It strikes me that while I've talked about my riding along with the police, I've not really given a comprehensive picture of what an evening looks like. So here's last night for you.
It starts at about 5:00 p.m., I've finished a regular day's work at the juvenile court and swing by a local coffee shop for dinner: a sandwich, a pastry, and coffee. I get to the east sub station around 5:30 and if I've called the Lt. ahead of time, my ride is on his way. Sometimes he's even waiting, but I never have to wait long.
My officer last night was Andy, I've ridden with him once before and we get on great. Which is why, when he pulled up, I told him I was disappointed.
"Why?" he asked.
"I expected a limo this time."
He gestured to the front seat of his car. "This is it, APD's finest."
He gives me a rundown of his day so far (he's been on duty since 2 p.m.) and said it's been pretty quiet. I look at his laptop, which shows all the incoming calls, and we head to a house because a father has reported his son as a runaway. Not just any runaway, the kid has a pending burglary charge and he's cut off his GPS ankle monitor. Another officer is at the house and we establish that the boy is with his mother, and she eventually shows up with him. He's angry, defiant, and winds up being detained for criminal mischief (damaging the monitor).
That call takes more than an hour and we head out to several other calls, getting diverted each time because another patrol unit is closer or because whatever crisis once existed no longer does. We respond to one house, though, disturbing a family during dinner time, all of them surprised to see us. One of their little ones, as it turns out, dialed 911 as a lark. Oops.
Then out to Decker Lake. A man fishing with his wife and son calls because two men, he thinks they are drunk, are screaming obscenities at him on the water and he's worried for his family. There's no crime really but Andy and another officer talk to the two men, who seem irritated but sober, and they deny shouting and screaming. Andy then has a chat with the little boy, aged maybe 7, to reassure him that all's well, he needn't be afraid of coming back here to fish. The parents appear to appreciate this gesture and we linger on scene because it turns out the two men and the family are tying up their boats right next to each other. "Everyone seems cool," Andy says, "but you never know."
It seems like a quiet night, not any outstanding calls, so we set up to catch speeders. After ten minutes we laugh and joke a little, because everyone's abiding by the 30 m.p.h limit, or close enough. Until someone comes zipping along at 50 and off we go.
"I'm late for a concert," she explains.
"You sure are now," Andy tells her, but he's nice about it.
We take a quick break for food at about 9:45 p.m., I buy him a burger and fries at Players and we meet up with another officer. We recognize each other immediately, he'd been my first witness in a murder trial two years ago, and so we talk a little about the case.
The last call of the night is an attempted suicide. A woman has taken way too many Xanax pills, enough to knock out a horse and she's tiny. We get there moments before EMS and she's flat out on the bed, I wonder if we're too late. But the paramedics get a response, and she is taken off to hospital. No real involvement for Andy or the other officers on scene but as with everything there's paperwork, a report that has to be written. They guys spend a lot of time writing reports and one thing I can do is make them understand how much we, as prosecutors, appreciate a thorough account of events. No doubt that makes them feel much better. . .
We're on the way back to the station, to my car, when we see a unit pull someone over, and in this part of town, especially at night, units double up for traffic stops. We're tired but we're also right there. Andy looks over and I say, "Sure, of course." The stop doesn't take long, thankfully, and I'm on my way by 11:45, home soon after midnight.
Those are the highlights, such as they are, but all the time these guys are busy, running license plates, watching for drivers who have eluded officers in other sectors, keeping eyes peeled for suspects who've assaulted or robbed other people (often the description is nothing more than, "white male, 30s, black shorts," or "black male, red cap, white t-shirt").
Always something, so even if this doesn't look like much, it is. The thanks of that father because Andy spoke to his son is meager gruel to get a cop through his evening, but it's gruel enough. And a lot more exciting than sitting behind a desk all day.
Although I've yet to be offered a donut and, somehow, I just don't feel like asking.