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Some thoughts on my recent ride along.

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by badlands99, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. badlands99

    badlands99

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    I went on a citizen ride along with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department a week ago. I had been reading, lurking mostly, here in the cop talk section, off and on for a while. SOME of what I read, combined with recent CMPD news, and my own experience (from long ago, admittedly), had my opinion of law enforcement in a steady decline. I didn't want to reach a point where I distrusted or disliked police in general. So I spent the day with an officer in the hopes that I'd come home from my ride and be rid of the infection I feared could set in and become terminal.

    I'm proud to announce that I'm fully healed. I understand that CMPD would not send a citizen to ride along with a jerk, but even taking that into consideration, my expectations were surpassed and I was surprised at how candidly the officer spoke to me about many issues. I was also surprised, and a little relieved, when I delicately approached the subject of my occasional skepticism towards police, and the officer told me that before he was one, he disliked cops, and certainly didn't trust them.

    Although I had prepared myself to observe silently all day if that's what was asked of me, I did have a spiral notebook with a solid page and a half full of questions. Some of my questions answered themselves via casual conversations, and some were just read verbatim from my book. All were answered directly and honestly. Some of the answers generated more questions, which were also answered. Some of the calls we went to generated their own questions, also answered in the same manner.

    Here are some things I learned that day...

    *People will call the police, via 911, for reasons I would have never imagined. And you guys actually have to respond! "My roommate won't turn down his TV" and "My husband says my smoking is dangerous to our children" are two that I witnessed that day. How do you not club these people?

    *In my area at least, we have the DA to thank for our crime problems, not the police department. I heard several examples of cases that seemed to be slam dunks, yet the DA refused to prosecute for various reasons. Our courts are fully booked, apparently, and "minor" crimes, like "only" breaking someones arms, are insignificant I guess and do not warrant clogging up the courts. This makes me want to club somebody.

    *Related to the above, "officer discretion" often has less to do with actual officer discretion, and more to do with "why should I spend a large chunk of my day arresting and processing this guy in possession of a tiny bit of weed and a pipe, when the DA will throw it out anyway?"

    *Convenience store owners actually have the juevos to utter the phrase "I gave you free coffee for two years. Why haven't you caught my robber yet?" (Officer said he tried to pay every time, they wouldn't take his money) How do you not club these people?

    *I would have never guessed it, but LEO discounts at restaurants and other places are actually a nuisance and a source of embarrassment and irritation to many police officers. My host for the day said he eats lunch at home to avoid the nonsense. (Yes, I did buy his lunch. With his permission.)

    I could go on, but the longer this gets, the less likely anyone will read it :supergrin:

    Suffice it to say that I now view the job as being impossible to do without pissing off one group or another. You guys really have the deck stacked against you. Many thanks for putting up with all the layers of BS in order to do what needs to be done.


    PS:
    The post from 05wrxfl titled "This just says it all" could not have come at a better time to underscore some of the many reasons why I'll now tend to forgive any "attitude" I might perceive from police that may have previously worsened my opinion of them as a group.
     
  2. nikerret

    nikerret Mr. Awesome

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    As far as clubbing people goes, they took our clubs away and gave us batons years before I started in LE.

    It seems you learned a ton on your ride-a-long. Good for you for going and keeping an open mind. I'm sure the attitudes displayed on here seem to have more reason than emotion as their inspiration after what you've encountered.

    There's a list of things to do on a ride-a-long I posted several months back. You should look it up; remembering your experience, you should find it funny.
     

  3. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

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    Thanks for taking the time to actually see things from the other perspective, and seeing it for what it is.

    "people are basically good" is a common phrase heard in LE. I think another equally true phrase should be "people are basically full of crap."

    The garbage 911 calls are a perfect example.
     
  4. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

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    This is something many on GT need to learn, They assume that if an officer COULD arrest someone they will, and assume that if they do not then the person committed no actionable offense.

    Likewise they also assume that if the DA does not file charges then the person was innocent.
     
