Police officer watching an arrest
Unsplash | King's Church International

Police Officers Share The Saddest Things They've Heard Criminals Say

When there's an emergency, we call 911. Depending on the situation, the first responders to the scene are likely to be police officers. But what actually happens when they get there?

Because police are tasked with securing the scene and investigating what's going on, they hear a few stories in their line of work. Many of them are sad. This r/AskReddit thread asked cops about the saddest things they've heard in the line of duty.

Before we begin, a warning: some of the stories here are deeply upsetting.

The more you know.

Bottle of hand sanitizer
Unsplash | Neil Bates

"A guy in jail admitting he drank 2 bottles of hand sanitizer in jail and went blind in one eye just to get drunk, he didn't see anything wrong with it.

He's also why during the covid pandemic we had to carry our own personal hand sanitizer or keep the big bottles outside the pod instead of keeping it at our desk"


Joining the family business.

Police at a crime scene
Unsplash | Wesley Mc Lachlan

"Talking to a 12 year old boy when he thought he’d killed a pregnant woman’s baby and him telling me between tears he just wants to help and look after animals but can’t because of his family (family are generational crooks). The kid went on to join the family business and is now in and out of prison with a horribly long rap sheet."


Help however you can.

A police officer fixing a truck

"You hear a lot of awfully sad things in conversation with all kinds of people but with impoverished folks, sometimes it’s not even an inherently sad sentence until you look at the context. From that gaze, every thing that’s said can take on a tone of sadness. And it’s not pity, it’s just a sadness that is striking to new officers. Once you realize not everyone lives how you live, and they’re totally okay with it - food, shelter, water. You can start to help them within the parameters that exist."


It's hard to break the cycle.

A security guard
Unsplash | Obi - @pixel6propix

"Work security in a town's retail supermarket. Watched the local drug dealer force his son of about 8 to shoplift some pastries. Nothing about this boy would have made him stand out as this man's son, just an ordinary looking kid but his father wanted to make him into a man by teaching him how to steal.

Four years later and this boy is clearly his fathers son."


When all you know is institutions

Inside a prison
Unsplash | Emiliano Bar

"Not a cop but an ER psych specialist. People routinely ask if they can go to jail or a nursing home because they can't take care of themselves outside of jail. It's a financial issue but also a larger issue of pure institutionalization. They literally don't know how to live."


That would be so traumatizing.

Police tape
Unsplash | David von Diemar

"Not a cop, but I was in traffic due to an immediate crime scene.

A family is outside sobbing. And teenage daughter is walking towards the sobbing family and she yells as she cries, 'mom, she shot her face off.'

It was reported that night that a young girl was playing with a gun in the house and accidentally shot herself and her face off. She died."


That store would be Walmart.

Aisle inside a department store
Unsplash | Caique Morais

"Not a cop, but I worked at a very big national store based out of Bentonville, AR around the holidays. The store asset protection tool pushed to have a lady arrested and prosecuted for shoplifting. After the cops and Paul Blart were done talking to her she explained that she wanted to get her kids a pair of shoes for Christmas. She had two pairs of shoes for a combined value of about $45 bucks. One of the cops offered to pay for the shoes but the asset protection guy refused and wanted her arrested."


Hopefully he was able to turn things around.

Man in a prison cell
Unsplash | Hasan Almasi

"Not a cop, but an addictions counselor in the past. Guy was trying to get clean and be a better person. He said the moment that changed his mindset was when his gf brought his son to jail to visit him. Son (5ish) put his hand on the glass (like in the movies) and said “I want to come in there with you” and he remembered visiting his father in jail and thinking it was somehow cool. It flipped a switch in him and made him want to be better."


And that's that.

A handgun
Unsplash | Jay Rembert

"This takes me back to a case from 2014. I was investigating a murder suicide. Husband killed his wife and called 911 stating 'My name is xxxx and I just killed my wife.' Dispatch was asking for his location, he didn't know as they were in a car. When cops showed up, he was still on call with dispatch and stated, Y'all here. Good Bye and then a boom."


No chance.

Hands in handcuffs
Unsplash | niu niu

"Not a cop, but in healthcare. A 12 year old girl came in handcuffs. She was pregnant. She tried to take her own life with a gun, but her cousin wouldn't let her and she accidentally shot her. She called the cops on herself and then drank a bottle of bleach. I was working on her and she told me over and over again that she was sorry. No, sweetheart, I'm sorry. You never had a chance."


