“Breaker, Breaker!” What?
Observe and report; that is the job of a security officer. Does that mean if I am a patrol officer, all I do is drive by? There are a lot of missing links to my idea of what the job description of a patrol officer is. Some of which I hope will be cleared up after my interview. Contacting my “subject”, I was told to come into the main office at 11:30pm for my first visit, the observation. I gladly accepted the time disregarding the fact that I had class really early in the morning. I really have interest in learning more about this occupation because I love driving and it also suits me because I am a very observant person. Hopefully, while observing and interviewing my subject, I will learn enough about what it is like being a patrol driver, and it will either swerve or support my wishes of being one myself.
While sitting inside the office waiting for patrol to come back from their first rounds, I thought to myself, “Do I really want to do this?” I visited Big Will’s Security Services in Riverside. I made contact with some of the guards that just came in from their shift. They were very friendly and had some interesting stories about what it is like working for the company, but what I really wanted to know about was the patrol units. I was hoping they would at least give me an idea of what it is going to be like driving around with the patrol driver, but they didn’t. Two minutes later, I heard over the radio, 358 to Dispatch, 10-97 10-19. I didn’t understand fully what it meant. I just figured that the person talking was 358, and was sending traffic to Dispatch.
Waiting to see what happens next, the door opens. A tall, well-built, well-mannered woman stepped in. This was the patrol driver. She was in all black, dressed to the tee; boots shined, shirt properly tucked, uniform ironed well enough to see the crease, and well groomed. “Hi, my name is Rebecca.” I stood up and shook her hands as she said lets go. I answered asking where. As I watched her walk into the dispatch office and grabbed two sheets of papers from the drawer, she answered everywhere. She handed me the papers, one had codes and their definition, and the other locations. She stated that I might as well get a feel for it before I start my main interview, this way I will have more of an idea what to ask and why I am asking them. She explained to me the processes of checking out the vehicle, which falls under my question for safety precautions.
“One thing you should always make sure to do is check out your vehicle, not only before leaving the base, but when parked somewhere and leaving your unit. You always do this because someone might put something in or on the car that may be harmful, such as bombs, acids, nails in your tires, etc. Also, make sure all your lights and brakes are working properly. Gas and oil has to be checked. When driving and when leaving the vehicle, all doors must be locked because someone might get inside your vehicle. Even if you lock the door check the inside with the flashlight before entering because you never know what could be waiting for you on the inside, a big part of being observant.”
I never knew it was going to be this hard. I thought it was just hop in and go. I guess not, so that is one addition made to my list of new things learned about this occupation.
Sitting in the patrol car, I was taking in everything, from the look of the car to the things around me. The car is made like a cop car: leather interior in the back, rubber grounds in place of floor carpeting, and the inability to open the back door or operate the windows from the inside. I asked, “Are you ever mistaken for a cop?” She replied, “Almost all the time.” We started driving out of the driveway and I began asking some of the easier questions on my list. “The codes, there are a lot of them, how long did it take you to learn all of them?” She replied, “It isn’t as hard as people make it seem, we only use about 35 of them commonly so the other ones that aren’t really use are the ones that you can focus on later.” I looked at the sheet hoping that I could at least learn half of the 35 before the night is over. I wanted to find some common grounds, so I decided to ask if driving was the reason why she joined this job. Apparently, it was the reason but not the main reason. She loves driving, and made a comment twice about seeing new things even thought it’s the same road she’s been down many times. It gives her plenty of time to think because it is so quiet and she is always alone. The only speaking she has to do is answering the dispatch’s safety checks with Code 4- meaning that everything is okay, 10-97-meaning that she has arrived somewhere, 10-98-meaning that she is leaving somewhere, and lastly, 10-49-meaning that she is en-route to another location.
“The hours, how do you do it?” I asked politely.
She replied, “Well there are two shifts, swing and graveyard, I usually do swing (6 pm-2 am) but I chose to do graveyard tonight (12am -8 am). Its not that bad, only when it’s the weekend time and I might have somewhere to go but can’t because I cannot neglect my duties. During the week, I may have classes early in the morning so I just sleep in between them and before I come to work again.”
“Did you expect it to be like this?”
“Well, I pretty much had an idea of what to expect because my dad, who is the manager of the company, use to be a cop. My brother is also a security officer for the company. So I, apparently, followed in their footsteps. I do admit I was nervous though, because I knew if I mess up everyone will look at me like “Wow!” So I used to go out with them and I learned from them. And now, I was and still am Vice President of the company since I was Seventeen.”
I sat in awe. Seventeen, vice president, this is even more motivation for me. I asked what it was like being a vice president at that age and she replied that it is great. She was a bit boastful about it, but in a funny way asking who I know is vice president at that age, and answering herself nobody. She also stated that it as a lot of pressure because she needs to know what is going on in every department; dispatching, the guards, other patrols, assistants, secretaries. From my observations and my new found knowledge about her, I can tell that she is a very responsible person. She is also very intellectual and mature for being so young, yet still have her tendencies to still make the situation fun. She is definitely someone I can look up to, she is serious, yet calm and laid back, and has no time for games. She constantly remains with a positive attitude and still has the strength to put a smile on her face.
We then stopped at one of their posts, where she explained the basic patrol procedure. Call in your 10-97, which she let me do, and state that we are leaving the vehicle. “We are not the police, and most people don’t know that. Our job is totally different, strictly observing and reporting, and if we impersonate a police we can get in really big trouble, from fines to imprisonment. If anything happens we observe, report, and call for backup. Walking a post with the guard, you check for any broken doors, lights, gates, locks, windows, graffiti, anyone on the property that isn’t supposed to be there, we give parking tickets or even tow cars that are not suppose to be on the site, and at the end, we sign the guards DAR’s, which is the daily activity reports, call in saying property code 4 and we are leaving to go somewhere else.” Before we left, she told me that I will be checking out the vehicle. “Great!” she explained, “You did everything right.” She also explained that apart of her job description, she needs to make sure that the guards are in their proper attire; clean, well groomed, boots shined, or were not sleeping, or they will get written up and/or sent home and she/dispatch will have to stand their post until a replacement is found.
It is now 7:25 in the morning. I was so tired and just wanted to go home but had to hang in there because if I wanted to be where she is at I need to learn how to control those urges. I leaned a lot from this experiences apart from what I thought I already knew. I knew that patrol drivers are very skilled at their job; excellent driving, and good sense of judgment. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be that hard with the constant observing at the simplest things. Al though observing is a habit, I never thought that I would actually be tired of it. I also didn’t know about the danger lurking out their, and how people would purposely try and damage the car or place something in the car to harm you. All in All, this experience was amusing; I got to learn a lot about something I was interested about that I can probably use in the future if I pursue this career as a part time job. I also made a new friend that is responsible, respectful and reliable.