The citizen’s police academy is winding down. Week 7 (of 10) focused on motor vehicle law, traffic stops, and the mountain bike officers.
Discussion focused on reasons people were pulled over. They included:
- Defective equipment
- Crossing any solid lines
- Aggressive driving — for example, following too closely. Tip: Find stationary object like a lamp post, when the rear bumper of the car in front of you passes it, count “1 thousand 1 1 thousand 2” to judge if you are too close. If your front bumper passes that same object before you reach ‘2’ – even at 20 mph, you are too close
- Unattended vehicle — If you leave your car running, anywhere, and someone could easily enter the car and drive off, you could be cited. But if your car has a mechanism that doesn’t allow it to be driven away without your key, you’re okay. (I thought that was interesting.)
- Out dated inspection or registration stickers
- Tinted glass – unless it’s factory smoked glass, it’s a no-no in NH
It was also time to sign up for ridealongs with officers. We were able to select a 4-hour shift during the week. Because of my busy schedule, the only shift that fit was a Sunday morning from 7-11.
I knew it would be a quiet shift, and it was, but there was some excitement. We were first-on-the-scene at a tree breaking and pulling some power lines down. This was the Sunday after Hurricane Sandy moved through. It was a quiet, beautiful sunny Sunday, but as we sat in the cruiser and the officer made notes from a house-to-house canvass he’d just completed, we heard a lot pop!
And, no kidding, “a man and his dog” were just ahead of us, walking toward us when it happened. I saw the dog look up and across the street, then heard a noise, and then the man looked up. The officer and I both jumped at the sound and we immediately said ‘transformer’ but there wasn’t any smoke or fire (thank goodness!)
We drove a few feet up the road, and the photos show what was there.
The residents on the street couldn’t have had a faster response. The officer called the downed power line in, it was a live line, and he immediately blocked off the area while telling the residents to stay away from the wire.
The fire department arrived within minutes and waited for the electric company. We didn’t have to stay since there wasn’t any traffic management needed.
It was really cool (yes, I talk like that) to be ‘first on the scene’. And I enjoyed the four-hour shift. I learned about a couple of cafes I wasn’t aware of, and got some tips about local garages that will treat me right. (Insider tips are always great to have.)
This department has a mountain bike patrol with 3 bike officers. The biggest challenge for the bike officers is to be able to patrol on a bike, but still be able to get back to their patrol car and respond to a scene if needed. During a 12-hour shift, a lot can happen.
Officers wear their full complement of gear on the bikes as they do in a patrol car, so they have to be fit to even want to consider being a bike officer.
Imagine being on bike patrol, and working up a sweat when you get a call to respond to an accident scene – you have to race back to your car, get the bike secured, respond to the scene, and hope you look presentable and are able to catch your breath in order to speak with people.