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Posted: 6/17/2013 8:26:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/23/2013 8:00:16 PM EDT by Subnet]

Part 1
So, a great friend of mine has been after me for a couple of years, to ride along with him. He's a Sheriff's Deputy here in Ohio, and after reading (and listening) to me pontificate on LE thread after LE thread, I guess he finally saw the need to press the issue. So, I finally relented. I'd hang out for a 6pm to 6am shift. As an aside, this is a brutal shift, for the paltry sum we pay these guys. Seriously. After my experience, I'm actually insanely interested in doing this for a living, but there's one thing that puts me off - the shit pay. Taxpayers - I implore you to fix this. You get the deputies you deserve, and are willing to pay for. I got lucky - my buddy does this, because it's kind of in his blood. Good for him, and good for the county, township and city residents he serves. But honestly? Your tightwad ways, are attracting dudes who don't have it in their blood no matter what, and are simply collecting a pay check. Higher pay allows taxpayers to be A LOT pickier. Think about that.

So, he's allowed to take his car home. It's a nice perk. I work with a chick, who's husband works for the Cleveland Heights PD. Once upon a time (before a few court cases brought on by their union), you HAD to live in the same city you worked in. Problem is, Cleveland Heights is kind of a shithole, with precious few exceptions. The result of this policy resulted in a nice two block area that was nothing but cops. Anyway, after a few lawsuits, the city finally removed the residency requirement. They held their own though, by stipulating that only officers who live in the city are allowed to have take-home cars. Can't win 'em all.

There are a couple left, who still live there. The rest are kind of bitter about it, as they commute from safe neighborhoods in their own shitboxes (they don't get paid much), into the shitholes they patrol, with no real ability to change it.

So anyway, I showed up at my buddy's house, Sheriff's car gleaming in the driveway. Well, gleaming is a funny word. It's probably best to say "full of mud, and June bugs". He runs at night, you see. The shit looks shiny enough, under the romantic glow of a light bar.

He cleared out a spot for me. This was actually pretty momentous, and quite the occasion. Unbeknownst to me, a cop car is a veritable treasure trove of random pack-rat shit. Business cards from who knows who, various scraps of paper with chicken scratches on them, coupons from every fast food chain in a three county area...90% of this is stuffed under the driver's side visor (great job on retention, Ford!). The other 10% is held by their corners, underneath self-stick LED lights originally intended to illuminate bedroom closets. The roof of a cop car is a fire hazard, unto itself. Even if I was allowed to light a cigarette in this hallowed place, I would have refused, out of fear for my own safety.

So, he explains some official ground rules, and more than a few "unofficial" ones. You're not going to read about the unofficial ones, so don't bother asking in the comments. Get your own ride-along.

He then grabs his mic, and signs in with dispatch. It's 6:00pm, and it's time to go to work.

We pull out of his driveway, and head on down the road. Not 5 minutes into out excursion, we nail a speeder on radar. I feel the need to explain this.

Most of the county roads outside of towns and cities have a 55mph speed limit. He (everybody's different, so don't be a dumbass and take this as gospel) doesn't seem to bother pulling you over on one of these, until you're at about 68. From there until about 72, you're getting a warning, unless you're a total ass, or otherwise a shitstain. At 73 (everybody needs a limit - this seems to be his), you're getting a ticket.

That's all fine and dandy, but you need to realize something - we nailed this speed on radar...in the opposite direction...WHILE MOVING. Oh, shit.

Here's something I realized, while driving along with my buddy in the country, at night - Speeding in the country, at night, is nothing more than rolling the dice on a ticket. I HAD NO IDEA, how good instant-on radar was. Inside of one second, you have your speed, and the target (that's you) speed. Oh, and this is happening while both you and the cop are driving at speed, towards each other, in opposite directions. And here's the suck part - at night, many of you (to include me...once), think that the ability to pick out Crown Vic headlights helps you. It doesn't. Once your headlights appear (neither one of us can tell what kind of car you are, just yet), my buddy taps a little rocker switch on his center console, and inside one second, your speed is locked. You're a half mile away, but you're locked. And fucked. BTW, If you leave it on for a few seconds, it's funny to see who has a radar detector. they brake HARD, and cruise nicely at 2 under the limit.

FUCK. ME. I have no (legal) counter measures for this. I found this to be more than a bit depressing.

Anyway, we nailed a car doing 71 in a 55. As it turns out, she was a 15 year old on a learner's permit, with her mom in the passenger seat. Shame on you mom, you're not helping. Result of the stop? A warning. Say what you will, but my buddy is REALLY cool about traffic. He knew good and well that this put the fear of God into both mother and daughter, and that was fine. On your way.

Next up, we got a call about a stolen vehicle. This one was kind of interesting, because the man who spotted the stolen vehicle, was on off-duty police officer, working in one of the cities in the county. You could kind of tell, because (arfcom...have fun with this...) he was in jeans, a white t-shirt, with his badge on his belt, and a pistola on his side. He also sported a bitchin' buzz cut. You know...cop.

So we were dispatched to this one (ho hum). It was a POS Chevy pickup, of late 70's to early 80's vintage. He explained the particular to us (as he knew them), and inquired as to whether or not my buddy's "E-team" (evidence) was going to show up. After we both stopped laughing at how awesome that would be, my buddy kindly informed him that he was the "E-team". He wears many hats.

So, he spread some pomade shit on the passenger side window (the owners claimed to have not touched it in months), dusted it with some wicked fine black powder, and (apparently) Scotch taped it onto a white piece of card stock. I thought it looked okay, but the off-duty cop was seriously impressed. "Those are GOOD prints!". Guess it'll help.

So, we waited around for the owner to show up. We had called him, to let him know that we located his shitbox...er, truck. So, a brand new silver Lincoln SUV pulls up, and this dapper old guy steps out. Now, at this point, I'm standing way back and out of the way, so I can't hear what's going on, but I take one look at him, and go "Uh...no. This ain't his. I mean...not practically. Legally maybe, but not practically". I was confused. And then, as if the gods were there to amuse me, two absolute dirtbag motherfuckers crawl out of the Lincoln. Oh yeah.  It belongs to one of these two dudes. The scruffier of the two starts it, and drives off. Problem solved, I guess.

