Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Along for the Ride

Part One

By Annette Dashofy

When I graduated from Citizens’ Police Academy back in June, I would have shed tears except for the promise that it wasn’t over yet. We still our (drum roll, please) ride-alongs coming up.

Mine was scheduled for Friday at noon. Or at nine. Depends on whether you’re going by the email I received or the schedule at the police station. Either I was three hours late or they were three hours early. But I had my email printout with me, so I remain insistant that I was right. Or at the very least, the mix-up was NOT MY FAULT.

Anyway, cops are used to things going slightly awry, so they shrugged it off and found someone to take me out.

While I waited, I was witness to a little family drama taking place inside the station. A woman had brought her twenty-year-old daughter in to file a harassment complaint. As I quietly observed, the daughter tearfully described how her ex-boyfriend, whom she had been trying to remain friends with, refused to stop calling and texting her. I wanted to jump up and tell her, “You’re sending him mixed messages, sweetie!” But I kept my mouth shut and watched as the police commander, a woman who admitted she had a fifteen year old daughter of her own, calmly defused the situation and explained the proper procedure for dealing with it. From what I could hear through the girl’s sobbing, she much preferred the cops just throw the bum in jail so he couldn’t annoy her anymore. The girl’s mother wasn’t helping much. Or rather, she was trying to help TOO much. The commander explained that Mom couldn’t file the complaint. The daughter had to do it.

Lesson learned: if you want to be a cop, take lots of psychology classes.

When my partner for the day arrived, he took note of my strange (unique?) last name. He started listing the Dashofys he knew from school. Trust me, if someone out there is named Dashofy, they are very likely related to my husband and I very likely know them. In fact, the ones he listed were my sister-in-law and MY HUSBAND. Turns out Officer Parker and Hubby went to school together. We’re talking serious Small World material here.

And it’s further proof that I cannot go anywhere and get into any clandestine trouble because there is always someone around who knows me. Or my family.

The first thing Officer Parker did after finding out who I was, was to run my license number. He did it to show me how the onboard computer works. But I was grateful that I lead a boring life and had nothing to pop up on said computer.

We had barely made it out of the parking lot before the first call came in for a burglary in progress.

I must mention that responding lights and siren in a police vehicle in the North Hills of Pittsburgh is considerably different than responding lights and siren in an ambulance in rural Washington County. The streets in the city are narrow and winding. Did I mention narrow? One thing is the same…people frequently do NOT pull over. We could see one guy chatting on his cell phone, oblivious to the sirens. Laying on the horn didn’t get a response either. I think the guy just happened to glance in his mirror and realized—oops!—there’s a cop behind me!

When we arrived at the scene, the report on the police radio was that the actors had fled. Officer Parker told me to stay in the car until he found out what was going on. As he walked away, he said, “If something happens, run, hide, whatever…”

Gee, thanks.

He returned a short time later to report that the door had been kicked in. The officers had sent a police dog into the building before entering. Officer Parker explained to me that these kinds of situations were some of the most treacherous an officer will encounter. When he goes into a building, he doesn’t know if anyone is hiding in there. The burglar, on the other hand, KNOWS the police officer is there. He commented that he’s always a little worried about opening a closet door or looking under a bed…

The homeowner had been contacted. The units that had arrived ahead of us would stick around to wait for his return. Before we left, a car came screeching up the hill and spun into a driveway across from where we were parked. We both immediately guessed that this must be the homeowner. Officer Parker ran the plates through the computer. While the address was a few doors down, the last name was a match. Probably a relative.

And we were back in service.

To be continued...

Next week: Domestic disputes and shots fired.


Anonymous said...

What IS IT with Pittsburgh drivers and not pulling over? They don't seem to have the concept! You'll be on a two lane road, a car stops to pick someone up, and there's a free parking space on the curb, but Pittsburgh drivers never consider that if they pulled over they wouldn't inconvenience the 5 cars behind them.

End of morning rant.

Great post, Annette! Did the daughter want her ex- thrown into jail? For not returning her calls????

Annette said...

Tory, I came in in the middle of the "conversation" with the mother and daughter. From what I gathered, they had dated, broke up, she wanted to be "just friends" which he didn't seem to understand what that meant, so when he kept calling, she decided they could NOT be friends, so just leave me alone.

Sigh. Kids. There is a great deal to be said for maturity.

Joyce Tremel said...

Annette, I've seen adults in the same situation who could use a dose of maturity themselves.

I'm glad you had fun!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Annette, one of the best things I learned about ride alongs, is that cops are part saint... all that patience. I've wanted to kick a couple of foolish people in this shins but then I'd be in the back of the cruiser and no longer on the ride along. Can't wait to read about next week's shots fired!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Annette, I REALLY have to arrange a ride along.

Annette said...

Yes, Will, you do. It was sooo much fun!

Donnell, you ain't kidding. On TV you always see the big nasty cop ready to bust the bad guy's chops. But that isn't at all what I've seen.

Joyce, well, yes. Age is no indicator of maturity.

Jenna said...

Wow, how exciting! I don't write about cops (much) or have a need for ridealongs - one of the benefits of writing cozies - but it sure sounds like fun. I'm going to archive that conversation with the mother and daughter, though. I'm playing with an idea for a YA series, and it sounds like something I could use. Thanks for sharing!

Annette said...

Jennie, there was more to the conversation. The commander calmly explained that she needed to fill out a harassment complaint and then file it with the magistrate and then the police would pay the boyfriend a visit, etc, etc. Meanwhile the girl was sobbing "You're not hearing me." To which the commander assured her that she was indeed "hearing" her. On one side of the desk stood tears and total emotional hysteria and on the other side stood cool, calm, no-nonsense professionalism.

I wish I could have heard everything, but I suppose it would have been tacky to get up from where I was sitting and go stand next to them with my notepad.

Anonymous said...

On my way home last night on Rt. 28 I came upon what must have been a huuuuuge accident or somesuch, because the oncoming lane was packed with at least a dozen police cars and amubulances--all with their lights flashing. And this morning I can't find out any news! I really miss the small town life---where every neighbor would have had the full story of what was going on. I sure whish all police officers were as forthcoming as your companion, Annette!

Anonymous said...

ps. Great blog, Annette!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Annette, what fun -- I can't wait to hear more.

Does Gina get a ride-along too, I presume? So we can hear all about hers and yours both!

Too funny that your partner in crime prevention went to high school with your partner in life. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Annette! I can't wait to read the next part.

Annette said...

Nancy, I heard something about ANOTHER car chase on Route 28, but I think it was further north. I remember when I worked on the ambulance service, often we never found out what happened with a patient after we left them at the ER. It was frustrating, like never getting to read the end of a book.

Lisa, yes, Gina will also get a ride-along. I will be interested in hearing her stories afterwards, too.