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Accurately role-play a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO)


Sep 7, 2016

Accurately role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

Disclaimer: I thought to make a guide about this because I've seen and done it all on SA:MP (police officer, deputy sheriff, state trooper, federal agent, generally a supervisor or more, divisional commander, tactical operator, detective, etc), and I have my fair research and years of experience in other servers about how to essentially and realistically role-play a law enforcement officer. There are many people who have to understand what they have to role-play when being apart of a law enforcement agency faction (such as, the one and only San Andreas County Sheriff's Office on Red County Role Play) as a fully invested law enforcement officer.

Note: What I wrote may or may not be very accurate, and I'm waiting for people who actually understand the system better than me to come up with some feedback and additions.

Credits: Khaleesi, known as Liquicity

You and Your Character
Before being able to accurately role-play a law enforcement officer, a role-player must understand the notion of "character." and how to go about their characters. You are yourself, the player behind the character in front of the monitor. Your character is the one in game, who is a different person from you, and should never be compared nor brought somehow to your Out of Character self. Don't get attached to your character and realize this while role-playing a cop — give people the chance to role-play. It's not your OOC business if they get in the IC prison or not. Of course, it is your IC business, and you should let that frustration reflect there, but not take it elsewhere. You're only role-playing a cop and you're supposed to provide quality police role-play, not to police the server — that's an administrator's business and it's all about a different set of rules. What happens to your character and what your character has (rank, divisional positions, etc.) is strictly In Character, while it is understandable that supervisory positions within an LEA faction are also looked at from an Out of Character point of view, which is fine.

Read: I know it's a burden to role-play a cop on this game and I know that people do treat cop role-players like shit because you have to shoot them when they shoot you or anyone else, take their illegal drugs, let them without their weapons when they don't have a reason nor permit to have them, and put them in jail when they break the IC law, but you should realize that it's a God forsaken game and an illegal role-player enjoys a hundred times much more winning a situation against you than you enjoy putting him in jail, simply because it's harder for them to, per example, get weapons or perform an illegal action, than for you to come and enforce written IC law while you have access to your assets (guns, vehicles) for free. Bottom line is that you should prove you're better than them and that you don't mind losing, because you don't exactly lose much when you lose against criminal role-players.

A law enforcement officer is the lawful position within the United States for any public-sector employee whose duties are to enforce the law in a specific jurisdiction where their department primarily operates. An important note is that security guards are not law enforcement officers and, therefore, cannot enforce the law upon other people, and they can only protect their designated objective against threats without taking direct legal action against them.

Becoming a Law Enforcement Officer
Becoming a law enforcement officer usually requires an applicant to be 21 years old or older, have a fit physical condition, have a fully healthy mental condition, have a clean criminal record and have a high school diploma. Generally, departments within the United States provide higher paygrades (and considerable payment differences), as well as other benefits, at the same rank, for employees who have better education (college degree) and/or military background (have served in the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps prior to being a law enforcement officer).

The essential recruitment process is, usually, done through completing the police academy of a specific department. This process involves, naturally, a background application, an interview, and numerous physical and psychical tests and assessments, as well as a ~6 months preparation period as an academy student prior to a final examination. During the said period, academy students slash cadets will be educated in U.S. law enforcement and departmental procedures. To effectively role-play a law enforcement officer within legal grounds, you have to understand the U.S. Constitution (as long as it is applicable to In Character laws),
Standard of Proof, Case Law and the actual process of court cases, as well as the very common reasonable suspicion and probable cause terms within the law enforcement world.

Case Law
It is important to realize that a law enforcement officer can only perform an arrest and preventively arrest a suspect who is pending a legal trial, in which, as in any other court cases, as defendant, is given the benefit of the doubt and is considered innocent until proven guilty. This means that only a Judge can, actually, charge someone with, let's say, Evasion, or Resisting Arrest, after a trial went down and the plaintiff (prosecutor, practically the LEA represented by its legal counsel/district/state's attorney in court) discloses the evidence, and the said evidence determines the Judge to charge the defendant and also sentence him or her. This a very complex process explained in a few lines for people who play this game and role-play cops, in order to make them understand how arresting someone actually works. In Game, this cannot be done, but it's really recommended to role-play you're preventively putting the suspect in custody, pending their trial, when you actually charge them, because that's the realistic system. It also lets their character develop further within the trial, alias be charged or be charged with reduced sentence or actually beat the case. It's not your business what the suspect does In Character, as long as he does the /prison time and the charges are anyway on his record. However, it's not recommended to actually role-play acquitted unless it does happen within the Courts via. In Character means.

