People often hear the term police shakedown in movies and television shows.
Sure it sounds cool, but it's really just an investigation of someone on the street that you think is acting strangely, or is suspicous for some reason.
As a cop, you will be patroling the streets at different times of the day, in different areas.
Sometimes you'll be out on a main street, sometimes in the back of an alley. It could be at 14:00 hours, or it could be at 04:00 hours.
Maybe the area will be well lit with street lamps, or maybe the lighting will be poor and it will be difficult to see.
No matter where you are, you will encounter different people in different places. Some of them will have a valid reason as to why they are there and what they are doing. Some of them won't.
But how will you know ? Well, you won't.
In some circumstances however, everything in your body will be telling you to "check this guy out".
It could be a group of circumstances that all act as red flags. Perhaps you're in an alley at night and you see somebody walking by himself with a hooded sweatshirt. Maybe he's peering into windows and has his hood up. Maybe he's doing quick checks behind him to see if anyone is watching.
Clearly, this example is spoon feeding you a scenario which just screams police shakedown. A lot of the time it's not going to be so cut and dried as to who you should check out.
Sometimes it could be as simple as the article of clothing that someone is wearing. Perhaps they're displaying a gang affiliation by a certain color handkerchief out of the back pocket, or a certain tat they are wearing.
Or maybe they are just loitering in an area and you want to find out what they are doing there.
But be careful. In some circumstances you will have more justification in checking someone out.
You can absolutely justify investigating the guy in the alley from the first example.
It's dark, he's peering into windows, has a hood up and is trying to hide his face, and is acting nervous. Your concern is that he may be about to commit a burglary.
Now other circumstances may not be so cut and dried. Sure, you can speak to people and investigate but remember that sometimes your hunch will be wrong.
And how you speak or treat people will determine whether or not you end up dealing with a complaint.
There's a fine line that you have to walk. Only you can determine exactly where that is, but it's a combination of aggression/assertiveness and being professional.
Some cops end up in a bag of shit cause they rush into a police shakedown on somebody and treat them like absolute garbage.
They later find out that they just shook down a city alderman's son and slamming the kid into the wall was not the best tactic to get his name. (Purely an example, this didn't happen to meor anyone else I know)
It's great to do street investigations and you will locate people who are violating conditions, or are wanted for serious crimes.
But sometimes, you'll realize that the guy/girl you're shaking down is just your average joe.
Do your job, but be professional. It could spare you a lot of problems...
Return from Police Shakedown to Homepage
Return to Police Officer Job Descriptions