I was very fortunate last night to go on a Ride-Along with Officer Joe Dare with the Utica Police Department. The evening started out as I arrived at the station at 3:30pm. I was nervous and excited and really looking forward to this! I walked in with one of the patrolmen and then let the officer at the front desk know that I was there to ride-along with Officer Dare.
Officer Dare came out and introduced himself...I had to wait while he got into uniform and then went to the pre-shift meeting - I know it's not the right word...but I was nervous! Everyone was very nice and welcoming - a tad bit of ball busting went on but I felt so much more at home. These men and women really care about each other and about the career that they have chosen.
The night wasn't crazy busy - but it wasn't dead either. I was able to see the very seedy side of Utica and the very proud and beautiful side as well. We patrolled the east side - met some interesting types. I'm going to refer to some of the calls - but not use real names or physical descriptions. One call was to an apartment building where the victim and her friends were outside waiting for us. V (victim) had a complaint about a boyfriend who had allegedly punched her in the face and pushed her. Through a check on the V and the boyfriend - both had had a long history with the UPD - they weren't strangers to the system in any way shape or form. As aggravating as the V was in her description of the events - her language - her demeanor, Officer Dare was polite and courteous. Even after he got all of the paperwork together for the V to press charges and she declined to sign - he didn't change in his attitude at all. It made me very proud to have met him and know that the police officers in Utica are so professional.
We had a couple of 'loud muffler' vehicle pull overs - it's amazing to me what police officers note when they pull over these people. Call it intuition, observation, whatever - Officer Dare seemed to know when a person had prior contact with the UPD or problems with licenses or something.
At one point we patrolled the parks in east Utica - looking for, wait for it...I kid you not...."Hippety dippety"! I almost slid out of my seat laughing. Officer Dare was trying not to be too graphic - so he said he was looking people in cars doing "Hibbety bibbety" - I loved it and told him that my mom would have said "Diddley dickin around". I tried to use the light on the passenger side - the spot light. I'll admit it, I'm spotlight challenged. I shined it in our eyes, up into the sky and everywhere but where it would be helpful!
Oh - note to all who call the police to complain about noise - or children in the road - or whatever - you aren't helping the police if you refuse to speak to them when they get to the 'scene'. This happened to us twice - the first time we think we spoke to the kids that had been in the middle of the street, but the complainant didn't want to speak with us. And then they called again about 3 hours later - we couldn't even find the 'problem'.
The Saint Cosmo and Damiano festival took place in East Utica this weekend as well. So we made our way through the neighborhood near St. Anthony's church and spoke to some of the people celebrating. The only 'bad' thing that happened (that we were called for) was that a car had the front driver side window 'shot' out with a BB gun. The people were very nice - they really just needed the report for the insurance company - the ability of the police to actually find the person who did this is pretty difficult - and the paperwork involved is nuts! If you ever see a police officer sitting in a parking lot - don't think poorly of him or her - most likely they are filling out the paperwork from their last call.
There were about 180 calls yesterday - in a 24 hour time period. Nuts! And that wasn't a crazy busy day - it was just a day.
The only stop at Dunkin Donuts - was for ME! I needed to use the facilities and have a coffee to stay awake - I'm early to bed and early to rise. So by 9 - I'm in getting ready for bed mode - so coffee was necessary.
There were other stops - the guy who was riding one of those mini motorcycles down the sidewalk going about 35+mph - he had no regard for anything on the sidewalk - crossed side streets without looking. No license, no insurance, no helmet, no registration. The guy made Officer Dare's intuition go nuts! With good reason. The guy was 'honest' about who he was - but he did have a suspended license and a long list of priors. So Officer Dare put him in cuffs and in the back of the patrol car. That was interesting because the kid kept trying to get me to 'help' him talk Officer Dare to not write tickets because it would be a "felony" on him. Well - the kid had to call his cousin to come and get the mini-motorcycle. That was fine - until the cousin kept calling him back and when Officer Dare opened the phone to hand it to the kid, he heard the cousin ask the kid "Are your clothes dirty?" - I could see Officer Dare's face change - we had a dealer - granted he was clean - but still. So we brought him back to the station - Officer Dare wrote up all of the tickets and we went back on patrol.
It was a great night! I hope to do it again! It would be fun to catch some Hibbety bibbeters! :)
Thanks to Officer Dare, Sergeant M. Hauck and everyone else involved in this - I believe it's a great idea in so many ways.