When Dave Troy asked if I’d be interested in a police ride-along in Baltimore City, you might be surprised to know that I said “yes” with little to no hesitation. Those who know me, know that I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with both the ‘good guys and the bad guys’ in this town already, but I’m an experiential learner and so I wanted this opportunity to gain more perspective. I had a brief feeling of trepidation when I realized the ride-along was scheduled for Friday the 13th, but I still showed up to the Eastern District Headquarters as instructed: “follow the basics; 1) Golden Rule. 2) Don’t be a jerk. 3) Wear pants. 4) Blend in. 5) Use common sense” read Dave’s email.
Now that I’ve experienced an 8 hour shift with our boys in blue, I can honestly say that the basics still ring true in general. I just wish more members of our society followed them too. We can all do better with our own actions, and in our interactions with one another, especially because we live together in the supposed ‘first world.’ Even for a young vet who grew up in the Bronx and served two tours in Afghanistan, the situation here seems dire at times. There are no easy answers to what I witnessed, and the stories the guys shared for shock value were beyond imaginable.
Despite woeful budgets, complicated paperwork, juveniles with bad attitudes OR WORSE, these brave soles still show up to work. These men and women put on a bullet proof vest under their uniform, and they respond to our calls for help to the best of their ability. I can tell you that you need to be involved. The police who protect us deserve your attention, and ALL of our communities do too. These folks still exist if you move away, and just voting isn’t enough – too few of us do even that!
I know I’ll never listen to sirens the same way again. I’ll think of the guys I met today, who have taken on a second job in order to support four children, or are pulling double shifts in order to take their bride on a honeymoon. From now on, I’ll envision cops entertaining children who have witnessed a domestic disturbance. I’ll imagine someone getting their stolen car back, despite how difficult a process that actually is. I vow right now to pay closer attention to how our City takes care of them in return. It’s the least we can do!
One officer shared this 2003 article with me as a reminder about the complexity of their world of ‘serving & protecting.’ I recommend that you read it too: http://www2.citypaper.com/arts/story.asp?id=9833#.T7tCZNEnLvI.email
Also, here’s the latest news on the next police commissioner from Justin Fenton at The Baltimore Sun: http://tinyurl.com/7snw5ao
And a few 100 words from outgoing Bealefeld here: bsun.md/NmDHPx