Ride Along Assignment: The Streets of Cedar Falls, Through the Eyes of Officer Devic

Cedar+Falls+Police            “She is an outstanding officer.” a quote by Lieutenant D.J. O’Neil about Officer Devic and her work as he prepared me for what I had in store.

On April 22nd, at 11:00 p.m. I had the opportunity to ride along with a Cedar Falls police officer to experience their work at first hand.  The two hours I rode with Officer Devic gave me an insight not only into what they do for a living, but the mindset and control that police must have on a day to day basis.  What took place on Saturday night, unfolds through these depictions.

I arrived at the Cedar Falls Police Department where I was escorted in by Lieutenant D.J. O’Neil, to the records room, where I was informed of the sections that divide Cedar Falls.  “Section 5S2 is the university area, Section 5N1 is downtown, and Section 5S3 is the area that includes Walmart and Hy-Vee.  The car you will be riding in, is in Section 5S2, the university area.”  Lt. O’Neil explains as we wait for the officer that I will be riding with.  He then describes that officer that I will be riding with, Officer Devic, who has only been on the job for a month.

While Lt. O’Neil is giving me a tour of the holding area in the jail, Officer Devic arrives to pick me up for my ride along.  She is a young, 22-year-old brunette with lively attitude, ready to take on the night.

I walk out to her car as Officer Devic takes out her gear from the passenger seat and stows in the back seat.  I open the door to the Ford Explorer patrol car and Devic starts the vehicle, the ride along has begun.

Driving towards downtown Cedar Falls, Devic briefs me on what she watches out for; swerving, defective headlights and taillights, and anything out of the ordinary.  Devic makes eye contact with me and illustrates, “I also want you to be on the lookout to, you might be able to see things I can’t.”  As we drive through downtown, she continues to brief me.  Devic rolls down the window and points out, “I go slow and roll down the windows when we are driving downtown or on the hill to be able to hear what people are saying.  I’ll be able hear if anybody is screaming for help…”  This was something I never realized, it helped me comprehend the attention that an officer must have to pick through all the noises and talking of the nightlife to find the people that need help.  We make it through downtown with no signs of disturbance.

The patrol car stops at a red light just outside of downtown, here I begin to throw questions at the officer.  Devic is the youngest at the department, after just finishing from the academy.  She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Criminology.   Devic describes her job, “I was a straight A student…I didn’t know what stress was till I got out into the real world.”  Although her job is extremely stressful, Devic loves what she does.  On the craziest night, there was a fight with at least 50 people, “I had to pull out my taser.” When she was asked how to handle the situation, “Get out or you will be tased.”  Although the officer is new to the job, she knows how to handle her situations when things get out of hand.  As Cedar falls is a college town, Devic explains that the police know that people drink, they just don’t want it to get out of hand or endanger other people like driving while intoxicated.  Being born in Waterloo, Iowa, Devic is familiar with Cedar Falls and Black Hawk County.  As I continue to question the officer, she notices a Pontiac Grand Prix with a taillight out.  The patrol car’s blue and red lights are flipped on, signaling the car to pullover.

Devic gets out of her car and heads towards the vehicle.  I begin to observe the officer, trying to make out the words she is conveying to the driver.  After receiving the driver’s license and registration, the officer walks back to the vehicle.  As she sits down inside the car and turns off her flashlight, she tips me with “I always put my flashlight in my left hand, this way, if I need to, I can grab my gun with my right hand.”  Another little thing that never crossed my mind.  Devic pulls up the program on her computer, inside the car, that allows her to see the driver’s history and validation of their license.  She confirms that she is only going to give them a warning to get their headlight fixed.  The officer delivers the warning and the vehicle drives off.  More information is given to me by Devic as she types the paperwork for the incident.  “A clear call is what you give dispatch to let them know your back on.  10-4 lets them know you heard the call and 10-23 lets them know you have arrived to the scene.”  So much info to remember every day, the more I find out, the more respect I have for all police officers.

Our next stop was an old red truck with a young driver and a brake light out.

As the officer made her routine walk to the driver’s side door, I examine the contents of the patrol car.  The front console consisted of a computer with a platform constructed around it.  The middle of the console was lined with a radio and controls to the police car’s lights.  The back of the car consisted of a large, automatic rifle with a dual magazine, ready for any situation.  And above the rifle, hung a pump-action shotgun, this car was literally loaded.

Devic arrived back at the car, she described that there was no insurance in the car and that it could be a $500 fine but she was only going to give him a warning.  The printer behind me that I had never noticed before turned on and began to print the warning.  Another stop for the books, back to patrolling the streets of Cedar Falls.