That's no way to treat him.

A police officer viewed from behind
Unsplash | Fred Moon

"I’m currently a cop. I was given civil papers to remove a combative elderly male from a residence he was no longer supposed to be living at. He wasn’t home and I ended up talking to his son. I found out he was a military veteran, could barely walk, had dementia and was hard of hearing. He was being removed from the house due to an infestation because the company didn’t want to get sued. When I finally found him (in a restaurant) he just sat there crying because he had no way to get resources to help."


Violence begets violence.

A police stop
Unsplash | AJ Colores

"There was a young lady that we were always dealing with. Long story short she ended up assaulting one of us during a call. As she was being booked, obviously upset, she apologized and said 'My real parents beat me, my foster parents beat me, my high school boyfriend beat me, my current boyfriend beats me, violence is all I know.' It really hit me. She was so young and had probably never been treated well or with respect by anyone in her life. On top of all this she was pregnant at the time. We ended up talking for awhile. I ended up running into her a year or so later. She again apologized and seemed like she was doing well with the baby and in a better situation. Probably the only time in my career I felt like maybe I made a small difference."


Everyone's a couple of bad choices away from a bad situation.

A police car with lights on
Unsplash | Matt Popovich

"Prostitute (not a criminal per se) asked if I had a daughter & likely could tell by my face that I did before I could answer.... 'tell her she's two bad choices away.'"


This one is just heartbreaking.

Police vehicles behind police tape
Unsplash | Campbell Jensen

"A four year old girl asking me if I can wake her mom up. as my partner was cuffing the high drunk father for throwing the mother down the stairs, broke her neck on impact most likely."


Hard not to feel for the guy.

A running dog at the beach
Unsplash | Oscar Sutton

"I had one guy tell me he was sorry for getting drunk and causing a scene but he was drinking because his 14 year old dog had died. I gave him a ride home and made sure he got in his house safely."


How do you even respond?

Police officers standing outside a police car
Unsplash | Erik Mclean

"Not a criminal but .. I worked on isolated native reserves before joining a 'regular' force. I did a ton of suicide intervention, and I’ve cut down 7 others.. The one that broke me, 12 years old, raped twice that night by trusted members of her family..she looked me in the eye with a gun in her hand and said 'I have nothing and no future, please let me' it didn’t hit right away, I was trying to control an extremely volatile situation. It hit my about a year later.. and man, it hit hard."


A messed up war.

Army infantryman
Unsplash | Jakob Owens

"Not a cop, but served as an infantryman in Afghan in 2011-2012. Was on patrol pretty much doing cop work sometimes. We’d go door to door or compound to compound and our Lieutenant would talk to locals with our translator.

During one of the meetings I was inside working as a sort of guard for my Lt. The guy he was talking to came up positive for gun trace residue and was a confirmed Taliban in the eye scanner thing we had. When my Lt questioned him before we detained him, he told my Lt that he didn’t want to fight us, but if he didn’t the Taliban would kill his family."


This one hits hard.

Journalist with a camera
Unsplash | Korie Cull

"Not a cop, but a year ago South Africa was hit by political unrest and riots. A lot of stores were looted, and people were walking off with multiple tvs, appliances etc.

Some citizen journalist was out on the streets, stopping looters, and interviewing them. It's winter, it's dark, and suddenly this little kid appears, holding a single bag. All alone. Couldn't have been more than 8. The citizen journalist stops him, and demands to see what's in the bag. He opens it up. One t-shirt. One jersey. One pair of pants. One pair of shoes. A three pack of underwear. This little kid had followed a group of adults into a chaotic situation and taken what he needed, and only what he needed."


Screwed from the start.

A prison cell
Unsplash | Umanoide

"Speaking to a juvenile in the cells with a butt load of warrants for stealing cars and armed robberies - told me the only way he could get toys is if he stole them, and his parents would never help him with his homework but showed him what to say to get free McDonald's and how to avoid getting caught shop lifting. Some kids have no hope and are just going to end up in the system."


With friends like this...

Police officer watching an arrest
Unsplash | King's Church International

"I nicked a guy for attempted murder once. I had met him before a few times, usually when he was a suspect. He just said ''Even now, you're still the closest thing I've got to a proper friend.'"