Confessions of a Police Ride Along with the Houston Police Department
Have you ever done a ride along? Would you? I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for a Houston Police Department ride along. I knew who I would be riding with – Officer Martinez, but that’s about it. Officer Martinez and I met weeks earlier when he was called to a scene in the Heights neighborhood where three men were beating up one man severely. My fiancé had made the 911 call while I intervened to stop the beating. Luckily, those men fled. Since I always had this curiosity and desire to do a police ride along, I stayed in touch with Martinez.
So, the day of the ride along arrived and a part of me was hoping that we’d be involved in some sort of high speed car chase or busting a large illegal drug operation. (My fiancé was just hoping that we’d spend the night just pulling people over for expired tags).
Over the course of seven hours, my Officer Martinez:
• Ran several license plates. The police can do this from inside their car, using a computer. So if an HPD cop is behind you at a stoplight, it’s very possible that they’re putting your license plate number through their system as you change radio stations. After the license plate number is entered, the technology will confirm things like “Valid License”, “Cancelled License”, “Sex Offender”, etc.
• Pulled over a guy who was driving around with two license plate numbers. Once was posted on the back windshield. Martinez spent an inordinate amount of time looking up records in the computer. Since the driver was cooperative, Martinez decided to give him a warning rather than give him a ticket.
• Assist two other HPD Officers who were arresting a Hispanic young male who was being charged for theft. The parents of the suspect had arrived at the scene and did not speak English. This is where Martinez’s bilingual skills came in handy and he was happy to oblige.
• Patrol and drive around several neighborhoods within his district such as Washington Heights, Heights, North Side and Garden Oaks looking for mischief and any illegal activity
So, the ride along did not end up being like the movie Training Day and I did not see any real action, but it was still interesting. Overall, it was a slow day, but still interesting even without any car chases. I think that everyone should go through a ride along program at least once in their lifetimes. It could be a ride along with your local police department, and I guarantee it will change the way you think about crime and the police.