Every day when a cop puts on the badge and heads out on their beat, they never know what what they're going to face. It could be a normal shift where they pull over a few speeders, make an arrest or two, and fill out stacks of paperwork before they call it a day. But there are times when the men and women of law enforcement are faced with situations so dire and so disturbing, they almost quit their jobs.
The police officers in the following stories know that feeling all too well as they recently shared on a Reddit thread giving cops a platform to vent and let off a little steam. The cops in these stories have been through more than most will experience. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I responded to a call for a subject firing off a 12-gauge in his house. When I arrived, his mom ran out screaming, 'He's in his room!' Knowing something was up, I had her wait by my car.
My partner and I entered the home with me being the point man. We made our way to his bedroom and I turned the corner. He was sitting in a chair with the weapon and looked right at me.
He casually greeted me (I had dealt with him before from a past arrest). Having a bit of a rapport with him, I attempted to talk to him and try to keep him calm.
After about a minute, he just said, 'Doesn't matter, thanks for trying though.' And then he shot himself in the head.
It still haunts me but thanks to therapy and family support, I have handled it as well as I could and I'm still a cop."
"I am not an officer but I do work as a crime scene investigator for a police department.
I was on the third shift and was watching our call queue (we can see all the calls that come through the department) when I saw a call for a woman showing up to the hospital claiming she had been held captive for days and was assaulted and beaten and that her parents were killed.
Now at the time, my other investigators were thinking she was maybe a little 73 (10-73 is our code for mental issues/unstable) so we just said, 'Oh, ok, crazy lady' (we have a tough job. Humor helps a lot).
Well, we switched to that particular channel (our city is divided into divisions to be able to better patrol the areas) and she gave her address and so an officer was doing a check the welfare of the residence, to see if her story was checking out
Come to find out, she was telling the truth. The officer noticed blood coming from the garage, her mother was bound and dead upstairs, there was a bedroom with cables and chains and other ligatures that were used to hold her captive. Her father was also killed and put in the trunk of her car. She didn’t realize when she drove to the hospital, her father was in the trunk.
I’ve seen quite a few scenes and such but when I walked into that house, it just had a feeling that some awful things happened in there."
"I had a call about a woman who lived alone with her dogs and had not been seen for some time.
A colleague and I forced our way onto the property and were met by the three dogs in an agitated state. We searched the place and in the living room was a couch with an object sticking up from it. Despite it being daytime, I couldn’t work out what it was. It looked like an arm sticking up vertically.
I walked around it a couple of times then realized it was the spine of the partially eaten resident. Most of the midsection of the body was gone with just a piece of skin joining the legs to the upper torso. The legs had been dragged over to the head causing the spine to stick up out of the body.
It was horrific but we did our inquiries and the dogs were removed as were the remains. There were no suspicious circumstances so despite the horrific nature of it, it was treated as a sudden death. A cleaning crew was organized.
We had just left when we realized that we had not found the pelvis. We didn’t want the cleaning crew to find it so went back and did another search. Still no trace of it, the dogs must have completely consumed the entire organ."
"My father got a call about a car crash. Usually they're pretty bad, but this one was the worst he'd ever seen.
The car had two parents and four kids inside. The parents were pulled out immediately, and neither had serious injuries. They were both understandably scared about their children, so my dad put on some rubber gloves and went into the flipped car.
All of them were dead. And none were clean deaths. The youngest's spine was protruding from his back, and the oldest was missing most of his head. Another had his face mangled by debris, and the last one was cut in the abdomen by his seatbelt.
He had no clue what to do; he didn't want those parents to see that. So he wrapped them up inside of the car. When the mother saw the smallest one come out in a bloodied blanket, she fell to the ground and just, screamed. The father walked up to grab the child, and my father just said 'Sir, I don't think you want to see this,' and the father just started to wail unlike anything my stepdad had ever heard. 'I'm so sorry,' he choked out.
And after they'd taken the bodies, he was there to clean up and investigate. While he was searching, he found a small, bloody sock sitting on the ground. He told me it was the only time he'd ever cried on the job. In his words, 'I've seen grown men blow their brains out, I've seen people beat their spouse until their face was mush, I even had to reach into someone's chest cavity once to resuscitate them, but I'll never forget those kids.'"
"I saw a little kid standing on a busy street corner, in the dead of winter, around 2 or 3 years old. I went up to him to talk to him and found out he had been standing out there for an hour or so while a 'Good Samaritan' kept eyes on him from across the street in his nice and warm house.
Eventually, I led the investigation back to a battered woman's shelter nearby. The manager recognized the kid and said his mom was upstairs in another room. Went up there and found out she died from an overdose a few days prior. It broke my heart to think that kid had been in that room with his dead mother for days with little food or water, probably crying that his mother wouldn't wake up or talk to him.
