A Virtual Ride-Along: Waco P.D. Opens a Window with a View into Our Police World

by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department

On August 1, we conducted our first “virtual ride-along” at the Waco Police Department, giving citizens a bird’s eye view of our world. The goal was to let you, our community, into our profession from the comfort of your home or wherever else you access your Facebook or Twitter accounts. We wanted citizens to see what the daily activities of a police officers’ shift might include and, man, they got that!!

vicious-dogThose participating in the virtual ride-along started the day with an individual who had one too many margaritas and needed to visit one of our local emergency rooms. Then we introduced our K-9, Hondo, who discovered some crack cocaine in a vehicle. Then “riders” got to see the gentler side of policing when Officer Evans responded to a “Vicious Dog” call: The officer ended up a petting the dog, and the supposedly ferocious beast hopped into our squad for a ride to the Animal Services Center…wagging his tail along the way. And, there you have it! Our recent virtual-ride-along…This is just one of the things we would like to do on a consistent basis to get our citizens involved with us. (To see all the pictures from the virtual ride-along, click here: A night with Waco Police Department through a virtual ride-along.)

If you virtually followed along with Assistant Chief Holt and me that Friday, you hopefully became more aware of what and how we conduct business. I tried to put a bit of personality with the badges to show you that, yes, we are actually human! We can pet a dog, grab a bite to eat, and give a kid a break on his birthday. We can deal with the humdrum of the paperwork, and then switch gears with a moment’s notice to rush to the scene of an injury accident, or to put a drug addict in jail. It’s all part of what we do.

We police are at times a strange and distant lot. We don’t often show much personality when we deal with the public. Much of this is due to the simple reason that our jobs can change so quickly. As a police officer you can go from changing a light bulb because your dispatchers sent you to a recently widowed “she’s our Mom type” who was afraid to go out after dark, to the next minute standing in an alley spitting out your teeth because some thug sucker-punched you in the face because he didn’t want to go back to jail. YES!!! It can all change that quickly.

We don’t often ask for the public’s sympathy and that’s because we know…NO ONE made us sign up for this job. It was a conscious choice to become a Police Officer and one that if given the opportunity — even though we know the good and bad — most of us would make again.

Policing is a life choice. Once you are in, you become part of something much bigger than any “one” of us. You are a part of something that has stood the test of many years, protests and naysayers. We do what we do best, and that is to protect and serve our community.

We Waco Police are fortunate to serve in Waco where we have a good relationship with our community. No, it’s not always perfect, and it is something that will always need constant attention. However, Chief Stroman believes that continuing to be transparent and open about “your” Police Department is one of the best ways to foster a positive and trusting relationship with our citizens. So stay with us, be a part of us and this community, be proud of YOUR Waco Police Department and the City of Waco, and as one of our commentators from the Friday night virtual ride-along said, “Put on the Popcorn!!” In other words, stay tuned as there is more to come!!….”One Adam 12…One Adam 12… see the man at……”

patrick swantonThis week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice). If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected]

 

 

It Is You.

by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department

As we enter Police Memorial Week here in Central Texas, our hearts are heavily burdened with sadness at yet another loss for our brothers and sisters in Killeen. We can only imagine the sadness our friends are experiencing and send them our deepest and most sincere thoughts and prayers.

The unfortunate reality is that far too many officers are losing their lives in the line of duty. So far in 2014, communities in just the United States alone have lost forty-one Police Officers due to various events. We know that every day we go to work may be our final roll call. But I often wonder…do people realize what it is we are dying for? Have you ever really stopped and thought …why did that officer die?

Let me try to explain what it is that causes us to put ourselves in harm’s way. What it is that makes us run to the sound of gunfire when common sense tells you to run away; what it is that causes us to go down a darkened hallway looking for the deranged individual that just killed his family, or even something that is as simple as stopping a car for a traffic violation at 2:00 in the morning…on a lonely road…not knowing the man in the car had just picked up his monthly supply of meth and knows if he gets arrested he is a three-time loser and goes back to prison forever.

It’s you…our community, our friends and our neighbors. It’s YOU!!! Whether you like us or not, if we know you or not, or even if we have arrested you before; it makes no difference to us as we are tasked with keeping all safe. It is you that we stand watch for every day we wear the badge. It really is just that simple.

We don’t do it for the money, the glory or the occasional free cup of coffee and we certainly don’t do it to be called heroes or to make the local headlines; we simply do it because we believe in right and wrong. We believe that without someone to stand up to the bullies, punks, thugs, and killers in our world, there would be chaos.

No…we are not perfect, not always charming and sometimes not even friendly…but we are always there. We really are just a phone call away and ready to come running in the blink of an eye. I still say this after thirty-four years of policing…Law Enforcement is a noble profession and one I’m proud to be a part of.

We lose sometimes and that’s the most terrible part of this job. That is the one thing that makes this job almost unbearable. For some living in the aftermath, it will be the final straw. Knowing that some heartless, cowardly dirtbag was able to take one of us down leaves us with an incredible feeling of loss that unless you wear the badge or love one of us that does, is difficult to comprehend.

The feeling we get when an “Officer Down” call is dispatched is indescribable and haunts our nightmares continuously. But what is important to know is that we learn. We learn how to get better, we learn how to adjust and we learn how to heal…heal but not forget. And though it is hard to see at times…not one of us goes in vain as we all believe there is a lesson in everything. It’s unbelievable how those blue guardian angels whisper in our ear day in and day out…that doesn’t look right, or that car is out of place, or stay back and watch this guy a few minutes. More often than not they are absolutely right and we live to see another day.

It is paramount that we share our tears with our brothers and sisters in blue but more important than that is the fact that we will rise. We will be back at work tomorrow protecting those that expect it of us and even those that don’t invite it…we will keep watch over our responsibilities and do our best to keep the wolves at bay. And know this…we will never forget those that gave the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in the line of duty as we recognize this…John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

It is a sad time for our friends in Killeen and around the country for those communities that have lost officers in the line of duty. We mourn with you and pray for your healing. We stand together as the first line of defense for our communities and do so proudly.

To our citizens…it truly is you that we serve. Sometimes with the ultimate sacrifice.

patrick swantonThis week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice)

If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected]

.

 

Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton

Waco Police Department