Friday, March 23, 2007

Ride Along with Officer Dye, Part 1

Officer Steve DyeYesterday I worked on some homework. No, I didn't crack open my math book, or write an essay comparing the works of Dante to Homer's Iliad.

I rode in a police car.

For our next Leadership Ann Arbor class (Law Enforcement day), my homework was to do a ride-along with an Ann Arbor police officer as he or she made his daily rounds. So, at 2pm I found myself sitting in on the briefing for the afternoon shift, hearing about subpoenas which needed to be served and UDAA's (Unlawful Driving Away of an Automobile -- a stolen car) which had been recovered. For those who are wondering, it really is a lot like they show on TV, with the sergeant running the show over a respectful undercurrent of jokes and teasing. At one point, the sergeant was talking about a home invasion and he asked the room in general, "Guess what was taken?" One of the officers replied (correctly) "Laptop and iPod!"

I guess they've heard that one before.

Within 20 minutes, Officer Steve Dye and I were in car 66 heading out to "serve and protect". I have to admit, I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew was that I had signed up for a four hour tour. Those who know me know that the idea of four hours in a car is the stuff of nightmares for me. I couldn't imagine doing this job for an eight hour shift every day.

Steve, on the other hand, obviously loved his job. He always had a grin on his face and a story to tell about his experiences both as an Ann Arbor police office and as a member of the MSU campus police (from which he graduated with a degree in criminal justice). Fortunately for me, he was willing to explain all of the specialized jargon and protocols used on the job (otherwise I never would have known what a UDAA was).

One of the first things he explained was the radio call signs that we used. We were in car 66, but that is pretty much the luck of the draw. You get the car that shows up when you show up. Our call sign was Two-David-One. This breaks down to:

Two - We were the second, or afternoon, shift.
David - We were covering the south side of town. "Adam" covers downtown, "Baker" the West Side, "Charlie" is to the north. There are a few others, but that's the big chunk.
One - Even numbers indicate two officers, odd indicate one.

I'd only been on the ride-along for a half-hour and already I had learned so much!

Tune in next time when I write about chasing down law-breakers!

So, when was the last tmie you rode in a police car? Voluntarily?

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