Test Your Law Enforcement Knowledge With This Quiz

By: Zoe Samuel
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Test Your Law Enforcement Knowledge With This Quiz
Image: Pexels by Rosemary Ketchum

About This Quiz

The history of the police is a relatively short one, but with many twists and turns. The first police in New York City were little more than organized private gangs, while the first police in London were not allowed to investigate crimes for fear of the UK turning into a police state. In many places in the American west, the first police officers were U.S. Marshals or private "law enforcement" in the form of the Pinkerton Detective agency, which was an organized muscle founded by the creator of the Secret Service.

Today, law enforcement is far more mature than it was a century ago. The job is much more professionalized, with procedure and "best practices" drilled into every recruit from the beginning. At the same time, the public's concerns about the power wielded by the police is almost as high as it was in the 1960s, when the police brutalized protesters at Vietnam War demonstrations and civil rights marches. Law enforcement today is about balancing society's concerns with the practical requirements of an organization tasked with preventing crime, all with major changes happening with the legal status of illicit drugs, a major concern of police just ten years ago.

Do you know much about the rules and history of law enforcement? Find out with this quiz!

What does "in flagrante delicto" mean?
The police are here!
The criminals are caught.
Burning the flag is illegal!
Caught in the act!
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In flagrante delicto is a legal term meaning to be caught in the midst of an act. Colloquially, it would translate to "caught red handed" and is often used to describe events outside of law enforcement as well.

Why do police detectives wear suits?
To intimidate suspects
To look professional
To blend in
All of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Detectives wear suits for a lot of reasons. They signify authority, grant access to certain social situations, blend in and conceal weaponry. They are also a tradition going back more than a century.

How are most police forces organized?
By firefighter ranks
By experience
By lifeguard ranks
By military ranks
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Today, the vast majority of police forces use some variation on military ranks to denote the authority given to an officer. This usually takes the form of officer, detective, lieutenant, etc.


When was London's Metropolitan Police force formed?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sir Robert Peel was behind the passage of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, which created a police force with very limited powers, permitted to patrol the streets of London and seek to interrupt crime. At the time, it could do little else.

What were the early versions of the NYPD based on?
Notable NYC street gangs
London's Metropolitan Police
The U.S. Army
The French Foreign Legion
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

When looking for a model for police in New York, the Metropolitan Police of London were chosen. The Met used a military-style ranking structure with clear lines of authority, uniforms and procedure, and the police of New York were created with these elements in mind.

When did Scotland Yard get a Great Scotland Yard address?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

1887 was a major expansion year for the Met, which had formerly be confined to 4 Whitehall Pl. One of their new facilities stood at the fateful address of 8 and 9 Great Scotland Yard. Of course, 4 Whitehall and several other buildings expanded into abutted Great Scotland Yard, but they didn't have the address in the name.


When was the NYPD created as such by charter?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In 1870, a charter put an end to the chaotic manner in which the police were "organized" (read: directly controlled by rival politicians). After 1870, the NYPD was confined to its boroughs, starting with just Manhattan and Brooklyn.

How many precincts were there to an inspection district in the early days of the NYPD?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the early years of New York City's expansion, the city was divided up many ways. There were wards to divide up neighborhoods, the grid to divide up blocks, inspection districts to divide up the larger regions of police interest, and precincts to divide up the inspection districts.

What is the active ingredient in pepper spray?
Pepper, obviously!
Salt, funnily enough.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Capsicum is not just the genus of pepper plants. It's also the active ingredient in this essential tool of the policing trade. Pepper spray is painful and terribly inconvenient, but because it is rarely lethal and temporarily disabling at worst, it's a great way to stop a criminal in their tracks without risking anyone's life.


Which of these was a crime that early NYPD beat cops were expected to investigate?
"Aiding in theatrical entertainments on Sunday"
"Cruel usage of animals in public places"
"Interfering with a man disciplining his family"
"Aiding in any way in a prize fight"
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sure, cops in the 1800s weren't exactly kinder or gentler than they are today. There were still debtors prisons, Jim Crow laws and only men could vote back then. It was, however, frowned upon to beat one's family in public, and a policeman could intervene if they so chose.

What was the address of "New Scotland Yard"?
48 Parliament St
10 Broadway
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Technology and personnel needs changed drastically by the 1960s, and the Met had to move house. It chose a brand new office tower at 10 Broadway for its new home, a place it has augmented repeatedly over the years with newer security and technology. The Met moved again in the early 2010s, citing space needs. As for the gibberish codes, those are post codes specific to buildings. SW1A 2HJ is the Civil Service Club on Great Scotland Yard, and SW1A 2JL should point to the current home of New Scotland Yard.

What is the name of the central booking facility in New York City?
The Rudy Giuliani Booking Building
The Tombs
The Ed Koch Jail
Booking Facility 22-8
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Tombs is the nickname for the central booking facility in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood. While the current building is fairly new, the purpose of the site goes back to 1838, when the original city jail was built to resemble the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Built on the site of the old Collect Pond, it sank into the ground and prisoners often got Trench Foot as a result of being held in cells full of water.


