What I'm reading: Secrets to Die For, by L.J. Sellers, Seize the Fire, by Laura Kinsale
Thanks so much to Helen for her fascinating post about literary salons. I'm sure everyone enjoyed that quick trip across the pond.
As promised, a recap of my ride along with a Teller County deputy. It's a long post, so it'll be spread over 2 days.
I chose the noon shift, since I didn't particularly want to be riding around in the dark. I arrived bearing the cookies I'd baked the day before. The clerk at the desk took them back to the deputies, and said they were pounced upon. I waited a few minutes, and Deputy Kennedy came for me. He gave me a quick tour of the building, and introduced me all around. I met the only Hawaiian deputy in Teller county. Deputy Kennedy introduced me as his "rider" although it took a while for it to register that he wasn't saying "writer."
Dispatch was "manned" by two women, one of whom was being trained. Everything goes through there. It was a far cry from the bustle of the Orlando Command Center I toured as part of their Civilian Police Academy, but the job they do is the same.
The interrogation room is much more "comfortable" than the one in Orlando. This one had a round table, chair, and even a small sofa. There was a camera in the ceiling, and the deputies could monitor questioning from their office. In Orlando, the room I looked at was sterile, with a small table bolted to the wall, 2 chairs, and no camera. If they wanted to video something, they brought in a human with a camera.
We headed out in a marked Ford Expedition, the typical patrol "car" up here. (I know the picture is a Ford F-150. The vehicle Deputy Kennedy normally used was in the shop, and he'd been rotating to a different car every shift. At the end of the day, he was assigned the truck as his 'new' regular vehicle. Since the rules said no pictures on the ride along, I took this one the next day when he stopped by.)
His routine is simply to drive all over the county, route of his choice, unless he gets a specific call. So, we headed out from the Sheriff's Department up into the mountains, toward Victor and Cripple Creek. Nothing wrong with the scenery, although there were more critters than cars. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we passed fields filled with prairie dogs and little gray ground squirrels. We must have seen a hundred deer.
We did a number of traffic stops (don't know why I keep saying "we", since I was merely a passenger!) for speeding. For the most part, unless they're doing something terribly wrong, he gives them a warning. When approaching a car for a traffic stop, the officer will come up from the rear and make sure the trunk is closed. Don't want any bad guys hiding in there.
(Note: the Sheriff was a guest at a property association Neighborhood Watch meeting, and he said the county makes very little money, if any, from ticketing drivers. They want to catch felons. For the most part, a warning to drive more carefully is the standard.)
Major difference between Orlando and up here: the deputies here have no computers in their cars. They have to radio the plates to Dispatch at their headquarters, and get the response as to whether the driver is licensed, insured, or has any outstanding warrants. Deputy Kennedy is looking for the warrant part.
The glitch in the system is that the radios don't always work well. I suppose deputies get used to "translating" the garble, but I couldn't understand a lot of it, simply due to poor reception.
They also don't have GPS units in their vehicles. The deputy will inform Dispatch where he is at any given moment (although up in the mountains, it's not exactly like saying, "the corner of Third and Main.") But given the remote location and the relatively limited numbers of patrol vehicles out at any given time, these guys are basically on their own, and backup can be far away.
(Another note: I noticed that although Deputy Kennedy wore a Kevlar vest, he didn't offer me one!)
Their latest dictate is to be more visible in the community, so they will drive through the various developments. In one neighborhood not too far from us, they'd been having a rash of burglaries and break-ins. The department saturated the area, giving out some traffic warnings, but the end result was that they've had virtually no problems since then. We came through our neighborhood, and found Hubster fishing at one of the lakes. Got to surprise him with a quick burst on the siren.
Come back tomorrow for the rest.