Red and blue lights shine in your rearview mirror, strobing back
and forth. Your heart sinks, and your anxiety kicks in full steam.
There is a police officer behind you, pulling you over for speeding
or some other infraction. That's one of the worst feelings.
But, what is it like from the officer's
Growing up, it had been a desire of mine to ride along with a
police officer and check out the action from the officer's side of
the steering wheel. I was fascinated by police work from watching
re-runs of "CHiPs" as part of my morning routine before school
started. My brother and I would re-enact scenes from the show in
our driveway on our bicycles. He was Ponch and I was Jon Baker.
I recently had the opportunity to ride along with an Evansville
Police Department commander and Saint Meinrad alumnus, Dr. Darren
Sroufe. Darren serves on our Alumni Board, and I half jokingly
asked if I could do a ride-along with him some day. He said he
would gladly take me along.
Last September, I went on a ride-along with Darren in the
Offender Transport Vehicle, a reinforced 18-passenger van with
benches lining the sides in the back. This van is used mostly for
transporting offenders who have been arrested to the jail.
I could go on and on about the different situations we found
ourselves in, but my biggest takeaway from the experience was how
tense I felt during and after our shift.
We responded to some nuisance-ridden areas, and I was very alert
to my surroundings. I tried very hard to listen to the details
folks shared with us about a crime they may have witnessed.
I watched as they waved their hands around. I stared intently at
their facial expressions, trying to discern if they were being
truthful. I stayed attuned to my peripheral vision to pay attention
to our surroundings. All this while trying to be engaged with those
with whom we were interacting and following Darren's lead.
I asked myself: is this what every response, traffic stop and
investigation is like for a police officer? Does this internal
stress go away? How long can one stay so alert?
There is a wonderful charity and fraternity among police
officers because they know the rigors and stresses that come with
the job. When they are working, they have to be objective,
unbiased, professional and cautiously alert. They don't know who
has a weapon or how someone will respond.
I enjoyed my ride-along and it helped me understand the
perspective of the officer's side of the wheel. It gave me a
greater respect for the role law enforcement officers have in our
community, and now I better understand some of the tense and heated
encounters they face.
Always obey the laws, but if you do slip up and are pulled over
by a police officer, remember that he or she might be coming from a
very adrenaline-stimulated and dangerous situation. For Jesus says,
"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved
you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know
that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John
Despite how inconvenient, embarrassing and disappointing it can
be to be pulled over, you could be the bright spot in an officer's
day, and you can share your faith with the officer by having a good
attitude and a humble spirit.
Here's to wishing you safe driving, and may God continue to
bless our law enforcement officers and emergency responders.