Not too long after, we got a call on a domestic. Sounds like a man is doing a good job of beating up his old lady in a trailer park. Yee HAW!. Yeah, well, then we show up. Now I have to tell you, that this is the trailer park to end all trailer parks. There's one trailer that is COMPLETELY obliterated. I'm talking about "tornader" kind of damage, except that every other trailer looks...fine (well, almost). It's barely recognizable as a trailer, but context clues (we're in a trailer park), help put the pieces together...along with the remnants of a couch, that once was.

So we're told over the radio, that this dude means business, per the hysterical reporting person (hereafter: RP). This is going to be a BAD domestic. We're on the other side of the county, so we haul ASS. Lights on, we're running hot.

I've been told to never buy a used police car, no matter how "good" the deal. I've been told the normal thing - "They ride them hard, and put them away wet". Nice. I've heard it all before. The thing is, prior to this particular ride-along, I HAD NO IDEA. At this point, not only will I never buy a used cop car, I will kick your ass if you try and give me one, for free.

The brake and gas pedals on a police car, are best thought of as on and off switches. Gas...ON (all the way). Brakes...ON (all the way). You may not realize this, but a Crown Vic is a hell of an offroad vehicle. A police officer will do unthinkable things to his cruiser, that you wouldn't dream of doing to your least favorite rental. Maybe they're all a little bit different, but I'm still trying to convince my buddy to run laps at Mid-Ohio, because he's that good. And seriously, I was critiquing his driving ability, with a critical eye, as he was hauling maximum ass. He's better than me. Period. It pains me to say it, but he's a better performance driver than me. I still think I'm better than most cops, but I'm not better than him. I can't believe a Crown Vic (and I've driven a few!) is capable of what he did with one. Shout out to the tires - Goodyear Eagle RS-A's. He's the first person ever - in my life - to make me nervous, behind the wheel. This man can DRIVE. Props.

Twice, when we finally showed up at our destination, his brakes were literally billowing smoke. FUCK YEAH.

So, we roll into the trailer park to see what's up, and honestly...there's not much too it. As it turns out, the bitching "lady" has a real nasty habit of calling the cops when the drunken argument isn't going her way. She was cited for a disorderly.

Well, that's that. Time to troll for some drunks. Let's hit the main drags.

And here, is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, and a verified first for my buddy: A car full of teenagers challenged us to a game of Roshambo.

We're on the main drag in town, and we're stopped at a light. This car full of teenagers next to us rolls down the passenger window, and one of them says "Would one of you gentleman fancy a game of Rock Paper Scissors?".  My buddy, not missing a beat, says "Sure!" and no shit - plays Roshambo with the car next to us. They both went "1...2...3...scissors!". And then the light turned green, so I guess we had to call it a draw. We beat 'em on the drag race, though.

He turned at me, and said "See? That's good community policing, right there". I can't disagree.

Shortly thereafter, we were dispatched to the same trailer park again, and to (surprise, surprise), the same trailer.

She'd already been cited for a disorderly conduct. Evidently, here in Ohio, you can be taken to jail if you commit another disorderly within a given time frame. There's a proper name given to this, but I forget what it is. It's something like "Persistent Disorderly". Anyway, the gist of it is, "If we have to come back out here a second time tonight, you're going to jail".

We came back out there tonight, a second time.

This time though, it was the result of over zealous neighbors that really get off on their fellow trailer park buddies going to jail. In fact, when we showed up, and I cracked open the passenger door, a beer holding man proudly proclaimed "JUST ANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT!!!". He was proud of this, really. You meet the funniest people. Some would say you meet the dregs of society (and you do), but I kind of like them. The entire trailer park (both times) was watching - cigarettes and beers in hand. This was their entertainment. Shit folks, yer welcome.

The thing about a "second time" visit, is that you're pretty much going to jail. The first time is free, the second time, you're going to see the inside of our fine taxpayer-funded facilities (and they're honestly REALLY nice, if I'm honest - more on that later, if I remember).

Here's the thing - we're 9 minutes out when we get the call that shit is starting up again, so we haul ass back to the trailer park. We get there, and...the argument is all over. They're both sitting on the couch, watching TV. How cute. Some RP at the trailer park wanted another show.

Nothing to see here, so we roll on out of there.

Next, there are two deputies working a sporting event (I apologize, but I really do need to be vague). Turns out, there's some dude...on Father's Day...who's dragging his daughter through the stands, beating her, and I don't know what all. Evidently, it was enough for a few people in the crowd, to approach the officers and let them know that somethin' ain't right. The officers that were there, decided that he needed to be placed under arrest for whatever it is that he did.

Se, he's going to be arrested, and needs to be transported, to jail. They had the arrest part down pat, but needed him to be transported. So...that's us, I guess.

On our way down there, I said "You know what would be awesome? If this were like COPS, and the dude in the back was trying to kick the glass out, or was otherwise PISSED THE FUCK OFF!" My buddy said "Honestly,most of the people I transport are actually pretty quiet, for the most part. I'm not saying that there are no crazy dudes in the back...I'm saying they're not that common. For the most part, they're really quiet, and all they ever say is 'This is BULL-Shit".

So, we show up to transport the guy. He's under arrest. We put the cuffs on him, and the crowd (no shit) CHEERS (!!!). Guess we're doing the right thing. Anyway, we put him in the back seat, close his door, I jump in the front, close my door, and I hear....

..."This is BULL-Shiit, man!".

High-five, buddy. High five.

