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.