Ride Along with a Sandy Officer

By Michelle James

A police ride along with a Sandy police officer for more than three hours resulted in no calls in the area and instead involved proactive policing.

Officer Patrick Radke works with the Sandy Police Department and covers the East section of Sandy. He works a night shift that is 10 hours long.

The night started without any calls, and Radke decided to do some patrolling, which was watching traffic lights. Radke said citizens can report someone running a red light by calling the police and then acting as a witness. While waiting at a traffic light near the Sandy Police Station, a person ran a red light and Radke pursued the vehicle. Before even getting out of the vehicle, he decided that he probably wouldn’t give a ticket and he understood that the person was probably just running late. He tries to make this decision beforehand so that he isn’t influenced by the person. The man in the vehicle got away with just a warning.

Although this warning didn’t result in anything dangerous, Radke explained how going back to the car after they’re pulled over, and after he’s checked their license information, is when it can get dangerous. That’s the time when people get angry and possibly violent.

Calls that other officers got throughout the night were mainly domestic-related. This could be between any people that live or have lived together. It could be something serious, or it could be a neighbor reporting something they think happened.

Radke said about half the calls they get are smaller things, but they still have to go see what it is. Usually, the officer closest will take the call, and if they need help, then officers from different areas will go.

Kurt Brower, an officer in Boca Raton, Florida, said, “We get everything,” in terms of calls and how it depends on whether it is during the day or night. Brower explained how during the day, the population is higher so more calls will come in.

Radke said there is the issue with how people get angry when they get pulled over, but when they see something dangerous, they want the police to be there.

“Everybody wants the law enforced, but they don’t want it enforced on them,” Radke said.

A major part of a police officer’s shift is taken up with filling out paperwork. Officers have computers in their car where they fill out all the information after they give someone a warning or ticket. This information is crucial when a case is taken to court, and an attorney will question everything that the officer wrote. Radke said some attorneys even take classes at the police academy to get a better understanding of the system.

Since no calls in his area came in, Radke did “proactive policing,” which includes patrolling his area and being aware of traffic violations, as well as actions like looking for stolen cars. Radke often found stolen cars at a hotel near the station, looking for cars that have backed in trying to hide their license plate. According to city-data.com, there were 193 auto thefts per 100,000 people in Sandy in 2013. He said how “boring nights” give officers the chance to do this kind of policing, compared to busy nights where they are trying to catch up with all the calls.

At the end of the ride along with Officer Radke, there had been no calls in his quadrant, but he instead he had the time to watch out for speeding and traffic light violations.

The racial frisk: profiling a concern in Utah


Asher Koles has a thin black mustache, a dark-olive complexion, and a slim build. He often drives his old Subaru Outback across long, open roads to go fishing and camping. His adventures take him to quiet and beautiful lands.

But sometimes, Koles’ adventures on the road are interrupted by the flashing lights and sirens of police cars.

Koles, a 24-year-old Salt Lake City native, said he is one of many people who are profiled by law enforcement for no reason other than the way they look. His most recent experience occurred last summer when he was driving back to Salt Lake City from a two-month trip in the Pacific Northwest.

“Cars were speeding all around me. But I was the one who got pulled over,” Koles said. “The cop walked up, stuck his head in, and started sniffing around. I said, ‘Do you smell something?’ And he wouldn’t leave me alone until I let him search my car,” Koles said.

But the officer found nothing.

“That experience pretty much sealed the deal for my eternal distrust of police officers,” Koles said. “He pulled me over for a bogus reason because my car looked dirty, I looked dirty, and I was an easy target.”

Magaly McMannis, a legal immigrant from Mexico, said she has been profiled countless times as well. A police officer once issued her a traffic ticket that indicated she was of Indian descent, McMannis said.

“I am not Indian,” Mcmannis said. “And even if I was, I don’t know why that is relevant.”

Amid immigration debates and post-9/11 distrust, racial and ethnic profiling of motorists has become a growing concern in the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has dedicated an entire sector of programming to combat issues associated with racial and ethnic profiling, a practice that disproportionally targets people for investigation and enforcement based solely on skin color or ethnic background.

“[There are] clear and significant racial disparities in the way in which motorists are treated once they have been stopped by law enforcement”, said a national report released by the ACLU in 2007.

The report found that blacks and Latinos are three times more likely to be searched by a police officer once they are pulled over. Blacks are twice as likely to be arrested and four times as likely to be threatened by, or to be victims of the use of force by a police officer.

“While the Department of Justice says that the higher rate of searches of blacks and Hispanics is not necessarily the result of racial bias, it begs a critical question: why are blacks and Hispanics subject to searches disproportionately?” said Dennis Parker, the director for ACLU’s national Racial Justice Project. “It’s a question that needs to be answered.”

In the last seven years, the federal government has transferred substantial responsibility for the enforcement of civil immigration laws to the state and local level, according to a national ACLU report in 2009.

Perhaps the most infamous among recent state laws to address immigration is the 287 (g) program, which allows designated officers in various state and local agencies to perform immigration law enforcement functions that would have otherwise been performed by federal government officials.

The 2009 ACLU report said that the program has been criticized for allowing and encouraging the illegal racial and ethnic profiling and harassment of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

But Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said he will not tolerate racial and ethnic profiling in his police department.

In the 2010 U.S. Census, 22.5 percent of the population in Salt Lake City was documented as Latino and that number was nearly 31 percent in the school system, Burbank said.

“To alienate one-third of the population in Salt Lake City is ridiculous,” Burbank said. “We need the interaction and involvement of everybody.”

Burbank said he is setting the tone for his team of officers so that this problem does not take hold in his department.

“I am a very effective arm of oppression,” Burbank said. “Profiling is wrong. It is my responsibility to not allow this to happen.”

But McMannis said she has simply learned to accept the way she is perceived by certain people in the community.

“People do look at me and it does feel weird,” McMannis said. “But I have learned to not care because it is what it is, I am who I am. My dream as a girl was to live the United States, and my dream came true. That’s what is important.”