Cops Share The Strange Laws Their Town Requires Them To Enforce
Cops have a tough job, and every day has its fair share of challenges. Law enforcement officers have sworn an oath to step up and risk their lives to uphold the laws that protect the rest of us as we go about our daily lives. But what about the laws that don’t seem to have anything to do with public safety and seem to be a little more… bizarre?
You know what we’re talking about. Every country, every state, every town has a weird law or two on the books; laws against falling asleep in your shower, fishing in your shorts, and riding a horse backward on a Tuesday.
The cops on Reddit have shared some of the strange laws they are required to enforce in their towns. Aside from providing us with a good laugh, most of these laws definitely left people scratching their heads in confusion as to why they would be necessary.
Read up just in case you live in one of these places. You don’t want to find yourself accidentally breaking the law!
#28 Modern Day Impact Of Old Laws
Where I live, 5 or more women living in the same building together is considered a brothel. It’s not enforced, so if you find yourself with 4 female roommates, the cops aren’t going to bust down your door, but it makes for interesting repercussions at the university. First of all, the sororities are not allowed to have houses, because the university would be operating a brothel in a legal sense. It also means all the dorm buildings have to have co-ed floors to work around this. The problem with that is the male-to-female enrollment at the school is about 7-3, so the female dorms are very spread out across campus.
Really it’s just one of those laws that was forgotten about and never changed, but it is relevant in ways you wouldn’t think of right off the bat.
#27 Retro Reinsertion Program
In Kansas, when this one inmate got released, he tried to use an obscure law from the 1800’s that was still on the books. When released from prison, you were to be given 1 horse, 1 rifle, and 1 saddle. Needless to say, he didn’t get it, and it was quietly removed from the books.
#26 Charging For Water
I’m a cop in San Francisco. A fun law here is that a club with a dance floor/dance area that can hold 500 or more persons is required to provide free, cool drinking water. That’s you, giant raves who charge $10 for a bottle of water. If you see them charging, give me a call and I will disco dance up to them with my ticket book.
#25 Possession Is Nine-Tenths
I’m a cop in Australia. If I catch you with more than 50 kilograms of potatoes in your possession, I WILL arrest you. Mostly because it would be hilarious. Then I’ll unarrest you because who really cares. Still illegal in Western Australia, though.
#24 An Obligatory Family Affair
In my town, if more than 3 people want to live together, two of them must be related. This is a college town, so if 5 dudes wanted to live together, at least two of them would have to be related. It’s not enforced as much by private renters, but property managers and such have to follow the law.
#23 Go Fly A Kite (Somewhere Else)
When my friends and I were 15, we bought some cheap kites and decided to take them with us downtown (we live in Chicago) and fly them. We started trying to fly them by the Art Institute when we got stopped by a cop. He told us that kites were not allowed to be flown anywhere in the downtown area and if he saw us doing it again he would give us a $250 citation.
Years later I found out that it actually was an obscure law, but a law that was repealed in the 1970s. Turns out we were just fine flying our kites and that cop was just a jerk that didn’t like seeing us having fun.
#22 Tortoises Like Balloons, Too
Park Ranger Law Enforcement here. I did a detail in Joshua Tree and asked about strange laws they had. I was told that possession of balloons was unlawful because tortoises like shiny things, try to eat them, and die.
#21 Silly String, Serious Ban
A few towns over from me silly string is banned completely after a group of kids sprayed an on-duty police officer with it at a town Apple Harvest Festival in the 90s. It’s not allowed to be sold at all, even in party stores or hobby stores.
#20 Saved By The Rain
Cop here. If wipers are on, your headlights must be on. But I am not getting out in the rain to enforce that nonsense.
#19 Irreputable Loitering
New Orleans police officer here. We’re not so much required to enforce this, but there is a “loitering by women of ill repute” law which says “abandoned women” are not allowed to drink inside bars. If my stats are ever low, I swear I am going to go to a ladies night and arrest every single woman in the joint.
#18 Animal Theft, Sentenced To Death
I’m a cop. This is a super old law, but it never got taken away. Stealing someone’s livestock is punished by death.
#17 Udderly Unacceptable
Pennsylvania crimes code 5541 says you can’t beat a cow’s udders to enhance their appearance.
#16 An Endangered Species
In Washington state, it’s illegal to shoot Bigfoot/Sasquatch.
#15 That’s Someone Else’s Job
Most people know about this one, but you can get fined in Oregon for pumping your own gas.
