Special Report: Ride Along

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

  1. On Friday evening, I participated in a Ride Along with a patrol officer with the Nashville Police Department. Here are four take-aways from my experience:
    1. Without a doubt, the most significant thing I learned from this Ride Along is that when you are in your car driving down the road and you hear a siren, PULL OVER. Pull over immediately. Get out of the way. Don’t dawdle. Don’t mosey. Put the phone down. Do what you must to give the police/fire/ambulance as much room as possible. On Friday, I was involved in two separate Code 3’s (an emergency response that authorizes lights and sirens). One Code 3 was on the interstate and one was on Lebanon Pike from Donelson to Hermitage. It was terrifying! The officer was an excellent driver, but the civilian cars either did not get out of the way until we were right on them or obliviously pulled out in front of us. Did I mention that it was raining? I was fairly certain my life was going to end that night as a Code 10-46 (accident – injuries).

    2. I also learned that when an officer receives a call, the information they have is either incomplete or wrong. Until they arrive at a scene, they have little idea what they will find there. For example, we were sent on a domestic call and were informed that the husband was drunk and choking his wife. The call had come from her grandparents. We arrived and discovered that the husband was not drunk and there was no evidence of assault.

    3. Officers respond to calls as quickly as possible, but they cover a lot of territory and usually there is traffic. When you make a call, the nearest available officer may be miles away. If it is an emergency, they are authorized to go to Code 3. If not, they will get there as quickly as anyone else. Sorry, but your neighbor playing their radio too loud is not an emergency.

    4. At roll call, the lieutenant in charge introduced us to their crisis intervention expert. This is a civilian mental health professional who rides with the police to situations involving some sort of mental health incident (but not domestic abuse). This is a new program in the department and the lieutenant raved about it. He called it the best tool that the police have at their disposal.


    On Friday, April 21, I arrived at the Hermitage Precinct for 3:00 p.m. Roll Call and was assigned to an officer. We got in his car and immediately began answering calls. Calls come in either live from dispatch or through the computer. At any time, there were a dozen or more calls waiting to be answered. When we completed one call, my officer would consult the list to select the next one.

    During the next six hours, we did the following:

    We responded to a home alarm and arrived at the same time as the homeowner who explained that the alarm often goes off when it was raining. We responded to a 911 hangup—a kid who wanted to see what happened when she pushed 911. There was a call from a mother asking us to conduct a welfare check on her son who lived in his van. We searched the area but couldn’t find the van. We also searched for a suspect in a domestic assault incident in which a man and a woman got into a fight at a restaurant. We couldn’t find him and later learned that the woman had probably gone home with him. There was a motorcycle accident on the interstate that we were responding to but were called off as we were enroute. There was a welfare check on a woman who had been wondering a neighborhood all afternoon, but we couldn’t find her. There was a vehicle crash on private property (a gas station) that needed sorting out. There was a call of a complaint of a car parked illegally. It turned out that one neighbor was simply mad at another and called about this car that had one tire on the curb. One of the Code 3’s of the evening was a Code 1000 (bank robbery!!!) Sadly, there was no robbery, just a new employee who hit the alarm button and didn’t know how to turn it off.

    Overall, the evening was not as exciting as it might have been. But that is okay. I wasn’t there to be entertained. I was there to observe and learn what a patrol officer does. And what I learned most is that from now on, whenever I hear a siren, I will immediately PULL OVER.old police car