Next up, was a pedophile arrest. This wasn't ours, but we tried. A few days earlier, this old dude (it's always an old dude - that's another story) was diddling younger members of his family (I'll spare you the details). He somehow escaped the long arm of the law, on foot, in the woods. Nobody caught him. Well, a little birdie let on that he was at his Grandma's house, so we waited. For what? We waited for a warrant (two deputies headed for the courthouse). His family made it clear that "I'm NOT going to jail". So, I'm totally expecting drama, complete with shit that goes boom, when triggers are pulled. The idea was, that if he didn't answer the door, a few deputies would, on his behalf. Nice. We hauled ass to get over there, for the show (holy dogshit, this man can drive).

Long story short (I'm forced to remove details - sorry Arfcom), he was unceremoniously cuffed and placed into a cruiser (not ours), without iincident. Quite anticlimactic, honestly.

There's more, but it's almost 12:30, and I'm tired. I'll finish the story tomorrow. There's a DUI arrest, coming up (and a shit ton of traffic stops leading up to it - great GD fodder!). And what's more, there's a professional Network Engineer's take, on technology in cop cars, or lack thereof.

Part 2

I don't feel like writing this one as a chronological play by play (it's too tedious), so for Part 2, I'm relaying general observations from the rest of the night. That's why I was there, after all - to observe. We did catch a drunk, so I'll be specific about that one.

So our night has been fairly eventful thus far, and I seem to have narrowly avoided the ride-along curse - namely that bit of bad luck wherein the last few days were jam packed full of action, until the night that a ride-along came along. While I've had a good night so far, it does occur to me that we're in rural Ohio, and we haven't snagged a single DUI. I begged my buddy to do whatever it is he had to do, to give me the satisfaction of getting a drunk off the road. Besides, I wanted to hear "This is BULL-shit, man!" from the back seat, just one more time.

Aggressively getting drunks off the road - something nearly everyone in the community enthusiastically supports (hey, we're fighting "real crime", here), requires some...trolling. You're not going to catch many fish, if you don't cast a wide net. They don't often jump out of the water and into the boat, if you know what I mean.

What follows, is one deputies strategy for accomplishing this. Remember, the intent here to to aggressively seek out and arrest drunks (while minding civil liberties - no "papers please" checkpoints here). Like everything in life, there are trade-offs - both for the deputy, the taxpayer, and the hapless late night/early morning motoring public.

Drunks commit traffic violations - some minor, some...not so minor. In fact, observing the traffic violation is the reason for the stop to begin with (this is articulated as much, when your ass shows up in court). You can't just randomly pull people over, of course. You need to observe a violation occurring. The thing is, perfectly sober people commit traffic violations, too. This means that in the course of trying your damnedest to hook a drunk, you're going to pull over a lot of perfectly sober people.

There are a few ways to handle this. You could of course, cite the perfectly sober driver for the traffic violation they indeed committed. There's a problem with this, though. Some of the violations you're looking for are honestly pretty minor, and it does make you a bit of a dick to write them. Community relations DO matter, especially given the fact that a Sheriff is an elected official. And if the deputies like this Sheriff, I can promise you they'll want him re-elected. Going straight up traffic Nazi as a matter of departmental policy, is a good way to piss the voting public off. You and the other deputies can't make a habit of it. Also, a warning doesn't require any paperwork afterwards. You want to be angry at lazy cops? Consider this: When you get a warning, the cop is effectively telling you "Fuck it man, I really don't want to take the time to write up all the shit required back at the office, for a summons. No, seriously. Ain't nobody got time fo dat".

And let's keep our eye on the prize here - we're looking for drunks, not imperfect drivers. So when it's patently obvious that the person we pulled over is not impaired, we want them to be on their way as quickly as possible. "These aren't the droids we're looking for", as it were. Now mind you, if the traffic violation you committed was particularly egregious, you're probably going to get a cite for it. I mean come on, you can't be a total dick on the road.  Do know this - every minute spent writing a ticket, and every minute spent pulling over a motorist who isn't actually drunk, is a minute spent not getting an actual drunk off the road. Remember the goal, here. So while you can be pulled over for some bullshit like having an expired sticker (even though a quick 5 second check of your plates shows that your registration is current), it may be a waste of time. We're looking for drunks. That's not to say that drunks don't have missing stickers - they do. But when you're up against the clock, trying to score a DUI as quickly as possible, you start to play the odds. This means that believe it or not, a lot of observed violations are quickly ignored. Eye on the prize.

So what kind of shit is going to get you pulled over, when a deputy is trolling for drunks? Well, I learned a few during my ride. These are going to be deputy-specific - honed over years of experience, combined with a human's uncanny ability to correlate or recognize patterns. Every officer has his own "spidey sense". It's really just a matter of noticing patterns over the years. Early on, you might might pull people over for anything. As time goes on, you start to get a sense of traffic violations that have a better than average chance of being the result of impairment, and those that don't really correlate well at all.  I'll explain some of the ones that make my buddy tingle, a bit.

Drunks have an interesting habit of not dimming their high beams. That one is an instant "Flip this bitch of a car around, and fire up the red and blinkies". We did a few of these (no drunks, verbal warnings given, total stop time...3 minutes? Maybe?). He likes to get them on their way.

Driving excessively slow. This alone probably won't get you pulled over (unless you're crawling, or something), but you're going to be watched like a hawk. The fact is this - we ran radar (while moving) on nearly every car that approached, from a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile out. And while I can confidently tell you that the vast, vast, VAST majority of Ohio drivers have been browbeaten into submission (I blame the OSP, personally) and don't actually drive all that fast, most of them are speeding a little. 5-10 over in a 55, for example. It's so common, that if you pulled every one of them over, that's pretty much all you'd be doing all night. This isn't conducive to catching drunks. You'll waste too much time. And don't forget that whole community relations, thing. I can promise you that his county doesn't have a reputation of pulling people over and handing out tickets for 6 over. And this is a good thing.

The tallest blade of grass, is the one that gets cut first. In Ohio, most of the grass is cruising 5 to 8 over the limit (from my observation of the devious little box velcroed to the dash, anyway). If you're the guy doing 73 in a 55...you stand out like a motherfucker. So...yeah, you're getting pulled over. And if you're the guy doing 45 in a 55...well, you stand out like a motherfucker as well. If you're doing this at 2:00am, you're being watched like a hawk. It's very abnormal. FYI.