What pivotal event happened in New York City on June 16, 1857?
The Draft Riots
The Ice Cream Riot
The Great Police Riot
The Bowler Hat Rebellion
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Great Police Riot was a pitched battle between the Metropolitan Police and the Municipal Police, rival police forces run by corrupt politicians. The two forces constantly undermined each other and sank deeper and deeper into corruption as a result. Tensions boiled over in a riot, but it took court fights between the two groups' leaders to put an end to the conflict. By autumn, the Municipal Police were dissolved by court order.

What do The Tombs in New York, the Doge's Palace in Venice and Hertford College in Oxford have in common?
They were all once universities.
They were all once posessions of Venice.
They all have bridges of sighs.
They were all built in the same architectural style.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While Oxford's bridge of sighs is just a corridor, the ones in New York City and Venice were built for the same reason: to transport prisoners from jail to court without having to step outside. The bridge of sighs in Venice overlooks a canal, and tourists can go beneath it in gondolas. The bridge of sighs at The Tombs spans a parking lot and overlooks bail bondsmen, cheap restaurants and brutalist architecture.

What is the acronym for the office that governs the Met in London?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A series of bills between 1999 and 2012 gave rise to a new order of bureaucratic oversight for the Met. Not to be confused with MOPAR, MOPAC stands for Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, and it's the conduit through which the Mayor of London exerts control over the police. The mayoral appointee put in charge of MOPAC is Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and the whole thing is overseen by the Police and Crime Committee, which is in turn run by the London Assembly.


Which of these is the approved duty weapon for all officers on the Cincinnati PD?
Glock 17, 9mm
Smith and Wesson M&P9, 9mm
Taurus 1911 Officer, 45 acp
Colt Defender, 9mm
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Every police department that allows officers to carry weapons has to standardize what is allowed. These days, most departments favor the 9mm format for its effectiveness, size and ease of use. Cincinnati's police manual specifies the standard duty pistol as the Smith and Wesson Military and Police 9mm, designated M&P9 by the manufacturer.

Other than "the behavior of an individual or information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity," which of these factors is not explicitly deemed to be racial profiling by the Portland Oregon PD?
Religious affiliation
National origin
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While race, ethnicity and national origin are all explicitly defined as factors that, if used as the basis for "any police-initiated action," would be racial profiling, religious affiliation is not. At least, it isn't Portland, Oregon.

According to Eugene, Oregon police procedure, which of the following does not qualify as cause for action taken as a police officer while off duty?
"When the off-duty officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has%0Dbeen committed and human life or safety, or significant property loss, is%0Dbeing threatened."
"If the officer has a strong hunch that someone is up to no good."
"When a crime is committed in the off-duty officer's presence."
"If the situation is of an emergency nature that cannot await the arrival of%0Don-duty officers."
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Police officers, while respected and important, must not become another class of citizen, so it has been important since the early days that they function differently when they are working and when they are not working. On the job, the police have powers no one should have as a private citizen, so police have tight strictures on what they can do on their time off, including when they can become involved in a situation as a police officer.


Which of the following is not a directorate of the Metropolitan Police?
Counterterrorism Operations
Frontline Policing
Shared Support Services
Specialist Operations
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While the Met takes measures to prevent terrorism and has done so since The Troubles, counterterrorism is primarily the purview of MI-5, which is somewhat akin to the FBI, in the UK.

Which of the following is not used as an NYPD patrol cruiser?
Chevrolet Impala
Nissan Altima Hybrid
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Dodge Charger
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Dodge Charger does not get good mileage. It doesn't come in hybrid form. It does, however, go really fast. This is why the NYPD uses it not as a patrol cruiser, but as a highway patrol vehicle. Sure, it would do the job as a cruiser, but it would also eat a lot more fuel than its slower counterparts, and that's money the NYPD could spend on other things.

Which of the following is not considered a Met Incident Response Vehicle?
BMW i3
Peugeot 308
Hyundai i30
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The BMW X5 is found in the Met's arsenal of vehicles, but its designation is as a Armed Response Vehicle. This makes sense when you consider its size, speed, ease of armoring, off road ability and rear hatch, all of which lend themselves to the task of positioning a SWAT team rather than delivering an officer to mediate a domestic dispute.


In what state did the Zoot Suit Riots take place?
New Jersey
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

During the year 1943 in Los Angeles, a group of white LAPD officers got in a fight with a group of Latino youths. The brawl turned into a melee, and the melee into a riot. Perhaps as a way of placing the blame squarely on the youths, the riots were dubbed the Zoot Suit Riots to reference the style of baggy suits favored by the youths at the time.

Which of these cops does NOT carry a gun?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

British police do not carry guns, unlike most police forces. Australians mostly do, despite the similar culture.

