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Ride Along: National Police Week

In honor of National Police Week, I wanted to step into the shoes of an actual police officer. So, I reached out to a local police department, Metropolitan Police Department in District Four, to schedule a ride along. My goal for this experience was to gain a better understanding of the professional and personal realities of a police officer.

I was paired with Officer Whelan for a four-hour ride along in Washington D.C.’s Fourth District.  On a quiet Saturday night, we patrolled around his typical route and even passed by the Mayor’s house! Eventually, we received a call on the radio regarding a domestic dispute and left to help without hesitation. As a civilian, I was not able to go inside and witness the transpiring event, but I was able to connect with other officers outside who came by for support. I asked each of the officers why they chose a career in law enforcement.I found that most of the answers were either that the officer wanted to give back to their community or were drawn to this career path from positive experiences with officers growing up.

I also learned that many of the officers had young families and grew up in the area. They truly want to make their city safer for everyone.

Despite the personal risks and the late hours, these officers were enthusiastic about their careers and seemed genuinely committed to their mission: to serve and protect.

As the night progressed, we dispatched to many calls in the area ranging from a missing person’s report to simple traffic stops. No; Officer Whelan would not let me turn on the siren or use the intercom. Despite that…I had a lot of fun and garnered a greater appreciation for what law enforcement professionals do for our communities every single day and night. From the police officers, to their leadership, to the radio dispatcher and beyond—the police department operates like an all-star team. I encourage anyone curious about law enforcement to reach out to their local department and schedule a ride along. You may learn more than you expected!

Happy National Police Week!


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