I guess we should discuss speed limits, both codified and uh...inferred.

Every deputy seems to have their own personal limits on observing speeders. Oh, how I wish some kind of collective cultural standard would emerge amongst them, in Ohio. But alas, it hasn't, and it likely never will. You, as a motorist, really have no idea where the line is for a given officer, besides the obvious posted limits, of course. For my buddy (let's assume a 55mph county road, under good conditions), 68mph seems to be the line that will get you pulled over. You're probably not getting a ticket for this, assuming that you're not a prick (or drunk). His personal limit for "yeah, you're getting a ticket for this" seems to be about 73mph. And we did write one gal, for that (the only traffic ticket of the night, while trolling for drunks, actually). And at 18 over before you're finally guaranteed a cite, I think that's pretty damned generous, myself. BTW, she was pretty hot. Sorry ladies, it doesn't seem to matter with all deputies.

I never did ask him exactly how he settled on his limits. 68mph seems to almost guarantee getting pulled over, and 73mph seems to almost guarantee a cite. Between 68mph and 72mph, you're probably going to get a warning. Between 55mph and 67mph, you're probably not going to get pulled over to begin with. These aren't hard and fast limits of his, of course. Just observed guidelines, during one shift. There were exceptions.

While I never did ask him directly, I do know him. He's a friend of mine. And let's not mince words, as a matter of course, the man is a little heavy on the skinny pedal, even when he's not at work (and I know from people that knew him before he was a cop, that he's always been like this). He's not reckless, he's honestly not going appreciably faster than the flow of traffic, but he's damn sure not minding the speed limit as if it were THE absolute upper limit, OR ELSE.  Because of this, my hypothesis is that he'd feel a might bit guilty and hypocritical for handing out ticket after ticket. While I've never bothered to directly asked him, I have a strong suspicion that he feels the posted limits are actually lower than they probably need to be. This is all me talking - not him.

But do know this - there really are officers who drive very close to the speed limit as a matter of habit (even while off duty), and I don't think they're as...charitable, as my good friend. So food for thought, when you're wondering about what's really "allowed". It's a crap shoot.

Back to trolling for drunks, the big daddy of them all, the traffic violation that seems to nab more drunks than not, seems to be "failure to drive in marked lanes". Fact is, drunks have a really nasty habit of drifting within the lane. They slowly creep one way, realize their error, make a subtle correction, and continue to drift the other way until they eventually realize that error. Then repeat. Technically speaking, just touching the lane marker is enough to get you pulled over. And you have to keep context in mind - if it's 2:00am, you're kind of being watched a bit more closely than you would be at say...1:00pm. It's a game of odds, folks. Yes, there are drunks driving around at mid day. But they're mixing in well, with a LOT of other traffic. There are a shit ton *more* of them at 2:00am, and there are less distractions when looking for them.

This one is a bit sneaky, but I've learned that you can actually goad someone into failing to drive within the marked lanes. Note that this technique only works for two different classes of drivers:

1. Drunks

2. Paranoid, nervous Nellies.

You REALLY don't want to be #1, but it would help (especially at night), if you weren't #2. If you want to help an officer catch drunks (don't we all?), don't behave like a drunk. If he pulls your sober ass over, both of you are wasting time. Here's how this goes:

When trolling for drunks, we kept a pretty good distance at first, from cars ahead. You don't want them to know there's a cop behind them. In this way, they'll drive "naturally". Any obvious violations will be spotted. But suppose somebody was a bit sketchy in their driving - nothing really obvious or worth pulling them over for, but a bit curious, just the same. The next step, is to follow them fairly closely. Drunks (and nervous Nellies, unfortunately) will then make out the faint outline of a cop car behind them, and begin driving with their rear view mirror.  This is a mistake.

Once you begin doing this (staring in your rear view while driving), you are extremely likely to fuck up. And the cop behind you isn't helping matters. He can goad you into it, because of the fact that you're driving with your rear view. He will drift in the lane a little bit, and surprise surprise...so will you. I was absolutely fascinated by this phenomenon. It's uncanny how well it worked. He doesn't even need to leave his lane - you'll do this. He drifts a little the the left...so do you. He drifts a little to the right...so do you. This keeps repeating, until you finally do something stupid, like drift over the line a bit. Now, you're getting pulled over.

A true drunk (.08 BAC probably doesn't qualify - more on that later) will almost assuredly not be able to avoid behaving this way. The problem is, paranoid (but sober) drivers have the same problem. So, it makes you look drunk. Help me, help you. I'm arfcom's advocate riding shotgun, remember?

If you're sober, there is no damned good reason why you should be staring at the cop car behind you. It's almost impossible to drive safely (and without committing an unintentional traffic violation), while you're doing this. Look AHEAD. You're moving forward, after all. Sure, glance in your mirrors, but don't stare at them. If he decides to pull you over (highly unlikely, if you look ahead and drive normally), you'll definitely see the lights - even if you're not looking, especially at night. So stop obsessing over it. Glance in your mirrors occasionally (like a good driver should), but don't stare at them. Relax. We're looking for "keepers", not fish we have to throw back.

Everybody knows that I self-identify as a libertarian, and I hate the drug war. While I still do (and always will), it's interesting what happens to your psyche, while riding along in a cop car. There's something of a curious disconnect between the law, and what you wished was the law (or lack thereof). But all is not lost, and I'll explain why. While trolling for drunks (a decidedly libertarian thing to do, in my opinion), we noted a couple of cars coming the opposite direction- one impatiently following closely to the next. My buddy flips the rocker switch in the center console to fire up the radar, and the lead car is doing 68mph. So is the tailgater behind him, it can be inferred. Alright, so somebody is going to get pulled over. They pass us, we flip a bitch, and begin following. Magically (heh), both are now doing 53 in a 55.

Both of them were speeding, and both of them should be pulled over...but how? This is quite the conundrum. We're trolling for drunks. Which car will net a DUI? What if you hit the lights, and find that the lead car keeps going, but the car right in front of you pulls over? What if the lead car has the elusive drunk, behind the wheel? Hmmm.

