As part of my law enforcement career exploration, I’ve been doing ride-alongs with local agencies. For those who are unfamiliar, this is where I ride in the passenger seat of a officer’s patrol car during their shift, watching everything. My most recent ride-along was with the highway patrol division of my state police, observing traffic violations.
The first was a man walking on the shoulder of an interstate highway (which is illegal). His car was broken down, and he was walking back to town for assistance. Turns out he also had a warrant out for his arrest, so he ended up getting a free ride to jail! A passing federal officer even stopped by to assist with the arrest. This was just as courtesy from one officer to another; the arrest was not a federal matter.
We did several stops for window tint (too dark), license plates (missing or expired), and seat belts (not buckled). A particularly amusing stop was an RV with absolutely no license plate. The driver went several miles with a marked highway patrol car running code on his ass, completely oblivions. He finally saw us when we pulled along side (a dangerous maneuver). The officer told me this was DWO: Driving While Old. Apparently the driver yelled at the officer for “almost giving him a heart attack”. Several other drivers we pulled over would see the lights right away, but then decide that they’d keep driving until they found a good spot to pull over. It didn’t go so well for those folks. Another guy tried to hide his too-dark window tint when he saw the patrol car, but we saw it and he got pulled over. It was amusing to listen to him argue with the officer over police procedure; he even claimed to be friends with the chief of police for the local big city. He got a ticket.
There were also non-violation stops like disabled motorists, abandoned vehicles, and debris on the highway. In fact, the most dangerous thing I saw was the officer dodging interstate traffic to pick up an exploded tire on the highway.
I had previously done a ride-along with my local municipal agency. After that, I realized that I made a mistake withdrawing my application to that agency, but this was before the whole Air Force thing came and went. After this second ride-along, I’m more convinced than ever that law enforcement is in my future. I’m now “sampling” the local agencies. Later this week I’ll pull a couple of swing shifts with another local municipality, and a county agency north of here. Watch these pages for more stories.