Last Friday, as part of my Citizens’ Police Academy (CPA), I spent a shift (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.) with one of Nashville’s finest. Don’t worry, they didn’t give me a gun or a badge, but after filling out a form releasing them from liability should I be injured or killed (I wasn’t, obviously), I could follow the officer as close as I felt was safe. After I figured out he locked the doors almost before he stopped the car (I kept getting locked in), I pretty much became his shadow. Had I ever been in danger, I have no doubt he’d have left me in the car or told me how to get out of harms way, but it was a pretty routine day. Almost every call had at least one back-up, sometimes more. I felt perfectly safe, most of the time.
I was assigned to Officer Craig Reese, a six-year veteran who is an ex-marine. Could that be more perfect? I told him all about my Marine, Middle Step-Son (MSS). And, if I talked about MSS, I had to mention our new grandbaby, but at least I didn’t bring out pictures…I don’t think. If I did, I don’t remember it, but it’s become such a habit maybe I showed him one or two or ten and forgot. Craig has a two-year-old daughter and a ten-month-old son and his wife teaches fourth grade. And he drank as much water as me, so we got along just fine.
I’d missed the class where we signed up to ride and my neighborhood prescient was full when I was ready to add my name to the list. I had to therefore go to nearby Madison, which meant I had little idea where we were much of the time. Back roads galore. I saw lots of streets I’d heard mentioned numerous times on traffic reports, not that I could find them again. Most of the day, I couldn’t tell east from west…well, the sun was out, so I could, but you know what I mean.
The patrol car was so cool. It had a computer where the dispatch calls came through, where the officer could look up things, do his report, and I don’t know what all. There was also a printer—a printer—in the armrest. Then there was this gadget, sort of like the thing you use to scan things when you register for wedding or baby presents, only with this you can send fingerprints in to be checked, record signatures, and take photos.
The car was new — less than 10,000 miles on it — but it wasn’t bullet proof or anything. I think it was a Chevrolet Impala and except for lights, siren, partition between front and back seats, and dash mounted computer, it’s like it rolled off the factory floor. In other words, no souped up engine to make it go faster or anything like that. My opinion: It doesn’t need to go faster.
“We” ran lights and sirens three times! It’s not as loud inside the car as it is outside (thank goodness). Once, as we entered the interstate, Officer Reese clocked a driver doing 80 mph in a 50 mph speed zone. Before I knew what had happened, we were after him. “We” just checked his plates and license and gave him a talkin’ to.
The other two times was to get to situations where someone was potentially in danger. One was a break-in. I was a tad bit nervous when we got out of the car there. There were two other patrols already on the scene, but it was a multi-level house and there was a front door, back door, garage doors and lots of windows. When we found out the guy had run through some woods, we rode around looking for him and talking to neighbors, without success.
The final time we used lights and sirens a guy threw a good-sized rock through the back window of his ex-girlfriend’s car. The kicker here—her two-year-old baby was in the backseat in his car seat. X-BF had an outstanding warrant against him and “we” wrote up charges on behalf of the woman and the child, so two counts. X-BF had left the scene, but when he’s found, his ass will be grass!
We went to criminal court, which had been canceled, but no one had told Officer Reese. What a waste of taxpayer’s money. What if it had been his off day? Four hours minimum of overtime. As it turns out, I got to see the criminal courtroom so it wasn’t a total bust, for me, but still…
“We” only had one arrest during the day—a public intoxication who’d been kicked out of a motel and was exercising his first amendment rights at the top of his lungs while sitting in his wheelchair and swinging his walking stick. When we arrived, another officer and a sheriff’s deputy were already there. When asked what he’d been drinking he said, “Malt 45.” When asked how much, he said, “All there was.” The other officers graciously suggested “we” make the arrest so I could see how the arrest process worked. They were very pleased with their generosity after the inebriated man urinated on himself. (Thanks, Ivey.) We drove downtown where arrests are processed with the windows down, and then brought out the Lysol. But, I got to see a genuine arrest.
Throughout the day, we kept out eyes out for expired tags. We saw one, but were on our way to a call so that guy got a lucky break. Most of our calls were domestic related and Officer Reese verified this is the norm. Home violence. Oh, my! How do we stop this?
My favorite 911 call of the day was when a child reported, “Someone stole my crayons,” and left the line open. All open-line calls (phone off the hook) have to be investigated. Before a unit had time to respond, an adult alerted the 911 dispatcher that it was a false alarm. I wasn’t clear whether the theft or the call was the false alarm. I sure hope the kid has his crayons!
Thanks to Officer Reese for his patience and willingness to answer even the most inane questions. Thanks also to the officers who backed up the calls, especially Officer Ivey who seemed to always on site.
On Wednesday, police myths I can dispel after my extensive one-shift experience with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.