As a summer intern for the Atlanta Police Foundation Crime Stoppers program, I recently had the opportunity to complete a ride along with an Atlanta Police Officer on the south side of the city. While on my ride along, I had the opportunity to observe what a typical day is like for an Atlanta Police Officer. Being his wingman for the day was very engaging and helped me understand his career background as a police officer. We spoke throughout our time together about his career and what he enjoyed most about his profession, which is keeping the public safe. He was very passionate about his role as a servant to the community and about maintaining a professional image. While on my ride-along, I had the opportunity to observe actual policing situations, which I found to be interesting and engaging. We completed a few routine traffic stops and recovered a stolen vehicle that had been missing for several months. We also discovered several vehicles had been broken into after they were parked in secluded areas around the city. It was amazing to me that these investigations were so “routine.” Later in the evening, we received a call regarding suspicion of gambling: complaints of loud music and people carrying weapons illegally. We made our way to the scene and helped the fellow officers disperse the crowd; we found that no one was injured.
The little things that I picked up from observing the officer for the day intrigued me the most. The way he approached cars to have a tactical advantage, the way he paid attention to the calls and where other officers were, and the way he noticed things out of place during his patrol route; all of these things made me think of policing from a completely different angle. Overall, I felt as though my experience on my ride-along provided me with a real life experience and valuable insight into the types of situations that police officers face daily. As my interest grows to be a part of local law enforcement, I was lucky to get an opportunity to see behind the scenes. So many recent incidents have law enforcement in the spotlight, mostly for negative things, but my experience last week was just a short look into modern law enforcement. It did reveal, however, that the police officers I observed were professional and still had a passion for making our cities as safe as they can be.