September 26, 2007
Ride with police officer opens eyes
I went on a "ride-along" with the Salinas police on Sept. 11, and I came away very impressed.
Seeing the multi-tasking work of these peace officers - including their collaboration, mutual support and respect, and most of all their professionalism - confirmed for me their excellence as public servants.
The calm confidence of Officer Adam Shaffer and his colleagues made a powerful statement and made for a reassuring environment as I rode along and observed multiple situations. Training excellence and professional preparation were evident, enabling officers to effectively and efficiently address issues on the streets of Salinas.
For those of us who have minimum contact with the world peace officers monitor - one inhabited by serial lawbreakers and destructive violence - it's a healthy reminder just to see a small sampling of what these law enforcement professionals face all the time.
As I observed Shaffer responding to domestic violence, self-destructive acts, drug abuse and neighborhood chaos, I was reminded of the intensity of police work. What stood out for me in hindsight was just how quickly, and without warning, officers can be called into harm's way.
Eye-opening was Shaffer's description of the evening as basically "quiet." Even so, I listened as he asked a handcuffed individual, on his way to county jail in the backseat of a squad car, where he lived and who to contact in an emergency. "Transient" was the reply to the first question and "no one" to the second. Clearly, life for those whom police encounter is a far cry from what it should and could be. How tragic.
When citizens pay more attention to their behaviors - in cars, at home and in all public places - and operate within the law, then more time and resources are available for peace officers to address the social ills that plague our society. That includes time for peace officers to build relationships in all neighborhoods, with everyone, beginning with children.
Thank you, Officer Shaffer, for exhibiting the utmost in professionalism and commitment to excellence, and to Salinas Police Chief Daniel Ortega for allowing me to ride along and observe the positive difference peace officers make.
To protect and to serve, the mission of law enforcement, is always about social, economic and cultural integrity - for everyone.