A question had been lingering in my head about the media and police since I had gotten in the car, and now was the best time to ask.  “Who else is going to come when you need help?  The media is a bad influence on what we do, they show us as the bad guys…But, you gotta remember what you do it for.”  This was the best answer I could of gotten, it showed the true emotion of an officer just trying to do her job and help the people of her community.  It brought a whole new prospective on what police officers have to go through to keep people safe, even if they are projected as “bad guys”, their only here to help.

The drive continues as we meet a Waterloo patrol car that has already stopped a vehicle.  Devic pulls over next to the police car and asks the officer “You good?”  The officer replies with a head nod and she drives away.  “If you see random blue and red lights, stop and check on them.  They might not of been answering their radio, you never know.” Devic explains.  The officers are a team, no matter what force they are on, they all work together for the greater good.

Our last stop happened on the main road headed downtown.  The car was a sliver, Hyundai Accent.  Devic drove behind the car and checked its plates on her patrol car’s computer.  Devic explained, “She is suspended from Indiana, which means she can’t drive hear.” She also found out that the driver had suspended plates as well.  Devic flipped on the red and blue lights, pulling the car over.  The officer approached the car, stating the reason for the stop.  Devic got back into the patrol car to begin the putting the large amount of information into the computer’s database and just as she did, backup arrived.  A fellow officer approached my side of the car.  Marcose was the officer’s name as I read it of his patch.  The backup officer assisted Devic in filing in the tickets, which were going to cost at least $368 for one of them, and there were three tickets.  The comradery these officers have, continues to surprise me, it’s not like any work relationship I’ve ever had, it’s a brotherhood.  The tickets were handed to the angry driver and she waited in the backseat of her own car for her friend to arrive so that the car could be driven home.  The backup officer was called to another location and Devic was back in the car, dreading the paperwork that became of the stop.  And I was dreading the fact that this ride along, may soon be over.

My time has come to an end.  Devic pointed out that she was sorry that I going to be late for my drop off, but I had no idea that I’d been in the car for two hours.  The ride along gave me so much content that time flew by and I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted to grab a vest and a helmet, to continue my adventure patrolling the streets of Cedar Falls.  But ride along was over, but not my memory of the experience.  I said my goodbyes to Devic and thanked her for allowing me this opportunity, though I hope I would never cross paths with her while she, was in uniform.

No matter how the media might portray the police, the courage they must have to go out and do their job, has earned my respect.  Seeing it from the passenger seat, I got an inside look at what an officer of the law does on a daily basis and there is a reason why it takes schooling and a training academy, to do it.  Just like Officer Devic of the Cedar Falls Police Department, they’re all here to ensure the safety of the community.

 

 

“She is an outstanding officer.” a quote by Lieutenant D.J. O’Neil about Officer Devic and her work as he prepared me for what I had in store.

On April 22nd, at 11:00 p.m. I had the opportunity to ride along with a Cedar Falls police officer to experience their work at first hand.  The two hours I rode with Officer Devic gave me an insight not only into what they do for a living, but the mindset and control that police must have on a day to day basis.  What took place on Saturday night, unfolds through these depictions.

I arrived at the Cedar Falls Police Department where I was escorted in by Lieutenant D.J. O’Neil, to the records room, where I was informed of the sections that divide Cedar Falls.  “Section 5S2 is the university area, Section 5N1 is downtown, and Section 5S3 is the area that includes Walmart and Hy-Vee.  The car you will be riding in, is in Section 5S2, the university area.”  Lt. O’Neil explains as we wait for the officer that I will be riding with.  He then describes that officer that I will be riding with, Officer Devic, who has only been on the job for a month.

While Lt. O’Neil is giving me a tour of the holding area in the jail, Officer Devic arrives to pick me up for my ride along.  She is a young, 22-year-old brunette with lively attitude, ready to take on the night.

I walk out to her car as Officer Devic takes out her gear from the passenger seat and stows in the back seat.  I open the door to the Ford Explorer patrol car and Devic starts the vehicle, the ride along has begun.

Driving towards downtown Cedar Falls, Devic briefs me on what she watches out for; swerving, defective headlights and taillights, and anything out of the ordinary.  Devic makes eye contact with me and illustrates, “I also want you to be on the lookout to, you might be able to see things I can’t.”  As we drive through downtown, she continues to brief me.  Devic rolls down the window and points out, “I go slow and roll down the windows when we are driving downtown or on the hill to be able to hear what people are saying.  I’ll be able hear if anybody is screaming for help…”  This was something I never realized, it helped me comprehend the attention that an officer must have to pick through all the noises and talking of the nightlife to find the people that need help.  We make it through downtown with no signs of disturbance.

