Police Interview Question | “Would You Give Your Mother a Speeding Ticket?”!November 18th, 2019
Understanding the Question
At the most fundamental level, the purpose of this question – as is the case with other oral board questions – is to establish honesty. Though this may sound surprising, many police candidates trip up on this common question.
This question can be asked in many different formats, perhaps dozens of formats. However, the basics remain the same – namely:
- That a close family member, such as your mother, is implicated.
- That you need to address an awkward policing circumstance.
Without reading our explained answer below, think about how you would answer this question. Ask yourself:
- What would you say to the oral board panel about how you would react to catching your mother in the act?
- Would you give a speeding ticket? Supply reasons for your answer.
To answer this question, we need to be honest: most police officers will not give their mother a speeding ticket.
It will not happen.
Instead, police officers are likely to do three things:
- Admonish their mother for behaving that way in their policing district.
- Ask her not to repeat the same behavior.
- Send her on her way.
What Not to Say!
Here are some of the answers you should not give:
- The law obliges me to give my mother a ticket.
- Yes, I would give my mother a speeding ticket.
- I’m not on good terms with my mother, so yes, I would.
There are several problems with these answers.
First, it may be so that the law expects you to give your mother a ticket. The reality is that this does not happen. Very, very few officers go to the length of giving their own mother a speeding ticket. The oral board panel realizes this, and so will suspect you of lying if you say otherwise.
Second, never mention that you are on bad terms with your parents, or any other family member. It comes across that you are vindictive and will act nastily because of some previous history. That’s not the type of answer the oral board panel wants to hear and it will quickly land you in hot water.
Third, if you suggest that you would, in fact, give your mother a speeding ticket, there are only two types of people who would do this:
- Inflexible officers, unreasonable in complex situations.
- Liars, who would act differently if the situation happened on duty.
Police departments do not want to hire either type of candidate. Instead, the question is being asked to establish whether you would be honest given these uncomfortable situations.
Sample Oral Board Answer
Police interviewer: “You are on patrol and pull over a car for speeding 20 miles over the speed limit. Once pulled over, you realize that it’s your mother. How do you respond to this situation and would you give your mother a speeding ticket?”
“To be honest, I would be surprised; it’s not in my mother’s nature to behave in this manner and I’m personally aware that it has never happened in the past. That said, I would reprimand her for speeding in my district.
I would inform her that I take my law enforcement duties seriously and that, as a family member, she should understand this and act to the highest standards.
I would also kindly request that she not repeat this behavior. I would not go as far as to give her a ticket, however. With that said, I would return to my duties.”
As with many police interview questions, you may be asked to justify that response. For example, you may be asked whether it is fair that your mother does not receive a speeding ticket, even though you gave a ticket to a driver just 30 minutes previous who also drove 20 miles over the speed limit.
In this situation, it is best to respond as follows:
“I acknowledge that, as a law enforcement officer, I am expected to uphold the law and apply it even-handedly throughout my duties.
Whilst I fully adhere to this fundamental principle, I also adhere to the principle of officer discretion, which is also afforded to me and is something that every officer is expected to use responsibly.
In these cases of speeding, I can, of course, offer discretion to any member of my community. That discretion must therefore also extend to my mother. I believe that most officers would act in the same capacity.
That may not be the most ideal answer, but it is the most honest answer I can give.”
The take-home points here are as follows:
- That you recognize the need to be even-handed with the law.
- That you understand the principle of officer discretion.
- That you admit that your answer is imperfect but honest.
Ultimately, this is the type of oral board answer that the panel seeks; an honest answer that professionally and maturely handles the situation. This approach is also appropriate with a wide range of other police interview questions.
Keep it in mind as, when applied properly, it can prove to be a highly effective tool during the oral board exam.
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