Being the front line against anything that could go wrong in society can lead to some pretty shocking and even harrowing experiences. From the unusual to the moving to the just plain horrifying, every officer out there has at least a few moments in their career that they will never be able to forget. Here are stories of unforgettable moments that police officers have experienced on the job.
1. Within an Inch of His Life
My grandfather retired from the police force a few years ago and one of his stories in particular really sticks out to me. He answered a call about a guy up in a tower shooting at things with his rifle. When my grandpa arrived, the man shot at his squad car. The bullet entered the roof and hit just above his shoulder, going right through the shoulder strap on his uniform.
2. He’s Got It All in the Bag
My husband has been a police officer for over 20 years. One night, he was patrolling the downtown area when he noticed a purse that someone had left behind. He opened the bag to check for an ID and instead, he found a turd. That’s right, some lady had taken a huge dump in her own handbag and then left it behind. He’ll talk freely about crazy stuff like autopsies and burnt bodies—but this particular story, he definitely wishes he could forget…
3. Catching a “Break”
Back when I was with the force, I was assigned to go check out an abandoned vehicle spotted in an area on my post. I got there to find a nasty looking one with busted out windows and no license plates. While I was checking it out, I noticed a couple of wires running along it from the front to the back. I lifted up the trunk in the back and found a huge pile of explosive devices attached to the wires. If something hadn’t apparently broken or malfunctioned, I would have lost my life as soon as I opened the trunk.
4. A Rookie Error
I was a rookie cop in a small town and I was driving to a check on a report of a large group of kids causing a disturbance at a school parking lot late at night. I realized that I had not tested my PA speaker, which I had planned on using to disperse the crowd. On my way to the call, slowly rolling down a random residential street at two in the morning with my windows down, I decide to tap my PA mic a couple of times to check it.
First two taps, I can’t tell if it’s working. I slow down. I tap the mic several more times. I definitely hear the speakers loud and clear that time. At that moment, I suddenly hear a “What the heck are you doing??!” from an angry sounding voice outside my window. I look out the passenger side of my car and see this old dude sitting on his porch in his underwear, looking pretty pissed.
Our eyes locked, and I realized that I had no decent excuse for why I was clicking my loudspeaker in a quiet neighborhood in the middle of the night. I froze up, couldn’t think of anything to say back to him, and just floored it up the road. It was definitely an unforgettable moment at the time, despite not being the typical kind of crazy story you would expect to hear from a police officer. Nevertheless, the awkwardness meter on this encounter was through the roof and it goes to show that there’s more to being a cop than just the exciting parts.
5. The Moment It Sinks In
My cousin was an EMT in Buffalo when he was backing up a SWAT insertion. As he tells it, the “Oh crap!” moment was when he realized that the gunfire he was hearing wasn’t coming from the police…
6. Curiosity Killed the Officer’s Free Time
I’m a former police officer. One afternoon, my partner and I were riding around when we saw another unit dip into a Weapons Storage Area. We figured, eh, let’s go see what they’re up to. So we rolled up to the gate, and the security guard says “You guys here for the bomb leak, too?” I’m sorry, what?? Well, I guess we are now!
We hit the gas and went rolling inside to find the fire department and all already on the scene investigating. We had to evacuate the entire weapons area, as well as most of the supply area across the street and most of the surrounding flight line. It turned out to be something like a 3,000-meter cordon. That was a fun day! When all was said and done, it ended up just being a sealant issue.
7. A Case of Mistaken Identity
I’m not a cop. This is more a story of how I unintentionally gave a cop an “Oh crap!” moment. I had a night job managing a liquor store in a very bad neighborhood. It was a one-room affair with me behind a desk, with the cash register just inside the store’s entrance. I had only had the job for about a month when a friend dropped by to hang out for a bit.
After some time, he asked me if the store owners had provided me with any kind of protection, given what a nasty neighborhood it was in. I told him, “Just this old double-barreled shotgun that’s kept under the counter here—but it’s empty!” With that, I reached down and picked up the shotgun to show him.
Unbeknownst to me, two armed robberies had just gone down at a fast food restaurant and another business close by—within a couple of blocks—and the police were responding to the calls in full force right outside of our door. I had heard the sirens, but I didn’t think much of it because sirens were a pretty common occurrence in this part of town.
A police car immediately swerved into the parking lot in front of the store and an officer jumped out of his car. He dashed in to check if the robbers were hitting my store next. The cop bursts through the front door of the store, literally seconds after I had picked up the shotgun to show my friend. His coming through the door as fast as he did startled me and, without thinking, I turned towards him—with the shotgun in my hands inadvertently pointed right at him.
