About six months ago I got myself signed up to participate in a class put on by our local Police Department… they call it the Citizens Police Academy. Every Thursday for 12 weeks we would be immersed in one of the many aspect s of what it means to be a police officer. We got to do everything from getting our mug shots taken...
... responding to a simulated domestic dispute, driving police cars in a parking lot to pull over other cops in simulated traffic stops and trying our skills at the shooting range. Since I work for the City of Claremore, I already knew a lot of the stuff covered in the class and even knew many of the officers well enough to pick them out of a line up, still it is rare that I get to interact with them on that level and I learned a lot more than I thought I would. While the class wrapped up a couple months ago… there was one thing I still hadn’t completed… until last night… my ride along. As a reward for graduating, we were all given the opportunity to ride for an eight-hour shift with one of Claremore’s finest. The officer in charge of the citizens academy encouraged me to wait until a Friday night after school got out… so I did. Apparently that’s normally when they are busiest. No such luck for me…
I opted to do half of my time with the evening shift and half with the overnight shift, so I showed up at dispatch at 6:00 pm and waited for Officer Lance Jensen to come get me. They were all saying how slow it was and I wondered if this was a good thing or a bad thing for me. Lance did a good job of trying to find some excitement for us. We responded to every call we heard on the radio. The first was an altercation in a neighborhood. Apparently one neighbor picked a fight with another neighbor. In my head I started chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” However by the time we arrived, neighbor one was nowhere to be found and neighbor two was back to mowing his grass… boo.
We left there to try to find our own perpetrators… we got behind an old car with no side mirror and a teenager driving with headphones in who did not appear to be wearing a safety restraint. So we flashed our lights and pulled him over. Turns out the shoulder part of his seat belt was broken and he had tied the lap part in a knot around himself. So he was wearing a seatbelt… sort of… but hey, you’ve got to give him credit for trying. We told him he shouldn’t drive with headphones in and should get the seatbelt fixed, gave him a written warning on the mirror and sent him off to Wal-mart to meet his girlfriend.
Then we went to back up two other officers who had stopped a guy who had felony warrants in another county. They were waiting for dispatch to check to see if that county wanted them to take him into custody. He stood outside with the officers while his wife allowed their two small children to run rampant in the street. We stayed until they got the clearance and took him in… though I really wanted to arrest the mom for poor parenting.
And then came our first citation… a seat belt ticket. I know… it’s hard to contain your excitement. The car was packed full and everyone but the driver was buckled in… so we showed no mercy and wrote him a whopping $20 ticket.
Then we went back to the radio, responding to two more calls as backup. The first was on a suicidal woman. It is unfortunate to me that this is a problem our officers have to deal with on a pretty routine basis. The other officer took her to the hospital to be evaluated by a doctor. She went easily and willingly, so while it was extremely sad to me, it was not the least bit exciting.
The second sent us to the skate park… a call of kids smoking weed. The officer who got there before us found a pipe and some drugs in the car of one of the teenagers. You’ll never guess who it was… knotted seatbelt boy we stopped early. Maybe we shouldn’t have let him go after all. Since he was a minor, they just called his dad to come get him, and we again went to look for something more exciting.
As we were wrapping up the first half of my shift, it started to get dark and we noticed a car heading down Highway 66 with no headlights… first sign of a drunk driver… so we chased her down. The first time we broke 40 miles an hour all night… I think we may have even hit 55. Turns out, she was not drunk… she was headed to get calamine lotion for a heat rash. We let her go… but not until after she turned on the headlights. J
Then it was back to the station where I was handed off to Officer Jarrod Cummings for the second half of my shift. We hit the streets again and fairly quickly found a speeder. Traveling 17 over the limit got him a $92 citation. I’ve been there and that sucks, but it was a dark narrow road and a little too fast for comfort. Nice guy though.
The night continued to be pretty slow… dang law-abiding citizens. J We passed a car pulled off on the side of the road having a Chinese fire drill, so we turned around and followed them. Brake light out… good excuse for a traffic stop. Right before we hit the lights we saw a group of girls pretending to pee on a fire hydrant and, for a second, thought maybe they were more danger to themselves then the dead brake light was… but we went ahead with our original plan. The driver had no driver license and the passenger said he was taking her to the hospital because she has tumors on her optic nerves. So random. And Claremore Regional Hospital is in the complete other direction of where they were going. He said he was taking her to the Indian hospital… she said she didn’t have an Indian card… it was extremely confusing and despite the tumors she seemed to be coherent enough to drive so we told her that she would need to drive herself since she was the one with the license. We let them go with a verbal warning on the brake light and directions to the Emergency Room. J
Then there was a radio call about an alarm at Pixley lumber. We showed up to find it was outside in one of the barns. There did not not seem to be anyone trying to steal any 2x4’s so we hung out a while and called Mr. Pixley to come let us in the gate. While we were waiting on Mr. Pixley to show up, we stopped another car. They were pulling out from a dark building and looked a little suspicious, possibly trespassing. Turns out it was a car full of cheerleaders on a scavenger hunt who were trying to take a picture with a tank behind some chains… must be from the same party as the fire hydrant girls. We made fun of them a little, told them trespassing is bad and sent them to pee on the next fire hydrant.
Mr. Pixley said it was actually a malfunctioning fire alarm but that he couldn’t fix it… so it went off all night, and we went on our way. Good thing there aren’t any houses within earshot…
Throughout the night we had two reports of possible drunk drivers. The first was driving too slow. We found him in the Braum’s parking lot with the hood open. Turns out his truck was overheating, hence the slow driving. The second was reported swerving. We found them at a gas station and asked if they’d been drinking. The driver’s response was priceless… “No man, not tonight. I’ve been that guy but I’m not tonight.” Wow. Neither of them were drunk so we let them both go.
Other than a pedestrian check in a neighborhood, two vehicle checks in parking lots, running people out of the lake after the park closed and looking for a group of people carrying a drunk person through a neighborhood (which we never found), the only other even remotely exciting stop was a guy on a tractor behind a business. We asked him what he was doing, thinking maybe he was stealing the tractor. He said “mowing.” Right, because that’s what I do at 2:00 in the morning… but no really, he was legitimately mowing… what a strange night.
Jarrod finished the night by taking me through an older neighborhood in Claremore where one of the houses had a family graveyard in the back… um… creepy. But he felt it was something everyone should see once. The weird part is that it’s a really old graveyard and not even the same family as the people who live there now… maybe they are just scared that if they get rid of it, they’ll be haunted. Jarrod and I voted… if it were in my backyard, I’d take the stones out and mow it to a normal backyard… he’d put a privacy fence around it and never go in there again… chicken. J
All in all the slow night was still fun. I enjoyed getting to ride around in the front of the police car for once. J Just kidding… I’ve never been in the back seat either. I like to think that my slow ride along night means one of two things… either that was the most uneventful Friday night in Claremore’s history or our Police Department is doing its job in keeping our citizens safe. Either option I feel pretty good about. A very special thanks to both Lance and Jarrod for letting me tag along.
And shameless plug here… if anyone is interested in participating in the Citizens Police Academy, visit the page on the Police Department’s website. If I didn’t work here, I may have never heard of it, and it really is something every citizen should get to go through. So if you live in Claremore, sign up for next year’s class.
Here's a shoutout to my class who's motto was Learn Today - Lead Tomorrow.
|2011 Graduating Class of Claremore Citizens Police Academy|