As we're following these two, it does seem to be a bit of a "gimme", that both are very close to each other. I asked "Dude, do you think you could actually pull BOTH over at the same time?" He said "I don't know, but I'll try". So what he did, was hit the lights and move to the left, quite a bit (there was no oncoming traffic). In this way, both cars are sure to see us. He pulls up beside the rear car a bit (he knows he's busted), while watching the front car. The rear car is slowing down (he's busted) but the front car is slowing down as well. After all, you're supposed to slow down and pull to the right, if an emergency vehicle is behind you. So he does. But then a curious thing happens - the cop car isn't racing ahead. He's still there. "Shit, is he pulling over the guy behind me...or is he pulling me over? I know I was speeding. Should I keep going, or will that mean I'm running?". So both continue to slow down (this is hilariously good fun to watch), and they both do it in this really uneasy "on the brakes, off the brakes" kind of manner, as they head for the shoulder. Neither one of them really has any idea what's up, or what to do. And lo and behold, both eventually come to a stop.

He pulls up next to the rear car, rolls down my window, and yells "PULL UP BEHIND THAT CAR!". So, he does.

Two cars at the same time, on a rural state route. Nice.

Now, the lead car is a brand new Lincoln MKS. Nice. The rear car...is a 1992 Pontiac Shitbox (all rights reserved, no warranties expressed or implied).

The front driver checks out (sober). Then we walk up to the rear driver. Rusted out quarter panels, Tapout sticker on the rear glass, two flat billed wearing douchebags in the front, interior absolutely THRASHED and full of random shit...Oh, man. This *has* to be entertaining. The driver couldn't roll his window down - he was using his fingers to shimmy it down in the tracks, until he finally gave up and opened the driver's side door.


Mind you, my libertarian ass is sitting there going "Oh, these two dudes have weed. If there's one thing I know, it's weed, and weed smokers (I come by it honestly ), and these two dudes have SOMETHING in that car. I'd bet my paycheck on it". I'm sitting there, fully expecting to hear something along the lines of "So...is there anything in this car I need to know about? Mind if I take a look?" That sort of thing.

Know what he said instead? "Slow it down, and have a nice night". Didn't even check for insurance (he normally doesn't care - more on that later). Didn't even bother to make them show registration (we can tell with the MDT anyway - more on that later).

And Bam! Just like that, both cars were on their merry way, without undue delay. I'd be surprised if the entire stop took 5 minutes. We're looking for dunks, and they're not drunk (or high). On your way.

I'm retelling this particular traffic stop (there were many that I won't bother detailing), because as it turns out, there really are cops who don't give a shit about your bullshit contraband, until you do something that forces them give a shit (we talked about it, and he's made plenty of drug arrests - people have forced him to give a shit). These two could have had drugs, guns, untold amounts of cash...whatever - the kind of stuff that makes for news articles and great GD fodder. And he really didn't give a shit about any of that. They were speeding a little, we were looking for drunks, they weren't drunk, they weren't speeding all THAT bad, and off they went.

Moving on...

I've mentioned some of the tech in a police car, in passing. My actual job title is "Telecommunications Engineer". I design, implement, maintain and troubleshoot Cisco voice networks. In layman's terms (and I love saying this), I'm the asshole who makes you press 1 for English. Sitting here thinking about it, I think I'm more hated than cops or lawyers.

As it turns out, very little of my job is actually telecom specific. It's best to think of voice in the modern era, as just another application that happens to run on your network. Even if you still have an analog phone line at home, it's only analog to (at best) the Central Office. After that, it's all digital. Straight up network engineering takes over, from here. Your voice is just packetized data, in the end. So first and foremost (before I ever got into voice), I'm a network engineer. And as a network engineer (and all around geek besides), I took a keen interest in the technology present in one Crown Victoria.

We all like to think of police cars, as having some super special/elite Law Enforcement-only technology. There's a little bit of that going on, but for the most part (especially from a Network Engineer's perspective), it's shockingly mundane.

Their cars have MDT's - an acronym for "Mobile Data Terminal". This is fancy talk for a run of the mill Panasonic Toughbook running some version of Windows (not even joined to a doman, or locked down with Group Policies), with a gooseneck car mount (available from fine eBay'ers, everywhere). Some of the MDT's are still running XP, and some are running Windows 7. All of that fancy tech, is really nothing more than really narrowly focussed Windows applications.

How about data, while on the road? Do you have grand visions of some kind of LE-specific mobile data network? So did I, until I actually say it. It's a Verizon MiFi (you might own one, yourself), with a Cisco VPN client installed on the laptop...er..."MDT". Whatever. Unlike you though, I'm pretty sure they have truly unlimited data.

And as one might expect, it's quite common for your 3G or 4G connection to take a shit, in a rural area. Minor inconvenience to you, hilariously funny when it frustrates a cop. He's trying to run plates, check your background, see Computer Aided Dispatches all over the county, and so forth. He can do all of this over the radio (the dispatch people are running VERY similar software, with an interface that doesn't need to be optimized for mobile use), but it takes longer.

As a network engineer, I kept seeing things that annoyed me. One, was the need for an officer to supply a username and a password, to fire up a VPN tunnel. There are easier (and secure) ways of doing this. What's worse, was that if the officer lost his tunnel (MiFi crapped out, in other words - a common occurence), there was no way for him to automatically reconnect without user intervention, when the signal was good, without entering his name and password again (my buddy has a habit of doing this at 70mph, which is a bit unnerving at first). These are problems that Cisco guys know how to solve. The problem is, I learned that there really isn't a budget in rural Ohio county, for a Cisco guy that really know his shit, at a salary of ~$90,000+/yr. I mean, that would solve 99.9% of the problems, but...money. So you know who does it? A former road deputy, who's pretty good with Google. Sigh.

