Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Than Crime Fighters

by Joyce Tremel

Ever wonder what else police officers do when they're not fighting crime? If you spent a day or two with one of our officers, you'd quickly learn that being a cop involves much more than what you see on TV.

On most days, there are no crimes to solve. We probably average a burglary or two a week, a couple of thefts, and a few domestics. So with an average of 25 calls per day, what else do we handle?

Well, pretty much everything. Over the weekend, when we had fifty mile an hour winds and falling temperatures, the officers spent the day outside. There were trees and power lines down all over the place. The three officers on the daylight shift had to block roads, direct traffic, make sure dispatch notified the power company, plus handle any emergency calls that came in. Since the power was out for an extended period of time, they also had to assist residents, especially the elderly ones, get to the warming stations set up in the local fire halls. When the power came back on, they even helped an elderly lady who couldn't figure out how to get her furnace to come back on.

During the snow storm on Tuesday, the lucky fellows spent another day out in the weather due to the numerous accidents and vehicles stuck in the snow. A few people even locked their keys in their cars. We're one of the few departments that still handles vehicles lockouts. The three guys on duty never complained once all day long. (But then, I usually complain enough for everyone.)

Back in September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan decided to blow through the area, we had what the experts call a "One Hundred Year Flood."
When the creek started rise, the Chief didn't have to make a single call for extra guys. One by one, they showed up at the station. One of our detectives made a spectacular rescue that night that I wrote about in the FBI Bulletin (scroll to the very end to the Bulletin Notes).

When they're not out in the snow, wind, and flood waters, the officers are catching up on paperwork. Every call they go on has to be documented, no matter how minor. Which is a good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have a job. I take the handwritten reports and enter them into the computer using "The Informer," our police report software. They also take phone calls from people, chase dogs running loose, pick up debris from the roadway and many other mundane things.

Do you have any questions on the day to day operations of the police department? Ask away!


Tory said...

Glad to know the police officers are kept busy! I was personally suprised when I just moved into Edgewood and locked myself out of my house. I called the police and several officers showed up and boosted one in through the window. After that, I gave a key to the neighbors, quick!

I'm curious about the "chasing dogs running loose" part of the job description. Is that only for owned animals whose owners have called? Doesn't the Animal Rescue League handle homeless dogs?

And, let's say there's a deer vs. vehicle accident and the deer is still in the road. Is that part of the "pick up debris from the roadway" detail?

Joyce said...

Glad to hear your local cops helped you out, Tory.

Usually the dog running loose is someone's pet that got out. Someone will call and say there's a dog running loose. An officer will respond and most of the time, there's no sign of the dog. He went home. If the dog is still around, they'll try to grab it to see if it has tags to match it up with its owner.

We contract with a place called "Triangle Pet" and they'll come and pick up the dog if it doesn't have tags. Triangle also picks up all the dead animals in the township. That deer in the road? The officer will usually have to move it to the side of the road, then Triangle will pick it up.

Fortunately, most of the debris on the road is usually things like rocks, hubcaps, and things that fall off people's cars. Stuff you don't want to drive over.

Lee Lofland said...

I once had to deal with a 1000lb bull that had been hit by a truck. I was with the sheriffs office at the time and was working the graveyard shift alone. I had dispatch call a local farmer who came out with a tractor to drag the animal off the road.

Years later, during my days as a detective, a truck carrying four bulls, overturned. The beasts took off in different directions, but one found its way into the city. I, and a couple of patrol officers, spent a few hours trying to corral it until someone who knew what they were doing could arrive to help. We'd chase the bull for a little while and then it would turn to chase us. It was hilarious.

You know, now that I think about it, that whole place was full of bull...

Gina said...

Lee - Wasn't that an Everybody Loves Raymond episode?

Lee Lofland said...

I don't know. I've never seen the show. But I certainly felt like we were in a sitcom at the time.

Joyce said...

Lee, that's too funny!

Gina said...

While were on the subject of bovines, I saw an interview with actress Phillida Law the other day in which she mentioned having once played the back end of a cow -- she called it the "udder end."

Cathy said...

Say, don't forget the time two of my expensive rings were stolen out of my jewelry box (by my daughter's "friend" from work, the one I said to not bring in the house). The Findlay Township police came and investigated and eventually returned the items. My insurance lady couldn't believe it, saying, "Nobody gets their stolen jewelry back." I have great admiration for the local police.

Cathy said...

And everybody have a happy Valentine's Day!!!

ramona said...

I heard this charming story once about a vicious Rottweiller that was running loose, terrorizing everyone in the neighborhood, etc., so the police were called. Cop pulled up, read the dog's body language, got out, opened the back door of the cruiser, said, "Wanna go for a ride, big fella?" and the dog bounded right in, tail wagging, happy as can be, and he was escorted home without further incident.

I have a feeling that's an urban legend, but I choose to believe it, especially on Valentine's Day.

Kristine said...

Great blog, Joyce! I love reading all this "insider" information.