Reporting for Duty

Anyone who has seen Super Troopers or Super Bad knows that cops have cool shenanigans going on at any time of the day or night… don’t they? Apparently not, because I signed up for a radical ride-along and after I made a short post about it to friends and sundry on facebook, people were totes surprised that it could even be done. It can be done, and it did get done by this woman, two days ago. I made copious notes during the day, but let me start by saying that it was so cool and exciting and at any given moment, in the back of my mind, there was a banner reading “I can NOT believe I am doing this” running over and over against the backdrop of everything else.

First things first (disclaimer: my notes are a shambles so this is probably the only thing that I can remember in order): my assigned officer gave me a thorough tour of the police station and it was so cool! I saw the detectives, the weapons, the traffic people (if you can believe it, there was a large poster of Eric Estrada on the wall – these are my people!), volunteer coordinators, and heaps of other things that I forgot as soon as we walked away because – according to Husband – I have a goldfish brain. So apologies to people and departments I don’t mention because of that reason. There were two officers being sworn in that morning, and they had the obligatory fast haircuts. I asked my officer about that later and there is a strict hair and facial hair policy, but it seems to vary between departments in different location, e.g. the policy people in different counties may have different personal preferences which they then use to make the policy. Then we went and found our ride for the day, and I heard the pros and cons of each vehicle and the reasoning behind them. Basically the cars are cool but less so when you have to get out on the same leg and twist the knee to get out properly, thereby screwing your running game for chasing down perps, or words to that effect. Something that I noticed was that the door was all scratched up where one of the guns is always rubbing against. I thought it was cool, like something that someone from CSI would put in their notes, ha, not. Anyhoo. (Can’t believe I am in this car!) My officer gave me his call number in case I needed to call in on the radio, as in, if he were to get taken down in a massive shoot-out and I just happened to be watching calmly from the passenger seat, ya-huh!

I went out for breakfast/brunch with my officer, and I basically interviewed him while we ate burritos, and then we went out on the beat. Dude!

Driving around town I asked a shit ton of questions – both dumb and less so – and found out that there are no holding cells in the police station, nor many others, and that most people get taken to the jail. I did go into an interview room with my and another officer and the guy under arrest, and there was a tiny room for making phone calls to worrying mothers and unsurprised attorneys, and the seat that the guy was on did seem to be adequate for handcuffing people to if necessary. It was during a drive through bumtown that my officer saw a driver acting a bit drunk, and so we followed him and eventually had him arrested for drunk driving. I asked about breath-testing and was surprised to hear that Oregon does not allow random breathalyser testing, and that the only machine that does it is called the Intoxilyzer and it sits in the interview room. I recall many a long weekend in Australia of watching the death-toll mount on the news because people were driving drunk and killing themselves or others, and so cops have small and portable breathalyser machines that they take probably everywhere, to catch unsuspecting fuckwits who drive drunk. It seems like a sensible thing to me, but let’s not go into that line of thinking. Anyway, so that was that.

Driving past the inmate work crews, those guys doing the gardening on the sides of the roads etc, I asked about them because a friend said that some bad guys get out on those, but he clarified and said that no way, it’s only people who have not committed person crimes, that get to out on the work crews. Occasionally, like once or twice a year, someone will “wander off” from a work crew, but basically they do the work and get their sentence reduced incrementally as a result. Also, if someone does piss off from working, then their home or that of their girlfriend/parents/known associates etc are staked out and they get caught in zero time.

We drove around downtown and my officer talked to a few people here and there that are involved in drugs occasionally, and he pointed out a handful of people here and there not so inconspicuously wander off, and that is apparently because they have warrants out against them. That is the big thing that my officer said has changed during his 26 years of service – the number of warrants have skyrocketed, and that it’s not such a deterrent anymore, specifically, that if someone is “only going to get 30 days” as in, 30 days in prison, then they’ll just do it and be done. I balked and talked about Shawshank Redemption, and yeah, those things still happen but yeah. Blew my mind.

It is a felony to be on the train tracks.

I got food stuck in my teeth! omg

I had my eyes peeled for a stolen car that was allegedly from Nebraska, and I was still looking for it when I was driving my errands with 5yo in the car yesterday. No dice, so far.

I checked the most wanted list, and then we looked up people and car number plates; we went and checked out a couple of ratty RVs parked illegally, and my officer was involved in the arrest of someone at one of those times. During that occasion, there was a female driver and later a child inside, and that was a bit sad to see. Aside from the excitement of hanging out with a cop, I also could see that the bad guys are still just people, and that the people in their lives are also, just people, going through tough times and sure, making the wrong choices, but sometimes they have few other choices to make. And of course, the police involved are also just people, who move into new houses with their family and don’t go out as much as the cops on tv because they spend time with their family.

So, my officer was involved in the incident where the RV got taken apart and the guy inside was intent on killing himself and everyone around him, and so that was interesting; the gear they wear is about 25lbs worth, and a lot of equipment used is really old.

Aside from getting the inside word on everything that was going on around us and coming through on the police radio which was right beside me, I got to tell jokes with a police officer and tell him to floor it and ride his ass when he didn’t. I also got to discuss the plot of my book with him, and get his opinion on what was going on, and talk about police procedure for different scenes I’ve been thinking about, and that was the reason that I decided on a ride-along, not just so I could feel awesome riding around in a cop car for eight straight hours. He made suggestions, some of which I negated, but I’ve been googling some of the other things he said so I’m going to rename the cop character after him.

tim sims

Tim Sims

But driving around talking plotlines with my officer was so rad! Bouncing ideas around the car, so, cool. Obviously he was taking the piss about my ideas, but honestly, he is not a fan of the entire Super Troopers movie, merely the first thirty minutes, so I don’t have to take everything he said seriously. He does like The New Guys with Will Ferrell and my boyf Marky Mark, so, maybe. He double-checked that it was okay to call someone a ‘dickhead’ and of course, it’s my insult of choice, and so old school. Not enough people call dickheads, dickheads these days. I may just start a campaign, #dickhead.

Later, we responded to a call and there was a guy who got arrested, and then put into the back of our car! What was I supposed to do? It was just me and him. So I asked a few questions and he gave me a few bullshit answers, but again, he’s just a person and I felt sorry for him. Because I’m a naive sucker, obviously, but I’m also a parent and I don’t want my kids – or any others – to go down those paths, and he was someone’s child as well.

This child had the best day ever, and I am so thankful that the cops had me along, and I did get my cop’s deets to run possible plotlines past him in the future. I recommend hanging with your local cops whenever you can, if childs are over 18. america yeah

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