#14 Leash Length Loophole
I once arrested a guy for a leash law violation. The city requires you to maintain physical control of any animal in public and specifically states a leash may be no longer than 6 feet. I responded to a call about a verbal disturbance in one of the parks. When I got there, this dude was just being a complete jerk to this family who was just trying to have a barbecue (which is permitted). I didn’t really have anything to arrest him for and he refused to leave or at least go to a different area of the park. Then I noticed he had one of those retractable leashes attached to his dog. I told him he was in violation of our city ordinance as the leash mechanism stated it went to 16 feet in length and it was clearly maxed out. After a few minutes of the guy continuing to be an idiot and not leave, so I hooked him up for the leash law. I had another officer take the dog home to the family.
#13 Public Nudity Starts At Home
I’m a cop in Vermont. Public nudity is legal in most cities, but there’s a persistent myth even among fellow officers that you can’t take off your clothes in public (so essentially you’d have to walk out of your house naked). Despite no basis at all for it, I’ve had supervisors try to insist I enforce the myth.
An old bylaw exists that said: “Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, or singing is prohibited at all times.” They recently changed the bylaw to: “$250 fine for anyone who yells, shouts, whistles, or makes another noise for the purposes of selling or advertising.”
#11 Sometimes You Eat The Bear
I’m a cop and don’t let me catch you wrestling a bear. That’s illegal in these parts.
#10 Somebody Call The Fashion Police
My town has a dress code. Anyone caught sagging (wearing their pants below their waste in a gang-like fashion) can be arrested on sight.
#9 Mrs. Misdemeanor
I am retired from the cop game, but I did it for almost 20 years. This is more of a state law and I was not required to enforce it, but one night I had to go back to a house 4 times due to a married couple arguing very loudly (no violence was involved). I advised them on my third visit that maybe it would be best if one of them spent the night somewhere else so they could cool off. Both of them refused to leave, so I asked them to try and settle the situation because I didn’t want to have to visit them again and I went on my way. On my final return visit, they were outside in the driveway and as I was walking up, I heard the female admit to sleeping with someone else the night before so I arrested her for adultery, which is a misdemeanor in that state, and took her to jail. I didn’t have to go back that night.
#8 Rose-Colored Highbeams
We don’t have anything odd that we’re required to enforce, but there are a few here and there that we can enforce if we feel the need. A useful one that went in recently is those odd colored headlights and taillights. I only give out warnings for it, but it always throws people for a loop being stopped for it.
#7 Protecting The Elephants
Not a cop per se, but I do work at the sheriff’s office in Missouri. In the entire state, it’s illegal for you to get an elephant drunk.
So far we haven’t had to book anyone in for that, but I’ve only been at it for a few weeks so fingers crossed.
#6 Operating A Non-Motor Vehicle
I’m a cop. In Kentucky, we have “may arrest” statutes and “shall arrest” statutes. For the “may arrest” ones, we have discretion as to whether or not to arrest. For the “shall arrest” ones, there is no discretion. These are commonly in service to an arrest warrant, or violation of domestic violence orders.
DUI of a motor vehicle is a “may arrest” statute. DUI of a non-motor vehicle is a “shall arrest” statute. What might be classified as a non-motor vehicle? Well… a horse, for one.
Yep. If I encounter a fella under the influence riding a mare down East Main Street, technically I have to arrest him. Though more often than not, the horse knows the way home.
#5 Tennessee Technicalities
I’m a cop in Tennessee. Here are a few. It’s illegal to allow a proud female dog to run at large. It’s illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket. It’s illegal to sell dyed chicks on Easter (this one at least makes sense).
#4 Save The (Midwestern) Whales
I’m a cop in the Midwest. Don’t let me catch you whale hunting. You’ll be hooked and booked.
#3 How To Have A Mellow Mardi Gras
This is more of a thing we don’t enforce, but if you come to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, there are many things that you won’t be ticketed or arrested for. But two things you will 100% get in trouble for are fighting and public urination.
Don’t do those two things, and you should be OK.
#2 Awww, Rats!
I was a reserve USDA deputy for Yellowstone County during college and a rather strange law was that it’s a punishable crime when a person sells, offers for sale, raises, or gives away rats for any reason.
#1 Illegally-Obtained Citrus
Where I’m at, stealing oranges from an orchard is illegal. If you take 1-4, it’s a misdemeanor. Take that fifth one and you’re looking at a felony.