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Producer Kyle rides along with IMPD

Picture courtesy of Officer Jefferson of IMPD

Producer Kyle ride along with IMPD       

Early wakeup call, you ready? I’m talking 4:00 a.m. wakeup call early.  Roll call starts at 5:30 a.m.  Hit the streets by 5:45/6:00 a.m.  I’m with Officer Jefferson today of IMPD East.  He picked me up on the circle, from the 1070 The Fan studios at 7 a.m. and we’re off to Zone 70. 

Before the ride along, I didn’t know which part of Indianapolis was Zone 70.  As the great Pimp C of UGK said, “It gets hectic” in Zone 70, which is the east side of Indianapolis.  It can be pretty violent and dangerous in this area.  Officer Jefferson took me for a ride through the entire Zone 70.  From interstate to the east side streets to the apartment complexes and neighborhoods, we hit it all. 

The first apartment complex we patrolled is usually one that officers respond to calls with backup.  You need backup.  It’s that serious.  If you have watched the local news in the last week, there was an 18-year-old murder suspect who had also fired several shots at the police during an afternoon police action shooting.  That suspect was involved in one of the murders in the four apartment complexes that Officer Jefferson patrols on a daily basis.  Understand what I mean now?  You must have backup.  This is only my second ride along with police officers.  The first ride along was with the Indiana State Police and this being with IMPD.  They both serve and protect but really have two different types of jobs when it comes to law enforcement.  IMPD is much more focused on the city streets and neighborhoods and it doesn’t get much tougher than Zone 70.  In case you missed the blog with ISP, you can find it on the Producer Kyle blog page on 1070 The Fan.

I asked Officer Jefferson what it was like patrolling these types of streets.  “This makes you see a lot.  People live in a bubble.  It’s really difficult to understand how people live this way and that way is the street life.  Some of these citizens, of no fault of their own, have grown up this way.  Hustling is their way of life and it’s a dangerous one.”

We live in a weird time right now, a very hateful climate at times, if you will…My follow up question to was not an easy one, not even one that I felt comfortable asking but it had to be asked because conversation is good.  We need more conversation.  I asked Officer Jefferson this, ‘There seems to be a real disconnect between white police officers and African Americans citizens, and rightfully so in some instances and very much understandable, as an African American male, is this job easier or more difficult for you?’

“Without a doubt it’s more challenging,” he said. “My own race believes I’m turning against them, not able to relate to them and that is not the case whatsoever.  I’m just doing my job and trying to clean up the streets.”

It was a quiet morning on the east side of Indianapolis.  The first call came about a complaint of a homeless man sleeping in the back of an abandoned gas station.  We stopped by to check on him and make sure he was alive.  Officer Jefferson let him be.   He wasn’t doing anything wrong but getting some sleep.  It was freezing out.  No reason to give the man a hard time who was sleeping outside on the concrete.  We both commented as we drove away that no other way of looking at it but a very sad situation.  The following call came from a neighborhood where a car was parked in the yard behind a house.  We drove back there to make sure it wasn’t stolen and it wasn’t.  It had expired plates but wasn’t stolen. 

Next stop, we rolled through the intersection where the police action shooting happened a few weeks ago, after a criminal committed a car-jacking and then opened fire on the police.  Think about that:  this evil criminal cares so little about the police and human life that he will open fire on them because he was stupid enough to steal a car.  I can’t imagine what that was like. ‘What was that like?’ 

“You have to have tunnel vision and complete focus,” he said. “I don’t even remember driving up to the intersection.  I just remember turning my car sideways for protection and jumping out of the squad car.” 

Scary world we live in and just glad the officers made it home safely to their families.

Speaking of families, I asked Officer Jefferson the same thing I asked the state trooper during my ISP ride along.  ‘What do you think about when you leave the house for your shift?’ 

“I just want to make it home to get my three kids off the school bus.  I give them a snack every day, start them on their homework.  They are my life.  I have to make it home to my babies.  I want to also make it back to my woman.  I think about making it home to my three sons and my woman every single day.”

The next stop was the SubStation where the officers can meet, discuss what has happened so far that day, brainstorm on the next plan and even have a snack. 

One word:  Community.  This is what it’s all about.  How can we make our community better? 

“My job involves more than just patrolling the streets and taking criminals to jail.  I like to meet our community members.  I stop by every gas station, all the convenient stores, mom and pop places.  I want folks to know who I am and that we are out here to protect them from the bad guys.  When it’s summer time, I get out of my vehicle all the time and chat with the kids playing outside, throw the football with them.  I want them to know that I’m on their side and the police are not the bad people.” 

Officer Jefferson has several family members that live in Zone 70 neighborhoods so he wants the absolute best for this area. 

“Unless people are telling them otherwise, kids think the police officers are the good guys and you want them to continue to think that and hopefully stay away from the street life.  It’s all about community relationships and getting the community citizens to help clean up the streets of Indianapolis.  Communities need to come together, take back your neighborhoods.  Help law enforcement and if you see something, say something.  We’re all in this together.”

Officer Jefferson dropped me off at work and he was back to patrolling Indianapolis.  There are good and bad people in every aspect of life.  There are good officers and there are some bad.  Officer Jefferson is one of the good ones.  I’ve spoken with two Indiana State Troopers and one IMPD officer in the last month.  They aren’t proud of the bad apples and they’ll tell you themselves.  However, they are extremely proud of the ones who do the right thing.  So don’t be afraid to say thanks to the officers who do their best to keep us safe.

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