For my Management of Local Government Services class, I had to go on a police ride along and write a report about it. The course is meant to give future city/public managers a generalists’s understanding of what specialists do within local government, so in addition to the ride along we will tour a public works facility and we have panels of experts come to class.
I scheduled my ride along with the Bloomington Police Department because I was not going to put in any more effort than what was necessary to complete the assignment and I did my ride along yesterday with a fairly young patrol officer who has been on the force for 2-3 years.
I added some truly hilarious snaps to my story as it was happening but throughout the day I was getting really negative responses about me even being in a car with a cop. One of the responses insinuated that I am supporting police brutality by doing a ride along. So that was pretty fucked up.
As we started the ride along, I noticed some people tense up as we passed by and some other people would wave. We went on 5 calls, one was a response to domestic violence, three were wellness checks on individuals with histories of mental illness, and the last one was for a hit and run accident. We got called to a front-lawn fight and I got to ride with the lights and sirens on but then they called it off about halfway there so I just went home after that. We also did pull over one driver with expired tags, the officer gave him a warning and he promised to get the new ones that week. After that, the officer explained to me that the mayor implemented a new process after traffic stops that requires the officers to record demographic info of whoever they pulled over, including race, sex, and gender.
I didn’t think I would be taking a side by going on the ride along. First of all, it was for a class assignment. Second, my future career demands understanding of what police do and what they deal with as well as understanding of citizens’ perspectives of the police. And like, how are we ever going to stop police from shooting black people if we don’t have conversations and talk to both sides about what’s happening. People on both sides are terrified and I want to know how much of that fear comes from ignorance and work on creating dialogues that lead to better understanding. Obv I am a white woman and I can never truly get what it’s like to live in fear of law enforcement but in 1.5 years I might be in a position where I can do something to help and I want to do that.
When I finish my report on my ride along, am happy to share it. I just wanted to but this up now to share my immediate thoughts.