Police Cruiser Ride Along

It was a cold and rainy Friday night as I walked up the stairs to the Sandwich Police Station. The sergeant behind the bullet-proof glass asked me my business. I told him I was there from the Citizens Police Academy and scheduled to ride along in the cruiser. He said, "You must be Michael Gregory ". "That's me." "Come in and relax. Your officer will be here in a few minutes."

I amused myself by watching the TV screens whose cameras were aimed at the front steps, the parking lot and the hallway. After a few minutes my officer arrived and introduced himself as Bruce. Bruce lifted a black garment and asked me if I wanted to wear a bullet-proof vest for the four hours I would be riding next to him in the cruiser. At this point, I had second thoughts about the whole adventure and was considering saying goodbye. I passed on the vest. I didn't think I would be able to fit my coat around such a bulky garment and my waistline.

" Before we go on patrol, I have to prepare to serve a restraining order. That'll be our first assignment tonight." Bruce explained the various segments of the document and how the recipient would be expected to respond. He then brought up a history of the individual on his computer screen and there in large red letters appeared the word , suicidal. His response was, "this isn't going to be an easy one." The same feeling I had about the bullet-proof vest question came over me again and once again I considered dropping out . I reconsidered, entered the cruiser and almost forgot to put on the safety belt. We drove up to the house and Bruce said I should come with him. He wanted me to experience as much as possible about the duties of a police officer. The same sinking feeling came over me as we entered the house. We were admitted by a couple who explained that the individual we were seeking had moved to a motel in Harwich.I kind of felt like Joe Friday, and was about to tell the lady, " The facts Mam , just the facts ." We returned to the station and faxed the order over to the Harwich police department.

Quaker Meeting House Road is a fairly wide two lane road that connects two populated areas of the town. As such, it gets a lot of use. There is one section of the road that is thickly settled and therefore speed is limited to 30 mph. We pulled off the road to a well-concealed area , turned off the lights and waited. The officer explained the intricacies of the radar to me, even to the point of drawing the familiar wave forms on the back of an envelope.( I didn't think it would be wise to interrupt and tell him of my science background ). As we waited, we estimated the speeds of oncoming vehicles and checked our guesses with the radar. At first, I was way off on the high end but after a while I got fairly good at it. "Oh! Oh!" from Bruce. The figure 50 appeared and we were off and running. The blue lights come on and the vehicle in front of us keeps going at the same speed, much to Bruce's chagrin. "He knows I'm here , why doesn't he slow down?" After a few minutes, the car pulls over.

Bruce entered the registration number into his computer and immediately a page appears with all the pertinent information about the registered owner. He was pleased to see the vehicle wasn't stolen and that there were no warrants outstanding. We looked into the rear window and observed two passengers, one in the rear driver side. To me, the individual looked like a woman with long blonde tresses. Bruce said he was a male. We watched as the driver reached across the front to most likely open his glove compartment for his registration. " I hope that's what he's looking for "said Bruce. We waited and chatted for a while and then Bruce left to walk up to the car. He stopped by the rear window and looked in and confirmed his prediction about the passenger's sex.He later explained that passenger was very important to him , especially the location of his hands and his demeanor.
After a few minutes , he returned to the cruiser with the driver's license. Before he entered it into the computer he said, "I asked him if he had ever received a ticket and his answer was, "Once I got a warning. "If he's telling the truth I'll give him a warning." Up comes two pages of driving offenses. Out comes the ticket book. "Let's see , this is high level Math. 50 mph minus 30 mph equals 20 mph , add a zero and you get $200." So much for not telling the truth to the law. I was reminded of Martha Stewart.
Bruce asked me if I noticed what he did when he got to the back end of the car. I said I didn't. "I placed my palm on the trunk.I do that to leave my fingerprints on the vehicle in case I get shot."
We return to the station. Bruce wants to check the status of the restraining order with the Harwich PD. While he's on the phone, the desk officer comes in and tell's us there's a call for an ambulance to the Sandy Neck area, a possible stroke victim. " Let's go!" He pulls the cruiser onto Rte 6A , turns on his flashing blue lights and once again we are off and running. With seat belt firmly attached and knuckles turning blue from holding on, we proceed down the highway at what seemed a speed that would cost a driver $600 by Bruce's reckoning. Through the oscillating wiper blades, cars could be seen pulling over. Bruce said , " like the parting of the Red Sea. I like drivers like that, the one I fear is the guy who feels the need to suddcnly stop."
"It's a good feeling to get to the scene before the Fire Department ambulance. We usually do." We got there just in time to see the ambulance pull away. Oh well. Can't win them all!
Just then, over the radio there is a message only a seasoned officer could decipher. I think it was in plain English but the radios our PD has were designed and constructed by Marconi, that's how old they are. "We have a drug call in another sector. We're going to back up the officer. " No need for blue lights and breakneck speed as we return along our route and proceed to the Shady Neck Motel and unit number 10. A cruiser is parked there and Bruce invited me to enter the room. The door was open and the officer was talking to a man who was sitting on the bed . The room reeked of alcohol . Just then, the sergeant showed up and there we were, four visitors and one host in a small room with a small TV blaring. The tenant had a dreamy looking smile on his face as he looked us over. Suddenly, his expression changed when he looked at me. I was wearing a black fedora that you might only see worn by men in the movies of the 50's. My presence there wasn't explained by the police , which probably led the guy to think all kinds of things about me. Little did he know I was just an old guy doing my civic duty learning about the Police Department.
The visit was resolved after the sergeant let the tenant know how he felt about phone calls to the station which asked him to send police to a house where there was a crack party. His girl friend was at the party and presumably he wasn't invited.This guy was well-known to the police. My tour was over and Bruce apologized because I happened to choose a time when there wasn't much going on. " No need Bruce. It was fun."