(Cross posted at Working Stiffs) When I graduated from Citizens’ Police Academy back in June, I would have shed tears except for the promise that it wasn’t over yet. We still had our (drum roll, please) ride-alongs coming up.

Mine was scheduled for Friday at noon. Or at nine. Depends on whether you’re going by the email I received or the schedule at the police station. Either I was three hours late or they were three hours early. But I had my email printout with me, so I remain insistant that I was right. Or at the very least, the mix-up was NOT MY FAULT.

Anyway, cops are used to things going slightly awry, so they shrugged it off and found someone to take me out.

While I waited, I was witness to a little family drama taking place inside the station. A woman had brought her twenty-year-old daughter in to file a harassment complaint. As I quietly observed, the daughter tearfully described how her ex-boyfriend, who she had been trying to remain friends with, refused to stop texting her. I wanted to jump up and tell her, “You’re sending him mixed messages, sweetie!” But I kept my mouth shut and watched as the police commander, a woman who admitted she had a fifteen year old daughter of her own, calmly defused the situation and explained the proper procedure for dealing with it. From what I could hear of the girl’s sobbing, she much preferred the cops just throw the bum’s butt in jail so he couldn’t annoy her anymore. The girl’s mother wasn’t helping much. Or rather, she was trying to help TOO much. The commander explained that Mom couldn’t file the complaint. The daughter had to do it.

Lesson learned: if you want to be a cop, take lots of psychology classes.

When my partner for the day arrived, he took note of my strange (unique?) last name. He started listing the Dashofys he knew from school. Trust me, if someone out there is named Dashofy, they are very likely related to my husband and I very likely know them. In fact, the ones he listed were my sister-in-law and MY HUSBAND. Turns out Officer Parker and Hubby went to school together. We’re talking serious Small World material here.

And it’s further proof that I cannot go anywhere and get into any clandestine trouble because there is always someone around who knows me. Or my family.

The first thing Officer Parker did after finding out who I was, was to run my license number. He did it to show me how the onboard computer works. But I was grateful that I lead a boring life and had nothing to pop up on said computer.

We had barely made it out of the parking lot before the first call came in for a burglary in progress.

I must mention that responding lights and siren in a police vehicle in the North Hills of Pittsburgh is considerably different than responding lights and siren in an ambulance in rural Washington County. The streets in the city are narrow and winding. Did I mention narrow? One thing is the same…people frequently do NOT pull over. We could see one guy chatting on his cell phone, oblivious to the sirens. Laying on the horn didn’t get a response either. I think the guy just happened to glance in his mirror and realized—oops!—there’s a cop behind me!

When we arrived at the scene, the report on the police radio was that the actors had fled. Officer Parker told me to stay in the car until he found out what was going on. As he walked away, he said, “If something happens, run, hide, whatever…”

Gee, thanks.

He returned a short time later to report that the door had been kicked in. The officers had sent a police dog into the building before entering. Officer Parker explained to me that these kinds of situations were some of the most treacherous an officer will encounter. When he goes into a building, he doesn’t know if anyone is hiding in there. The burglar, on the other hand, KNOWS the police officer is there. Officer Parker commented that he’s always a little worried about opening a closet door or looking under a bed…

The units that had arrived ahead of us would stick around to wait for the homeowner’s return. He had been contacted. Before we left, a car came screeching up the hill and spun into a driveway across from where we were parked. We both immediately guessed that this must be the homeowner. Officer Parker ran the plates through the computer. While the address was a few doors down, the last name was a match. Probably a relative.

And we were back in service.

To be continued...

Next week: domestic disputes and shots fired.

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