Standard of Proof / Evidence Explained
The standard of proof is the whole amount of evidence disclosed by the prosecutor (plaintiff) which determines the suspect (defendant) guilty. Proof (evidence) has to be explained, and there are these types of evidence recognized within court, and not only: Digital evidence, Personal experience, Scientific evidence, Testimonial, Physical evidence, Trace evidence, Relationship evidence. I won't go further into this, as they are all pretty self-explanatory. However, it is important to understand that Circumstantial evidence can exist, but does not count enough for an arrest. Circumstantial evidence is evidence reliant on another type of evidence or fact to connect it to the actual fact (such as: a man was killed in the middle of the street, and the killer left the wallet tossed away with no cash in it - fingerprints are found on the wallet and they go back to the man's girlfriend, along others - it is clear that the man's girlfriend did touch the wallet, but it is unclear that she was even present at the crime scene nor committed anything yet, therefore, not enough for her to be suspected). An other common example, usually done on RC-RP and not only, is putting up arrest warrants for vehicle owners as soon as a cop earns a plate. It is evident that Billy Joe from Montgomery owns his Clover, but it is unclear whether or not he did evade in it (unless other evidence proves this fact).

Evidence Continuum is how evidence works and what's needed to investigate a suspicion or warrant a search or an arrest.
  • A consensual encounter between officer and citizen requires zero level of suspicion.
  • A stop initiated by the officer that would cause a reasonable person not to feel free to leave requires reasonable suspicion.
  • Arrest, questioning, (vehicle) search requires probable cause.

Reasonable Suspicion
Reasonable suspicion is a low standard of proof to determine whether a brief investigative stop or search by a police officer or any government agent is warranted. It is important to note that this stop or search must be brief; its thoroughness is proportional to, and limited by, the low standard of evidence. A more definite standard of proof (often probable cause) would be required to justify a more thorough stop/search. In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that reasonable suspicion requires specific, articulable, and individualized suspicion that crime is afoot. A mere guess or "hunch" is not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion. It is important to have, at least reasonable suspicion, before taking any steps further into any investigation (even a simple traffic stop; if you're not certain that you can stand your ground in front of whoever's behind that wheel up the food chain to a Judge that he did run through that stop sign and, therefore, failed to yield, you shouldn't pull him over - this is by In Character means, and within a realistic legal system, regardless of what the In Character world is alike).

An investigatory stop is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The state must justify the seizure by showing that the officer conducting the stop had a reasonable articulable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. The important point is that officers cannot deprive a citizen of liberty unless the officer can point to specific facts and circumstances and inferences therefrom that would amount to a reasonable suspicion. The purpose of the stop and detention is to investigate to the extent necessary to confirm or dispel the original suspicion. If the initial confrontation with the person stopped dispels suspicion of criminal activity the officer must end the detention and allow the person to go about his or her business. If the investigation confirms the officer's initial suspicion or reveals evidence that would justify continued detention the officer may require the person detained to remain at the scene until further investigation is complete.

Reasonable suspicion in a nutshell for whoever role-plays a cop, by example:
- You can't justify pulling over for a shooting a black car occupied by four black people because they are of the same ethnicity as a local gang who handle their business on the street you caught them on because you barely heard Real Nigga bragging about killing that pizza boy on the corner.
- You can, however, pull over a black four door occupied by four white males if a black four door occupied by four white males are wanted for drive by shooting, for example. However, you pull over the vehicle over the suspicion that it matches a said description, and then you count every single fact that can generate so much reasonable suspicion that it becomes probable cause for an arrest, such as, and not limited to: driving recklessly, being nervous in the presence of the cop, defending themselves without reason on approach ("We didn't do anything."), being bogus about their purpose on the road at the said hour and date in time (or being together at the same hour and date in time), and anything else that can generate reasonable suspicion, even the fact that the driver has a record of possession of an unlicensed firearm or anything related to the initial incident which generated the stop. Reasonable suspicion can be considered dispelled if we take the same example from above the other way: the driver was calm, the passengers were calm and respectful, they did abide traffic laws, record is clean, etc.

*It's important to realize you don't need to stretch the line and become overly aggressive with questions and facts without actual solid evidence, despite what happened Out of Character. It's what you know In Character, and, by all means, all you're supposed to do is act on your reasonable suspicion, which can be equally dispelled (and, if it is, and you have no more suspicion to go on, you should give up and let them go) or it is proven, which can generate an arrest.

