Ride Alongs

Eligible Participants

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department encourages community involvement in the law enforcement process and allows interested persons to ride as passenger observers with patrol officers. The Ride-Along Program provides an opportunity for individuals to experience the law enforcement function first hand.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate interested persons; however, any applicant may be disqualified without cause.

The following factors may be considered in disqualifying an applicant and are not limited to:

  • being under 18 years of age (Exceptions may be with the concurrence of the chief of police and with parental approval)
  • prior criminal history
  • Pending criminal action
  • Pending lawsuit against the Department
  • Denial by any supervisor
  • Must not currently be under a driver’s license suspension or revocation from DMV
  • Must not have warrants outstanding for their arrest (except parking warrants)


The Ride-Along Program is available on most days of the week, with certain exceptions established by the supervisor handling the request. The ride-along times may be approved for any time of the day deemed appropriate by the Chief of Police, or shift supervisors.

Procedure to Request Ride-Along

Generally, the shift supervisor will schedule ride-along request. The participant will complete a ride-along waiver form. Information requested will include a valid ID or California driver's license, address, and telephone number. If the participant is under 18 years of age, prior approval must be obtained by the chief of police, a parent/guardian must be present to complete the Ride-Along Form. A shift supervisor will schedule a date, based on availability.

Program Requirements

Participants will be limited to two ride-alongs per quarter. Ride-alongs are not to be used for socializing with acquaintances.

No more than one person will participate in a ride-along during any given time period. No more than one ride-along will be allowed in the officer's vehicle at a time.

Program Rules and Guidelines

  1. Submitting a request does not guarantee ride-along approval.
  2. Persons who have never participated in the Ride-Along Program shall be given preference over those who have.
  3. Participants shall be limited to, two ride-along per quarter.
  4. The date and shift requested by the applicant shall be accommodated when possible within preference guidelines.
  5. Participants must have a valid photo id or driver’s license with them when reporting for their scheduled ride-along.
  6. Wear neat, clean, appropriate clothing. Shorts, sweat suits or jogging suits, tank tops, halter tops, or clothing which is torn, soiled or displays offensive language or symbols shall not be allowed.
  7. Participants shall be considered observers only, and shall be under the direct supervision of the assigned officer during the ride-along.
  8. Participants shall conduct themselves in a civil and courteous manner at all times.
  9. Participants must wear their seat belts at all times while in the patrol car.
  10. Participants must remain in the patrol car unless instructed to leave by an officer.
  11. In the case of a potentially dangerous or hazardous call, participants may be dropped off at a safe location. If this occurs, the officer will give the participant specific instructions and arrange for transportation from another officer. Please note that this is for the rider's safety.
  12. Participants must not become involved in any incident the officer is handling. This includes discussions of an incident with victims, witnesses, or suspects.
  13. Participants will not be allowed to take cameras, any weapons or firearms, tape recorders or other recording devices without prior approval from the Chief of Police or his designee for the ride-along.
  14. Any participant exhibiting signs of drug and/or alcohol influence will be denied approval to ride-along.
  15. Participants shall be advised that they may witness a criminal act or arrest, which may require their presence in court. If a ride-along participant witnesses any arrest or incident during the course of the ride-along, the officer shall include the name of the ride-along participant and their statement in any arrest or incident.  
  16. For security and safety reasons, participants are not allowed to handle or use any of the officer's equipment or the equipment in the patrol vehicle.
  17. All participants in the Ride-Along Program must read, agree, and abide by all rules and guidelines and complete the Ride-Along Application prior to the ride-along.
  18. Failure to comply with any of the above listed rules and guidelines will result in the immediate termination of the ride-along.

Ride-Along Criminal History Check

All Ride-along applicants are subject to a criminal history check. The criminal history check may include a local records check and a Department of Justice Automated Criminal History System check through CLETS prior to their approval as a ride-along with a law enforcement officer (provide that the ride-along is not an employee of the University California Santa Cruz Police Department)(CLETS Policies and procedures Manual 1.6.1.D.3.).

Application Procedure

To request a ride-along with an officer, please contact our department.

Applicants shall apply at least two weeks in advance of the ride-along date so records checks and scheduling can be accommodated. If you have any questions please call (831) 459-2231.