For most of my life, I have had a cousin that is a member of the Oklahoma City Police Department. Since I was old enough to understand what it meant, I’ve wanted to ride with him and see what it’s actually like, and more to the point, see how different my cop shows are from reality. This past weekend, I got my chance.
First things first, I had to sign a form insuring everyone involved that I and my family would not hold the OKCPD responsible for any injuries or death sustained while voluntarily participating in the night’s events. Then I got to actually have fun. Because I have elderly woman tendencies, I’m usually in bed before my cousin even picked me up for the night, so I got to see a side of life that I’m most unfamiliar with. His beat, if you can call it that since as a Lieutenant he is no longer required to run patrol, covers the northern quadrant of Oklahoma City, which includes downtown, the red light district, and the northern side of the park along the lake.
He spent most of the night apoligizing to me for the slowness of the evening, but in fact I was enamored. I had no idea that people called the police for so many things. I had no idea that so many people were out so late at night. I had no idea what the inside of a cop car looked like and I was thoroughly amazed at my cousin’s ability to type and drive. I saw an incredible number of drunk people, including one man who had managed to become so intoxicated that he was roaming around his apartment complex in his tighty-whities. We also saw some people having sex in public. I was embarassed, but apparently that’s old hat for a veteran cop.
The evening was all fun and games and hanging out with my cousin until he answered a call made by a six year old boy to the police dispatcher. Apparently his mother had left him and his 2 year old sister home alone so that she could go partying. That’s the first time in my life that it’s ever been made abundantly clear to me that people leave their children and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Ultimately the children were as squared away as possible when the cops have to come to your house and I was proud of my cousin and the rest of the officers that dealt with the situation.
What struck me the most when I was out with him this weekend was the sheer amount of incidents and crimes that a good police department prevents during the night. Most of the things that I saw, I was largely unaware ever happened. Of course, that also speaks to my ignorance, but more than that, it speaks to the vast amout of things that could happen to me that don’t because of someone’s vigilance. Most of my adult life, which is admittedly very short, I’ve seen cops as people who pull me over for speeding and write me tickets, but I was given a new viewpoint this weekend. While I have no real desire to be a cop because dealing with unsavory people frightens me, I’ve been given a newfound respect for police officers. And, I was given a topic and quite a few useful anecdotes for my ethics paper, whose rough draft is due on friday.
In other news, I’m now the owner of season three of House M.D. You may all be quite jealous now.