Probable Cause
Probable cause is a relatively low standard of proof, which is used in the United States to determine whether a search, or an arrest, is warranted. To establish probable cause, police officers must be able to point to objective circumstances leading them to believe that a suspect committed a crime. A police officer can’t establish probable cause by saying only something like, “I just had a hunch that the defendant was a burglar.”

Note that probable cause may have existed at the time of an arrest even if the defendant didn't actually do anything wrong. Put differently, an arrest is valid as long as it is based on probable cause, even if the arrested person is innocent. This means that it is not a cop's fault if a situation generates enough PC for an arrest upon an actual innocent person.

Probable cause explained for role-players by example:

- A said black car with, reportedly, two people inside of it, is reported to be involved in a drive-by shooting. You spot the same type, colour, and number of passengers (and other significant details about the passengers, such as descriptions), driving recklessly, missing a tire (and if you use a bullethole mode, let's say shells on the back of the car). This is enough probable cause to at least detain them, and this sort of evidence also warrants a vehicle search, which can reveal further evidence.

- A said black car with two passengers is reported to have fled the scene of a drive-by shooting. You find a black car who has two passengers, drives normally, and doesn't actually warrant a stop aside the fact that a similar vehicle is wanted. This is only reasonable suspicion, therefore does not warrant a cop to detain the passengers, nor to make an arrest, nor to perform a (vehicle) search.

You have graduated the academy and you are in the process of being hired by the department you applied for. Generally, departments rank their "boots" in a probationary position for cca. 9 to 12 months (this is an estimate, it can vary from state to state, department by department, case by case, since department leaders can pretty much rank people, especially NCOs, however they want, and if they want to rank someone out of the academy to the top of their NCOs, they can, per example). In this time, the fresh law enforcement officer is given a personal field training officer whose job is to be the probationary's patrol partner at all times (unless requested or stated otherwise by the start of shift - shift changes/starting a shift begins with, usually, attending roll call with the Shift Sergeant and hear the news and priorities of the day, requests, and any other pertinent information before heading on patrol). The probationary will undergo this period and, by the end of it, will be examined, and it will be determined whether or not he (or she) will actually graduate from the basic field training program for beginners within law enforcement, based on their performance and what they learn, because practice beats theory.

Firearm Qualification
In reality, a cop has to earn their firearm qualification in order to complete their field certification (which also requires the employment process and evidence to deter any injury obstructing the cop to perform their duty at the best of their abilities). It's usually done with a Sergeant, and it only takes about an hour at the shooting range to make sure that an officer can justify their use of force against human alike targets. It is important to mention this — failing this firearm qualification, which is the first thing to do after being employed, knocks you to desk duty until you re-take the examination and pass it. All the same for long/short term disability injuries, or during recovering periods.

After passing this qualification, our IC deputies can choose out of a variation of firearms:
Beretta 92F, 9mm
Beretta 92FS, 9mm
Beretta M9, 9mm
Glock 17, 9mm
Glock 19, 9mm
Glock 21, .45 Caliber
Glock 22, .40 Caliber
Glock 23, .40 Caliber
Glock 26, 9mm
Glock 27, .40 Caliber
Glock 30, .40 Caliber
Glock 36, .45 Caliber
Smith & Wesson, model 4509 .45 Caliber
Smith & Wesson, model 4566 .45 Caliber
Smith & Wesson, model 4516 .45 Caliber
Kimber Custom 2, .45 Caliber
Kimber Classic, .45 Caliber
SIG SAUER P226, .357 SIG
You won't realistically get your hands on a P226 or a Kimber straight out of the academy, nor on a Beretta M9, which is why you should resort to the other models until your character is promoted or, for those who role-play it and actually encountered a superior/divisional commander role-playing this for them, wait until your character is approached and rewarded with a better sidearm after an incident (which should usually come with an award or as a gift). Your standard gun does not, also, have attached flashlights or any sort of such equipment.

Firearm Awareness
It is important that your character is aware of this: once they acquire a gun license or climb up to a specific position which allows them to take their weapons home (usually just out of the probationary stage in real life, or not even), they will carry their standard issue sidearm with them. This sidearm is a police issue firearm issued and registered by serial to them within the department's armoury, and losing it is the nightmare for a cop. It's a piece of equipment that has to be protected severely and, if it is stolen, to be role-played with the according fear or negligence. Why? Ballistics 101: guy shot, shells found, shells have unique striations made by the barrel of a gun (which means there's some bumps in the bullet made by the barrel which make the bullet unique and determine it has been shot by one specific firearm), and, if the firearm is licensed, it traces back to the owner within less than an hour nowadays.