I don't know what happened to him after that. Lost kids are common in my city, but this one wasn't just the forgetful tourist who didn't keep track of their kid while they snapped photographs everywhere. It was intense for a while, as we pulled resources from neighboring counties to put out the alerts for a priority lost child."
"My grandfather was a cop for 40 years. He recently told me a story about getting a call from a neighbor saying they hadn’t seen their neighbor, let’s call him Bill, for a few days. My grandfather and another cop, John, show up at Bill’s house. They knock and knock, but no answer. They check the doors and lo behold, one is unlocked. As they enter the house, my grandfather starts calling out, 'Mr. Bill, are you home? Is everything alright?'
This goes on while they search the house. Finally, Officer John goes down the steps to the basement. My grandfather hears him say, 'Oh, Mr. Bill, there you are! Is everything alright?' My grandfather goes down the steps to see Bill standing in his basement in his suit, complete with his hat, and one thing that was very, very off.
My grandfather goes, 'John, I think Bill is dead.'
Dumbfounded, Officer John says, 'He’s standing right there.'
'And you don’t see the rope around his neck?'
So, apparently Bill had hanged himself with a clothing line rope, tied it to a beam in his basement, and kicked away the stool he was standing on. Over the however many days it had been, the rope had 'stretched' so much that Bill looked like he was standing in the dark basement.
Out of all the stories I’ve heard so far, that was the saddest, funniest (because of Officer John’s confusion), and darkest story I’ve heard my grandfather tell."
"I am not a cop, but I have a civilian position in my local police station. One of the worst described to me by a coworker was early in her career, a group of boys, probably around 12 years old, were playing in an empty lot. They had a jerry can of propane and were dipping a stick with a rag wrapped around it into the can, then lighting it on fire.
One of the boys managed to get some of the propane on his shoe and lit his shoe on fire. He bent down to pat the fire on his shoe out, and one of his friends thought it would be funny to toss the rest of the jerry can on to his friend. The fire travelled up from his shoe and the boy was engulfed in seconds.
My colleague arrived only minutes later, but it was too late. She was ordered to remain with him until he arrived at the hospital and to stay with him until the coroner arrived, because though he was still alive when she arrived, it was clear that he wasn't going to make it, and she needed to do continuity on the body. She said when they performed the autopsy, the only part of his body that hadn't sustained second or third degree burns were the bottoms of his feet.
My colleague says the hardest this she has ever done was traveling to the hospital with him, and listen to him beg to see his parents again, as they both knew he was going to die."
"I'm an EMT. One time, my crew got a call from a guy whose father was on the floor, unconscious. We didn't get much information but of course, we rode to the location.
After arriving, we immediately saw that the place was a mess. Windowless thick walls, tons of dirt and the smell was horrible. It was about 5 pm but no electricity in the house and without windows, the only light was from the door hole (because the door was more like a hole in the wall barricaded with disgusting furnitures).
We got in with the equipment and saw the guy on the floor with about six people near him. We immediately started CPR but the guy passed away. As we stopped and looked up to tell them the bad news, four men grabbed knives out of their pockets and told us that we wouldn't go anywhere until we saved him. We were scared beyond belief. There were only three of us and we were in no position to call backup. We had no choice and started CPR again but it was for nothing.
After about three minutes of it, I got my head up and told them that we got the life signs back but if they want him to live we need to get him in the car and drive him to the hospital. They reluctantly let us put the dead body in the car and we got away."
"Ex-police officer here. This is the call that made me decide law enforcement wasn’t for me.
I conducted a no-knock search warrant one day. The first officer through the door secured the suspect closest to the door, second officer secured the person second closest to the door. I was the fourth officer in, and of course, my suspect ran. I chased him down a hallway, he ran in a room and slammed the door.
I burst in right after, jumped on top of him and got him secured. Before I cuffed him, he had his hand under the bed. I took him to the living room where the other suspects were being held, went back on the room and looked under the bed...double barrel sawed-off. My heart sank.
I took a few photos for evidence, and collected the weapon. I opened the barrels and found it was loaded with two slugs. I’m not sure he would have shot me had he gotten ahold of it, but it was enough to keep me up for two nights.
I resigned three weeks later."
"Back when I was working patrol, my partner and I got a welfare check call for an elderly man whose out-of-state family couldn't get in contact with. These are the worst calls, because you know what is behind that door. The family gave us authorization to enter if there was no answer. And there wasn't.
The front door was locked, but we were able to open the garage door and go in through that door. The garage gave us signs of what was to come inside the house. It was filled with junk from floor to ceiling front to back, with just a little walkway to the door to the house. After taking a few steps into the garage, we knew what we would find. The smell was overwhelming.
Thus far, there was nothing creepy or scary about this, as this wasn't my first body I found or seen. After making our way through the trash pathways in the living room and kitchen, we made our way to the master bedroom. We found him sitting in a rocking chair in his bedroom. Because decomposition had already set in, there were no muscles holding him together. So his upper body was leaning to the right at an almost perfect 90 degrees. His spine had snapped postmortem, so it was a really awkward bend. It was really creepy to see a body bent that way without having any type of trauma."
