Post by Madison Troin, Communication Specialist
Summer 2012 Public Information Office Intern
I always wanted to see what the day in the life of a patrolman was like. I love the sirens, the tasers and the crazy car chases across four different highways that you see on TV. I know there is a lot more to being an officer than meets the eye, and thanks to the City’s Police Department web page, I found a Ride-Along Program for people interested in police work.
Most people completing the Ride-Along Program are police trainees or officers from the SEMO Law Enforcement Academy that are recommended to shadow field work. Even though the program has been around for more than 25 years, I recently heard that the program is offered to citizens. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity by signing up for my ride-along with Lieutenant John Davis.
09:00 The morning of the Ride-Along, Lt. Davis introduced me to Corporal Hank Voelker, who gave me a tour of the police department’s facilities. Cpl. Voelker showed me where evidence is kept, where officers speak with the public and where the inmates are detained. Cpl. Voelker also let me tour the interrogation rooms and where the daily staff meetings are held for briefings.
“Except for St. Louis and Kansas City,” says Cpl. Voelker, “Cape Girardeau’s Municipal Police Department is the only department, within a wide radius, that still has jailor cells attached to its building.”
After the department tour, I was assigned to ride with Cody Farrow, a patrolman that averages 10-15 ride-alongs per year. Farrow is one of a handful of officers providing the program, collectively offering about 50 ride-alongs yearly.
“It’s a great way to meet new people in the community, and to share my love for my job with different types of people,” says Farrow.
Farrow has been with the Cape Girardeau Police Department since 2006. Before Farrow was a patrolman he worked as a jailer. He says he prefers to be out on the streets instead of in an office; lucky for me, I got to join him.
10:00 We stopped someone on a side road near Southeast Missouri State University that was driving without license plates. After more patrolling, we had a call regarding a noise complaint near Big Bend Road. A few neighbors were loudly complaining about each other. If you are interested in patrolling the city with police, this program is right up your alley.
10:28 Coming back from Big Bend Road, Officer Farrow was called to arrest a man at the Municipal Court at City Hall. I later got to see how violators are “booked” and mugshots are taken. I also saw how precautious the officers have to be, no matter the incident. Farrow mentioned that it feels good to know he is helping the community by bringing violators in to custody.
11:00 The second call that we took that morning was a dispute between two people claiming that someone had stolen money and sunglasses out of their house, but the only evidence the couple had regarding the possible theft and thief was word of mouth.
The responding officers kept their cool and approached every person and situation with common sense and courtesy. I think it is really important as a police officer to not always believe everything you hear. Deciphering what is true and what is exaggerated may be the most important part of some of these calls. It reminded me of all the CSI episodes I’ve watched, knowing that there is always more to the story than what someone tells.
12:07 As we rode back to the station, we received a call involving possible domestic abuse. Farrow and I followed Officer Ryan Droege to apartments where the incident happened. The two officers handled the situation while I sat in the car, anxiously waiting to see what would happen. The two officers calmly walked out knowing the residents would be fine after they intervened. I thought to myself that if I was an officer right now I would be proud to know that I had a positive influence on other people by assisting during such a dispute.
Farrow had mentioned that the person they were trying to locate was known to be violent when previously arrested. Both the Probation Officer and Farrow approached the situation carefully while I was kept in the car at a safe distance. This was a surprising reality check for me how one wrong move can jeopardize both a citizen’s and officer’s life during the process of bringing someone in to the station.
As I watched the Probation Officer and Farrow approach the house, evaluating the entrances and exits, I just kept thinking that at any moment this guy could appear and no one would know what his next move would be. I was very impressed with both officers during that call.
13:00 Officer Farrow took me back to the station so I could say goodbye and thank Lt. Davis and Cpl. Voelker for their time. The officers at the department are great company; they have a light heart but a strict hand that helps them make the right decisions every day.
On a daily basis, the men and women of the Cape Girardeau Police Department deal with aggravated people, burglaries, have to decipher debatable stories between two or more persons, control situations and handle people under the influence drugs or alcohol. All the Officers agree slow days are good days, but no day is ever boring.
The Ride-Along program showed me how important it is to have patient and fair law enforcement officers to deal with problems on behalf of all citizens. All-in-all, the Ride-Along Program was a great experience for me.