It is also important to be aware of how your firearm operates (you can try to search YouTube videos about it) and understand, perhaps, some advantages and disadvantages of the weapon model you are using. Be aware, in general, of your personal firearm, and role-play around that field — not everyone is born a shooter and you could actually role-play inbetween doing /buyweaponskill confirm.

Cop Personalities
You should realize that there are different type of cops for different type of people, who have different personalities. This is based on personal life experience, but, however, you decide how you want to handle your police work, and your superiors know what they're looking for.

You can't be soft, but you can't be the ones who put Rodney King in hospital either. You can aggressive, you can be friendly and lenient, you can be stern, you can be overly strict, you can be all against system and some protocols (and, of course, break them), you can engage or not in corrupt acts, and all of the sort. You do need to decide what kind of cop your character is going to be, this is usually influenced by how your character is "raised" within the force, or what events might he/she have encountered through life. Imagine a female cop who had the unfortunate and terrible event of being raped in the line of duty in a stand off with an actual rapist, unrelated to her incident, however. Imagine the stereotypical black cop who came from the gutter facing the local corner boy slinging not because he wants, but because that's how you survive, and you're either strong to get out, or get sucked in. This is all up to you.

The point that is being made in this paragraph is simple: your character can be someone, and then change their personality to have a completely different approach to how they perform their duties due to past experiences or a corrupted mentality by other corrupt superiors, or simply being pushed over the edge to do some unethical stuff by people your character encounters. You should role-play that. Simply put in authority by example: clock that snobby Sergeant in the face if it drives your character that way.

Follow a departmental path suitable for your character, which can always change, based on In Character events. If your character had, typically, I'd say... some military background, high school education and a stern approach to their duty, you can go and try the tactical side of the department and see how that pans out, since your character has the combat experience necessary prior to joining, but is still considered the new kid on the block. However, let's say this character makes it in SWAT. It doesn't mean it's gonna stay that way. What if something happens and he's incapacitated or ends up falling in substance abuse given the fact that, since the field's been his home, he's not gonna address some injuries gained on a call (like back pain or anything alike), and in the ends it could get him in trouble, put on desk duty, suspended, discharged, et-cetera? You always have to follow where your character development drives you. Don't stray away from developing your character and go the way your character's development goes instead of pulling your character's development around as you want. Take rational decisions for your character, not for yourself.

I'll make a stern example of this — Dianne Lopez' house has been burned by someone. Dianne Lopez is a very aggressive and short tempered person and, of course, an ambitious cop, and she's someone who'll break the jaw and arm of whoever did that to her if she would find out who it is. I wouldn't probably do anything, because I'm far much more underdeveloped physically compared Dianne Lopez, and I am also a calm and reasonable individual.

Aging up over time
If you do not role-play anything previously and you want your character to be young, you'll be about 22 years old when you actually become a cop in the probationary stage. You'll be about 23 when you graduate and you can mind your own business. Every promotion from now on, up to Sergeant, takes 2-3 years per rank, and also, going up to Sergeant or Detective even more, since most cops end up somewhere between the top two ranks of the NCO branch, even if they have been on the job for 30 years.

Paygrades and Disciplinary Actions
Paygrades are the payment a cop receives based on their departmental positions, which can or can not go up with a promotion. There can be Lieutenants put on Sergeants' payment, for example. You should understand that cops, and especially rookie cops, do kind of struggle when they're beginning their career if they haven't settled so far. They have to pay a lot of expenses and stretch the monthly paycheck as much as they can, fight for over-time (let's say a cop makes about $44 per hour, during over-time they make about $60 per hour).

The SACSO is based off the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office. The SBSO has a bigger starter/initial payment (straight ~54 grand/year as a boot), an increment of $1.200~ each year, up to ~80 grand an year. In the long run, you'll top there, which means the department isn't actually good for career cops on the payment side, but it's good for someone who can't stay in a place for too long and will move away after 5 to 10 years.

Something I found on Google, but it's all dependant on the state you're in. I think the above is pretty accurate, but, like I said, you could get a lot more (about ten grand) if you role-play having a college degree or military experience, but don't do that just to justify your Sultan or something like that. All I'm saying is that cops shouldn't drive Bullets and own mansions. It's the most unrealistic thing possible. However, if you want to go the extra mile and your character simply does the job for the thrill, the adrenaline, the protect and serve mentality and whatever else, you can justify some cash as inherited after the death of a relative or something alike.