In British policing, some cops have the letters "WPC" in their special skills. What does the W stand for?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

As ridiculous as it sounds, until recently this was really how female cops in the UK were listed. They had Police Constables, then under special skills, Woman Police Constables. Being a woman is a special skill, apparently.


What fake event did the police hold in Michigan in 1990 to bust a whole lot of crooks?
Knitting circle
NASCAR rally
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Several local drug dealers showed up to the fake wedding where both the bride and groom were undercover cops. They were all captured, though there is no word on whether or not they had cake first.

What is particularly notable about one of Ireland's most terrifying automotive criminals, Prawo Jadzy?
He killed the most people ever hit with a single Mini.
He was a cop.
He was also a serial killer, but the cops never checked the trunk.
He did not exist.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This fearsome prolific illegal driver suddenly turned up all over Ireland right after free movement within Europe was extended to cover Poland. That's because Prawo Jadzy is Polish for "driver's license."

How many people have the Finnish police shot dead in the last 25 years?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While there are not a lot of people in Finland, the fact that this number is so low is a testament to either a very healthy society, a great police force, or both.


Which criminal thwarted Ohio police long enough to deface at least 19 cars in a particularly ghastly manner?
The Pooping Bandit
The Lardy Criminal
The Vomit Painter
Jackson Pollock
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In 2012, Akron PD finally caught up to the serial automobile vandal dubbed The Pooping Bandit in the press. Known for decorating vehicles by defecating in and on them, he was found astride the hood of a car, releasing his latest expression on its surface. Previously, he had done his dirty work inside unlocked cars, and even on their door handles.

Where was the biggest speeding ticket ever issued?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In 2010, a Swedish driver in a Mercedes-Benz SLS was clocked at over 186 mph in Switzerland. While Switzerland will tolerate tax evasion, and they may never ask you where you got all that gold, they will stomp you hard for speeding. This Swede was issued a ticket for roughly $1 million.

What happens if you are caught speeding over 80 mph in Virginia?
You lose your license.
You lose your car.
You are charged with a misdemeanor.
You are issued a psychotically huge ticket.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the state of Virginia, driving over 80 mph, or indeed driving at any speed 20 mph over the posted speed limit, is considered misdemeanor reckless driving. Due to Virginia law, this will remain on your record for all time, meaning that if someone does a background check on you, it will likely pop up.


What do Japanese police fire at fleeing motor vehicles?
Killer robots
Balls filled with paint
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Japanese police have better things to do than get killed in a high speed chase. As a result, they came up with this clever idea to catch escaping criminals: paint their cars a horrendous orange they can't get off with what they called bohan yo kara boru or "anti-crime color balls." These things, which look like baseballs, mark fleeing vehicles, making them easy for the cops to pick out later so there isn't a chance of someone getting hurt in a chase.

Which piece of equipment is required to be in all Dutch police cars?
A battering ram
A combat shotgun
A teddy bear
A bomb robot
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Dutch police are required to carry a lot of gear. There is their "GPS-navigatiesysteem," their "Zwaailicht en sirene," and of course, their "Teddybeer om aan een kind te geven dat iets ergs is overkomen," which translates to "Teddy bear to give to a child who just went through something terrible."

What is the difference between these two French police forces: the Gendarmerie Nationale and the Police Nationale?
The Gendarmerie Nationale are like the FBI and the Police Nationale are just for cities.
The Gendarmerie Nationale is part of the armed forces and the Police Nationale are civilian police.
The Police Nationale replaced the Gendarmerie Nationale in 1966.
The Gendarmerie Nationale were created by Napoleon, and the Police Nationale by Robespierre.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Gendarmerie Nationale was founded in 1306 as the Maréchaussée (Marshals, like in the US), but was renamed Gendarmerie Nationale in 1791 by the government of the French Revolution. Cest la vie.


Which of the following is not part of a use of force core principle of the Seattle PD?
"Sometimes the Use-of-Force Is Unavoidable."
"A Strong Partnership Between the Department and the Community Is Essential for Effective Law Enforcement and Public Safety."
"An Officer Shall Use Only the Degree of Force That Is Objectively Reasonable."
None of the above.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Seattle PD puts its whole procedure manual online so the residents of Seattle can have a better idea of what is expected of their police. The Use of Force section of their manual lists seven core principles, each made up of several ideas and followed by a litany of bullet points elaborating on each idea.

Where does the U.S. globally rank in terms of homicide?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

According to the 2016 figures compiled by the World Bank, the U.S. ranks 34th in "intentional homicide" worldwide, with 5.35 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. By comparison, El Salvador, with its rocky economy, weak government and powerful underworld is number one with 82.84 murders per 100,000 people, and the UK, with its strong social contract, robust economy and strong gun control laws is 62nd, with 1.2 per 100,000.

You Got:
Pexels by Rosemary Ketchum