Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Linkage + Ride Along with Flagstaff PD

(photo courtesy of

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast for a special news update!
Last week I signed up to do a ride-along with the Flagstaff Police Department. I figured it might be fun and its definitely a life experience, so I filled out the necessary paperwork. As it turns out, it is super-easy to do ride alongs with the FPD, and the whole group that was on shift during my ride was a blast to be around. Here's how my ride went:

4:50pm I showed up early (as usual) and checked in with a person behind a desk (and bulletproof glass).
5:01 I was escorted from the lobby by officer Sandoval "Come on, we're late."
5:02 I enter the briefing room, where the cops starting their shifts are shooting the shit, making fun of each other and (of course) making fun of me. The Sergent talks about some stuff.
5:18 Meeting is over and officer Sandoval and I head out to our patrol car. He hooks me up with a flashlight. W0_0T. Where's my 9mm Glock?
--- Sandoval and I cruise through Flagstaff, looking for brakelights out, traffic violations, etc. I am just settling in for what I assume will be a terribly boring evening when we go Code 3 (emergent) on a little kid getting hit by a car.
Let me explain Code 3 with Officer Sandoval. In a word: awesome. He's driving a Flagstaff PD standard issue Ford Crown Victoria, but there is nothing standard about this car.

(photo courtesy of

Upgraded tires, suspension, transmission, and engine, in addition to the lights, sirens, gunracks, etc. In short, this car hauls ass. We blast through traffic, doing quadruple the speed limit on occasion, sliding around corners and finally stopping in front of Michaels, where there is a little boy (who looks and cries like a little girl) wrapped in blankets being comforted by family members. We are the first on scene by about 3 minutes, followed by Flagstaff Fire Department and then the ambulance.
5:52pm, I'm out of the car and staying out of the way (like I was told) while medical personnel deal with the screaming little kid. He's clearly not hurt that bad. He's breathing (and screaming), not in a neck brace, not on a backboard, not on oxygen. They put him in the ambulance and (still screaming) haul him off to the hospital. Broken leg. Considering the size of the Hyndai that hit him, and the size of the kid, it could have been a bunch worse.
6:10 I'm back in the car. It's getting chilly outside and a traffic unit has pulled up to take statements and issue tickets as necessary. Officer Sandoval and I are free to go, which we happily do.
6:12 Call comes in on an assault at an athletic club. We respond, looking for a car (which we find) and some lady in sweats who apparently punched somebody in the face (who we don't find). Another officer is already on scene.
6:16 Call comes on a possible burglary in progress, set off by a security alarm. We bail on the assault and head over to check it out. False alarm.
6:20ish Get a call for a inebriated male skipping out on his tabs at local bars. This was a fun one. Guy was drunk as could be, an alcoholic according to his mother, and was being detained by the management at Maloney's downtown. Turns out he skipped his tab at one bar, went to the bar next door and tried to skip on that one. It also happens that the staffs from the two bars are friendly with each other. He gets found out, cops get called, Sandoval and I are on scene. I'm in khaki pants and a black leather jacket. I'm wearing my cell phone holster, carrying a decent sized knife and a flashlight, and I walk like I know what I'm doing. People can't tell if I'm another officer or just some dumbass along for the ride. I very much enjoy this.
6:35 We're still trying to sort this guy out. He's got over $100 in cash in his wallet, but refuses to pay bills totalling $25. His mom is also on scene. She's quiet, sober as day, and trying to convince him to pay up.
6:40 Our drunken dilinquent agreed to settle one tab for cash ($5.50), and Sandoval takes him next door to settle the other tab ($11.04). He doesn't like this, and gets stupid. Makes moves at patrons at the bar, insults random people, and generally doesn't cooperate. His mom goes for his wallet to settle the tab and he starts getting violent. Sandoval puts him on the floor, handcuffs him and tells him he's under arrest for disorderly conduct. He gets more disorderly. I am amused.
7:30pm We are at the county jail, watching this guy epically fail at a breathalyzer test. I mean, they tell him to blow into the straw, so he bites it, sucks it, and blows past it, but he just can't figure out how to blow into it.
7:45 The county jail personnel are fed up. They take his blood pressure to make sure he won't die in his cell and book him. Sandoval writes his report. It takes forever.
8:00 Another possible burglary. This time a guy claiming somebody broke into his house (provided by catholic social services) and stole only his keys (not his laptop, xbox, 36" TV, sound system, etc). Neither Sandoval nor I buy his story, but he sticks to it. Sandoval and I discuss how to tell if someone is lying. (looking up/to the right, tight body movements, avoiding eye contact, forced smile, too friendly, etc)
8:xx Domestic Violence call: guy is locked out of his apartment yelling and "throwing stuff."We show up and whatever DV was happening is over, all is quiet.
8:35pm Some guy calls in from wal mart to report himself PI (publicly Intoxicated). He wants to go to jail. Turns out he isn't that drunk, he just doesn't have a place to sleep. We give him a ride to a local mission that's agreed to accept him for the night.
9:00 I bail out two hours early to go home and make dinner, having had enough excitement and (I'm told) much more than most ride-alongs get.

I'm going to write a letter to the chief of police, asking to do a photostory on "A Day in the Life of a Flagstaff Police Officer." This will involve several more ride alongs and lots of awesome pictures.

Whew. That was long.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Once again, it's early on Thursday morning and I am perusing The Lumberjack via

Join me!

Black Friday shopping
Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra
Athletic Trainers and athlete injuries
Women's Basketball falls in Thanksgiving Classic

As I understand it, the Women's Basketball series actually ran a double-page spread in print. With any luck, I'll find myself with some decent $$$ out of this issue.