It is the policy of the Department to permit private citizens, law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions, and members of the news media to ride in patrol vehicles as passengers/observers. The purpose of this policy is to give the guidelines for the ride-along program.
Categories of Participants
Each participant will be classified in one of the following categories. These categories will determine the frequency and duration of participation.
Private Citizens– This category includes citizens requesting to ride to broaden their knowledge of law enforcement, members of civic organizations, and students with an academic need or interest in observing law enforcement activities. Applicants are limited to (1) ride along per (4) calendar months and may ride for a maximum of (6) hours. Requests to ride will be handled on a first come, first served basis.
News Media– This category includes full-time employees of a news media organization. Photographers will not be allowed to photograph prisoners being transported in patrol vehicles from within the same vehicle. There are no restrictions on the number, time, or duration of ride-alongs in this category.
Non-Sworn Public Personnel– This category includes persons employed in a non-sworn public safety capacity by Guilford County or the municipalities within Guilford County, including interns. There are no restrictions on the number, time, or duration of ride-alongs in this category.
Participants are authorized to ride in patrol vehicles in a passenger/observer capacity only. Participants are not permitted to take any law enforcement action, assist in conducting investigations, or perform any law enforcement task or function. All persons must wear civilian clothes when participating in the ride-along program. Participants are assigned to ride with a uniformed patrol officer only. Participants must be at least 18 years old. The Chief must approve anyone under this age participating in the ride-along program. Participants are not permitted to operate department vehicles, handle or possess firearms, mace, or other weapons, or use any department equipment, except that they may use the communication system in the event of an extreme emergency. If a situation arises that would expose the participant to undue danger, the officer will exercise discretion and may temporarily leave the passenger at a suitable location while responding to a call. The Department reserves the right to reject any request for participation in the ride-along program if it does not appear to be in the best interest of the Department. If an officer has knowledge of an individual which shows the person to be unsuitable for participation, he should notify the Field Operations Commander.Each participant is under the complete control of the officer to whom he is assigned. If an officer has problems with a rider, he may return the rider to the Police Department and explain the circumstances to his supervisor. The supervisor will forward the information to the Field Operations Commander who will decide whether to allow that individual to ride in the future.
Coordination of Assignments
Persons interested in riding with an officer must fill out an online application below (4) business days before the date they wish to ride. The Chief, Major, or Field Operations Commander is authorized to waive the four-day period. There may be no more than two ride-alongs per shift. The communications personnel will check for outstanding warrants or criminal record on the applicant and attach the information to the liability release form. The liability release form is then sent to the Field Operations Commander for approval. If approved, the application is sent to the squad on duty on that date/time when the person wants to ride. The squad supervisor will assign the rider to a particular officer and will document the ride-along program on the liability release form. At the end of the shift, the squad supervisor will return the ride-along release form to the Field Operations Commander. Records on ride-alongs are kept on file for one year.