It's better than nothing, but you start to see the effects of this, as a ride-along who's done this for a living for the past 10 years or so. There are TONS of stupid little quirks in their MDT's, that any competent IT department would find trivial to solve. There really is no substitute for real IT department, staffed with actual IT professionals. Unbeknownst to me at the time however, there is almost no money for this. So kudos to them, for implementing what they have.

Some things, actually make you chuckle. Officers have the ability to print routine things off, at the office, right from their cars (saving them the work of having to do it at the office - just pick it up off the printer, as you walk in). I can't remember the hilariously funny name given to this "LE technology" as it appeared on the screen, but most IT guys will translate it as "Network printer, accessible over a VPN. Yawn, welcome to 2001".

There are some bits of technology though, that absolutely fascinated and intrigued me. Chief among these, was the plate reader. Here, there are two cameras mounted on the trunk - one pointed forward at an angle, and one directed at the rear. This damned thing is capable of reading your license plate (front or rear), while you're going in the opposite direction, at 70+mph. The officer sees a ZOOMED IN picture of your plate on his MDT - even at night...even in the rain. I was flabbergasted.  I'm not kidding, you fly past a car going 70mph the other way, and "beep!". You switch over to the plate reader tab (t's just a Windows app), and there it is. Zoomed in, even. Clear as day.

Now, after asking a million questions, I did learn a few things. One, is that the software does have the ability to do OCR (saving the officer from having to read the plate and enter the digits while moving), but it's:

1. Pretty unreliable.

2. Annoying as hell.

The officer winds up needing to run the plate manually, to confirm whatever the OCR "found" (it can't be trusted). So...it's redundant. Officers prefer to get the plate scans (which really just replace what their own eyes would do anyway), and independently choose which ones they actually want to run, instead of letting a computer do it indiscriminately. Mind you, this is actually no different than an officer with really good eyes (and awesome short term memory), asking Dispatch to run plates over the radio. All this is doing, is saving a laborious few steps. Even without this tech, an officer can (and will - if his MDT is down, which happens a lot), radio into dispatch, with plate numbers, to see if your car is registered, whether the registered owner has any warrants, etc, etc, etc. BTW, I found if funny that in Ohio, if the registered owner of the car has a CCW (even if it's been expired for a few years), you get a flashing "CCW" in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Ha!

And as a funny little aside, plate scans can be combined with GPS location data, on when they were scanned...unless your Panasonic Toughbook is running Windows 7 instead of XP, in which case the device drivers don't work. See? They have the same shit problems that the rest of us IT guys, do.

So anyway, to the best of our abilities, we used all of this awesome (and not so awesome) technology to snag drunks. But we ran into a snag.

I alluded earlier, to the fact that aggressively trolling for drunks had implications for taxpayers - not just hapless motorists. The fact is, you can jolly well camp on a main drag, and wait for drunks to come to you. This is fine (and it'e insanely cheap!), but it's really not all that effective. Think about it. Out of the thousands upon thousand of nights that you've personally driven, how many times have you actually seen a drunk? Three? four times?  I can improve that to once a NIGHT, if you alter your driving habits. How so? Find a main drag, that is likely to contain drunks trying to get home. Don't camp on it, DRIVE IT - Up and down the road, endlessly. Aggressively patrol, looking for drunks. If you're driving it on your way home from work, you're rarely going to see any. If you hit it HARD, constantly turning around and heading the other way to try and locate one, you'll have 10x better odds.

So, what's the implication for taxpayers? Well...gas, for one. Because I was riding with him, and because I was begging him to do whatever it took to nail a drunk, we did a SHIT TON of driving - most of it quite aggressively. He later told me, that we burned through $200 worth of gas, in one 12 hour shift. This sort of thing isn't sustainable, for a rural department, over a long period of time. As it turns out, his current Sheriff isn't particularly concerned about fuel, as long as the're doing their jobs. But everybody has limits, and he's no exception. There's just no way, that the deputies can burn through $200 worth of fuel every single night, without raising some eyebrows.

And this brings up another topic - how much are we really willing to sacrifice, for safe roads? It's almost universal, in that the populace wants drunks off the road. It's almost universal, in that the public doesn't want speeders on 25mph residential streets. The problem is, the only way to solve these problems, is to be...quite honestly...a complete and total dick, to motorists who aren't really doing anything all that bad. Be careful what you wish for, in other words. That's my opinion.

So, here's a bit about "quotas". There are none, at least in this department. I mean sure, if you've been on the road a year and haven't bagged a single felony or DUI arrest, somebody's going to start asking questions. Everybody else in the department has, so...you haven't...why, exactly? It looks bad.

But there's something more sinister than "quotas". It's called personal pride. There are no hard and fast rules on how many DUI's you need to bag, in a month. As long as you're not a lazy sack of shit, you are never going to be in trouble with the brass. Your job is safe. If you want to cruise with the bare minimum necessary, you totally can, no problem,.

But it's not politicians you need to worry about. It's not your superior officers that you need to worry about. It's your fellow road guys, you need to worry about. Honestly, none of your fellow road guys gives a shit that you wrote 15 traffic tickets on your shift. That shit is easy (and it makes you kind of a dick, honestly). You're competing for bigger fish - you're competing for DUI's, felony arrests, etc. Fuck this "7 over" bulshit. Whatever.

So, my buddy and I (especially since I was riding along with him), were trying to be the first to bag a DUI for the night. To give you an idea of how much we wanted to do this, versus how much reality intervened, we were pulled of of traffic Nazi patrol, to respond to a call. As it happens, trolling for drunks (or speeders, or...whatever floats your boat) takes second fiddle, to whatever dispatch tells you do to. There are exceptions ("Is OSP bored?"), but for the most part, you're going if dispatched, and can't wiggle out of it - even as you KNOW the call will be bullshit.

We were pulled off of the noble pursuit of finding drunks, when we were dispatched to do a house call. Some guy said there was somebody poking around his house. We both knew this was BS, and wold amount to nothing. As it turns out, we were right - his Jack Russel was going apeshit at some noise (as they are wont to do), and he called the cops. Because, you know, a Jack Russel is a calm and careful arbiter of all that is abnormal, in the world.

