What it is Like to Be a Police Officer in Twin Falls for a Day
Often, many of us view cops as bad guys. They write us tickets, they enforce the law, and they seem to be a burden at times. In reality, they are here to protect us, keep us safe, and be a reliable team that is there when you need them. A few months ago, I wrote a story about there being unmarked cop cars in Twin Falls, and that it may take away the fun of being an officer. This last week, I took a ride with an officer for a night, and my opinion has changed. Here are some of the observations I made, and why being a police officer in Twin Falls is far from boring.
Officers Are on the Go, Go, Go
Contrary to belief, being a police officer is not sitting at a donut shop or sitting behind a tree waiting to catch someone speeding to ruin their day. From the moment we received our first call, it was nonstop going until the end of my ride-along, which lasted seven hours. The officer I rode with tried multiple times to get some food, only to be interrupted by call after call. There is no time to eat, check your phone, or even go to the bathroom at times. The time goes by fast, and the car goes fast as well.
Ignoring Sirens and Lights in Twin is too Common
When it was time to turn on the sirens and get to an emergency, it was astounding to see how many people refused to get over promptly, or even at all. Some cars didn't move, while others waited until we were on their bumper to finally move over. I was always taught to get over to the right as soon as possible, but many people did not. Thank goodness, everyone, that night was ok on our calls, but those seconds of getting caught behind a vehicle can make a difference.
Officers Don't Want to Pull you Over
While many of us view cops as wanting to catch us speeding, that is not the case. They are not driving around looking for speeders, but if they come across one, especially that is reckless, then they have to do what is best and safest for other drivers on the road. On my ride-along, we saw many cars speeding, with the officer giving drivers the chance to slow down. Many of them did, but a few did not, and that is where they are forced to take action. Trying to catch up with a speeding car with sirens on, is as fun as you always imagined it to be. Marked or unmarked, that feeling is going to be fun for anyone, and it wakes you up in a hurry.
A Ride-Along Can Turn into a Run Along
The title says it all. When signing up for a ride-along, the word that sticks out is "ride." In some circumstances, you may be forced to run, depending on the call, and that ride along with turns into a run along with quick. In the early part of our evening, we were forced to run to a call, and the adrenaline pumping through you as you approach the call is a rush like no other. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to do a ride-along, make sure to prepare for some running, walking, and also wind.
The Mental Toughness of Officers
It may seem obvious and small, but this might be the hardest part of the job for police officers. When a call comes in, you don't know how to prepare or what you will be driving up to. We received a call that someone was unresponsive, and my mind instantly thought I was going to see a dead person. Fortunately, that was not the case, but daily, officers have to prepare themselves to see things they don't want to see. The other aspect of mental toughness is moving on from call to call. Later in the night, I wondered what happened to the unresponsive person, or the first call we had of the night, but you never find out the results. It is tough to move on to the next call, never knowing what the result is of the person you helped. I saw a person in a car wreck be taken to the hospital via helicopter, never to know if they made it or not.
These are just some of the observations that I made during my ride-along that night, but there is more that this story can't do justice to. Make sure to respect any police officers for the sacrifices they make, and also make sure to pull over anytime you see or hear a siren. I know my respect for law enforcement has changed, and I will be driving a little differently from now on. The most important thing is to be safe and make smart decisions so you don't need them to enforce laws, traffic, or to show up and help you in dire need. Thank you to all first responders for all you do, and to the Twin Falls County Sherriff's Department for allowing me to participate in a ride-along.