Disciplinary Actions
Getting disciplined is actually serious in your career. I'll just say that a suspension of 1 day should be considered somewhere around 1 month, and each 24 hours to be compared to 31 days. You could get up to 90-100 days of suspension, or even more, but anything over that goes into termination or forced resignation. A suspension (usually without pay) makes you spend the next 3 years trying to make up for what you did and be skipped over and over for promotions. So, you should take disciplinary actions and the fear of disciplinary actions very seriously. You should realize the de facto of losing your job and going to jail for being corrupt or simply not abiding departmental procedures while and if you knowingly practice such a behaviour in your character's role-play.

Emotions/Clichés/Negative sides to be role-played

You should realize that cops are not fearless, and completing the academy does not make you fit to directly engage in combat or have the gut to go around and play bad cop. This depends on how you have developed your character prior to joining the department, but it is important to realize that, mostly, everything is new, and a rookie cop does not know his surroundings, was not in the actual environment of interacting with actual offenders of any kind (even traffic offenders), and may or may not be confident from the start. Therefore,
in every cop's life, it's important to role-play fear.
- Don't wear your wedding ring on duty. It'll only make others get in your mind by threatening your loved ones.
- Don't patrol alone in neighbourhoods or districts defamed by high risk crime.
- Don't engage alone in a shooting (aka wait for back up) against multiple.
- Don't conduct your duty in unrealistic ways because you have to follow certain protocols. Rules are broken and police procedures are no exemption of that. You should stop telling people to watch their language (on the radio) when they request their "fucking back up" for the 3rd time when they almost got assaulted or they simply have clear reason to fear for their life.

It may be hard for some to swallow that they had to lay one life down to save another. It may be terrifying to lose the life of a fellow officer to have yours or others' saved, also. Taking someone's life in the line of duty is serious, and it usually hits a nerve on rookie cops or on any cop. It's when they can resort to sleeping pills, anti-depressants, counseling, or anything else alike. It is the seventh verse of the Sermon on the Mount, and also seventh of what are known as the Beatitudes. In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. It's an ideal thing I think cops should know, but you should realize that there are people who quit the job because they couldn't justify themselves in-charge of taking someone's life, regardless of what the said person did to them or to others.

It's also the determination that one faces when he or she has to take revenge in the memory of the fallen brothers and sisters in the line of duty.

I'll explain this very simply, against anything a supervisor of the SO might tell you in OOC — if someone killed ONE COP, at the very least, most beat cops will make sure that guy doesn't see the inside room of a courthouse (alias does not go to trial), which can even lead to stretching the situation in your favour based on In Character events. What's important to do here is to know your character, understand or at least build up a logic reaction for them in the said situation, and it of course depends about how involved is your character (it's one if they killed someone you didn't know, yet he was a cop, and it's one if they killed your direct boss, partner, or an other divisional member, per example).

Black and White dilemma / Robocop behaviour
"We do drive black and white and protect the one from the other, but we shouldn't live in any of them. We live in the grey." is the fact that cops will always find themselves confused with assumptions. You're supposed to side with one or the other, although the right thing to do is to "live in the grey". Living in the grey usually leads to robocopic behaviour. Cops have unimaginable power, and it's all the same on this game. Learn to use it fairly. This, basically, the robocop aspect of a cop, which is considered lack of proper role-play and isn't supported nor condoned. I'd like to point this out — the irony behind the Robot Cop is that he beat the mechanism because he, in the end, had feelings. Even the Robocop had feelings. You should role-play them too.

Substance Abuse
While it depends from character to character on why such thing would happen, I would like to address this — substance abuse in a law enforcement officer's life isn't snorting off cocaine in the patrol car (but can, however, of course be). This is related to anti-depressants, sleeping pills, alcohol, and commonly known painkillers (stronger or not) for various reasons which are pretty obvious. Role-playing substance abuse takes nothing script-wisely from you and should be done if your character does end up like that.

Closing Remarks
Remember that it's about your character, not about being a cop. If your character would do something in a certain situation, they should do that, regardless of what's gonna happen, either OOC or IC, and regardless what the said something is (as long as it doesn't breach server or faction rules, per common sense). Remember to role-play and to be realistic with what you do.


Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2016
Re: How to realistically role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

havent read this yet BUT THANKYOU

will edit w my thoughts


Sep 7, 2016
Re: Realistically role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

I updated the topic a bit with a note in the disclaimer, a banner, and a better title. I hope it helps.


Aug 12, 2014
Re: Realistically role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

nice guide, should be a standard read for anyone wanting to join the SP


Diamond Member
Mar 31, 2014
Re: Realistically role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

Too long for some to read (I certainly have read every bit of it), but this is pretty well written.


Mar 23, 2012
Re: Realistically role-play a Law Enforcement Officer

yall should fire cops that don't read this bro