His gun was holstered and I had the drop on him. At that moment, he didn’t know if I was the perp who had just robbed the other stores or what. His face instantly went paper white! Both of our minds were blown at the exact same time! I quickly laid the gun down and let him know that there was no harm intended. Nevertheless, I’m pretty darn sure that he will never forget that particular shocking moment—and neither will I, for that matter!
8. Just Getting Started
The moment on the job that shocked me more than anything I ever experienced was when I was first being trained and they went over what to do if someone (such as myself) gets acid thrown in their face. I was then told what the procedure is if I get pricked with a junkie’s needle, and what can happen to me. The severity of what this job entails just hit me like a ton of bricks that day. These remain my two biggest fears on the job to this day.
9. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
We happened to be right on top of the scene when a carjacking with a gun call went out. I saw the car fishtailing in the snow half a block away. We started to chase, and the driver bailed immediately into the driveway of an apartment building. I chased him up a hill while my partner ran around the building to cut him off.
Just as I crested the hill, a shot rang out. He had fired blindly behind him, the old “to whom it may concern” shot. We chased him through a church parking lot where the local Bingo game was just being let out, so there was no return fire. We finally caught him in a backyard behind the church. Our department gave us nice plaques as a reward. Oh, and cake!
10. Talk About a Rough First Day!
I’m not a cop, but my younger brother is. On his first night out of field training, as in the first night he’s ever been riding without an instructor, he and his equally new partner were heading back to the station at the end of the night around two in the morning. He’s driving down a major street and a there are two SUVs hauling off in the other direction.
All of a sudden, someone leans out of the rear window of the second vehicle and starts firing rounds from a rifle right at my brother’s car as he’s passing them by. Naturally, they flip around and give chase; and call it out on the radio. He said he thinks it must have been either the fact that his partner was screaming his head off into the radio, or the fact that it was the two rookies getting shot at—but, one way or the other, practically the entire city’s police force came down on these people in about two minutes.
They ended up successfully catching both vehicles. It turned out that the whole thing was over some sort of dispute at a bar between the occupants of the two SUVs, and Vehicle Two had been chasing Vehicle One. They then saw the cops, who they didn’t realize had no idea about any of it, coming the other way, and so they decided to take a couple of shots just in case.
11. Losing the Battle, Winning the War
My older brother is a cop. He got a call one time about a suicidal teenager behind a school with a knife. He rolled up to the spot and when the kid noticed him, he immediately cutting himself. My brother sprinted over to him and tased him on the spot. By doing so, he saved the kid’s life. It was all caught on body cam and the footage is freakin’ wild!
I’ve heard this story hundreds of times over the years, and this seems like the perfect time to share it.
My father was a Miami-Dade County Sheriff in the 80s. He was one of the first rookies pulled from the academy straight to Miami. All the time, he tells me about how police officers are all control freaks. His crazy moment was when he lost control. On his way home from a shift one day, he had overheard a call on the radio about a convenience store robbery right near where he was. He radioed in and said that he’d check it out, as he was still in uniform. He still had his shirt, pants, and badge, but his gun belt had been removed.
As he searched the streets, he spotted a vehicle matching the description and proceeded to call it in while he threw his lights on to pull them over. As he pulled them over, two kids got out and ran. The driver stayed behind. With no gun belt on, my father proceeded to get out of his cruiser and holster his weapon in his waistband. He then took the driver out of the car and moved them over to the hood of his. As he searched the driver over his hood, he said he felt the moment happen.
The driver started to swing his arm around and proceeded to elbow my father in the face. My father instantly lost all control. They wrestled to the ground where, eventually, my father’s weapon was knocked loose. The driver proceeded to pick up the weapon and shoot my father point blank in the lung with his own weapon. The driver escaped, but only for a brief period of time before another car caught up to him. My father was blessed to have had one of the top surgeons in the country doing a seminar about 20 minutes away on the same day. He lives to tell the tale to this day, and I’m pretty sure that the piece of trash who shot him just got released last year.
13. The Bearer of Bad News
My moments on the job that have stayed with me more than anything else are the two times that I had to inform people that one of their loved ones had died. It’s never an easy task, especially for something sudden and unexpected like a car accident. Both times, it took every inch of willpower I had to not break down with them at the doorstep.
14. Going Above and Beyond
I’m not the cop in this case, but the way that the officer dealt with our harrowing situation truly deserves to be told. My brother died by suicide, and the cop who was called to scene has since reached out to us many times over the years to check in and see how we are doing. While my family and I were freaking out in the moment, he carefully cut my brother down from the rope and tried to save his life, while also trying to be sensitive to our feelings and keep us as calm as possible during this traumatic experience.
