It started with a phone call.
After believing I was not going to be able to go home to San Antonio for the thanksgiving holiday, a friend of mine called and said they were driving down and asked if I wanted to go along. I agreed so that I may surprise my family. Before we headed out, I called down to the police station that is closest to my residence in San Antonio, which is the Live Oak Police Department.
Live Oak is a small municipal right outside northeast San Antonio. Their police station is inside a local neighborhood. I called and let them know I was coming down and was wondering if I could do a ride along for a class assignment. They told me the only available time they had would be Friday November 27th at 9 am or at 10pm. I agreed to the 10pm time because curiosity got the best of me since I wanted to see from an officers point of view how to handle public intoxication and DWI’s.
I arrived to the office around 9:30 so that I may give them my information and sign documents for the ride along. I met the officer I was going to be riding along with and I was a bit thrown off because he looked younger than me. He requested that I do not use my phone for recording or for pictures. He also requested that I do not use his real name or badge number in any way. I obliged and respected the officers wishes. I prepared my notebook and pen so that I may take notes.
The officer, we shall call him Officer Jones, lead me to his car and proceeded to open the passenger door for me. We got in the vehicle and he turned on the radio that connects him to dispatch. Before I could ask him a question, he starts interviewing me. Here’s how the conversation went:
Officer Jones: “So they told me you were in town visiting. Are you from San Antonio or just here with friends?”
Me: “I’m from San Antonio, born and raised.”
Officer Jones: “Then how are you visiting, if I may ask.”
Me: “Well, I go to school up in Iowa now. I won a scholarship while I was at SAC and made the move up north because I hate San Antonio. I figured a change would be nice.”
Officer Jones: “Oh ok. So then do you like it up there?”
Me: “So far I do. No complaints from me except for the cold weather. Its like hell when the wind mixes in with the cold. Thats about the only thing I don’t like about it. Oh and the fact that there’s no mexican food.”
The conversation continued as such. He asked me what my major was and what I plan to do when I graduate as well as what I want to do in the future. The entire beginning conversation was like an e-harmony questionnaire.
While this was happening, we were driving throughout the neighborhood the police station is located in (its a pretty big neighborhood). About 30 minutes into driving, we got a disturbance call in a residential neighborhood. The street dispatch gave us was actually a street I recognized and was hoping it was one of my friend’s houses that we were going to (yes, that makes me sound like a bad friend but it would be a good story for us to share years later). We arrived at the street to see cars lined up on both sides of the street and people walking with cases of beer to a house. Right away I could tell it was a house party. Jones told me that other officers were called as well just in case people start to get out of hand. He parked the car and got out with two other officers that pulled up behind us. The music from the party was so loud I could hear it through the closed windows. I watched the three of them walk to the front door and knock (more like banged due to the music) on the door. Someone opened up and began speaking to the officers. Im not sure what they were saying but the conversation lasted about 7-10 minutes. Once the homeowner closed the door, the music was turned down and I could actually hear myself think again.
Jones got into the car and told me “this happens just about every weekend. These guys like to party and they never do any harm but the neighbors are older and hate hearing the music past 8pm.”
“Doesn’t that get annoying?”, I asked.
“It really does but its part of the job. We respond to what the citizens need. I don’t really mind it. It can make a slow night productive in its own ways.”, he replied.
Its about 30 minutes past midnight and we drove to a business lot that is buy a local hospital. All the businesses are closed except for one. A bar. The bar is actually a place I frequented myself when I lived in San Antonio since it was close to my home. We were in the corner away from the bar but close enough to where the patrons can see that we are there and we can see them walking to their cars. I actually brought up to Jones that I would go to that bar quite often. He laughed and said that he wouldn’t have seen me there or driving off since he just started in August. I told him he was right since I left to Iowa in August so our paths wouldn’t have crossed there.
That helped lead me into asking him how old he was and why he chose to be a police officer.
He told me that he’s 25 (a year older than me) and that he wanted to be an officer because he wanted to make a difference in the world. He didn’t want to join the army because he didn’t want to be far from his family. He figured he wanted to make a change in San Antonio and take are of his parents at the same time. He went to the community college that I went to for awhile to study business but one day he saw the students at the police academy on campus outside during a lesson and thats when he realized that is what he’s supposed to do with his life. The next day he went to speak to his advisor and the following semester he was in the police academy.
His parents live on the east side of town, which is not a good part of town. If you’re not from that area you really shouldn’t be there after the sun goes down. I stopped him right there because thats the same side of town my family is from. It turns out he knows a few of my mom’s relatives. San Antonio is a big city small town. Someone always knows someone that you know. Its just a matter of time until you two put the connection together.
Its about 1:30am and people start making their way out of the bar. We drove the car closer to the bar. Jones said he always parks close towards the end of the night at a bar that way people can be more cautious when leaving or can sober up a little before they leave. Whether that be by drinking water for the rest of the night or walking to Whataburger which is in the same parking lot).
I believe Jones jinxed us because he said “well, it was a quiet night for your ride along experience”.
And then BAM! A fight breaks out in front of the bar.
Jones puts the car into gear and pull up right in front with siren and lights on. Everyone backs away but the two men keep fighting. Jones runs over and tries to separate the two men. Bar security helped in separating as well. Jones put the one he pulled away into handcuffs and then sat him down on the sidewalk and put handcuffs on the other man. He called for assistance through dispatch and then came and told me it was safe to get out of the car if I wanted to. My friend was the security that helped Jones so we said hi and hugged each other and Jones looked perplexed for a second since I was saying hi to the security.
Jones proceeded to ask the two men why they were fighting but neither would speak. The girlfriend of one of the guys came and told Jones that they were fighting because she cheated on her boyfriend with the other guy. Her boyfriend found out and went and attacked the guy she slept with. Jones took down her statement and her information.
Backup showed up and Jones updated the officer that showed up on what happened. The other officer put one guy in the back of his car and took off. Jones put the other guy in our car and we head towards the station. Jones said they were both arrested for public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and simple assault for the fight.
The police station is only about 10 minutes from the bar. While we headed over there the guy in the backseat didn’t say much. He barely even moved. He just looked out the window as if he was about to cry. Right when we pulled up, he decided to talk to us.
He said “I didn’t even know she was in a relationship. That guy came from behind me when I was leaving an punched me in the back of my head. This is all bullshit.”
We didn’t respond. Jones told me to wait in the car while he puts the guy he arrested into a room. Once he did he came back and got me.
Its about 2:30am now and that was about all the excitement that happened. I thanked Jones for letting me ride with him as well as for the experience. I told him not to jinx the next ride along he does. He laughed and told me that now he has to go to a bunch of paperwork and get statements for the incident. We said goodbye and went out separate ways.
This experience has shown me that it is hard being an officer. You have slow moments throughout your shift so you have to keep yourself awake. But then you could have to be on the move within a seconds notice. Its intimidating trying to break up a bar fight when you’re the only officer there. Im sure Jones was thinking of my safety at the same time and that just puts even more pressure on him. Overall, I’m glad I got the phone call to go home and witness first hand what the officers do while at the same places I used to be inside of and staring at them wondering what they were doing in their cars. Much respect to all the officers that wish to make a positive impact on their communities.