"A husband and wife were going through divorce but still very cordial with each other. He comes over and still cuts the grass. Seemingly, they still get along just fine.
Well, he comes over on this day and they don't get along so well. He pulls out a pocket knife and cuts her throat. She had a deep cut on the left side of her throat up to her cheek. After the initial cut, he continued trying to cut her and she tried to fight him off. So he kept cutting until he grabbed a pillow and tried to suffocate her. By then she finally realized that he was full on attempting to kill her so she began playing dead until he left. Once he left she ran outside and collapsed in the neighbor's yard from blood loss.
There was blood everywhere. But luckily for her, he didn't hit an artery. We catch him and put him in jail. He pleads guilty in court. The prosecution asks for the maximum sentence which is only 20 years. The victim stands up there and begs that he doesn't go to jail. The judge sentenced him to 20 years of intensive probation. I was dumbfounded. Sometimes courts need to protect victims from themselves.
About four years later, I have moved to a different agency in a neighboring town. We have a murder at a business in town that I'm told about when I come to work. The husband came and finished the job this time. I didn't see the scene but I was told he absolutely left no doubt that she was dead when he left this time. Cutting and stabbing the life right out of her.
Now he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole."
"El Duende is a Hispanic term for something like a gnome, and it is the nickname for this short guy who resides in my district.
One night, we get a report of a robbery and stabbing and meet with the victim's friends alongside a large pool of blood. They said 'El Duende' got stabbed and ran away. They don’t know El Duende’s real name. There is a trail of blood drops that lead all the way around an apartment complex, and we follow it. We get to the other side, right across the street from a convenience store, and find a larger pool of blood. It’s everywhere to the point where it looked like someone slaughtered a cow. It was almost like blood was sprayed.
At this point, we were less concerned about the robbers and more concerned about finding 'El Duende' because he might die from blood loss if we didn’t find him. The nurse at the hospital told us that he hadn't come in yet, so we continued to follow the trail of blood. It led us to a different neighborhood a little less than a mile away. We even found another pool of blood similar to the first one along the way.
It started to rain and the blood trail started disappearing. About an hour and a half had gone by at this point. At one point, our helicopter was helping but it had to land do to weather. The k9 was helping us. Then a call came out for a 'suspicious event' near where the blood ended. Someone had written something on someone’s house. We walked over and saw a town house with the words 'El Duende' written in blood, in large letters, on three sides of the house.
It turned out to be 'El Duende’s' parents house after we describe 'El Duende' to them. It took a while for them to realize this. There was a lot of 'what is going on here?' They told us their 30-year-old son had mental problems and stayed in the park near their house. We checked the park and found a guy covered in blood. His clothes were completely soaked in blood. I asked if he was ‘El Duende.' He said no. I told him that I thought he was not telling the truth and he said, 'Ok , I’m El Duende.' He refused to go to the hospital so my buddy paid him a dollar to go, and he did. It turns out his friends lied. There was no robbery. El Duende cut himself because he thought it was funny. I spent the next hour wondering what just happened.
And he didn’t cut himself with a knife. He cut into his arms with fingernail clippers."
"My colleague and I were there escorting another prisoner from custody. This girl came in and spoke to our prisoner. They'd never met before but they were just making idle hospital waiting room chit chat. The girl vanishes, not bothered, we don't know why she's there, who she is we just assumed she'd gone somewhere else.
After a while, our prisoner says, 'that girl has been in the toilet a long time. Perhaps she's taking a giant dump?' We laugh but then realize that it had been a while.
I start banging the door, no answer and the door is locked. I unscrew the lock and she's there, wheezing and unresponsive. My colleague goes for help and a nurse comes, unzips her jacket, and find that she's made a noose from a sock, and she's blue and not breathing.
I manage to cut it off. It was on so tight, we couldn't get scissors in to cut it at first. She's taken through to get checked, now breathing again, and my partner goes with her. I'm standing by the door with my prisoner getting air. The whole thing is stressful, this happened in the middle of a busy emergency people are just looking at me. Next thing I know, a health care assistant is running out to me because this girl is now becoming violent and my partner needs help. I can't leave my prisoner and I can't leave my partner to get beat up. I chose to go for my partner.
This girl is smashing her head into a wall, kicking, hitting and trying to bite. It took three of us, to get her calm. I barely manage to get the assistance shout out before going in (radio signal is poor to non-existent).
Luckily the prisoner sat patiently in the waiting room while we dealt with that. He wasn't cuffed and easily could've run, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.
On top of all the stress that day caused, I didn't really have the 'oh no' moment until I was in my car on the way home and I realized a girl nearly died five feet away from me and I wouldn't have known, if it wasn't for the prisoner paying attention to where his new friend went."