We’ve all been there… you’re driving down the street, going about your day, and you look in the rearview mirror only to see that the car behind you is a police car. Wham! Your blood pressure skyrockets, little beads of sweat pop out on your forehead, and that little panic creeps in as you desperately try to think of what the officer could pin on you. Did I pay that parking ticket I got visiting my sister-in-law in Texas last year? What about that seatbelt? What about those Excedrin Migraine tablets that are stuffed in an old Advil bottle because it was the only one small enough to fit in the glove compartment? For God’s sake, are you driving straight down the street?
Since we have all been there, I offer a slight sedative you might try before your next run in. It is called “Ride with a Cop.” Simply put, it is a great experience. Really. What better way to see what the officer sees than riding “shotgun” with a Paducah City Policeman?
Once the call to the Police Department to request a ride has been made, the day and shift to ride decided and some paperwork completed you’re set to roll. I picked a Friday night shift. I was partnered with Officer Justin Hodges. Our beat would be from 28th street to Jackson out to Lone Oak, though we would travel to the south side and to the mall area in the course of the evening.
O.K. this was not Hill Street Blues. I didn’t sign up for that either. It was a humanizing experience about the people who deal with those who are not, for the most part, on their best behavior. The night covered the spectrum from fender benders to domestic violence, from the west side to the south side. More than the events of the evening, what really sticks with me is how capable these officers are. They are “multi-taskers,” answering my non-stop questions, constantly looking for situations that just don’t look right, running license plates for offenders, and, of course, interacting with the people. Time and again during the shift when interacting with people, whose emotions can run high, my officer was able to verbally diffuse fractious situations in a way that was professional, not power-driven.
After my “shift” with Officer Hodges, I had a greater understanding of the professionalism of this “Band of Brothers” and the caliber of the police force in Paducah.