The Ride Along
From the Archives
In 2015 I hung out with cops. A lot. This is an addendum to the public outlines of my Martial Education. I believe it’s one of the reasons people are comfortable calling me ‘conservative’. I don’t care to be labeled in that way, but you cannot unlearn such experiences gone into thoughtfully and purposefully.
Like many of my fellows and most of my closest friends, my priorities and concerns were significantly changed by 9/11. That shift ultimately moved me from Left to Right. Folks who know me know that I tend to be something of a fearless adventurer. I go there. I follow where my curiosity and truth lead me, which is generally outside of the comfort zone and into the danger zone.
These days [Spring 2015] I’m engaged in what I call my martial education. As part and parcel of that I am preparing, as intelligently and reasonably as I can, for survival in the worst country America could become. That stands outside of my prior fields of ambition, but the more I study history and pay attention to the world outside of my comfortable upper middle class lifestyle, the more I learn. I find this new world fascinating. So I joined the local citizens police academy.
In my corner of Los Angeles County we are fortunate not to suffer from a lot of the gang problems elsewhere, and although budgets are always tight, it’s not from citizens trying to defund cops. So for some time now we’ve had a citizen’s police academy. I’m in Class #38 which runs from January to May, three hours a week. Officers and staff from the Chief on down, come to instruct us on how our police department conducts its business from everything to animal control to internal affairs to the City Attorney to SWAT to communications. Every week there are at least two sessions that give us way more info than you might think is possible. Last week we learned about the K-9 patrols. Next week is a focus on domestic violence.
As part of this instruction, everyone in the class has an opportunity to join an officer on patrol. I chose the 8pm to midnight shift on a Friday night into the relatively rougher area of the north side of town. Here is my story.
I hit the streets with Officer K. As we left the station and he prepared his Dodge Charger squad car, I picked up the sense that we were late. He was all business as he straightened things up. Usually officers go out singly in the squad car; he pulled some stuff into the trunk – while he was there, he showed me the orange handled less-lethal shotgun. We got in and I asked about the ground rules. I could talk and ask anything I felt like. We took off to the Northside.
My left arm was squeezed uncomfortably next to his console and keyboard that projected from the dashboard into the space between the driver and passenger seat. On the computer screen was a series of Windows looking screens mixed in with some text only green screens. He popped back and forth through them with ease. Cops have as many acronyms as we do in IT, but most of theirs relate to 10-codes and penal codes. So he’s driving along, banging on the computer and listening to the radio. Dude is multitasking like a pro. Our first call comes. I become instantly aware that we are on the other end of 911 calls, and they’re constantly happening in our city of 67,000. Our first call was to a local park. Nine males were reported to be smoking in a non-smoking area. I joked with K that I’m sure he could handle that without much trouble. He seriously replied that he’s not interested in starting trouble where there is none, that he’d use his nice voice. It turned out that the offending smokers had moved along before we arrived, and I am reminded that cops will tell the assholes to move along so that we don’t have to, but by their mere presence a lot doesn’t need to be said. I was reminded of how interestingly that works from several angles as the night progressed.
We stopped for a quick meal at a local healthy chicken joint where we met another officer and his probie. The cops sat with their backs to the wall and tore through baked chicken and veggies. Officer K pulled off the skin from his bird and sipped his big Coke. We hadn’t been outside the restaurant 20 seconds when the call came for a 242. A fight. It was at the big park where all the joggers and soccer players hang out. The time was about quarter to 9.
As we pulled around the second to last corner the dispatcher clearly said ‘vehicle vs pedestrian’ at the same call. Possible hit and run. This was not your ordinary fight. The squad car lights flashed red and blue as a crowd of young men were waving us in. Officer K was out of the car almost before it stopped. As usual cops arrive on scene just after the crime, and so the police work began. I stayed in the car as more units poured in. There was a stabbing. I could hear people saying that the back of the victim’s shirt was soaked in blood. He lay down behind a minivan in the parking lot over to my left. The ambulance and fire truck were there after a short period and more cops came in to tape off the crime scene, two large rectangles in separate areas of the parking lot.
Officer K allowed me full access after 20 minutes or so. What happened was that a player got a red card near the end of a game, and a fight broke out on the field. After the game, the two teams kept fighting and breaking up fights and swinging and grappling again at the two areas marked off in the parking lot. And then it got vicious. I followed K into the larger of the two areas where the victim had previously lain bloody and he began questioning witnesses.
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