While I was looking forward to the geekfest that was going to be Blizzcon and hanging out with 14 guildies including DeGuia, I was super excited when months ago one of them offered to take me on a “ride-along.” Ever since that day I have been thinking of the Cops – Bad Boys theme playing over and over in my head.
I honestly had no clue what to expect. Watching a TV show and being there in the cop car do not compare. The first thing was to see Charlie in uniform. We had spent most of our time joking and even though I had cop questions before and heard his professional voice he is a funny guy with a great sense of humor. The uniform did not make him intimidating to me since I do know him and have had a couple of drinks with him before, but I could see all the people around me change.
The first stop was the station where I got to fill out a form that pretty much said I could not sue anyone if anything happened to me while I was doing the ride along. It did not scare me, because I do trust Charlie and his capabilities; however, it did make me think of what many reporters do all the time to “get a story.” Thankfully this was no war zone and the weather was nice, but not too nice so not too many crazies would be out.
Even though I could probably go into many of details of the day, I rather talk about what I learned from the experience. I know for a fact that I don’t have the patience to deal with people in this setting. Even though most people see a cop as someone they should respect, it seems like the brain does lock up. Simple instructions are ignored and even though the officer is giving mostly monosyllable commands, people just don’t listen.
One of the biggest challenges I saw was the language barrier. The neighborhoods we were patrolling had some pockets of minorities both Asian and Spanish. He had to deal not only with illegal immigrants driving without a license, but with elderly Asian woman that did not understand the word “stop.” While officers do have the option of getting an interpreter over the phone, it is something that might require time that the officer might not have.
Even on what he called a “slow” day there was call, after call, after call. Even though we were not doing traffic enforcement (I learned quite about this, and its a lot different than here in Chicago out in California.) people still do stupid stuff right in front of a police officer. One thing I will share with you that none my cop friends here in Chicago admitted me is that the older or dirtier the car, the more likely it is that you are going to be pulled over. There really was not much down time.
Any time you are stopped in a parking lot you are checking the computer for pending calls, calls in progress, finishing reports. We had a chance to stop for some food, but he admitted to me that on busy nights he sometimes does not even have a chance to eat. Also the area that he patrols is huge, and even though during his shift he has other officers helping him (and back up from adjacent vicinities) I now understand why the Police in many places feels so understaffed. It has nothing to do with how many people they need, it has all to do with funding.
Charlie has been doing this for a years and he is a very patient man. Most of the cops I have talked to would not be a nice as he was on some of the situations we faced. It was awesome to see all the little details of how he approached situations in a very methodical way and had my safety as one of his priorities. Maybe it was just that we had partied the night before, but after half of his shift I was pretty tired. My back did not like sitting on the car for that long, I cannot imagine what it would be like to sit in a car every single day.
I feel privileged that I had the chance to do this ride along and came out of it with a lot more respect for the job they perform. I have always had a soft spot for law enforcement because I have met so many cops through martial arts and the motorcycle world; but this game me a great view of what is really like. Thanks for an experience that I will never forget Charlie.