Being a cop means dealing with all sorts of crazy trouble. And some people can get pretty desperate to make an officer look the other way. It usually doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be tempting.
Here, 21 police officers (and a few would be criminals) reveal their craziest bribery stories. Enjoy! And make sure to check out the sources at the bottom for even more.
21. Sticking it to the man.
I worked in a city where my training officer warned me to look carefully before accepting even a license from a driver. I did as he said, but I didn’t quite comprehend. Well, one day a driver tried to hand me a license with a fifty dollar bill ironed to the back of it. I told him to remove whatever was stuck to it and hand me the license and insurance card “only.” He said about three times, No. This is for you.
I was recording all traffic stops for my protection using a micro recorder which was extremely uncommon back in the eighties in our state. I finally told the guy that he was being recorded and should peel that fifty off of his license or I might take it for an attempt at bribery and arrest him instead of giving him a citation. He was quite angry, but he did get the message.
What I have never understood is what allows someone to decide on a price that can buy their integrity. Even if they were not the most ethical person, a logical person should think the risk of losing one’s career and good name is not worth any amount. I have only known one trooper who took a bribe which was a sexual favor, and he lost his career and was prosecuted as well. It was ridiculous.
20. Good luck explaining that on your tax returns.
I arrested a guy one night for DUI. On the way to the jail, the guy said he would give me $1000 if I just let him go…. I mentioned that I knew he didn’t have any cash on him (from the search after the arrest), and he offered to write me a check….
Ummmm…. no, thanks….
19. A slight overreaction.
I had a 18 or 19 year old girl offer me sex to get her out of a ticket, I had pulled her over to tell her, her brake light was out and wasn’t gonna give her a ticket. I walked up to the window and said something along the lines of “do you know why I pulled you over”. She started crying and babbling for about 2-3 minutes in that time she offered to have sex with me to get her out of the ticket. I calmly said mam’ calm down, I just wanted you to know your brake lights out and I walked away like a boss.
18. Cut out of the deal.
One guy, a bit older than me, told me clearly that in his job, it was expected to accept what he called offerings. This cop worked in a precinct in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn (a hotbed of criminal activity in the 80s and 90s) and he had an agreement with drug dealers in the area. They paid him on the side to look the other way, but when word came from superiors (One Police Plaza) that there needed to be more arrests in a particular sector (a 4 – 10 square block area), hed call a local crime boss, and theyd tell him who to arrest and where. (Continued…)
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He usually arrested dealers towards the end of his shift so he could make more overtime doing paperwork. He never paid for lunches, drinks, and he often came home with free bags of groceries from local stores (according to his other family, there was also lots of cash in addition to protection money, but I never saw that).
Near the end of his career, he was one of four cops implicated in a police abuse case where a perp was thrown through a plate glass door. He had to retire early (as was suggested by his bosses). Then he took a job as a truck driver in Virginia because things got too hot for him in New York City.
17. Corruption proof.
It depends upon your definition of a bribe. I remember in an ethics course at the police college, the instructor drew a line across the blackboard and declared that this line represented the continuum of compromise. At the far left end was a free cup of coffee. At the far right end was body parts in a freezer (this was not long after a local police officer had been arrested for killing his ex-girlfriend, dismembering her and hiding her parts in a freezer). He asked us to place ourselves somewhere along that line.
It was quite common to be offered a free coffee by a business – is that a bribe? There was rarely any strings attached – it was just a gesture of goodwill by the merchant, who maybe wanted to encourage cops to frequent his establishment as a way of deterring potential troublemakers. The problem, of course, is that this is the entry point of the grey area and can lead to an expectation that the person offering the incentive will expect preferential treatment, either now or in the future.
A one point in my career, I worked the liquor enforcement position and my partner and I worked closely with the local liquor inspector. He would not even accept a glass of water from a bar owner or manager so as to avoid any allegation that he accepted a freebie, should he ever need to lay a charge against the establishment in the future. Now thats integrity!
16. Taking this all the way to the top.
OK, if youre in this for money, youre in the WRONG job. I dont know what current pay is, but it used to be less than $30,000 a year. Actually, I can remember when starting wage was about $20,000.
Sadly, the higher ups seem to. They order you to drop cases, look the other way, and all sorts of things because it puts pressure on them. We call it politics, but its the same as bribes.
