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Riding with HPD

Column

POSTED: March 24, 2007 5:15 a.m.
Since becoming a journalist, I have come to realize the only occupation as misperceived as mine is that of a police officer.
Therefore, in an attempt to dispel such interpretations, I decided to ride along Monday night with Corp. Jason Andrews of the Hinesville Police Department.  
Before we set out, the night shift officers had a routine briefing that allowed me the chance to get to know them.
Surprisingly, they were receptive and jovial, and they offered answers both pensive and humorous.  
“The city's getting bigger, it's not getting any smaller, and we want to see more police officers,” officer Terry Mays said. “We need more of the community to help us in order for us to help them, we cannot do it all on our own.”
Responding to more in-depth and thought-provoking questions, they quickly changed gears as they unanimously agreed Reno 911! was their favorite cop show, and if they could duel any fictional police officer it would be “Shaft,” “Robocop” or “Horatio Cane” ( David Caruso from CSI: Miami).
Cops, showing some hearty emotions?  Apparently, I had some misperceptions of my own as I often pictured officers coldly hauling criminals around and just saying, “Book ‘em Danno!”         
After the briefing, Andrews and I hit the streets at around 10 p.m., and we began some small talk of how Mondays are typically slow but how anything could happen.
Within minutes, we got a call and immediately raced to Eagan Road to check on a couple of brawling teens. When we arrived, there was a woman frantically yelling and flailing her arms because her son was mixed up in the trouble.  
After her continued disorderly conduct, Andrews, among other HPD officers, subdued her and placed her under arrest - something that made her even more irate.    
It could have been genuine or maybe it was a means to embarrass herself further, but she began to have an apparent seizure, while handcuffed. EMS was called to the scene. Later on, the woman was apologetic in light of her actions.   
Not bad for a Monday, and we continued our ride.  
At this point, the night switched from excitement to intrigue as I questioned Andrews about race relations, gangs and the overall mentality of police officers.
“In ways, this city is a microcosm of larger cities in the area. Sure, there can be racial tension, but I believe we live in a very tolerant place. It’s unique because through Fort Stewart we see a wide variety of races, and, as this sort of melting pot, I think it functions well,” Andrews said.
While a field training officer, he said, it was also his job to discourage unbecoming racial behavior made by other officers - African American and caucasian.   
About youth gangs, Andrews said there has been shootings, thefts and assaults the HPD believes to be gang related.
“Under the gang statute, it can be hard to prove both involvement and that a perpetrator committed a crime for the betterment of a gang. We have acknowledged the presence of these gangs and it is one of the main functions of the Crime Suppression Unit to actively address this problem,” Andrews said.  
While discussing the rationale of police officers, Andrews said sometimes cops take the “us and them” standpoint where they separate themselves from the community.
“This kind of mindset is a mistake,” Andrews said. “As an FTO, I taught the young officers humility, and I tried to impress upon them that we are peace officers who serve the public. We have a great department and our younger officers follow the good examples of the more experience ones.”
After the ride along came to a close, Andrews and I had discussed ancient history, philosophy, various authors and film directors and the present state of Hinesville.  
With leaders like him, he improved my opinion of law enforcement; now all I have to do is convince readers that journalism is not so bad either. 
 

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