He also helped us through the entire process of coping with the stress and aftermath of our family’s loss. My mom once made the remark “imagine if we had had to cut him down ourselves”—and I think that says it all about how much gratitude we owe this police officer and the incredible service he gave us during our greatest moment of need. To all police officers out there, thank you for handling society at its worst. We love and appreciate you for it more than we can ever hope to show.
15. Accidental Hero
My grandpa was on the California Highway Patrol for over 20 years. He would always tell the story of the time he pulled over this one guy back in the day for a busted taillight. My grandpa walks up to the car, asks him for his license and registration, and the guy says, “How’d you catch me so fast?” Grandpa said that the hair on the back of his neck never again stood up even half as fast as it did when he heard that sentence. It turned out that the guy had robbed a bank not even five minutes earlier and had just started trying to make his getaway.
16. When Reality Hits
The first time you hear a gunshot close-by sticks with you for a long time. That’s when the job gets real. At first, you’re all rainbows and candy canes and excited about trying to help people—but once your life is put in danger, you’re never the same.
17. You Can Hide, But You Can’t Run
I was doing a welfare check at a house for a suicidal male. He was the only person living in the house. His car was in the driveway and the house was locked up. I gathered some more info and was told where a key was. I opened the front door, announced myself, and started searching the house expecting to find a dead body.
I opened a closet door and found the guy hiding in there with a rifle right next to him. If he had wanted me dead that day, I would not be typing this right now because I would have been a goner instantly. It turned out the dude was having some issues. We sat and talked for about half an hour. He told me he had heard me calling, but didn’t want to talk to anyone. I arranged for him to get the help he needed.
18. What Did I Sign Up For?
My case actually took place before I was sworn in. I was still a cadet in the Highway Patrol and I was loading live rounds into my service revolver for the first time. That was when it hit me. I have the power to kill someone in this job.
My dad was a police officer. My mom took me and my siblings to the doctor one day, and turned off her cell phone as per the doctor’s office policy back then. Fast forward a few hours, we pull up to our house and there’s a cop car waiting for us in the driveway. It was not my dad’s. Anyone with family in law enforcement knows that having a cop at your door that isn’t your loved one is something you NEVER want to experience.
To make a long story short, they were there to tell us that my dad’s flashbang had malfunctioned and detonated in his pocket during a call he was on with SWAT. It was definitely a shocking moment for him and everyone else who had been in the back of their van. He very nearly bled out and they couldn’t get a hold of my mom. She swears that the whole department was in that car waiting for us when we got there. And the best part is, my dad lived to tell the tale. Love him!
20. Put Me In, Coach
I got a call about an emotionally disturbed person. I arrived on scene to find a 350-pound man, who was built like an NFL lineman, passed out on the floor face down. His wife tells me that he suffers from PTSD from the first Iraq War and that he was an army ranger. He had been drinking heavily as well. His 16-year-old son is on the scene as well, watching this unfold. The man finally begins to wake up, and proceeds to smash his forehead into the ground repeatedly. We call for an ambulance.
A small pool of blood begins to form on the floor. The wife grabs a rag and goes to wipe it up when this guy’s head jerks up real quick, his face contorted in rage. He grabs his wife by the neck and throws her clear across the room onto the couch. We immediately jump on him, but he is preternaturally strong. There are four of us, and we are each fighting one limb without much progress being made.
The kid jumps in and helps us get two sets of cuffs on him, because one set would not have been wide enough to connect his wrists behind his back. I ride in the ambulance to the hospital with him while he glares at me angrily, reciting his military registration number and telling me that I won’t get any information out of him.
He then starts hurling racial epithets at me, even though I don’t remotely look like someone of the race he is referring to. The entire ride, I’m just sitting there quietly hoping that he doesn’t break out of the cuffs along the way. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure we would have been able to gain control of him if his kid hadn’t jumped in unexpectedly and helped.
21. Coming Out of the Closet
We were looking for a guy who had stolen guns from his ex, and we eventually found him under a pile of clothes in a closet at a different house. Unfortunately, there were something like seven kids sleeping in the same room, so I had to quietly and discreetly start getting them out of there while my partner cuffed the guy who was pretending to sleep in the closet.
We decided to drag him out. When I went to move the mattress out of the way, we found the stolen guns right under where the kids had been sleeping. The fact that a person could be so easily willing to put a bunch of innocent children’s lives in danger for his own sick purposes shocked me to my core.