BTW, if a cop ever shows up at your place appearing pissed the fuck off, and REALLY not interested in your bullshit problems...this might be why.

So while we're dealing with this, we hear over the radio that his fellow deputy (and buddy) done nailed a drunk. He wins, we lose. Simple as that. It can be said that a lot the county wins (a drunk is removed from the road, afterall), but it doesn't work like that. WE wanted to catch him. We're glad that he's caught, but...WE wanted to be the ones doing the catching.

So, this other deputy did the FST, decided he was drunk as a skunk, and brought him in. Now, in Ohio (maybe other states?), the only valid BAC measurement is done with a large, calibrated machine at the office. To properly use this machine (I need to tell you, that this entire process has been lawyered to death, over the last 30 years), you need to take a 2-day class. Well, the only one on shift who's "qualified" to run this stupidly ridiculously simple piece of equipment, is my buddy. So, we drop what we're doing, and head on over to the office.

He does the test, reads the BMV 2255 to him (you really ought to read this yourself - it's hard to follow, even while sober), and satisfies the lawyered up witness requirement (there was actually a possibility that I'd be required as a witness, since I did...witness this procedure). Long story, and fuck it. Moving on...

So anyway, we're pissed. He got his DUI, and we didn't. It's getting late (almost 4:00am), and we know that the window for catching drunks is closing fast. Not only is he done at 6:00am, but the drunks are mostly home safe and sound, by now.

So we jump back in the car, and get back to it. We no more than pulled out of the parking lot, when we struck gold. Cute little hybrid, swerving dramatically in the lanes. We actually followed him for a little bit (this was in the town center, with ZERO traffic), just to see how many traffic violations she'd rack up. He was driving super slow. My buddy said to me "He's either drunk as shit, or an old man who's lost". As he lit her up, he pulled onto a side street. And parked in the middle of it (fuck it, right?).

Well, it wasn't an old man. It was a 55 year old woman, with her first (per the computer, anyway) DUI. Now, my buddy has told me on traffic stops "Stay in the car, unless I pull somebody out for a FST. Then, jump out and enjoy the show". Well, he pulled her out and was doing the horizontal nystagmus test, so I hopped out. She miserably failed the rest of it (one leg stand, walking with one foot in front of the other - Google it. It's standardized).

I watched her get out of the car. She was DRUNK. I don't mean buzzed and maybe should think twice about driving, I mean SLOSHED. She was a stumbling mess, just getting out of the car. At that point, I KNEW she was drunk. The rest of the tests, were just a formality. Eyes? Bouncing all over the place. Not even close. Standing on one leg? Not a chance. Walking paces, with one foot in front of the other? Couldn't complete it. This woman, FST or not, was TRASHED.

He didn't give her a PBT at the side of the road. No need - she was drunk.  She inquired about the rest of her night, and he said "You're fine, but you're not going to be driving tonight". He was super nice about this. He had a VERY drunk woman dead to rights, and he was a polite as can be. He told me to grab her purse out of her car (she asked), so I did. She was worried about her car, so he parked it nicely, on the street. No problems.

We drove her around the corner to the office (I was hoping for some awesome backseat commentary, but alas, I was shafted), and took her into the interview room with the machine that checks your BAC. He very carefully explained what she needed to do (as if he had talked to drunks, before). Not only did he read off the BMV 2255 (thanks, lawyers), but he took the time to explain to her drunk ass, the consequences of not submitting to a breath test. She seemed more than willing to submit, so he went on to explain how to do it.

"Take a DEEP breath, and blow into this, until you're out of air. Now, you're going to feel like you have nothing left to give, but I've seen little old ladies do this, with no problems. Just blow until the machine says you're done".

We start the test, and the machine isn't doing anything. He asks "Are you...inhaling on the hose?". She explains that she is, because he said to take a deep breath. Oy, vey. So, he reprograms the machine with her info, reminds her to take a deep breath BEFORE exhaling, and we do it again. She registers a .184. Nice.

Now, despite the fact that this particular county has a really sweet jail (I visited, while taking sporting event child endangerment to jail on Father's Day - he bonded out, BTW), they don't like to fill the place, as a general rule. If you've been cited for DUI, and there's somebody to come pick you up...all the better.

So, as it turns out, this lady was on her way to visit a Facebook friend (she had never met her in real life), in our sleepy little town. Fine and dandy. Let's call her up, and have her come pick your drunk ass up.

Nothing doing. As it turns out, EVERYBODY at this little party was drunk. None of them had the presence of mind to attempt to pilot a motor vehicle, which is nice. Given that is was mere blocks from where we pulled her over, we decided that we'd drop her off.

Here's where it gets funny. She kept asking us "When can I pick up my car?" And we'd say "Well, tomorrow, I guess. It's parked on the street". And she'd say "So, I can drive my car tomorrow, after I sober up?". And we had to explain to her "No, your license has been suspended. You can't drive anything for the next 6 months. You can have a friend pick up your car, I guess". This never really sunk in. She kept asking us, under what scenario would it be okay for her to drive home (three counties over). And we repeatedly reminded her, that there were no legal ways for her to personally do that.

We're both convinced that she ended up driving her car home on her own, on a suspended license. Hey, maybe she didn't do it drunk, this time.

Not our problem.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful. At 6:00am, overtime kicked in, and my buddy was running security for a sporting event. Given that this involved sitting in his car, and surfing arfcom, I decided to bail at this point. And so I did.

And a fine time, was had by all.

And that, gentleman was Part 2,

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:32:10 PM EDT
You didn't get to shoot anybody?!? Lame.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:35:23 PM EDT
I like yo writing style.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:36:32 PM EDT
Nice AAR!  

Your friend sounds like a good officer.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:36:43 PM EDT
Did you look in the glovebox?

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:36:50 PM EDT
A post about cops and not any mention of the type of guns, calibers, and whether or not you shot any dogs.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:37:09 PM EDT
no way i'm reading all of that.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:41:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By RDP:

A post about cops and not any mention of the type of guns, calibers, and whether or not you shot any dogs.

