Top 5 Things to Know for a Ride Along

My time in the Multnomah County Citizen’s Police Academy is almost over, and last night I had my patrol car ride along. I specifically chose a Saturday night from 10:30pm-3:00am so I could see some action. 

In a nutshell, we responded to a 911 hang up (waaaaay out in the sticks); arrested a dude who was driving around with no ID and a chick with a restraining order against him; a report of stolen horses (that weren’t really all that stolen); and a hit-and-run that knocked down a fence. Right as he was taking me to my car, we could hear a high speed chase on the scanner where the car flipped over but my time was up (boo!).

The best part was legitimately driving a million miles an hour down dark country roads (since we were county and not city patrol, we raced back and forth across the county).

I definitely know that being a police officer is NOT what I want to do as a career (people keep asking so I’ll clarify that), but I did enjoy several aspects that I pretty much get as a teacher: mediating issues, making order out of chaos, being on my feet, and constantly changing and unpredictable situations. Now if only they would let me carry handcuffs as a teacher……….jk jk

There are several more Citizen Academies in the Portland area (Portland Police, Washington County, Clark County, Beaverton Police) but I’m pretty sure my next phase is the FBI Citizen Academy in the spring. This has been one of the most fun and interesting things I’ve ever done and I am totally bummed that it ends in a couple weeks.

Top Five Things to Know for a Ridealong

1. Dress warm. OMG I was cold. I wore layers and a down vest, but we spent a lot of time outside, or with the windows down. A hood would have been nice, too.

2. Hold it. Just like teaching, you can’t just pee whenever you want to. 

3. Hold it again. While sitting in the passenger seat in a car going 90 miles an hour down a dark road is exciting, it’s almost too exciting. A couple times I felt like I was going to piss my pants and I just had to keep reminding myself he knew what he was doing.

4. You look legit. Maybe it was my approachable face or all the pockets on my black vest, but people would just start telling me their story or asking me questions when we pulled up. I kept quiet and nodded and tried to keep up the persona.

5. Five hours of waiting, five minutes of terror. That’s how the officer described his job, and I could see exactly what he meant. While most of the night was standing around getting information, the five minutes racing to a situation full of unknowns definitely had a spine tingling effect.


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