Police Ride-Along

Talking like a Pirate can save you from a ticket

Written by: Gabriella Gonzalez


Officer Michael Downs has patrolled the roads of Sandy City for three years and counting. As a loyal officer who loves protecting local citizens, Downs reports when called upon to give traffic tickets, give warrants, and search for drugs. Downs says he loves to work for the Sandy Police Department because “this job keeps you on your toes!”

Chief of the department, Kevin Thacker, says he “teaches all of his officers the value and importance of community-oriented policing,” according to the Sandy Police Department’s website.

On a recent police ride along, Downs responded to a stolen car call at a local apartment complex in Sandy. While he was there, the young children admired his braveness, courage, and cool car. The children drew pictures for Downs to give to firemen. Downs displayed his “community-oriented policing” by accepting the pictures and talking to the children.

Apart from their community-oriented policing, Downs sometimes has to be the bad guy. Nobody likes getting pulled over, and Downs doesn’t like to pull people over either. Downs says it’s a boring day being a police officer when you only get to write tickets and direct traffic.

The most exciting things that happen on the job are when police officers get to search a car for drugs, serving warrants, or go looking for stolen cars. It just so happens that the most stolen car is a Honda Civic between the years of 1990-2002. Downs says there’s a high amount of cars stolen across the valley daily. If a car is stolen, it is most likely because the person needed to get from point A to point B. There usually aren’t many stolen items from the car, and sometimes the car doesn’t have much damage.

Aside from the typical duties of a police officer, they get a break to have fun. Every year at the Sandy Station, they have an annual Christmas party. To celebrate the season of giving in December, essentially nobody writes tickets.

Downs gave an example of how being a police officer can be fun. He told a story about one officer who works at the Sandy station. This officer liked to come up with his own traditions. He had a day called “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” If this particular officer pulled a person over on this day and the person can give him a great pirate accent, he won’t write the person a ticket.

Although becoming a police officer sounds dangerous, it can be extremely rewarding, Downs said. Downs gives wholesome advice for those contemplating whether or not to become a police officer. Downs says the most gratifying moment is “when somebody thanks you for saving their life. That phrase is very satisfying.”

“It is good to punish the bad guy, but it is more rewarding to help the good guy or help a lost child return to the parent,” he continued.

Despite the satisfaction Downs mentioned, there has been a lot of controversy about police brutality recently.

Jaycee Baker, whose father is a Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspector for the Utah Highway Patrol, said, “People don’t realize the sacrifice police officers put into their work and that they put their life on the line everyday.”

The stereotypical police officer is described as being intimidating, brutal and, unforgiving, but there are also officers who genuinely care about solving problems, and protecting people, Downs said.

Downs shares one last piece about why he loves being a policeman.

“In-between all the hate we get from people, 99.9 percent of all the officers enjoy their job because they get to help people.”


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