Dallas Police Ride Along

ACTIVE SHOOTER! That’s how this ride along started. We had barely made it half a mile down the road from the station when the first call came in. Soon the lights were on and I was in the back seat holding on as we rushed through traffic.

Now I’ve done several police ride alongs before, but I can say this was the highest action one I’ve been on. My buddy Andy, or as the public knows him Officer Blume, is a Dallas Police Officer. We’ve known each other since middle school. We grew up in Wisconsin, yet ultimately ended up in Texas.

Since Austin and Dallas are relatively close (well by my standards), I had always wanted to do a ride along with Andy. Our schedules never jived until recently, but when they did, I jumped on the opportunity. We had previously hung out in Dallas and I filled out the paperwork. We then picked a date and I dropped by his place on the day of the ride along.

We then hopped in his truck and headed to the station. Andy’s shift would start at 3:00PM.

We spoke to the sergeant to make sure everything was in order for the ride along. Andy put on his uniform and then got the keys to a car. Our next stop was the meeting room. This is where detail, or the daily meeting takes place.

The first order of business for detail was roll call. Once everyone was accounted for, assignment of duties took place. They first assigned relief officers for pending calls such as accidents. Then came the “star car.” The star car is dedicated to traffic stops. After that, BOLOs (Be On the Look Out) were given. Finally, any additional intelligence was shared. Detail was brief and down to the point. It ended with a “break” similar to that of a football huddle.

After Detail, we headed out to our assigned car. Since I was riding along, Andy got to drive a sergeant’s car. This car does not have a cage in it and the back seats aren’t made of hard plastic. This would make the ride along more comfortable for me since I had to ride in the back. Dallas has two officers per car.

Before leaving, Andy did the vehicle checkout sheet. He made sure everything was in working order with the car. He made sure supplies, such as road flares, were fully stocked. He also made sure to do a little bit of cleaning. Once that was done, he made sure the computer was in working order. He looked over his emails and reports and made sure he was fully ready to start his shift.

I took my place in the back seat of the car. Andy’s partner, Officer Richard Campos, took his seat in the passenger seat. Andy and Richard had both went to the Dallas Police Academy together. I had met Richard previously when hanging out with Andy. As the night went on, I got to see the awesome team dynamic between those two.

We were all set to go. We pulled out onto the road and started the patrol. We made it less than half a mile down the road when the radio blared that high priority first call. There was an active shooter. As fast as the call came out, the emergency lights and siren were on. I was set back in my seat as we rushed to the scene.

By the time we got on scene, the shooting had stopped. From what was gathered, there was a fight between two people. The fight escalated to both of those people shooting at each other. They both ran away to opposing apartment complexes. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. The only damage was a car got hit by a stray bullet. Since the shooters were long gone, the main task at hand was gathering evidence and looking for the shooters.

As we searched around, people were contacting me asking if I was ok. This is when the whole Austin bombing thing was going on. In many ways, this was completely ironic. I was on the scene of a previous active shooter and that was probably way more of a risk than being in Austin. Either way, I came out of both situations safely and I was appreciative of people reaching out to make sure I was ok.

After searching the area for bullet casings and talking to witnesses, we left the scene. We made a pit stop at a QuikTrip for drinks. Water was the beverage of choice.

As we were leaving the store, we got flagged down by this one guy. He had been in a minor accident and was waiting for the police to come and write a report. Andy took the call from the dispatch queue and wrote the report the guy needed.

The next call was for some guy who was endangering himself and others by running into traffic. He was near a bus stop and when we arrived, his face was bloody. He was sitting there and we did not witness him running in traffic. Andy and Richard got out and talked to him to determine whether or not he was ok.

Besides some apparent mental health issues, the guy seemed fine. Since we hadn’t witnessed him breaking any laws and he seemed coherent enough, we left. Hopefully, the guy did not harm himself later on, but we did not receive any reports of it later that night.

After leaving that call, we were on to the next. There was supposedly a stalled car on the freeway.

We did not find the car where it was reported so we drove back to the station. In many cases, paperwork can be filed from the car. Typically the non-driving partner will operate the computer as the other officer drives. Some systems require better connectivity that the mobile devices don’t offer. In the case where better connectivity is required, the reports have to be filed at the station.

Inside the station, there was a couple boxes of donuts. This ironically fit the cop stereotype.

We went into the Detail Room and headed over to a computer. Richard started filling out some paperwork.

It didn’t take too long to do paperwork. We hit the road and did a little patrolling. It was starting to get dark. We took a call about a dispute between a tenant and their landlord. After that, we headed to Fast Furious Japanese Grill for lunch\supper.

The food was good and we all enjoyed our supper.

After eating, our next call was to a shopping center. Some teenagers decided to steal security’s golf cart and take it for a joy ride. They then ditched it in the grass.

The report was written up and we were on our way again. The calls had died down a bit so we could look for traffic violations. Once crazy thing I found on this ride along is the sheer amount of horrible drivers. We were cut off multiple times and almost ran into. There were a tons of traffic violations in front of us. You would think people would be more careful around a squad car, but I guess in Dallas they are not.

When I did my ride along with the Thunder Bay Police, we were cut off. We then pulled the guy over. In the case of Dallas, there are so many more higher priority calls that we had to take versus pulling people over. I can see now why they have a dedicated “star car” to handle traffic violations. If they didn’t, that’s all the cops could be doing their entire shift.

It was quieter towards the end of the night. We finally made a traffic stop. After running plates, we found the driver we could pull over. This driver did not have insurance. He got ticketed for that and his car was towed to the impound lot.

The shift was soon over. How fast did it go! The high action of the night made the time fly. We headed to the gas depot and filled up the car.

We then headed back to the station and parked the car in its resting spot for the night.

Andy then got dressed in his regular clothes and we left the station for his apartment. On the way out, I saw the Police Officer’s Prayer.

Out of all the ride alongs I’ve done, this was by far the highest action. As Officer Campos put it I had a “backseat to the greatest show in the world.” In a lot of cases, he was right. This ride along put a lot of things into perspective for me. The first was how crazy things can get in an active shooter situation. Coming from a small town, this doesn’t happen often. Even in Austin, I am kind of isolated from these situations.

Another thing I got to see was great teamwork in action. Andy and Richard have a special team dynamic going on. While Andy drove, Richard was giving him the information he needed. Richard worked the computer and kept on top of things. Andy took this information and navigated to the right spots. The tasks that both of them were doing were in perfect sync with each other and they got a lot done.

Finally, the last thing that I already knew but realized more was the sheer amount of bad drivers in Dallas. I can’t believe how many times we were nearly in an accident. It’s insane how people completely disregard that there is cop right there. You think they’d drive better, but I guess not.

I want to thank the Dallas Police Department for making this ride along possible. I also want to thank Officers Blume and Campos for putting up with me as I rode along. The whole experience was eye opening, but a lot of fun.

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