Stepping into a squad car for a ride-along with Vanderburgh County Deputy Sheriff J.J. Budde was exciting for me. After studying criminal justice, this was my chance to live a bit of what I learned with a man who has spent six years with the sheriff’s department.
The first call was from the Dogtown area. A man’s dog, which had no collar, had gotten loose and a woman was seen picking it up in her car. When we entered the man’s house, we were told to be careful because he had other dogs, including a pit bill, which might be vicious – so vicious that he licked my face when J.J. jotted down the information. We went to the Vanderburgh Humane Society to see if the dog that had gotten loose had been turned in.
We stopped on the West Side to speak to a man who knew the woman who had the dog. The man was accommodating, but still it was impressive to watch a deputy enter a strange house. I followed like a good "cop."
Later, we were driving near the Lloyd and J.J. noticed something strange about the truck in front of us. The license plate was expired, and the driver had used a handicap sticker to conceal his renewal date. Now, I had the excitement of actually being in a deputy’s car with the blue lights flashing. J.J. was careful not to upset the little girl in the truck. Although the man did own the truck, it had to be impounded because it was not tagged correctly.
Our last call was to a home where an 18-year-old man had broken his mom’s glass patio door in an attempt to enter the house. He lived there, but did not have his key. It was not the first time his mother had problems with her son and she wanted him removed. I felt for the mother, agreeing with J.J. that she would be upset if, in fact, her son was taken to jail. When we left, they had a truce. It was at times like this that you realize a good policeman has to combine psychology with his other talents.
I loved my ride-along and gained a whole new measure of respect for our lawmen and women. Now, when I watch my favorite show, "Criminal Minds," I wonder if the FBI has a ride-along program.