Glock something or another on his hip, and an AR in the rack above our heads.


We would have obliterated some dogs, had there been any to shoot. Actually, we got close. There was a dispatch to a house, where they "heard some noises". Once we got there, we realized thast "heard some noises" was code for "My Jack Russel went ape shit at rustling leaves". I wanted to absolutely ventilate said Jack Russel, if that helps.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:42:07 PM EDT
that seems to be a pretty decent write up so far..

Cant believe i read it all, but you spaced it well..

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:43:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Harleyfx69:

that seems to be a pretty decent write up so far..

Cant believe i read it all, but you spaced it well..

I try. The meaty good shit is coming tomorrow.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:44:21 PM EDT
Holy God in Heaven.... Tag for when I break my leg and can't move for two or three days to read that gigantic AAR

- Clint
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:47:10 PM EDT

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:47:10 PM EDT
Originally Posted By RDP:
A post about cops and not any mention of the type of guns, calibers, and whether or not you shot any dogs.

I presume that is the finale'

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:49:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By elcope:

Originally Posted By RDP:

A post about cops and not any mention of the type of guns, calibers, and whether or not you shot any dogs.

I presume that is the finale'

Stay tuned.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:51:19 PM EDT
I think my brain is fried.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:52:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By leatherface_y2k:

Nice AAR!  

Your friend sounds like a good officer.

Lol sofa king in for the rest

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:52:34 PM EDT
tag for round 2.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:52:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:52:41 PM EDT
Were you allowed out of the car at the scenes?
If so was it to just stand back and shut up?

Did you talk to your friend about carrying your own weapon on the ride-along? I'm guessing that isn't allowed?
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:53:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cda97:

I think my brain is fried.

It gets worse. I'm going to explain what I've learned (complete with DUI arrest, and I don't know how many traffic stops!). in the next installment.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:54:11 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:54:58 PM EDT
That sounds like a fairly normal shift for a cop.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:56:09 PM EDT
Nice AAR.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:56:52 PM EDT
Tag for more.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 8:57:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Smitro:
no way i'm reading all of that.

Your loss, go back to the basement, your mom's tired of you in her living room.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:01:33 PM EDT
tl;dr, maybe later. tagged.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:01:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Subnet:
There's more, but it's almost 12:30, and I'm tired. I'll finish the story tomorrow. There's a DUI arrest, coming up (and a shit ton of traffic stops leading up to it - great GD fodder!). And what's more, there's a professional Network Engineer's take, on technology in cop cars, or lack thereof.

This is some BULLSHIT.

I actually just read all that and you pull the "to be continued..."

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:01:58 PM EDT
shit pay?

seems petty good for driving around playing rock paper scissors.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:03:59 PM EDT
Originally Posted By AKSig:

Originally Posted By Subnet:

There's more, but it's almost 12:30, and I'm tired. I'll finish the story tomorrow. There's a DUI arrest, coming up (and a shit ton of traffic stops leading up to it - great GD fodder!). And what's more, there's a professional Network Engineer's take, on technology in cop cars, or lack thereof.

This is some BULLSHIT.

I actually just read all that and you pull the "to be continued..."


No shit, I feel like I want a refund and I didn't even pay anything.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:04:29 PM EDT
It's a great job that few can do. I did it until I got injured on that job. Now I can't do that job.

I had lots of fun in the years I worked in LE. I thought I was a good officer and did more community oriented stuff. I had a sense of humor and had fun with people until it was time not to have fun.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:05:33 PM EDT
Drag race with the cops?

Damn, it really is Beaver Cleaverville... just with more domestic violence...
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:07:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 1Andy2:

Drag race with the cops?

Damn, it really is Beaver Cleaverville... just with more domestic violence...

I'm totally trying this with my local cops.


Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:07:35 PM EDT
NOOOOOOOO!!!! You never got to the female DUI.. I have a bet that her BAL is .09 (I think I underestimated it)

C'mon Subnet Do tell
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:07:46 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Subnet:

Originally Posted By 1Andy2:
Drag race with the cops?

Damn, it really is Beaver Cleaverville... just with more domestic violence...

I'm totally trying this with my local cops.    


Can't wait for the word-picture description of the inside of THAT cop car.  
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:08:23 PM EDT
In for part two!
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:08:27 PM EDT
Cleveland Heights -is- a shithole. Spent many a troubled night on Conventry with a crew of scoundrels....

TAG for more.

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:09:02 PM EDT
Sweet! Keep the aar coming!
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:11:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/17/2013 9:11:50 PM EDT by Subnet]

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:12:26 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Harleyfx69:
that seems to be a pretty decent write up so far..

Cant believe i read it all, but you spaced it well..

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:12:50 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:13:01 PM EDT
Excellent write up, dig your writing style.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:14:23 PM EDT
Originally Posted By patchouli:
shit pay?

seems petty good for driving around playing rock paper scissors.

Well, that didn't take long.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:15:01 PM EDT
It's more like... "This some bow-shiiit" They always have more of an ooooo pronunciation
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:16:21 PM EDT
Check the glovebox.
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:18:07 PM EDT
Very jealous Sub!  Good writing to boot!
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:19:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Depidy_Dawg:

Originally Posted By patchouli:

shit pay?

seems petty good for driving around playing rock paper scissors.

Well, that didn't take long.

Has to be one.  What a turd comment  

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:21:12 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:24:12 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Subnet:

Originally Posted By Harleyfx69:
that seems to be a pretty decent write up so far..

Cant believe i read it all, but you spaced it well..

I try. The meaty good shit is coming tomorrow.


Tomorrow? This is BULL-shit!
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:27:23 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:27:44 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MiG-21:

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile

Link Posted: 6/17/2013 9:27:56 PM EDT
Originally Posted By patchouli:
shit pay?

seems petty good for driving around playing rock paper scissors.

Cops don't get paid for what they do.  Cops get paid for what they might have to do.
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