22. Nothing Compares
All I can say is that nothing could ever haunt someone the way that I am haunted by having seen dead children—especially since I was trying to save them. The images of their faces still haunt me at night. I did everything I could to help, but sometimes there is just nothing you can do. It still hits me hard—harder than anyone who hasn’t experienced it may realize.
23. Skeletons in the Trunk
My mate on the force had a “Holy crap!” moment on his very first week of solo traffic patrols. He pulled a drunk guy over, only to discover that the guy’s trunk literally had two unwitting people just chilling inside of it, fast asleep.
24. Drinking the Punch Instead of the Kool-Aid
This happened in August of last year. It was about 1 or 2 in the morning when a 911 hang-up call came in. All that was heard on our end of the phone was a bunch of screaming and swearing. I was the closest unit and I was riding alone, as my partner had been put on another assignment for that set of days. So, when I got out into the area, I was initially waiting for backup to arrive before approaching to knock on the door. However, as I was walking up to the house, I heard several voices screaming and I realized that I had to act right away.
Rushing up to the house, the first thing that I noticed was blood. It was absolutely everywhere. It was on the floor, on the walls, on the door—everywhere you can imagine. The whole room was covered up to shoulder height. When I stepped inside, a distraught woman screamed and pointed me towards the living room.
Once I made my way into the living room, I saw a male and a female on a couch, both covered in blood. The male had a massive laceration on his right forearm, and the female had taken a belt and snake wrapped it around the wound to try and stop the bleeding. Seeing how the belt had been applied, I knew that it wasn’t doing anything to stop the blood flow, so I pulled out my tourniquet and said to the guy “This is gonna hurt like hell, but it’ll stop the bleeding” as I prepared it for him. I applied the tourniquet just above the top of his bicep and made sure that it was on properly. That was when he told me that his hand had started to go numb. It was at that point that I noticed a second deep gash on his tricep that went all the way down to the bone.
It took EMS about 15 minutes to get to the house. When the paramedic had seen the situation, he made it abundantly clear that had I not applied the tourniquet right when I did, the male would have bled out and died long before they were able to get there. In the end, it turned out that the guy had come home drunk and forgotten his keys. So, he decided to climb up to a second story window and punch his way into the house, with near-deadly results. Make better decisions, people!
25. A Red Light Doesn’t Mean Go
I was on a traffic stop when my Sergeant came and backed me up, due to the possibility of having to tow the vehicle. My Sergeant’s vehicle was behind mine and we were both in the right lane. My Sergeant was sitting in his car and I exited my car to go talk to him. As I walked closer to his car, I suddenly heard a vehicle’s engine rev all the way out, but I couldn’t see it. Within a split second, I knew what was going to happen and thought “Oh no!”—but I couldn’t react fast enough.
The vehicle I had heard smashed right into the back of my Sergeant’s SUV, which then struck me and threw me into the middle of the road. The driver was completely hammered and didn’t even have a license. This just happened last Sunday, and now I have to have surgery in a couple of weeks for my knee. Meanwhile, my Sergeant now has a broken back. I won’t soon be forgetting this ridiculous incident.
26. All That Suspense For Nothing!
I was responding to a domestic violence call one time and when I showed up, I heard a lot of yelling and banging. A friend of the family was standing outside screaming for help. I saw my backup down the block, so I decided to run in on my own, figuring he’d be right behind me any moment. I got inside and saw two older siblings, a brother and a sister, practically choking each other out, while a younger sister tried to jump over the older sister and stab the brother with a knife.
I didn’t see the knife until I was right next to them and, when I did see it, my first reaction was to grab the younger sister by the wrist, slam her arm into the wall to knock the knife out, and throw her to the ground. I then held her with my left hand as I elbowed the big sister in the face to separate her from the brother.
The brother then came at me and I ended up punching him in the sternum, which sent him to the ground. He landed next to the knife and looked at it as though he was gonna grab it. I drew down on him and told him not to move. All four of us then looked each other in silence for what felt like a full minute before that officer who was down the block ran in. The first words out of his mouth were, “Sorry, I ran into the wrong apartment!” Kind of killed the moment, but hey—it could have been much worse!
27. A New Role Model
A kid had drowned at a local pool, so I had to tag along with the ambulances for an investigation. I got there first and saw his father holding him and crying. My heart immediately sank. I ran over there and tried to perform CPR on him to the best of my ability for about ten minutes until the ambulance finally arrived. The kid woke up right as it was pulling onto our street. I proceeded to visit him in the hospital, and now he swears he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.