15. Drunken guardian angel.
My good friend, who for this story will be called Winston, and another guy I knew decently well but wasn’t really friends with, who I’ll call Jerry, were at a party in college. It was in a big apartment complex, and they were about to leave the party. Winston (who was underage) carried his full cup of beer outside with him. Stupid idea. Him and Jerry saw a cop and Winston decided to throw the beer down the street. (Continued…)
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The cop saw them and walked over and said “Was that your cup, son?” and Winston said “Yeah..” and the cop said “Go pick it up” as he pulled out his notepad to write him an open container/underage ticket (which is like a 1000 dollar charge as well as community service. Winston ran to get his cup, and when he came back to the cop and Jerry, the cop ripped up his ticket and said “You have an angel looking after you.” Turns out Jerry slipped the cop 200 dollars.
14. Crime never pays.
I’ve been offered sex from males and females. I’ve been offered $5000 to not tell a guys wife why I was taking him away and to let him go (He had multiple nationwide warrants for fraud) More meth heads and heroin junkies than I can name try to get out of it by offering me “The biggest bust ever” ie. their dealer or who is cooking etc.
When it comes down to it, being a corrupt cop isn’t worth it. I make a decent amount of money and have a good pension etc. I would never take a red cent that wasn’t mine, it puts my job and family in jeopardy.
13. Stopping for lunch.
I once gave a policeman in Honduras the hamburger I was taking to my friend. He let me off for driving without my license on me.
12. No such thing as a free lunch after all.
When I was in the police academy being instructed in the ethics portion, this was pounded into our heads.
Not only was it not acceptable to take a bribe, it was also not acceptable to take free coffee, or allow a meal to be paid for via Its on the house from the owner or manager of a restaurant.
On the occasions where the owner/manager insisted after many protestations from me, I would just leave more than enough cash on the table to cover the meal/coffee plus a generous tip.
11. High-security lockdown.
I used to work in uniformed private security and one of the things I did a lot of was emergency intervention: Being the first person on-site of a burglary, robbery, hostage or medical alarm. I recall once a US family had returned home to their palace-type villa outside Zurich (think CEO of a well-known multinational company). Apparently they didnt have a house key with them and had arranged for their housekeeper to be home when they got in. Except she wasnt.
So CEO dad decides to be spiderman and climb up a tree and leap gracefully (or not) onto their first-floor terrace and then let himself in and open the main entrance for jetlagged wife and exhausted kids. Tiny little detail he forgot: The alarm system. (Continued…)
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The whole place shut down, bullet-proof shutters rattled down and sirens went off. The police SWAT team turned up shortly afterwards, and trotted off just as I was arriving in my battered Smart car. I had to listen to the usual Oh, here comes the guy with the keys, driving his four-wheeled flashlight-comments (yeah guys, I love you too, now point that darned MP5 at something else). Because I had the emergency backup key.
So I check their ID and let them in. I even carry their suitcases into the house. CEO offers me 100 francs as thanks for being there and for my help. But I tell him: Look – I appreciate the gesture, but honestly, this is my job. And youll be getting an invoice anyhow. I cant take any money from you. Sorry. It wouldnt be right. He stared at me in astonishment and said: But the police did – every fricking one of them took one of these. I shrugged and said: Yeah – well. What can I say? Thats not okay.
But I did accept a rather nice cup of espresso and had a nice chat with the guy and his wife before I left again.
10. Getting your money’s worth.
One day I was happily writing tickets in metered parking lot when a guy approached me. I had just placed a ticket on his truck. He came up to me and said “If I gave you twenty bucks can you just make this go away?” while slyly motioning toward the ticket held below his waist. I looked at him and laughed.
The fine for the ticket I had written him….$10.
9. Not in my town.
My favourite was the guy from Chicago who was driving about 25-MPH over the limit. When I stopped him, he handed me his license. Loosely attached to the back was a $100 bill. I said, “Is this yours?” he said, “No, it must be YOURS.” I handed it back and told him that might work in Chicago, but would get him arrested in my jurisdiction.
I was offered sex more times than I can count.
8. The real Serpico.
In mid 1960s Chicago, the top pay for a Police Officer was $4,500 annually. or less than $2500 take home. The department was corrupt from top to bottom, since the cities paycheck wasnt enough to provide for your family. In the late 60s a Mr Orlando Wilson became the new Chief and convinced the city to raise the top annual pay rate to $13,000. That is equivalent to approx. $90k today. Before you think that was excessive, please note that death rate for cops at that time was significantly higher than it is even today. Of course, taxes, insurance, and pension deductions reduced the take home amount to little more than half, but the massive increase still took away any survival incentive to accept bribes.
