By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Welch: Citizens Police Academy week 5.5: The ride along
Darryl Welch

One of the perks of attending the Covington Police Department’s citizen’s academy is the opportunity to do a ride-along with a Covington police officer.

Ride along

It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I came to The Covington News. I review reports generated by law enforcement from all over Newton County on a daily basis but this was a chance to be on the streets with one of the cops writing them. And it was on a Saturday night with a full moon.

I got to CPD headquarters just before 6 pm. and was escorted to the briefing room where Sgt. Starr Smith was talking to her shift. After briefing, I met Officer Kevin Thompson, who I would be riding with.

My first observation from my ride along is that Covington cops stay busy. I rode with Kevin until 1 a.m. Sunday morning. That was not necessarily what I had intended when the evening started, but it was our first chance to get back to headquarters.

I also learned that a cop can deal with different situations during the course of a shift that require different approaches. There is no “one size fits all” in policing. We went from taking a 19-year-old shoplifting suspect at Walmart to jail to a domestic battery incident on Peoples Street with an hour. Both of the alleged combatants in that incident went to jail.

There were calls where multiple officers were dispatched, like the reported family fight at an extended stay hotel or a group of teens reportedly fighting in the street. There was also a report of a male with warrants and a history of fighting the police refusing treatment and leaving the hospital.

We responded to 911 hang-up calls. I found out that cops respond to 911 hang-ups because there is no way of knowing why the caller hung up until the police get there and investigate.

We conducted  traffic stops. One was on a vehicle driven by a guy wearing all black and a utility belt like cops wear. Kevin had told me about a report of somebody reportedly impersonating an officer and this guy seemed to be acting a little nervous when he saw the police car in the Kroger parking lot.

After the stop, the driver was reluctant to keep his hands where they could be seen and was asked to step out of the vehicle. He had a holster on his belt but no weapon was located. He said he was a security guard and after his ID was checked, he was sent on his way. This traffic stop gave me a real idea of what cops face every time they approach a vehicle.

It’s that whole “you never know who’s on the other side of the window” thing.

My last call of the evening was for a reported missing four-year-old. She had been picked up by a relative from out of town and her mom hadn’t heard from her in a couple of days. I saw a report Monday that she was later found.

In all, I got to respond to 14 or so calls during my ride along. Some of them we were dispatched to, some of them we responded as backup. CPD officers back each other up. They know their lives can depend on each other. Just like our lives can depend on them.

So CPA is almost over. It’s been a fast six weeks. Our last session will be at the CPD range on Williams Street where we will get firearms training and have the opportunity to fire some of the weapons CPD uses. I’ll tell you about it.