Monday, October 20, 2014

My Night Out with a Cop


I recently had the good fortune to participate in a ride-along adventure with a police officer.  Did you know that you, too, can do this?  You simply have to sign your life away a waiver, and you’re good to go!  It also helps if you know a cop.  I interrogated the officer with whom I would be riding, in preparation of the night.  I asked him the following questions:

1.       Do I get a gun?

2.       Do I get to drive?

3.       Do I get a uniform?

4.       Do I get a badge?

5.       Do I get to fingerprint anyone?

6.       Do I get to read anyone their Miranda Rights?

7.       Do I get to mace anyone?

8.       Do I get a bulletproof vest?

9.       Do we get to stop for donuts and coffee?

The officer’s responses to my queries:

1.       No.

2.       No.

3.       No.

4.       No.

5.       No.

6.       No.

7.       No.

8.       No.

9.       Yes
4. Do I get a badge?
5. Do I get to fingerprint anyone?
6. Do I get to read anyone their Miranda Rights?
7. Do I get to mace anyone?The officer's responses to my queries:

1. No.
2. No.
3. No.
4. No.
5. No.
6. No.
7. No.
The officer's responses to my queries:1. No.
2. No.
3. No.
4. No.
5. No.
6. No.
7. No.
I was also advised to arrive in professional business attire – my guess was so I didn’t look as though I belonged in the back of the vehicle.  Spoiler alert:  There was no gunfire.  But there was, however, so much more action than I anticipated for one evening.  Here is an approximate timeline and what went down:

6:50 p.m.: A concerned citizen called for a welfare check on a man lying in the grass by the high school football field.  Upon arrival, the man was lounging in the grass, as reported, and wearing his shirt similarly to Cornholio.  When he was asked why he was there, he responded that he did not know.  When asked how he got there, he responded that he did not know.  When asked if he had been using any substances or drugs, he stated that he had taken Methamphetamine.  He had no wallet or identification on his person, but he did happen to remember his name and date of birth.  Running this information through the system revealed that he was homeless and had warrants in another city, so he was then placed under arrest.  Another officer on the scene transported him to the city jail for booking.
It was unclear whether he required t.p. for his bunghole.

Between calls to specific scenes, officers patrol their beat, which is their assigned territory during a specific time.  While patrolling, vehicle speeds are checked, license plates are run, and you are basically evaluating surroundings to ensure nothing egregious needs to be addressed.  Did you know that running license plates will even reveal whether or not a vehicle has insurance coverage?

7:25 p.m.:  Pulled over an SUV with no insurance.  The officer asked for the driver’s license and proof of insurance.  When he could not produce proof of insurance, the officer returned to his squad car to write them a ticket.  He placed the driver’s license where I could see it as he wrote the ticket.  I declared, “Ooh, he cute!”  It was at that time that the officer informed me that, when he triggers his car’s lights and sirens, the dash camera is activated.  There is an official record out there of me referring to that man as “cute”.  Whoops.  When he delivered the ticket, the officer asked the driver and his passenger to gather their belongings and vacate the vehicle.  I watched the couple walk away from their vehicle and down the sidewalk with a few items in their arms.  The SUV was then towed away.  I shared my opinion on how these types of situations are handled, once the dash camera was no longer recording. 

8:40 p.m.:  All of the ticket writing and towing of vehicles makes one famished!  We enjoyed a quick, *free dinner at a generous and friendly local eating establishment (read: fast food).

9:00 p.m.:  Another officer met up with us for a quick bite, and I got to meet his canine partner!
This is “Arson”.  Don’t let his wagging tail
fool you; he’s one tough sumbitch.

9:15 p.m.:  A concerned citizen called in a report of man in a pickup truck swerving down the road.  When the vehicle was identified and pulled over, empty beer bottles and a mostly-eaten pizza were discovered alongside the allegedly inebriated individual.  He was also driving with an expired license and spoke very little English.  He was arrested for driving with an expired license and taken to the city jail.

