I recently attended a fundraiser for the Orange County Ronald McDonald House (an incredibly wonderful facility that allows families to stay close to their seriously ill children being treated at hospitals in Orange County), and as I perused the silent auction offerings, one item stood out to me as if sirens were blaring and lights were flashing. I signed my name and did the obnoxious “hover thing” to make absolutely certain that I was the winning bidder.
The Orange Police Department donated an opportunity for two peeps (not perps) to ride along with an officer who is on patrol. Roger that! I knew my bronor, Leason would be all over it, so I asked him to be my plus one. We are fourth generation Orange natives, being born at St. Joseph’s and spending our early years and much of our lives in the city of Orange, so we were stoked to be patrolling our childhood hood.
When I called the officer who arranged the ride, I told him that we were interested in the full gnarly and he suggested a weekend night, the obvious choice for the most action. We decided on last Friday night’s overnight shift. Leason and I met at the station, where we learned that we would be going in separate squad cars, in case we had to pick up a “bad guy.” They didn’t think we would enjoy sharing the back seat with a potential felon.
So, I jumped in with Officer C and Leas jumped in with Officer I, both riding shotgun. We departed the Orange Police Department at 7pm – Officer C and me heading north and Officer I and Leason heading east. Officer C was SO impressive! He was professional, friendly, informative and confident. And young. And he patiently answered ALL of my police groupie questions. The squad car was outfitted with a full computer, so we could keep track of all the calls dispatched throughout the city, we could run plates and play Grand Theft Auto. Just kidding, we didn’t play Grand Theft Auto. Officer C showed me the flashing lights, the siren, the whoop whoop sound button (official name), the search lights and all sorts of other cool sh*t. My seat was pretty comfy, but my left shoulder was nearly touching a really rad looking huge ass gun that was standing on end between Officer C and me. Shouldn’t I be wearing a bullet-proof vest or something?
The shift started out pretty slow with a traffic stop for a missing license plate and a response to a call regarding a suspicious Escalade parked suspiciously with a suspicious occupant displaying suspicious behavior. Turned out to be a guy just wanting to rest on his way home from work. (?) Sounded suspicious to me, but no law against that.
We pulled up to Chick-fil-A, backed into a spot, left the engine running (standard procedure), and were making our way across the parking lot, when we had to abort dinner plans, due to a call regarding a domestic disturbance. Bitchin! Now we’re gettin’ ready to rumble!
We joined two other units on the scene, and Officer C suggested I accompany the group of officers up to the house. I was a little nerved. I’ve read People magazine a couple of times, and I know these sitches can go Chris Brown real fast. It turned out to be a mother and father who were afraid their 18-year-old son was going to physically harm them with his karate skills. Sounds lame, but it actually felt pretty sketchy. Officer C took the lead, speaking to each individually and expertly calming them down. He handled what could have been dangerous circumstances perfectly!
The evening really picked up when we got a call for an overdose, and on our way to that scene we heard chatter regarding an unoccupied stolen vehicle. Officer C explained that officers will stake out the scene, out of sight, until the occupants return, then “you’ll want to see that!” We arrived at the overdose location, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was led up to the threshold, and there on the floor right in front of me was a young man with paramedics working hard, trying to revive him. He was non-responsive. I was in a state of shock/disbelief – was this really happening right here, right now? I had never seen anything like that up close. It was not easy to witness.
We then returned to the station, because two K-9 officers had just arrived to show us their skills. Officer I and Leason joined us to watch a German shepherd and a Belgian malinois do their police dog thing. One retrieved a small baton hidden in a pvc pipe that was in a bunch of debris on a side lot, and the other found a man who was hiding in a random locker on an unoccupied floor of the police department building. Once the malinois was given the signal, he did that awesome bite-the-arm-thing. These dogs are invaluable tools for finding evidence or weapons and taking down any perp who decides to bolt. Intimidating animals fo sho.
Dinner finally came at around 10:30pm at In-n-Out, where I dined with three officers. Walking through the parking lot, surrounded by these imposing guys and their guns made me feel safer than I’ve ever felt before 🙂 The other diners couldn’t quite figure out how I fit into the picture.
Back on the streets, we (okay, Officer C) wrote a ticket for a truck parked in a fire lane, after which I thought maybe I’d call it a night. It was near midnight (way past my bedtime), and it seemed like the night was kinda winding down. We had cruised by my dad’s office, my grandmother’s home, my great-grandparents’ home, and so many other childhood landmarks. I was more than stoked with my OPD experience. Then we got THE CALL.
The stolen vehicle peeps had just returned to “their” vehicle and this is categorized as a high risk felony. Yes! Doesn’t get much better than that 🙂 We sped through the city in our Charger (sooo fun!) and arrived to join six or eight other squad cars – all with lights flashing. A couple of cars had strategically pinned the hot U-Haul van into place. What sort of bad sh*t was going down in the back of that thing? Officer C had me exit our car to get up close to the action, but he wanted me to stand behind an opened bullet-proof door of a squad car, just in case. In case of what? Gulp.
With guns drawn, K-9 going nuts (on leash, but just its presence makes someone think twice about making a run for it), and blue and red lights blazing, the scene was like I was on the set of Adam-12, but this was for reals. There were two females and one male that were brought out of the van one at a time with hands up. They were handcuffed, searched and placed in the back of separate squad cars. Officer C told me that they would be kept separate until after they gave their statements, so they had no opportunity to get a story together. Needless to say, they were gonna face lots of trublems.
I could have stayed out until the end of Officer C’s shift at 6am, and I really wanted to, but I had witnessed an incredible assortment of calls already, and I decided to call it a night around 12:30am. I sorta regret that now, wondering what other exciting calls we would have responded to… and perhaps I could have rolled up to a Dunkin Donuts in Officer C’s squad car for a proper police breakfast. Now THAT would have been the ultimate Buttkick List check!