Police officers know their town

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Editor's Note: Daily Mail Reporter Rusty Murry spent much of the night Friday riding with Nevada police Sgt. Steve Bastow, observing a police officer at work. following is Murry's first-person account of the shift.

There is no better way to learn what a policeman does than to ride along with an officer during a shift.

I have covered the crime and courts beat for more than three years now. I went through the first citizens' police academy as a participant and have done more than one ride along, so I have a good idea of what officers do when they are on the job.

I have always wanted to go with them when they do a kick-in and take down some drug dealer, but that hasn't happened yet. I did get to participate in a simulated child abduction where they encouraged me to be "a nosy reporter." I got into their crime scene twice, but it wasn't like the real thing.

The first ride along I did wasn't high excitement, but we stopped a couple of drunk drivers. The first call was to assist another officer. The suspect popped out his glass eye and tried to use that as an excuse. Officers didn't see things his way and told him he'd tried that trick before. He was instructed to replace the eye, then he was arrested and taken away in a pair of shiny new bracelets.

The second stop was a little more volatile. While sitting at an intersection, Officer Lukas Gibson and I noticed a vehicle weaving down the hill toward us. Instead of passing by, the driver tried to turn into the street we were on. Reacting quickly, Gibson backed the cruiser up several yards or the motorist would have slammed into us.

After bouncing up on the sidewalk and taking out a fence post, the driver stopped and tried to scramble around in the vehicle to make it look like the passenger was driving. The officer and I both witnessed the clumsy effort at deception. When they did exit the vehicle, the driver was yelling obscenities at the house in front of which he had stopped.

Officer Gibson patiently listened as the drunken man tried to say he wasn't driving then cussed him and threatened him and told him he would have his job. Gibson placed him under arrest and into the cage behind me in the back seat of the cruiser. He kept yelling while Gibson finished up outside. He asked me who I was and I told him I worked for the local newspaper. He clapped his trap shut and didn't make another sound. That was the end of my ride along. It was 3 a.m.

My latest ride along was pretty dull. We just about saw more deer last Friday night than people. We got one call for service on the west side of town. Someone had driven into a yard on a motorcycle, but by the time we arrived, the reporting party said the driver had left going west. Sgt. Steve Bastow said he knew who the motorcycle rider probably was and we headed west. He was telling me about the individual and his likely activity in the neighborhood when we arrived at the man's residence. Two people were pushing a motorcycle into the garage.

It was cold and misting and 1 o'clock in the morning. It was doubtful any other motorcycles were out. It pointed out to me how well the officers in the Nevada Police Department know their town. Another officer we spoke with later recognized the motorcycle rider's name.

We assisted a county deputy with a traffic stop on the west side of town that was uneventful.

The rest of the night was slow, not that the first part was an adrenaline pumper either. We did spotlight checks on The YMCA, Marmaduke Park, some of the big churches, the Crowder College campus and other out-of-the-way places. The officer I was with knew every way into and out of those facilities. We did see a lot of deer out feeding and found one car in a lot by itself. No wants, no warrants; we moved on. We worked all parts of the zone, but failed to find anything deserving of attention.

Bastow said he thought some of the crime in town had diminished. He mentioned burglaries specifically. But he also noted he thought weapons were becoming more prevalent in the city. Just last week, two armed suspects were arrested and an alleged burglar was arrested on the day of my ride along. Bastow didn't give specific reasons for his statements but said there were several factors at play in both subjects. Information from the police department confirms that nothing more than some citizen complaints and request to contact an officer happened for the rest of Bastow's shift. That's how it is most of the time.

+I spend time with officers at accidents, fires, in the Police Department, at Bushwhacker Days and other places and times, and believe me, they know this town. I like covering and knowing these men and women and I see the job they do that doesn't make it into the pages of the paper.

They do it because this is their home too!

As Police Chief Graham Burnley said, "It's their town, and they protect it."

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