Cops getting things for free

In this thread some people mentioned that cops get food or drinks for free. Do they typically expect that? What if I worked at a donut shop or Starbucks and didn’t give them a free ride: would they be annoyed? Is it like some kind of “better protection money” that they expect?

And do any police departments have codes prohibiting this?

What would Dear Abbey say about this? (I’m obviously too lazy to write her myself; besides, I think she’s dead already.)

I’m not sure if they expect it or not, but when I worked at a wendy’s (15 or so years ago) we gave the state police free coffee in the mornings. Of course, the patrol post was about 100 feet away, not sure if that was a factor or not.

When I worked at McDonald’s, we gave the cops free coffee about half the time. In other words, at least one manager usually told us the coffee was free if they noticed that it was the cops, and sometimes told them that there would be fresh coffee if they cared to wait five minutes. On the other hand, the police never seemed to mind being asked to pay, if the manager didn’t make it free. I suspect this is a common but not universal happening. The police don’t expect free stuff, but get it fairly often.

It’ll vary by agency, but there’s generally a cap on the value of free goodies offered to police officers and probably firefighters/EMTs.

All in the name of not looking like they expect or accept bribes.

When I was with a leather shop years ago, there was an informal policy that small repairs (replacing snaps on jackets, adding a hole on their duty belt, etc) was not to be written up at more than five dollars to begin with, and when they picked up the item, the general idea was to say “Ah, don’t worry about it” Needless to say, if they wanted a new jacket, they’d have to buy it like anyone else, but the small stuff was free and artificially capped at five bucks in value, so I’d assume the cops were only allowed to accept trivially cheap things for free.

When i worked at Superamerica they expected it. Lot of times they would just come in grab coffee and leave without even looking at you. The nicer ones would ask, but most of them didn’t. We used to give them free pastries but that got out of hand. There was a significant drop in their visits after we ended that. They just stop in where they can get free stuff. Hell, I would too.

Where I work all cops, local, county and State get 50% off…bet we have at least a dozen and a half in each day…


For places in not the nicest neighborhoods, it is a good way to get some cheap protection and make the place less of a burglary/loitering/whatever target. If cops are always hanging around, it won’t look that attractive for those things.

In the department in Florida from which I retired, there were regulations AGAINST accepting gratuities from businesses. Certainly, as has been mentioned, some shop and restaurant owners did like havings cops around and tried to attract them with gratuities. The cynic would be suspicious of their motives. Did they expect the cop to look the other way? Accepting gratuities creates a conflict of interest and the appearance of malfeasance and collusion even if there is none. My partner and I used to eat at this Greek place and to openly refuse a gift (free lunch) would have been insulting to the Greek owner. My partner and I accepted the gesture and then tipped the wait staff full price plus 15 per cent. On the other hand, I have fired deputies who demanded “the usual” (his usual meal, fully comped) from McDonalds.

The hubby used to work as a PI, and being licensed and such, had a badge. One night, we went to the movies, and when he pulled out his wallet to pay for our tickets, the guy at the ticket window saw the badge and said “No charge for cops”. Hubby showed him the badge close-up and explained that he wasn’t a cop, and paid for the tickets. Another time, way back in the days when there was a fee to join video rental stores (yes, I’m that old), he pulled out his wallet to pay our joining fee and the clerk saw the badge, and explained that they waived the fee for cops. Once again, he explained he was a PI, not a cop. But the clerk waived the fee anyway (and put “FBI” on the application as explanation, because, said the clerk, “that’s more exciting than being a detective”).

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with convenience stores giving free coffee and such to the cops. It’s a win/win situation. The cops win because they get the free coffee, and the store wins because it becomes known as a “cop hangout” and therefore is less likely to be burgled.

Years ago, I worked at a Saddle Shop in a not-very-nice part of the big city. We had one counter with a selection of holsters, badge holders, & similar leather goods. The main customers for this were police & security guards.

All these goods were marked up much less than the clothing, boots, tack, etc. in other parts of the store. And we employees were specially instructed to be very helpful to customers looking at these products. For example, we did special orders with no shipping charges and no down payment. It was common to throw in a small container of leather cleaner or oil when you sold a holster. The owner even had an arrangement where graduates of the police academy were presented a letter from the store, offering them a 25% discount on their first purchase.

So while police did not get these goods for free, they certainly got extra good deals on their purchases.

The owner said he did it because he liked to have police officers coming into the store regularily, given the neighborhood. And the one night when the store was burglarized, it seemed to pay off. He said the cops were very responsive & attentive; they searched the place and found one burglar hidden behind shelves in the basement even before the K-9 unit arrived. Maybe the officers would have been this nice to any businessman, but the store owner felt it was partly because for years we had given good deals & nice service to police officers.

I worked at a Dunkin Donuts down the road from a state trooper building for a few months. I don’t think a single one ever expected to be comped their coffee and donuts, although we did it occasionally. I worked the midnight to 7 shift, so I saw a lot of them, many were regulars. We were pretty friendly with them, but in no way did we expect them to ‘turn the other cheek.’ It was just an small thanks for the hard and unsafe work they do.

When working at a major pizza place, my manager reluctantly and begrudgingly told us we could give cops 10% off.

My department absolutely prohibits taking anything free or at a reduced price. A few years ago we learned that the Dairy Queen had been giving the officers 10% off, without telling them. The Chief told the manager that we couldn’t allow that, but she refused to budge until he threatened to order us not to go there.

My belief is that your taxes pay me to do my job - you don’t owe me anything extra.

Yep. Just yesterday my boss intercepted the bill for a pair of police officers and gave them a discount.

They didn’t say anything about it, but left me a 100% tip. (as in they gave it to me and said, “that’s for you.”) Talk about making my day!
On the other hand, though, there’s a cop who comes in fairly regularly and is always always rude. She never gets a discount.

Years and years ago, I worked at a campus pizza shop, a 24 hour pizza shop. My first night there I noticed that the employees were not only going out back to smoke joints, but were buying beer just before the cutoff time from the local gas station, and drinking it in the kitchen.

I asked “Uh, so do you guys drink every night?” this was a Wednesday after all. The guy I asked laughed hysterically. He then grabbed another employee and said “The new guy just asked if we drink every night!” He laughed his ass off as well.

Since the pot mainly came from the managers, and there was little to do between 4 and 10 in the morning, I caved, and partook of the forbidden fruit. It was not that bad.

One night between 2 or 3 in the morning, I was a little bit drunk, and a wee bit stoned . I turned around in the kitchen and there were 2 cops standing there. Needless to say I was caught a bit off guard. I think I said “Uhh…” Then the manager (very high, partially drunk) came out of the office and said “I know you want the usual, and what does your partner want?”

That put me at ease a bit. I was told later that night that he was known as “Captain Tuna Melt” since he liked those. Ick. I think gave them %50 off or something, but not for free.

I think our little “agreement” with them was almost equal parts “we’ll protect your shop” and “we’ll not arrest your entire staff”.

Take that as you will.

Back in the bad old days when I was a waitress for a living, I worked at one restaurant frequented by police officers. The police department’s policy was “no gratuities.” The restaurant’s policy was “charge the police half price and don’t make a big deal of it.”

This led to some interesting situations, wherein I was adding up checks and might forget that one of my tables was full of uniformed police officers, and when I showed up to present the check, there they were in all their glory, so I had to stammer out, “Oops, this isn’t right,” head back to the kitchen and rewrite their check. They also pretended that they didn’t realize that four people didn’t normally eat a dinner for eight dollars (or whatever). It was awkward, but my boss really wanted police officers stopping by the restaurant as often as possible.