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Monday, November 9, 2009

Ride Alongs (continued)

Black and whites that are patrolling on any given shift might be "crime" cars or they may be "traffic" cars. Of course there are emergencies that call all cars together to handle a crisis. But other than that rare occasion, there is a world of difference between a crime car and a traffic car.

As the name implies a traffic car is to concentrate it efforts on enforcement of traffic laws. These deputies seem to have a different world view than others. A rolling stop is treated like a major crime. And yes, they do hide in alleys and behind obstructions to catch you speeding or running through a boulevard stop. I've been there with the deputy. He taught me to stare at the spoked wheels, and if I was not able to see the spokes when the car made a stop, it was considered a rolling stop, and he nailed the driver. She adopted a coy demeanor and under-played flirting in hopes of avoiding the ticket. When the deputy returned to the car to check her registration, he told me how he reacted so poorly to this tactic that he was sure to nail her for something. In this particular case he could have written two violations because the children were jumping around in the back seat, and they had been doing that even before we pulled them over. Obviously they were not in seat belts. She ended up thanking the deputy for not writing up both violations so that she could erase the demerits with her insurance carrier by attending traffic school. Evidently if there are two violations even traffic school cannot keep her rates from rising.

In all fairness, however, when you see a cop "hiding" behind a billboard or someplace else like that, it is even more likely that he is a crime car catching up on his paper work. These poor deputies are required to write up every call to which they respond, and after two or three of them it is absolutely necessary to catch up on this record-keeping. They are good at finding the most remote places for this privacy. I was treated to lunch (hamburger) which we consumed in the abandoned parking lot of an industrial complex. The local greasy spoon seemed glad to give the deputy the burgers because they are glad to have police presence. It makes for cheap insurance.

Once when I was riding in a crime car and we were waiting at a red light, some brainless driver whooshed right by us and through the red light. My driver swore some disgusting obscenity and caught and ticketed this idiot. I think the swearing was due to the fact that this was not a traffic car and had it not been for the flagrancy of the violation the deputy would not have been required to clutter his evening with this offense.

Somehow all the fun of ride alongs dissipated after the death of one of our guys. Bruce Bryan was youth minister in our local Calvary Chapel, and he regularly did ride alongs with the deputies. He was especially interested in ministering to gang members and other troubled teens. They were called to a local restaurant where a known gang member was creating a little havoc. They talked this gang banger into letting them take him home, even though it was a bit out of the district. When they reached their destination the deputy opened the door for the boy who suddenly grabbed the deputy's service pistol and shot him in the face. When Bruce saw what was happening he bolted and ran. The perp shot him too, and after he hit the ground the kid shot him in the back of the head. He tossed the pistol and went into the house to watch TV. The deputy survived (though he lost his eye), but the minister did not. Because he sought troubled kids Bruce was used to wearing a vest during ride alongs, but the first bullet caught his shoulder beyond the vest. The kid who did this was given a long prison sentence, and Bruce's funeral was a record breaker. Chaplains from law enforcement agencies came from Sacramento to San Diego.

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