I don’t sleep much. It must be a combination of my strange work hours and my inability to stop thinking, but most nights I don’t shut my eyes until at least 3 a.m.
My insomnia can have bad results. I drink too much coffee, some days I am extra grouchy, and I don’t think I can ever fall back into a normal sleeping pattern. It does, however, have one bonus: I get to watch marathons of some of my favorite shows.
I can’t lie: most of these shows involve the police, and almost all of them are reality shows. My favorite, “The First 48,” centers around detectives solving real-life murders, while shows like “Crime 360” and “Forensic Files” are always my second go-to. And who do you know that can change the channel on “Cops”?
Lying in bed one night, watching one of these shows, I had a thought: Is this the kind of thing police face every day? Is this truly reality?
I decided to let the Paducah Police Department answer that question for me. I requested a ride-along the next day — four hours in a car with a K-9 unit on a Friday night when the weather would be fantastic and plenty of people should be out and about. This was my chance to experience that reality I watch every day firsthand.
The lucky officer who got to chauffeur me around was officer Lofton Rowley, a six-year veteran of the department. Rowley, his dog Fox, and I were going to patrol the streets of Paducah. When the ride was over, I had not gotten my episode of “Cops.” But I did learn four things:
n Cops have the best stories.
While I wasn't part of any drug arrests or even a traffic stop, the stories Sgt. Rowley told me were just like those reality shows I had come to love. Even though Paducah's crime rate doesn't match the rates of bigger cities, the city has its share of excitement. The stories just prove that crazy people aren't confined to city limits.
Police dogs have incredible training.
One of the best parts about being in a K-9 car is being able to see a police dog in action. Fox has incredible training, and I got to see that put to the test firsthand. Have you ever thrown a ball, then made your dog walk toward it slowly and stop 2 feet in front of it and lie down? I didn't think so.
There are “slow nights.”
We went on three calls that Friday, and on all three the issues were not the craziness I had expected. Rowley said that he goes on about four calls a week that get scary, where people are out of control and his adrenaline is pumping. Still, my heart was beating out of my chest. This truly is a job for an adrenaline junkie.
Driving in a police car really is like a video game.
Our last call of the night was part of a fight that had erupted. We were only a few miles away, so Rowley flicked his siren on and sped over to the location. Legally, I am not allowed to drive like that, but being in the passenger seat was incredible. The road lines were blurred, I was pressing on the imaginary break on the floorboard, and I had to catch my breath when the car slowed down.
I thought by the end of my uneventful ride I would feel let down, based on the fact that it was nothing like I had imagined. There were no shootouts or SWAT team action, but I still left on an adrenaline high from the little action I did see. I got home, put on my pajamas, lay on the couch, turned on "The First 48," and fell asleep with a smile on my face.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.