If you’re wondering whether or not it’s acceptable to offer a favored police officer a gift, then you’re in luck.
We’ve answered a few questions to help you determine what’s the right choice and what choice could get you into some serious trouble.
Can Police Officers Accept Gifts? (Explained)
The contents of this web page are for informational purposes only, and nothing you read is intended to be legal advice. Please review our disclaimer about law/legal-related information on this website before taking action based upon anything you read or see.
Police officers can do some pretty incredible things, from saving lives to keeping areas safe and sound.
It can be a lot of hard work and they often put their lives on the line, which might make you want to go out and buy them a fancy new gift as a token of appreciation.
Know that this could cause some turbulence and unwanted situations.
Long story short, no they can’t.
Sorry to burst the bubble, but it is completely unacceptable for police officers to accept gifts.
Many stations and departments actually have strict policies against this, while others simply have moral codes against accepting gifts.
Why is this? Well, accepting gifts could look like a form of bribery or corruption. It looks as if they are trying to influence or persuade the police officer to take action in their favor.
Other stations, however, do have codes of conduct that it IS allowed to accept small gifts of nominal monetary value, like cheap gift cards or trophies.
Some also include laws that even permit a gift if it is for the whole police department, within the confines of their regulations.
If you’re truly itching to give a gift, you can ask the police chief of that specific department and you can ask what their specific department code is for the case of gift giving.
What Counts As A Gift?
A gift is anything of monetary value.
Think of the normal gifts that you would usually offer a friend or family member — money, appliances, tickets, jewelry, and so on.
As stated above, while there are some places and departments that allow certain forms of gift giving, this doesn’t mean that every police department allows these things.
One thing that is common, however, is that there are some that are generally okay, but you still need to ask permission in order to give it.
If you donate to a charity in their honor or do anything of that nature, for example, that is not a gift.
Giving the whole police department food or lunch is also not technically seen as a gift either.
We will go into this as we discuss what would be okay for you to give a police officer.
What Would Happen If A Police Officer Accepted A Gift?
Well, for the police officer, there are a few things that could happen. Police officers could get fired and it could go on their record that they went against code.
Since gifts could be looked at as a form of bribery or corruption within the police department, then that officer could also potentially lose any future job offers.
Usually, police officers will reject gifts anyway because of this reason.
For the gift giver, this could result in a lawsuit.
However, if it really is harmless, then this could potentially be something worked out within the department as long as the gift is given back and not actually accepted.
As a general rule, you’ll want to stay away from any possible legal actions.
In order to do this, stay on the safe route and always ask what the specific department’s terms are when it comes to this subject.
What is Acceptable?
While, yes, gifts are said to be looked at as bribery, there is a workaround for this notion that doesn’t involve breaking the law.
Think of something other than something of monetary value. This could be anything from ice cream and lunch to a donation to their favorite charity.
Get permission from the police chief if you want to offer a small token of appreciation, and make sure that you get the confirmation that it is, indeed, okay to give the gift.
That way you stay out of any unnecessary lawsuits or harm from the gift.
When all else fails, it never hurts to simply say “thank you”.
Gratitude and appreciation can go a long way, especially when police officers already know that they can’t accept gifts.
You can also feel free to write them a letter if you feel the true need to let them know how appreciative you are for their hard work.
Of course, this should go without saying, but never put anything inappropriate in the letters and never put any hidden money or anything of value within the envelope or letter as well.
Not only do forms of gratitude go a long way with police officers, but letting them know that they are appreciated and doing a good job is enough to make anyone’s day that much better.
All in all, if you truly value a police officer’s work, there are other ways to show your appreciation without breaking any laws.
From donating to charity to simple words of gratitude, you can make sure that your favored police officers know just how much you value them, their time, and the work that they do to keep everyone safe.
Always make sure you get permission, look up the codes of that specific department, and truly do your research before you decide to get a gift for any police officer.
Stay out of trouble, go the smarter route, and be sure that you continue to follow the rules.
Want to learn more about your justice system?
Browse our free legal library guides for more information.