9:50 p.m.  Received a call about a burglary in progress; the perp(s) fled to a nearby neighborhood, which is [coincidentally] home to a known area burglar with other previous [drug-related] offenses.  The officer triggered the lights and sirens, and we rushed to the neighborhood.  Since this was my first experience responding to such a call, adrenaline kicked in and I let out a “WOOOOOOO!”, but then I was reminded, once again, that lights and sirens meant the dash camera has been activated.  [We played the footage back later, and, I’m woo-ing on the official police recording.]  Right around the time we arrived, so did four or five other squad cars, and the known burglar just happened to be a passenger in a vehicle in the neighborhood at this exact time.  This all happened not long after a high school football game ended, and the streets were beginning to flood with teenagers.  The investigation was called off; there were too many pedestrians to effectively investigate.  The perps got away…this time. 

10:20 p.m.:  Responded to a criminal mischief call at a residence; investigated where the perp broke two rear-entrance sliding glass doors with a piece of wood, but apparently did not gain entry to the home or burglarize.  Homeowners were away from home from ~7:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. and there were no finger prints, so the likelihood of catching the perp is not good.

10:45 p.m.:  Began thundering, lightning, and pouring down rain.  We parked just off a main road and the officer completed some reports from our earlier action.  While we were out in the storm, we saw lightning strike closeby and hit a transformer.  I saw a bright blue radiating glow, and then everything faded to black.  Thankfully, a few minutes later everything came back on.

11:30 p.m.:  Answered residential alarm call.  No lights were on in the
home, and no one appeared to be there.  House looked secure.  The
homeowners arrived as the officer (and backup) were investigating – they
also received a call about the alarm going off and rushed home.  Weather
was the likely cause of setting it off [thunder boom or close lightning

11:50 p.m.:  All of the late night storms and report writing makes one thirsty!  We ventured to a friendly neighborhood 7-Eleven for some hot, *free coffee. 

12:15 a.m.:  Even criminals don’t particularly like being out in the rain.  When the weather is bad, the dispatches slow down for a while, and patrolling is what goes on when calls aren’t coming in.  We patrolled through a Dallas Cowboy football player’s neighborhood.  It was quiet – those houses, though.  Damn.

12:45 a.m.:  Two calls came in – one regarding a large tree limb blocking traffic due to the inclement weather, and another report of a structure fire in the same area.  My favorite part of the night happened when the lights and sirens were activated once more (don’t worry, I was quiet this time), and we got to race behind a fire truck and ambulance to the scene.  We laypeople always have to pull over and let the emergency vehicles pass by, but this was my first time to ride right into the emergency.  It was exciting!  Upon arrival, we noticed [thankfully] there was no fire; the caller likely saw lightning strike a tree and thought it was on fire.  This also explained the tree limb in the road.  Several other officers responded to the call, and everything got sorted out.

1:30 a.m.:  Patrolled bar parking lot.  There were several vehicles entering the lot while we were there.  Who arrives at a bar at 1:30 a.m.?  This is the only bar in the area – perhaps these folks were seeking a night cap?  Were they celebrating the end of the storm?  I need answers to these questions.

2:00 a.m.  I had to tap out.  The officer was on duty until 5:00 a.m., but there was no way I could make it that long.  I was dropped off at the station and made it home not long after 2:30 a.m.  As I drifted off I thought of that officer, still on duty, patrolling his beat and taking care of business to keep everyone safe as they, too, were sleeping.  Or heading home from that bar.

It was fascinating to spend a night out with the fuzz.  I would say I learned a new respect for the police and the work they do, but I have always felt a strong connection due to growing up in a cop family.  These officers put it all on the line to help keep you and your property safe and protected.  Remember that the next time they pull you over.

*I have a theory that cops get free stuff, partly out of respect and appreciation for the work they do, but also because businesses especially appreciate a police presence at their establishments, particularly during the evening and nighttime hours.  They absolutely did not have to include me with the complimentary goodies, but they absolutely did.  And that was cool.


  1. Like you, I would have had a hard time keeping my thoughts to myself while the dash cam was running :)

  2. I gave him an earful and came up with a nickname for him that he didn't appreciate. I had another cop call him the nickname that night. Good times.

  3. I have a cop friend who is processing my ride along paperwork! I can't wait...for the writing material!

  4. Writing material was the biggest reason why I went -- I was actually quite apprehensive about the danger involved with going on such an adventure. Thankfully, while there was considerable action that night, I never felt afraid or like my life was threatened. While I enjoyed my ride along, this would never be a career for me.