Ardmore Police Department offering a ride along program to the public
Ardmore Police are putting their best foot forward and offering a better look into the job with their ride along program.
The ride along program allows the public to ride in a police car with an officer during their shift. Interested riders can request both a specific timeframe and officer.
Ardmore Police Department Chief Kevin Norris said the program has been around for many years now.
“It’s been around forever, but it’s something that we are now promoting more in the public because I know there’s interest out there,” Norris said. “For one, there are people out there that would like to come out and basically have the opportunity to see what the officers do every day. It also gives the opportunity for citizens to ask questions of the officer.”
Ardmore Police Capt. Claude Henry said the department has multiple goals for the program. He said one aim of the program is to reach many different people who all might have different reasons for wanting to participate.
“We try to reach a couple of different people,” Henry said. “Those people who are interested in becoming a law enforcement officer and want to get a feeling of what the job of a law enforcement officer does and see if it’s something they would be interested in. It gives them a big picture idea of what the job entails.”
Henry said the ride along program also tries to reach out to ordinary people who might be interested in joining law enforcement but are interested in how the police department operates. The program also gives ordinary citizens the chance to see the policy and procedures that the department has as well how they operate within the patrol street level.
Norris said another important goal of the program is to provide the public with a better understanding of law enforcement. He said oftentimes the public isn’t aware of all of the jobs officers do. Norris said officers can sometimes act as counselors, marriage therapists and child psychologists and might be asked to do a simple task like changing a light bulb.
“Police officers do a wide variety of jobs that the public doesn’t know,” Norris said. “Now, should law enforcement be doing all those jobs. No. We shouldn’t, but whenever we get a call, and we are expected to provide a service then we respond. We try to take care of the situation as best as possible. What better way for the public to see that then to put them in a car with a police officer.”
Riders have to be age 15 or older to take part in the program. Participants under 18 need a waiver from their parents in order to be eligible. The department will also run a criminal background to check for any outstanding warrants and to verify the rider isn’t a registered sex offender, Norris said. All partakers also must sign a waiver.
“The way that our process is set is whenever you submit your request, they will contact you to either inform you that you’ve been accepted, or you’ve been denied,” Henry said. “That’s going to be within 10 days. Those decisions can be expedited at times, but there is a process for them to be approved.”
Norris said each shift will not always be answering call after call. During some shifts, the officer might just be filling out paperwork.
“The civilian would have to take that into consideration,” Norris said. “Go in with an open mind. Anything can happen. It could be anywhere from not doing nothing but writing reports to going from call to call.”