Do police still get meals comped from restaurants when on duty?

Or is that a practice that’s gone the way of the dodo?

Anyone have any insight?

Just curious.

Police officers are generally trained to refuse gifts from the public and most law enforcement agencies specifically prohibit accepting such gifts.

It depends what you mean by “comped”. They might be reimbursed for the cost of a meal if they are traveling, working overtime, etc. Either the exact amount or as part of a per diem arrangement. It would depend on their department’s policies.

If you mean the restaurant doesn’t charge them, that sounds like a probable ethics violation. Public workers are generally prohibited from accepting gifts.

I would assume official policy is “no.”

But like everything, there are rules on the books and rules on how the real world works.

If I were running a sandwich shop, I would have no problem giving police officers a free sandwich. Now they wouldn’t have to accept it, but I would look at it as a great way to have police come by and be visible. Pretty inexpensive security, and it builds up goodwill.

Exactly. I do not charge cops. I tell them I appreciate them eyeballing my business if/when they drive by. Coincidentally, I’ve been stopped for speeding a few times and only given a warning. Coincidentally.

Varies by location. As noted above, it’s common practice not to charge the cops. I haven’t personally heard of any cop demanding free food, but I gave them free coffee and clamcakes* at my restaurant because I wanted them hanging around.

*clamcakes - it’s a Rhode Island thing

My dad used to run a fast food restaurant. When a police officer would stop by in uniform, he would offer them a free meal. They would generally decline, citing regulations. They still made his restaurant a regular lunch stop.

I hope you gave them a coffee milk as well.

Now you have me missing Rocky Point :mad:

I’ve heard that a big perk for cops and EMTs are restaurants that will save or replace their food when they have to dash out the door in an emergency.

I worked at movie theatres in the late 80s, early 90s. We’d let any police officer in free if they showed their badge at the box office, and would offer them free popcorn.

There are all sorts of rules against such things, but I have no doubt it happens all the time in every city in America.

A police officer friend of mine told me that, no matter who’s paying for it, he will not eat anything while in uniform unless it was pre-wrapped, or he could see it being prepared.

But the politicians that set these rules have no such compunctions. They even have organizations called PAC’s set up to accept such civic minded donations.

I was in a Philips 66 the other day and a state trooper came and went straight to the coffee stand fixed himself a drink and picked up a coupla snacks, strolled on past the pay counter and out the door, with a thank you. Oklahoma.

If I operated the type of business that got robbed a lot, I’d do what I could to encourage cops to be there often.

Is there any common understanding (regardless of what the official rules may say) that, when cops patronize donut shops or similar, getting food for free or not, that they should not then troll the parking lot for cars with expired tags?

If I were running any kind of business, I think I would not appreciate the police coming through my parking lot looking for cars to with expired tags.

Hubby spent 17 years working for various departments with various policies. Basically, they all had a small limit for the dollar amount of gifts they could receive while on duty ($5 at his last department.) Most places offered a 50% discount on meals, and the chain of convenience stores gave free coffee or soft drinks from the fountain for deputies, but only if you brought your own refillable cup.

From personal experience, when I was working overnight at a hotel adjacent to the interstate, I made sure that officers on duty knew our WiFi password (a few years ago, before hot spots were available everywhere,) and kept a hot pot of coffee in the lobby. I felt a lot less vulnerable when those guys were out in the parking lot doing reports, and our coffee was complimentary for guests, and I had invited them, so they were guests and the gift was of no monetary value. :slight_smile: (As for etiquette, I didn’t mind if the officers checked our parking lot for anything shady. But a roadside inn is a little different from a coffee shop.)

I had as a child, 50 years ago, a picture book in which the policeman walks the beat, being offred food, and responding “not while I’m on duty”. He gets home and is offered food, and responds “not while I’m on duty”. Then he realizes he’s home, throws off his hat and says “but I’m not on duty” :slight_smile:

I’ve tried to find it, but I guess it never became a classic: I haven’t found any trace of it.

If they got a call, I’d tell them they could come back later to pay, because when they need to go they NEED to GO.
And we’d wrap up their leftovers and keep them warm.

Before I worked for a restaurant, I worked for … a national pizza delivery chain franchisee. The owner gave pizza at half price (if picked up, not delivered) to: employees, police, and firemen (which included ambulances). Once he extended that to a tow truck driver who was towing my car.

In my current job (convenience store), the rule is essentially the same: police and fire and EMTs (on duty) get the “employee discount”, which simple is that any beverage in a cup is free. We also include Sheriffs and Deputies.
I have only once had the occasion to comp an 0n-duty fireman (the daycare center next door kept having their fire alarm go off, but was not actually on fire, so bored firemen wandered over for sodas), and EMTs almost always buy drinks in bottles.

The official reason for this policy, as far as I know, is that sometimes the officer didn’t really want a coffee, he just wanted an excuse to come into the store. There can be several reasons for this. Like the time I had to call the police about some people loitering: the officer arrived, spoke briefly to the loiterers (gently suggesting they move along), then came in “to get a coffee” and see if his suggestion took hold.
AND: we like having officers come into our stores at unpredictable intervals. And we like having people know this happens.
For similar reasons, we will let the police use our restroom, even in stores that do not have a public restroom.

My FIL is a retired cop. He said his favorite restaurants didn’t give them free meals, it was always “somebody” picked up the tab.