gun was not loaded before. What if as they walked up to the bad guy’s place and he had jumped out shooting at them? I’m sure it would have looked very dramatic them rolling around, scrambling for cover and trying to rack a round while dogging bullets and dusting off their Italian leather shoes.

    A cop carries a gun because he may need to use deadly force. That being said, a cop doesn’t have time to rack a round when he needs his gun. That round is racked before the cop leaves the station and usually, the magazine is removed, the round replaced in the mag and the mag reinserted. This gives the cop one extra round in the gun; a full mag plus one in the barrel.

  4. Amanda

    Plus, to me, it always sounded so loud the bad guys were going to know what they were doing before they ever got inside to have the gun battle. LOL

  5. Karin

    snarky laugh re dusting off the Italian leather shoes.

  6. Elisabeth

    Thanks for the great answers, OF. 🙂

  7. Theresa

    lol Officer friendly,

    I got such a great visual of the racking round explaination…I can’t help thinking this would make a great parody… if you ever get the inclination to write humor.

    btw– as always appreciate the answers to the questions. I’m printing off and saving the info–never know when its going to come in handy.

  8. Officer Friendly

    Theresa, I still need to finish the book I’ve started! But thanks for the encouragement.

    Amanda, valid point!

    Tracey, (in an Elvis voice) Well, thank you, ahh thank you very much.

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