By Thomas Thorspecken in San Diego
Debbie and Paul Andreen's son, Kevin has joined the San Diego Police Department. He was kind enough to suggest I join him for a ride along as he cruised the neighborhoods just North of Mission Beach. When I first got in the police cruiser, he said I should seek cover and immediately use the cruiser radio to call the dispatch if shot were fired. He also wanted me to exit the cruiser any time he did. Much of the morning went by without incident. He pointed out several homeless men that he knew by name. Several weeks ago, a homeless man had died from an injury. He would have lived if any of his buddy's had thought to bring him to an ER.
After a long time of driving without incident, Kevin parked the cruiser near an intersection that had stop signs. He explained that the road, heading towards the beach had a stop sign at every intersection. By the time drivers got this far they started rolling through the stops. The law is that you have to come to a complete stop behind the white line. Within minutes, a woman approached the intersection and rolled past the line. He quickly followed and pulled her over a block away. He approached her drivers side door to get her license and write up the ticket. I waited outside the cruiser. The ticketing process took longer than I expected, I probably could have done a small sketch. Kevin wrote down some notes after the traffic stop, because months from now he would have to appear in court. Without documentation it would be hard to recall the details of every traffic stop. He returned to the intersection to check that the stop sign wasn't obstructed or the line worn away.
Twice the dispatch sent Kevin to homes to check on people. Relatives had tried to contact the people living in the homes and they were concerned that they couldn't get in touch. While waiting outside the first home, I felt uneasy. A friend had recently committed suicide and this must have been what it was like when police first arrived on the scene and found the body. In both cases, the person was home and in fine condition. Kevin would diplomatically ask questions to make sure the person was safe. It was a bit odd to follow the police into peoples homes. At one point I kicked over a cat toy by mistake. The resident asked who I was since I wasn't in uniform, and Kevin would explain that I was a ride along. She had a history of depression and Kevin needed to confirm that she was taking her medications.
One call was from an angry woman who was sure that construction workers who were jack hammering up a driveway, had dented her car. The construction workers denied damaging the car. Kevin just wanted to get their contact information. We looked at the car and I didn't notice any damage. When talking to the woman in her yard, Kevin explained that this wasn't a police matter but an issue for insurance companies. He gave her the construction company's information and told her to contact her insurance company. She seemed relieved just to be able to air her grievances. Before being a police officer, Kevin had been a teacher and that must have given him experience in being diplomatic. The beat puts him in contact with a wide variety of people, from beach bums to the ultra rich. Interacting with so many people certainly makes police work interesting.
Analog Artist Digital World