By: Mike Rhodes—
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a police officer in Muncie?
The Muncie Police Department recently introduced a new program that allows community leaders/members to “ride along” with a police officer for a few hours to learn what a Muncie Police Department officer does on patrol.
According to MPD Police Chief Joe Winkle, “My son, Patrolman Chase Winkle, brought the idea to my attention and we discussed it with the other officers in the department. The other officers and supervisors got on-board with the idea very quickly, so we decided to implement the program. I think it is good for the general public to be able to observe and get a sense of what our officers do everyday.”
Ride along educational programs are utilized by police departments across the country, including cities such as: Fresno, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Allentown, PA; Longview, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; and Lafayette, IN among others.
According to Chase, for purposes of patrolling, the City of Muncie is split into 4 quadrants. Officers are assigned to patrol a specific quadrant during a shift. There is also one roving officer who can patrol any quadrant in the city during his or her shift.
Since the program inception, a number of community leaders/members have taken the police department up on the offer to “ride along.”
I rode with MPD patrolman, Chase Winkle on Saturday, July 29th for about three hours. The first thing a “ride along” participant must do is sign a release of liability form. Participants are given explicit instructions on how to behave during the ride along. Participants are only allowed to “observe” and are instructed not to participate or assist in any police activity during their ride.
During the time I rode with Chase, we had three calls: 1.) An alarm at a local business; 2.) A call about a possible fight at Heekin Park; and 3.) An automobile accident hit and run.
I attached a stabilized high-definition video camera to the windshield of our unmarked, natural gas/regular gas powered police vehicle and recorded a few moments of our police runs during my ride along with Chase. The “super-wide” angle of the video camera lens does seem to exaggerate the speed of the moving police vehicle. Video is 3:15 in length.
Will Grinstead, a chaplain at IU Health/Ball Memorial Hospital participated in a ride along for a full 8 hour shift recently. He wrote, via his Facebook page, “My ride-along last night was such an important experience for me. I surely didn’t learn everything about law enforcement in 8 hours, but I did leave with a few observations.
“The amount of detail and the flood of information that I saw officers processing in a split second was incredible. Even as someone who does a fair amount of this in my own work, I was amazed at their ability to do this. I would compare it to juggling bowling pins while treading water and singing the Russian alphabet backwards. Absolutely incredible. Police work is as mentally exhausting as it is physically exhausting.
“There are a gajillion good things about this city. I saw ordinary people holding space for others’ pain, derailing their own plans to help a stranger. I still believe that this world is a good and wonderful place.”
For more information on the MPD’s ride along program, contact MPD patrolman Chase Winkle via email. firstname.lastname@example.org (Use the phrase “Ride Along Inquiry” in the subject matter line of your email.)
Related article on the Muncie Police Department’s CNG Fleet