The patrol car stops at a red light just outside of downtown, here I begin to throw questions at the officer.  Devic is the youngest at the department, after just finishing from the academy.  She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Criminology.   Devic describes her job, “I was a straight A student…I didn’t know what stress was till I got out into the real world.”  Although her job is extremely stressful, Devic loves what she does.  On the craziest night, there was a fight with at least 50 people, “I had to pull out my taser.” When she was asked how to handle the situation, “Get out or you will be tased.”  Although the officer is new to the job, she knows how to handle her situations when things get out of hand.  As Cedar falls is a college town, Devic explains that the police know that people drink, they just don’t want it to get out of hand or endanger other people like driving while intoxicated.  Being born in Waterloo, Iowa, Devic is familiar with Cedar Falls and Black Hawk County.  As I continue to question the officer, she notices a Pontiac Grand Prix with a taillight out.  The patrol car’s blue and red lights are flipped on, signaling the car to pullover.

Devic gets out of her car and heads towards the vehicle.  I begin to observe the officer, trying to make out the words she is conveying to the driver.  After receiving the driver’s license and registration, the officer walks back to the vehicle.  As she sits down inside the car and turns off her flashlight, she tips me with “I always put my flashlight in my left hand, this way, if I need to, I can grab my gun with my right hand.”  Another little thing that never crossed my mind.  Devic pulls up the program on her computer, inside the car, that allows her to see the driver’s history and validation of their license.  She confirms that she is only going to give them a warning to get their headlight fixed.  The officer delivers the warning and the vehicle drives off.  More information is given to me by Devic as she types the paperwork for the incident.  “A clear call is what you give dispatch to let them know your back on.  10-4 lets them know you heard the call and 10-23 lets them know you have arrived to the scene.”  So much info to remember every day, the more I find out, the more respect I have for all police officers.

Our next stop was an old red truck with a young driver and a brake light out.

As the officer made her routine walk to the driver’s side door, I examine the contents of the patrol car.  The front console consisted of a computer with a platform constructed around it.  The middle of the console was lined with a radio and controls to the police car’s lights.  The back of the car consisted of a large, automatic rifle with a dual magazine, ready for any situation.  And above the rifle, hung a pump-action shotgun, this car was literally loaded.

Devic arrived back at the car, she described that there was no insurance in the car and that it could be a $500 fine but she was only going to give him a warning.  The printer behind me that I had never noticed before turned on and began to print the warning.  Another stop for the books, back to patrolling the streets of Cedar Falls.

A question had been lingering in my head about the media and police since I had gotten in the car, and now was the best time to ask.  “Who else is going to come when you need help?  The media is a bad influence on what we do, they show us as the bad guys…But, you gotta remember what you do it for.”  This was the best answer I could of gotten, it showed the true emotion of an officer just trying to do her job and help the people of her community.  It brought a whole new prospective on what police officers have to go through to keep people safe, even if they are projected as “bad guys”, their only here to help.

The drive continues as we meet a Waterloo patrol car that has already stopped a vehicle.  Devic pulls over next to the police car and asks the officer “You good?”  The officer replies with a head nod and she drives away.  “If you see random blue and red lights, stop and check on them.  They might not of been answering their radio, you never know.” Devic explains.  The officers are a team, no matter what force they are on, they all work together for the greater good.

Our last stop happened on the main road headed downtown.  The car was a sliver, Hyundai Accent.  Devic drove behind the car and checked its plates on her patrol car’s computer.  Devic explained, “She is suspended from Indiana, which means she can’t drive hear.” She also found out that the driver had suspended plates as well.  Devic flipped on the red and blue lights, pulling the car over.  The officer approached the car, stating the reason for the stop.  Devic got back into the patrol car to begin the putting the large amount of information into the computer’s database and just as she did, backup arrived.  A fellow officer approached my side of the car.  Marcose was the officer’s name as I read it of his patch.  The backup officer assisted Devic in filing in the tickets, which were going to cost at least $368 for one of them, and there were three tickets.  The comradery these officers have, continues to surprise me, it’s not like any work relationship I’ve ever had, it’s a brotherhood.  The tickets were handed to the angry driver and she waited in the backseat of her own car for her friend to arrive so that the car could be driven home.  The backup officer was called to another location and Devic was back in the car, dreading the paperwork that became of the stop.  And I was dreading the fact that this ride along, may soon be over.

My time has come to an end.  Devic pointed out that she was sorry that I going to be late for my drop off, but I had no idea that I’d been in the car for two hours.  The ride along gave me so much content that time flew by and I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted to grab a vest and a helmet, to continue my adventure patrolling the streets of Cedar Falls.  But ride along was over, but not my memory of the experience.  I said my goodbyes to Devic and thanked her for allowing me this opportunity, though I hope I would never cross paths with her while she, was in uniform.

No matter how the media might portray the police, the courage they must have to go out and do their job, has earned my respect.  Seeing it from the passenger seat, I got an inside look at what an officer of the law does on a daily basis and there is a reason why it takes schooling and a training academy, to do it.  Just like Officer Devic of the Cedar Falls Police Department, they’re all here to ensure the safety of the community.

 

 

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