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My ride-along with the UOPD (podcast interview)

“I’m going to give you the cover and conceal talk that I give on all of my ride-alongs. Conceal means get behind a bush: anything that will interfere with an assailant’s view of you. Cover means put yourself behind something that will stop a bullet. So whether that’s a tree — or another officer — I’m going to need you to do that, ok?” 

I nodded. 

For three hours and 15 minutes last Wednesday, I got a taste of what it’s like to be in a “Spy Kids” movie. 

Initially, I didn’t think my ride-along with the University of Oregon Police Department would prove to be one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had as both a student and journalist. When I arrived at the UOPD station ten minutes before my scheduled ride-along, I began prepping myself for a lot of driving in silence. 

I called dispatch to notify them of my arrival, and about two minutes later, I got my first surprise: my assigned officer emerged from the building, and she’s a 28-year-old UO law school alumna and only female police officer with the UOPD. 

She brought me back into the conference room of the police department, where we spoke about her journey to becoming a police officer. I learned other little bits of information — like the fact that her husband is also a police officer, but with the Eugene Police Department — during our ride together, but I mostly curious about how she made the shift from juris doctorate to working the 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift for a university police department. 

“I needed more variety. And I wanted to do something I felt like actually mattered,” she said. “Cops see the best people on their worst days. Lawyers see the worst people on their best days.”

Listen to the podcast embedded in this post to hear more about my ride-along adventures in an interview with fellow Emerald writers Emerson Malone and Alexandra Wallachy. Bonus: it involves a machete. 

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