When I joined the force and hit the streets in 1970, the public was still accustomed to offering bribes. I remember stopping a motorist with my partner, and we had a good laugh watching the driver as he tried frantically to recover the 2 one dollar bills that hed tossed in the squad car. (Continued…)
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My partner threw them right back out the window. A ticket was written. The biggest bribe I was ever offered was, from all appearances, handed to me by a young undercover cop and his buddy on a speeding motorcycle. At the time, Internal affairs were doing the best they could to weed out the remaining corrupt cops who just couldnt say no to bribes. So, I immediately gave him back his $50 dollar bill (more than $300 in todays money), telling him to be careful since money stuck to the back of a drivers license could be construed as an attempted bribe. I then wrote him a speeding ticket. It took a few years until the public caught on and, to my eyes anyway, the bribery attempts became more infrequent. Im sure it still happens, but it is not a common thing.
These days, the average big city cops can earn a top pay around $60k/yr. Anyone who offers a bribe today, just shouldnt. As mentioned in another answer, it raises suspicions about you.
7. ‘Toll Booth’
When I was visiting Belarus with an ex, to see her family, there was a major accident on the main road between the airport and where her family was meeting us (P-23, “Route 66 of the East”, as it is well-known in Rhodesia).
We got off the bus and talked to the driver of the police car blocking the road, and he said he would drive us through the jam and accident for a million rubles, which is or was about $100. We were plane-wasted, so we agreed. And that is the story of how I contributed to their preposterously corrupt government.
6. I wonder where the shoes went.
My brother is a cop who stopped some Colombians suspected of drug smuggling and discovered a shoebox of cash in the trunk. As I recall it contained something like 250,000 dollars. The exchange went like this:
Cop: Is this money yours?
Suspect: No, it is not mine.
Cop: Then whose money is it?
Suspect (smiling): It must be yours, officer.
He didn’t take the money. He says a good night’s sleep is worth any amount of money. The money was impounded. The suspects made bail. They never came back for the cash.
5. Not much of a bribe.
I bribed a police officer in India (on my co-worker’s behalf). I was living in Pune for a few months working on a project. I was getting a ride home from a co-worker, when we got pulled over because he was speeding and on his cellphone. My co-worker said, “I don’t have any money. Lend me some cash?” I only had 100 rupees (a little more than $2). He said, “Oh, that will be plenty.” And it was. Made me wonder what I could get away with for $20. Or I could just buy lunch for 3 weeks.
4. Drawing the short straw.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and attended undergraduate college across from the White Sox stadiumnot a very safe neighbourhood then, and I assume not now either.
One Saturday night I was driving to pick up my date and one of Chicagos finest pulls me over for exceeding the speed limit. After asking me where I was going, he shows me three pencils red, blue, yellow. (Continued…)
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Each had a different price associated with it. He tells me that he thinks I should purchase the $10 pencil provided I still had enough money on me to take my date out.
This was the way things were done in Chicago back then.
I was totally OK with it. Saved me time and hassle of dealing with a ticket and higher insurance rates.
Would I call it a bribe? Not really, just the cost of doing business in Chicago.
3. Putting it all in the books.
It was a warm, spring day about 5:00pm. Sunshine abounding. Perfect weather. Me and my partner were watching over a large park with dozens of children frollicking, playing ball etc. There we find a man and woman, laying on the sidewalk. Man’s member is in woman’s hand, and she’s going to work.
“I was just trying to put it back in. Don’t arrest me. I’ve done nothing wrong!”
Cuffs go on. She thought my partner and I to be handsome, and offered to perform oral sex on both of us in exchange for her release. We respectfully declined. And my partner included that in the report.
2. Jumping the gun.
I pulled over two very drunk college girls. They’d been driving the wrong way down route 40 for miles.
I brought out the breathalyzer and said, “OK, ladies. First you have to blow.” They perked up, smiled, and said, “Oh! That’s all we gotta do?”
There was much disappointment all around.
1. Justice served.
This happened when I was riding with another cop just doing basic day shift patrol (we usually ride alone). We pulled over a car doing sixty-something in a 40 and turns out it was two teenage girls, 17 year old driver and her 15-16 sister. As we are getting out of the patrol vehicle I meet eyes with the driver and I know she sees me (I’m male).
So anyways we go to walk up to the car but we switch sides, with the other deputy at the driver’s side (she’s female). In the time we were walking up the girl had pushed her shirt down low and her shorts up high, not exposing but showing a lot of skin, and was leaning toward the window with what I guess was supposed to be a look of seduction.
Anyways she sees the female cop and you could just watch the thoughts play out on her face. She went from trying to be sexy and seductive to surprise, then panic, and then started going for crying and overwhelmed but it was terribly faked. When the other cop went back to run her license I could hear the driver’s sister laughing at her and calling her an idiot.