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12 hours in the fast lane

July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.

Not afraid to try something new or even something a bit dangerous, I volunteered to ride along Friday night with two Matagorda County Sheriff's deputies.

As most of you already know, I joined the law enforcement academy a few weeks ago. I mostly joined because I have always been interested in knowing how law enforcement operates. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to explore what they do and write a few stories from those experiences. And as part of the group, you have the opportunity to ride with officers.

I arrived Friday in the afternoon, and I waited patiently for someone to call my name and take me with them on their shift. It was exciting to know I would witness everything they do when they are on patrol.

So as adventurous as I sometimes like to be, I hopped into the deputy's car and off we went patrolling for a 12-hour shift.

As any friend of mine would know, I am not that trusting when it comes to letting people drive me around. If we are going to lunch or somewhere out of town, be prepared to ride in my car. (If I let you drive, then consider yourself lucky because I trust you.)

I first rode with Sgt. Ferell, who enjoys the night shift. I was nervous at first not knowing what to expect. The night started off slow, patrolling the streets of Van Vleck, and being the reporter that I am, I asked a lot of questions.

Then we got a call through dispatch.

There was a domestic disturbance outside of Markham, and I, for one, had no idea how we would make it there on time, having to cross Bay City first. I was amazed and surprised he was able to drive us through town, (at a high speed I might add).

I do have to admit, the high speed got me a little nervous, OK, a lot nervous. My life was in his hands, but I trusted him. He was an officer of the law and he would make sure that I would be OK.

Once we drove through back roads - paved and dirt roads, we finally arrived at our destination. I stayed inside the patrol car while he and another officer went to take care of the situation.

After that call, we drove around some more through the county and went back to the sheriff's office.

Then I switched deputies and rode with Sgt. Banda. I would end my shift with her as well.

Our first call together was a noise disturbance in Matagorda, before the end of the night, we would end up going to that location twice.

We had a late dinner and I got to spend time with all the deputies and dispatch. After dinner, things got busy. Overall I got to see, an arrest, a domestic disturbance, loud disturbance complaints, a fight in progress and a lot of open road.

Truth be told, I am a morning person. I go to bed early and wake up early. I am in bed asleep by 10 or 11 p.m. and to be up at 3 a.m. well, that's a stretch, but I was determined to experience what they go through every time they get inside that patrol car.

Riding with them, I saw how each time they get out of that patrol car, they are risking their lives. You never know what's going to happen. Thank God everyone was safe Friday night and nothing happened.

I learned a lot from this ride along. It was fun, exciting, tiring at times and I for one don't know how they can do this every day - 12 hours at a time. I have so much more respect for them now.



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