VC: A Day in the Life of an Officer, Part 3

(Blogger’s Note: This is the third of four installments of “A day in the life,” which chronicles the December 19, 2005 patrol shift of Bremerton Officer David Sherman)

4:30 p.m.

How Sherman patrols is completely random, he says. There really isn’t a “method to the madness,” but officers do look for areas of high crime most often, as well as heavily traveled thoroughfares.

We circle around and head back for the Warren Avenue Bridge. While crossing it, he turns on his radar detector and checks motorists going the north. One clocks 51, 16 miles an hour over the 35-posted limit.

“Whoa,” Sherman says. He checks for other oncoming traffic on the bridge. It looks as though he can flip a U-turn — an otherwise illegal maneuver only the police can make — as oncoming traffic is sparse. But traffic behind us is thick, and Sherman elects to let the speeder go, as slamming on his breaks to flip around could be dangerous to them.

“You have to weigh giving out the ticket with the safety of other drivers,” he says.

He explains thereafter another commonly held misbelief: quotas. There’s no number of tickets in Bremerton an officer must pass through each month. What there is, however, is a productivity standard — a measure to show that through tickets, reports, and 911 calls tracked that the city is getting quality patrol — and not just an officer who is “lazy” as Sherman says, during a shift.

Sherman sets up camp for a few minutes at the eastern portion of the Warren Avenue bridge to look for other speeders like the one he couldn’t ticket. Drivers slow down upon seeing the patrol car, and Sherman views that as a good sign: that despite no dispensing of tickets, motorists crossing the bridge that day will think twice about speeding after seeing his car there.

We get an urgent 911 call and it’s off to the location. Sherman hits the highest-alert sirens and we cruise into downtown near Burwell street and hang a right. CenCom informs him that a woman has a knife and is making threats toward children.

Once stopped Sherman quickly gets out and visits a mother and her
children who say the woman next door is making threats at them. Officer Renfro is already on the scene talking with the family. He learns thatthe two houses next to each other have a history of domestic problems.

The two officers go next door to check with a possible offender, the woman with the knife. When she opens the door, they ask her for her side of the story. She says that the family has been trying to get her into trouble and that during their recent confrontation, she just happened to be cutting chicken for dinner — and was holding the knife when she came to the door.

The officers discuss it and talk to the two parties. No arrests are made, but they are warned to calm down and not make threats toward each other again.

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