The Weirdest Restraining Order Violation in This Cop's Career

The Weirdest Restraining Order Violation in This Cop's Career

A month after GovX hired me, I went on a ride-along with a South Bay division here in San Diego. I rode with Officer Angela Bull, a tall woman with an athletic look, a wicked pair of Oakleys, and her brown hair rolled up in a tight bun. The most memorable moment of the ride took place a couple hours into the evening shift.

She switched the light bar and eyed the rickety SUV in front of us and the burly pit bull leaning precariously out the back with his tongue out. The dog was leashed unceremoniously to the roof rack on top of the car, violating some kind of safety regulation that Angela would probably have to look up.

She told me to stay in the car, got out, and approached the driver’s side window. She got the driver’s credentials and returned to the car, and keyed in the information into the computer and read the man’s sheet.

“That’s strange,” she began. “There’s a restraining order here … against ‘Rocco, the dog.’ How the hell do you get a restraining order against a dog?”

Angela and I looked up at the pitbull in unison, tongue lolling out of his mouth and perched outside the back window, looking about as happy and oblivious as one would expect of any dog enjoying a car ride.

“I wonder if that’s Rocco,” she mused.

“Well, the driver’s probably just gonna lie to you,” I said. “That’s not Rocco, he’ll say. It’s ‘Spike.’ He probably knows about the restraining order.”

“We’ll see,” Angela said, and got out and returned to the driver. I’m able to recount what happened next, even though I stayed in the car, because she told me shortly after:

She approached the car and the driver again rolled down the window. Angela handed the credentials back to the man. Suddenly, the dog happily bounded to the window to greet her, perhaps hoping for a treat or a pet between the ears.

“Rocco, get down!” the driver yelled.

The dog lowered his head and retreated to the back.

Angela looked at the dog, then looked back at the driver.

“Is that Rocco?” she asked.

“Yeah, that’s my dog, Rocco!” the man said.

“Sir, would you please step out of the car?”

Angela placed the man under arrest for violation of a restraining order. The next hour was spent trying to figure out what to do with the dog, and local Animal Control showed up and removed Rocco from the vehicle. While this was getting all sorted out, two of Angela’s fellow officers showed up to provide backup, and razzed her for perhaps the most amusing call of the day. Her colleagues had spent their shift dealing with various domestic disturbances, one tip on an ongoing larceny case, and spending some time talking with people about a shooting that had occurred three days ago.

Angela’s perp was allegedly guilty of violating a restraining order his ex-girlfriend had placed on him, a condition of which was that he couldn’t be near this particular dog. She placed him in the back of the cruiser and we headed downtown and booked him.

Then we had dinner at Subway. She even paid for my sandwich.

For me, this was a day when I saw the human side of cops, something so frequently forgotten in these days of controversy, troubled narratives, and injustices. It’s easy to generalize about American law enforcement and even easier to forget that these officers are people too. The work they do remains important, even in the midst of understandable scrutiny, and I’m grateful to the men and women who wear blue. Going on this ride-along was an invaluable experience, and Angela and I chuckled throughout the rest of her shift about the incident and the ribbing she’d likely get at roll call the next day. “Wait ‘til the other guys hear about this,” she said.

This week is National Police Week, and Friday caps it off with Peace Officers Memorial Day, designated in 1962 by JFK in honor of those who’ve been lost in the line of duty. It’s especially important to consider the men and women of law enforcement as red-blooded, American people like Officer Angela Bull: A 33-year-old woman with a good heart, an English degree, a propensity for service and a sharp sense of humor.

I’ll always remember the evening I spent riding along in Angela’s cruiser, and there were plenty more moments and calls that night unrelated to deciphering the particulars of dog restraining orders. I remember driving home after midnight that evening with a greater understanding of the work police officers do. I try to remind myself all the time that they’re people just like I am, even when I grumble and complain about the parking ticket I got last month for an expired registration.

Thanks for reading my random story about police work. I thought our members and blog readers, even those who aren’t cops, might enjoy it. If you want, leave a note of gratitude for the work police officers do in the comments below. We’d love to read them.

From everyone at the GovX office, we thank every officer during National Police Week, and every week that follows.

Leave a comment:

Tim E.

5/11/2015 3:13 PM

Cool story. Glad you got to see our human side and have an understanding that the media portrait isn't the real one! Sgt. T

Brent H.

5/12/2015 8:03 AM

Thanks, Sgt! We felt it was important to tell a real-world story in honor of National Police Week. Where do you serve?

Brian D.

5/11/2015 4:37 PM


steven m.

5/11/2015 10:10 PM

its the unexpected funny things that happen that can make your day. or week for that matter.

Karen C.

5/12/2015 6:34 AM

Thank you for the story. We seldom hear stories of female officers and the picture you provided was priceless. Yes, officers are human too and it's sad that the public fails to recognize that. Thank you for reporting that as well. Great story!

Brent H.

5/12/2015 8:02 AM

You're welcome, Karen, and thank you for reading. What department do you work at?

Ryan R.

5/12/2015 7:24 AM

Thank you. People often ask about the horrible things that we chine across as officers and then give the same response of, "I don't know how you do it..." This is how. The small things that give you a laugh and the stories that are seldom shared. This well written article shows just that and I hope it is read by many!

Brent H.

5/12/2015 8:01 AM

Thanks for reading, Ryan. It's always a pleasure to chat with officers when they come into the GovX office from time to time. I'm glad you enjoyed the story and stay tuned for more!

Jeff B.

5/12/2015 4:25 PM

Great story.. Thanks

nilo j.

5/12/2015 7:41 PM

Thank you for appreciating us!!! It's a job we as law enforcement deputies truly enjoy even with all the haters.

scott m.

5/16/2015 5:21 PM

There is humor to be most every day. Best job ever....

Reid S.

5/31/2015 12:05 PM

Thanks for the story. I grew up a half mile from the SE precinct station and went on a ride along in Feb '85!!! Great police dept in a great city!

Don D.

5/31/2015 12:58 PM

Great Story Brent, wouldn't it be great if everyone (almost everyone) had the opportunity to do a ride-along and get a glimpse of what police work is really like? Thanks for sharing, DD

Andrew B.

5/31/2015 1:22 PM

I do hope you add police body cams to your website.

Kyle S.

6/1/2015 2:56 PM

I just read this and wanted to say thanks for doing this story...people just don't understand what police do day in and day out. As a former Army Infantryman and a current state trooper in Indiana, I appreciate anything in the media that might open the publics' eyes to what we actually do. I'd love to see more of this type of thing