In case you saw me in a Hotchkiss Marshal's car Homecoming night in Hotchkiss, I hadn't been arrested. I was spending four hours on a "ride along."
The Hotchkiss Marshal's Office permits citizens to ride along with a deputy to see what it's like to be on patrol. I simply filled out a form for a background check and was approved.
The first step was for Deputy Chad Lloyd to show me the basics on how to contact dispatch, how to release the shotgun in case I had to take it to Lloyd and where the medical equipment and other items were stored in the rear of the vehicle.
There's so much equipment in the front seat of the Marshal's vehicle there's not much room. It was cramped. Throughout the night I kept inadvertently hitting some radio buttons with my elbow. Each vehicle has cameras, a laptop computer, a radio and other equipment.
Dispatch was notified that Deputy Lloyd would have a rider that night. I would call dispatch if something went wrong, Lloyd was injured or I freaked out. Luckily nothing happened. He told me to just talk normal even if I got rattled. I told him not to get shot.
I was surprised that he had a shotgun in the front of the vehicle, and that he would show me, who has never fired a gun, how to release it from its holder. I immediately began worrying about blowing a hole through the roof while trying to get it out. But I told myself I could get it loose even if I have weak wrists and that I could get the shotgun to him if needed during a shoot-out. I've seen this on television many times. Not to worry.
There's no privacy in the world of law enforcement. Everything in the vehicle is recorded. Watch what you say. The deputy wears a body microphone. There are video cameras for inside the vehicle and to show the action in front of the vehicle. The recordings are time-stamped and dated.
The car has several different sirens from ones that quickly get your attention to ones that obviously mean business and you should pull over to the right side of the road immediately. One brief siren was used to warn drivers that they were doing something wrong like speeding on Highway 92 by Family Dollar where it's only 25 miles per hour until you pass the 40 mile per hour speed limit sign.
If the Town of Hotchkiss wanted to make a lot of money from speeding tickets, it sure could. But as Lloyd explained, that's not why tickets are written. It's for the safety of the drivers, other motorists and pedestrians. So the brief siren blast was just a teaching tool for Lloyd that night and hopefully a learning moment for the drivers.
One motorist from out of town did receive a speeding ticket. He was driving along Highway 133 just past City Market and Carter's Hometown Cafe. Some have suggested this is a speed trap. But it really isn't. The Marshal's car is visible to motorists. The speed limit is marked 25 and then increases twice as the motorist drives beyond the crosswalk.
Lloyd explained that the state highway speed limits are set by CDOT, not the town. Lloyd would like to see all streets and highways within the town at 25 miles per hour or set by the town. However, that's not the way it is, and it probably won't change.
It really was a pretty quiet night as far as criminal activity. Just one speeding ticket, which takes about 45 minutes to handle from sounding the siren, pulling over the vehicle, notifying dispatch, checking the driver's license and registration, writing the ticket and writing the report.
It was a night of uneventful patrols of the town's neighborhoods and businesses, except at Hotchkiss High School. Deputy Gates Shaklee was not only coaching at the football game, he would later go on duty replacing Deputy Lloyd. Shaklee's vehicle was parked in the back of the school. During one patrol, Lloyd spotted four youths crouching by Shaklee's car. The suspects saw Deputy Lloyd's car and ran. Lloyd gave pursuit on foot, but they got away. There was not any damage to Shaklee's car.
Earlier in the evening, Lloyd parked along Bulldog Street as everyone arrived for the football game. He was a reminder to slow down and drive carefully by just sitting in his car, motioning to drivers or flashing his lights.
A number of people waved to Lloyd or said, "Hi," as they walked by. Lloyd shared that sometimes he would toss a football back and forth with some kids. That's the nice part of his job — getting to know the kids and people in the area. "That's what is enjoyable about working in a small town. That's the personable side of law enforcement," Lloyd said.
Since being with the Hotchkiss Marshal's Office, Deputy Lloyd has had only one arrested party escape from the back of his patrol car. The handcuffed woman climbed through the window and ran away, only to be chased down and returned to the vehicle by Lloyd. Freedom can be so fleeting.
Lloyd patrols by car or by foot. He also assists other law enforcement and agencies when needed.
In the final hour of the ride along, a Sheriff's deputy asked for assistance as he administered tests for drug use by a motorist. We met the Sheriff's deputy at the North Fork Annex.
The drug test is designed to show the arresting officer if the driver had the presence of mind to remember the deputy's instruction, walk one foot in front of the other and handle the eye test. If a person's eyes shake during the test, drugs or alcohol have probably been used.
Watching the long process, I was glad I wasn't taking the test. The Sheriff's deputy said he had reason to believe the driver had used drugs. When asked if he would consent to a blood test and meet with an expert for further evaluation, the driver agreed and was taken to Delta.
People don't have to submit to the tests. However, if later the person is found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a judge can revoke his driver license for up to one year.
The four hours on patrol with Deputy Lloyd came to an end. It had been a great learning experience of how involved police work is. It takes knowledge of the law, computer skills, keen observation and good people skills.
The Hotchkiss Marshal's Office is a good match for the town which is after all "the friendliest town" around.blog comments powered by Disqus