A sampling of large law-enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities area shows that most encourage ride-alongs by family members, news media and others.

"Ride-alongs have been a standard practice in law enforcement for a long time," said Holli Drinkwine, spokeswoman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. "It's important not only for family members, but for the general public to understand what police officers do on a daily basis. At this point there's nothing [about the policy] we're going to be changing."

• The State Patrol allows ride-alongs, with prior authorization.

• The St. Paul Police Department's policy -- in place since the 1970s -- discourages family members from riding with officers.

"But every resident of the city of St. Paul is eligible unless they have a felony record or are physically unable to," said spokesman Tom Walsh.

• The Minneapolis Police Department allows ride-alongs with pre-approval from a precinct, unit or division.

• The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office also allows ride-alongs with prior authorization, but family members must ride with an unrelated deputy.