Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week Thirty-Six

Event:  Went on a Police Ride-Along

"Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha gonna do?  Whatcha gonna do when WE come for you?" 

Last week I got to ride in the front seat of a police car with a Police Officer from my local po-po department for an entire four-hour shift.  I was excited and nervous - mainly because I didn't know what to wear!  I mean, will I be introduced to the entire squad?  Will I get to go down the line at roll call and pick which hot, young, single rookie I get to ride with?  Or, will I be stuck with the 67 year-old Chief?  Will I be chasing down criminals, and should I therefore wear my Puma's?  (they make me run really fast).  Or should I be casual and wear flip flips in case they ask me to go undercover for a drug bust?  They don't tell you this stuff when you sign up - what's a girl to do?  In the end, I landed on jeans and a top with a mildly plunging neckline, with a scarf, just in case.

Waiting at the station, I was brushing up on gun safety while preparing my questions, like, "How long do tickets stay on your record?"  Or, "How fast can I really go before you'll pull me over?"  Or my favorite, "Hypothetically, if I'm at a happy hour, how many drinks can I have before driving home and still be ok to drive?"  Hypothetically, of course.

Before I knew it, I was being called to the front and there he was.  Tall, dark, handsome and...married.  Shoot!  (pun intended)  Good thing I wore the scarf.  Unfortunately, there was no role call and no grand entrance in front of the squad.  Instead, we immediately packed up and headed out.  Before hopping in the police car, I got a tour.  Of the car.  I had no idea all the stuff police officers carry in their trunk!  Everything from first aid kits to biohazard suits to heart-starting paddle things to teddy bears for kids.  It was incredible.  The back seat was half regular back seat and half criminal-you're-in-trouble-now-bullet-proof-glass-with-bars-on-the-window-you're-not-going-anywhere back seat.  This special seat was plastic and the floor had a hole in it so the police can spray it down if they need to.  Ewwww.

As I hopped into the front seat, I sandwiched myself in between the door, two rifles and a laptop propped up on the console.  At my feet was "The Stalker" - the gun zapper thing they use to monitor your speed.  I attempted to take the batteries out so I could look out for my fellow citizens but I had no luck.  (Just kidding Officer).  As we hit the road for our first call, I was amazed at how much was going on in the car.  The laptop, the city dispatch on one radio station, the greater metro-wide dispatch on another radio station, and me, just yapping away.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  Here we were, Dirty Harry meets Cagney and Lacey.  I was ready to fight crime.  To serve and protect.  To keep our city safe.  I was ready to put my life on the line.  Well, that was all fine and good until our first call was to drive down a quiet street and tell kids to quit playing in it.  Hmmm.  I hope it gets a little more exciting than this.

As the night went on, our calls did get more exciting.  We sat on a sleepy corner with "The Stalker" and checked people's speed as they drove by.  The third card we zapped was an unfortunate teenager (now I feel bad) driving a BMW (I don't feel bad anymore) on her way to babysit (oh crap I feel bad again) going 50 in a 35 (say goodbye to your babysitting money!)  After that, there was a noise complaint about a dog barking so we sat in front of a house for 15 minutes and heard nothing but crickets.  We are literally serving and protecting at this very moment.  Then we made a stop to interview a teenager whose skateboard was stolen.  Did I mention we were protecting?  During these stops, the Officer made me stay in the car.  I was obedient and didn't mind, but as we approached the four-hour mark, I was beginning to get punchy so when he stepped out of the car and once again told me to stay put, I responded by saying, "I'll hold all your calls."  (Apparently I needed to be reminded of the scary plastic back seat he might put me in if I don't shut my trap).

The best part of the night was when I thought I caught a criminal in the act.  For about 30 minutes the Officer was telling me about this string of burglaries in the area where criminals would case the house and when the people would leave, they'd break in and steel big screen TVs.  As he's telling me this story, I see out of the corner of my eye something that didn't look right.  As we turned the corner, I hit his arm and said, "Oh my gosh - look left!  There are burglars stealing a TV right there!"  Sure enough, part of that statement was correct.  Instead of burglars, it was 4 girls.  Instead of a flat screen, it was the biggest boob tube you've ever seen.  And instead of stealing it, they were moving it, along with the rest of their stuff.  So I guess this means I won't be getting a medal or a purple heart or anything.  Damn.  I was really planning on a citizen's arrest. 

During the last stop of the night, the Officer and I were just chatting along, and without warning he flipped on the siren and lights, pulled a 180 in the middle of the street and hit the gas.  It took me so off guard I think I tinkled a little bit.  As he pulled over the speeder with no lights on, I again, found myself sitting, waiting patiently.  That's when I got the idea to pick up the zapper that I had been holding and I pretended to point it at oncoming traffic.  I pulled the trigger only once.  But now looking back I wonder if there are cameras in police cars.  If so, I'm soooo busted.  To add insult to injury, when the Officer got back in the car, his radio was up really loud and I couldn't hear him so I instinctively reached up to turn the volume down on the dashboard and I got my hands slapped.  I guess we're not at the Starsky and Hutch level just yet.  Ok, just checking.

In the end, I had an amazing experience and now have a new respect for the city's finest.  I learned they are genuinely good people, just trying to keep the streets safe and people out of trouble.  I also learned police officers don't think it's very funny when you ask them where the closest donut shop is. 

Duly noted.  10-4.  Over and out.

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