Before judging our police, take a 'rude-along' with patrols in drug-infested areas of your city or make a 'prowler' stop at the home of a single mom with an infant in her arms. Then ask the family of a local cop about what they are proudest of. I have experienced all of these and it gives you a totally different picture of the "Blue Line".
I took a 'ride-along' with rookie policemen once in Vegas. It was the same night that one of their patrolmen were gunned down on a simple traffic stop. I was making a tape of the venture that began after the over-night shift began. My first trip was to a house where a single mom was alone with her baby boy as an intruder broke in and was turning everything upside down, looking for cash or a weapon. As we drove up, she was motioning from her front porch, "He's upstairs going through everything and I have a loaded pistol in the closet". We could hear him and I was told, "lf you go with me, stay tightly behind me and don't say a word". Trust me, that was not a problem, at all. AS we neared the bedroom we could hear him slamming drawers closed and cursing. The cop had me hug the wall as he attempted to open the door. Of course, it squeaked and the prowler had already opened a window to escape. He jumped through it and landed on a porch roof and was over the rear concrete wall and gone. At least no one was hurt and Metro sent a female officer to be with the lady. I then was passed over to the rookies who were to partol "Area D", North Las Vegas. My tape recorder had. been recording this entire time. I was put in the back and told to "stay low". No Problem at all. As we quietly turned into a neighborhood of obvious "crack houses", there was a woman sitting on the curb with an obvious bottle in a paper sack. The cops stopped the car and said, "Stay Low". That's all I had been doing anyhow, so as they exited the patrol car, one having lifted the 12-guage off its rack, just as they stepped out there were several gunshots that sounded very close by. The officers quickly ducked behind the car and I found that a six-foot-three body did fit nicely on the rear floorboard. The recorder caught all of this. I literally was petrified and those two young men placed themselves between me and the direction of the shots being fired. The silence was terrible. I realized I had been holding my breath and after what seemed like an eternity, I heard to two get into the patrol car and ask me, "You OK, Jim"? As I lifted my head, very slowly, I squeaked, "UmmHmmm, but I think I've had about all the adventure I can stand for one night."
They seemed to be satisfied that the shots were random and not intended for us, so upon returning to the station, I walked to my car on locked knees and drove to our studio to edit that tape.
I have never forgotten those two young officers and their professional concern for me and that poor lady who never even realized what was happening.
The recording was mesmerizing and one of the most listened to at the station. I wish I had kept it. It would be a good reminder of the error in attitude we seem to have for all the "Blue Lives that Matter" today.
I never again asked to 'ride-along'. I was personally involved in two separate actions that could have ended badly. We may have bad apples in blue suits, but take it from me, we've had a bunch more from behind classroom desks too.
And that's what I get from My Box of Chocolates right here in my corner studio under the shadow of Kyle Field.
James G Austin '69