  5. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

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    My hat is off to the OP. You formed an opinion but wanted to see for yourself before you let the jury out. You stayed open-minded and allowed your opinion to be modified. Good for you. A great many people in this world come to a conclusion and stick by it no matter how much evidence you stack against their mindset.

    Thanks for taking the time.
     
  6. badlands99

    badlands99

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    Thanks for the comments, gentlemen.

    Here's a couple more things I learned...

    *Overlapping shifts became necessary when thieves figured out there were fewer police available during shift changes. At one point in Charlotte, people were busted for B&E and they found detailed police schedules and shift changes written out. They had been synchronizing their crimes with shift changes.

    *One reason why an officer might decide against wearing a BUG: He and a partner were chasing a guy on foot when the partners ankle holstered BUG went sailing through the air and landed on the ground OUT IN FRONT of the guy they were chasing.

    *I learned the 3 levels of interaction between an officer and a civilian (chat, detain, arrest), and the requirements necessary for each one. I retain only a loose grasp of this, but I understand the general idea.

    *I had no idea that CMPD would follow up and make an arrest or citation days or weeks, if necessary, after the original call. It just never occurred to me. I thought if an arrest/citation wasn't made right away, that the person would just "get away with it." Not so.

    *It also hadn't occurred to me how familiar the police are with people in their area. If not by name, then certainly by face. They've either arrested that guy before, or settled a dispute with that lady and her neighbor, or picked up that kid for something and took him home to his parents, etc. They know everybody, it seems. And they know who the criminals are and just wait for them to slip up.

    *I should have known better, "book by it's cover" and all that, but when a guy was arrested after a team of officers served a warrant at his home, and he had just a small amount of marijuana, and the arrestee seemed so polite, respectful, and just nice, I said to my host "All that effort for a guy with a little bit of weed? And he seemed like such a nice guy." I was told that the nice, polite guy was selling weed to middle school aged kids, and he's been doing other, not so nice or polite things as well. So, polite does not equal law-abiding, and vice versa. File this one under "No *****."

    *It is generally preferred by police to live far outside of their service area, because it is unsettling to find out that a guy you arrested for some act of violence lives three houses down from you. And you have to tell your wife about it. And she's often home alone while you're at work.

    OK, that's it for today's installment of "what Badlands learned."
     
  7. CanIhaveGasCash

    CanIhaveGasCash

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    Looks like you have a pretty solid understanding of what we do on a daily basis now. Glad you took the time to cruise around and see what its like before passing judgement.
     
  8. snair

    snair

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    very nice and kudos to you
     
  9. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Thanks for keeping an open mind. I too, had run-ins with the cops as a youth, and when I went to college, I went on a ride-along and then became a cop myself. I would like to think that most people that go on a ride-along would be able to see a part of what we do and see things from our side.

    It ain't easy and it sure ain't pretty, but it is something that we chose to do so that the rest of the population does not have to see it.
     
  10. Pepper45

    Pepper45

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    Thank you for keeping an open mind, and having the guts to challenge some of your preconceived ideas or opinions. I wish more folks who shared those earlier negative opinions or ideas would do the same.
     
  11. txleapd

    txleapd Hook 'Em Up

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    I'm a big opponent of wearing a BUG on your ankle, in uniform, if you have another option. I've seen my fair share of potentially bad things that could have come of it.
     
  12. profiler999

    profiler999

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    Best post I've read all week.
     
  13. silverado_mick

    silverado_mick

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    Badlands99, I'd like to thank you. Not for keeping an open mind or for seeking out both sides of the story before passing judgement (both of which I do laude, just not the purpose of this post) but for reminding us (at least me) of someof the things that the citizenry generally do not know about LE. I sometimes forget that the people don't automatically know that a report will be filed and an investigation conducted, or that it's really not my decision what I do with their particular case.

    Thanks for reminding me some of the things that I can help to teach the public about our department, thereby providing for easier interactions with them in the future.

