I had my first ride along since 2008. It wasn’t with the Sheriff’s Office (SO) but rather the local PD. Which is fine because they’re about the only PD around that’s consistently on top of their game (this is the same PD that botched my rape investigation. Well, actually the entire thing from start to finish. Needless to say, they’ve cleaned house and replaced with pretty damn amazing officers for the most part. But I digress…) and apparently I have to jump through hoops to go with the SO.
As I work at the jail and a good majority of the officers know me, I got to stick around for the entire 20:00-06:00 shift, report writing and all (not the most intriguing part, but it’s a fact of life as a patrol officer). I got to see quite a bit, mostly because the officer I rode with is a proactive rookie. I was slightly unsure since I knew his father (the Lt that helped to cover up my botched investigation instead of doing his job) but only knew the officer through my work capacity, which wasn’t much. I was nicely surprised that he has all the makings of an excellent officer, if he allows himself to continue to develop his career the way he is now. It was kind of busy-slow, in the sense that we were away from the station almost all shift but not on anything major. Which, may be boring to people looking for action, but it was a good reality check. Not every night will be DUI’s and investigation and shootings or what have you. Most nights probably won’t, so it was good to see that aspect and still know that I want to do this.
One thing that really stuck with me was that on a call, we encountered this young girl sitting on the sidewalk on the bad side of town by herself. After several offers to drive her home, he gave her his card and told her to call if she needed anything. Sure enough, her sister left her stranded and she needed a ride, which the officer promptly went and picked her up to take her home. It’s things like that that go from defining someone as a ‘good’ officer to a ‘great’ officer. It’s not just crime that should be the concern, but public safety just as much. People will always remember when you’re an ass for whatever reason, but I know that they tend to remember true kindness just as well.
Another was that he didn’t treat me like a little girl who couldn’t do anything for herself. He went over all the worst case scenarios and how to act, what not to do, but then throughout the ride he would randomly ask, ‘did you notice what was strange there?’, ‘why would I have probable cause to pull a stop on this car?’, ‘what’s wrong with this situation?’, etc. I actually got the majority, and we discussed different scenarios that could come about as a result of each stop, why he walks backwards back to the patrol vehicle, why he did one thing in one situation but another in a different situation. At one point during the night we were called out to a possible DUI, which went strange fast. He had me stay in the car and I noticed that as soon as he’d exited, his gun was drawn and ready. I’ve never been more glad that there were other patrols there because I honestly didn’t want to be the one to make the call for an officer down. Turned out it was just an upset driver (which was even more upset when she discovered his gun pointed at her for those few seconds) who was unfamiliar with the steering and suspension on her boyfriend’s truck.
It was good to experience someone with a policing style that I admire and hope to adopt when I get to patrol. We discussed the differences between women and men and that while he has to prove that he’s a good officer on his own merit, apart from his father’s legacy, I’ll likely have similar difficulties because some people are still stuck in the belief that gender makes a difference in how well someone can do this job. He also told me that my first fight will be a defining moment – no one really knows how they’ll react to someone coming at them until that moment happens. I can prepare all I like but the truth is that while it will help my muscle memory so that I won’t have to stop and think, it won’t make a difference as to whether I freeze or react at the sign of conflict. I thought this ride along would just kind of keep me interested (not that I’m not) and focused (again… Not that I’m not) but all it did was make me want to go to the academy and go out on patrol right now. That part sucks, but it’ll happen soon…ish.