    In an interesting aside; I recently recovered a stolen vehicle up here in Pennsylvania that was taken from Charlotte-Mecklenburg and reported by that agency. I couldn't have asked for kinder, more courteous service when I called to confirm the hit and to discuss what would be done with the actors who were found with the vehicle.

    Turns out the victim is actually going to come up here for the preliminary hearing (color me shocked) to testify against the douschebags.
     
  14. ryanm

    ryanm

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  15. Jester249

    Jester249 W.W.P.D.?

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    Thanks for posting and trying to understan what it is that we actually do and what people think/expect.
     
  16. badlands99

    badlands99

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    You could fill a tanker with what I don't know about LE. I imagine the same is true for most citizens.

    That's part of the reason why I'm on here telling the few things I learned, and how it affected me. I initially came here to the "cop talk" section hoping to learn a little about what you guys do. Some of the discussions made you all heroes in my eyes, and some had me thinking that most cops are just jerks.

    I decided it was unwise to allow an internet forum to shape my opinion on something this important, and a little "real world" information was called for. My hope is that some others who are having similar thoughts might find this thread and be encouraged to do the same.

    Thanks for all the kind words, everyone.
    Y'all stay safe out there.
     
  17. RussP

    RussP Super Moderator Moderator

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    There are some people over in Carry Issues who could really benefit from one or more ride alongs.

    I've been on a few myself. Learned a lot and made some friends.

    Are you going back for another?
     
  18. badlands99

    badlands99

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    I'm undecided. The officer I rode with encouraged me to do another one on second shift. He said I'd see a good bit more activity later in the afternoon and evening. We're allowed to do two a year here.

    I'm afraid if I see too much more, I'll have to go on a crusade against our DA and courts, and I don't have the time or energy for such things :cool:

    I DID tell the officer that I need to do another one because of how disappointed I was that the ONE time in my life I get to ride in a police car, it was an Impala :puking: I won't be happy until I get to ride in a Crown Vic. (Although, I wouldn't complain if I got to ride in one of those new Dodges. Those are tough looking.).
     
  19. merlynusn

    merlynusn

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    No kidding? That's kinda cool. I heard about the car getting recovered, but didn't realize you had done it...

    Yes, while the CV isn't much better, riding in the passenger seat of an Impala sucks. I don't know what shift you rode on, but yes, 2nd shift will be much busier than any other shift. I'd wait til summer and you can really see how it gets rocking. I did a quick tally when I was on PTO, 2nd shift had 200% more calls than 3rd shift, and 150% more calls than 1st shift.
     
  20. G-man

    G-man Millennium Member

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    Thanks for the nice post after your ride along, wish everyone saw it that way!

    As for the freebies and such I couldn't agree with you more, it is a pain and something I normally avoid.

    In fact the local dunkin donuts where I like to BUY coffee everyday is a few blocks from the court where I work. Ever since a vice guy arrested an armed robber in the store the owner WILL NOT let us pay for anything!

    You could now order the whole menu and some do (makes me sic) but I now drive 2 miles down the road to the next D&D to BUY my coffee there.

    Same for most of the eating establishments around here. Some of the fast food drive in's will hand us $20 in food and say don't worry about it!

    Again, I can't patronize these places as often as I would like but in the instance that I do and it's usually the drive in (I'm not talking BK or MC'd here, these are the places where mom/pop own and you can sit and buy ice cream and hang out in your car) I will put the money I wanted to pay in the large tip jar on the counter.

    Yes, there is a lot of misconceptions about police work/law enforcement in general but when most people join these citizen's academys or do ride alongs, it normally will change their mind about police work.

    Around here a ride along normally means plenty of stupid calls, parking issues, phase 2 cell phone 911 hang ups, and your large handful of people who live with each other and can't get along!

    That is mainly why I got out of police work/corrections and switched to working for the courts serving arrest warrants and catching and apprehending wanted persons of all different crime levels. It's also nice now to work with the police departments and some of the fugitive task forces in the area.

    BTW, I am still dealing with stupid and ignorant people everyday ( this would also sometimes include but not limited to..other officers, and court related staff).

    G-man
    1*
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010