Ride along program is a well-structured legal plan that allows local people who do not belong to the department of police to accompany patrol officers on their shifts or patrols. These programs have become so common since the public, immediate communities, Criminal justice students, and even police-officer applicants, take interest in learning how the police department operates. The primary considerations when permitting a ride-along shall be the benefits to the community and to the local police department.
The Purpose of this program
The idea behind ride along programs is, among other things, to cultivate trust within the community, create awareness as well as have a firsthand experience on how law enforcement operations work. They get to know how life as a police officer is, the call, the dispatch and what goes on the ground during patrol sessions. Other than the police departments, other departments like Fire control departments, Emergency health programs and Animal control units also conduct ride-alongs to allow members of the public to have a sneak peek into their operations.
The criteria for selection begin with members applying at least two weeks earlier for a chance to take part in the program. The applicants must first be eighteen years and above. The areas deputy chief will approve the request after confirming that the applicant has no criminal record after which an Approval for Ride-along form is filled. The date and time of the ride along will be set after the Crime Prevention and Information Centre is informed about the unit. The applicant must also sign this form authenticating his/her willingness to be in this program as well as receive the recommended clothing for example, the soft body armor which Chicago Police Department recommends or the Lancasters ballistic vest.
Activities for participants of the Ride-along program
During the ride-along, the participants must understand that they take a passive position in this operation. They should not take any active part or enter any homes in cases of warranted access to homes or any property without authority from the officer in charge. The objectives and goals of the department are a priority and anything contrary to that results in the ride-along being called off. Any unauthorized electronic gadgets like cameras or recording equipment are not allowed during this operation. It is appropriate for participants to follow instructions, talk less and listen more, keep away from guns and other weapons for their own safety.
Waiver of liability
The idea of waiver of liability against the police department is proven by a section of the Ride-Along Waiver of Liability and Release (form PR-20) signed by the participant(s) and this signature has to be authenticated for it to be valid. This puts the participant(s) under security cover by the LPD officers.
Number of ride-alongs to be sponsored monthly
The policy of police departments vary in terms of the number of rides. For example, Boulder Police department allows one rider per year but in certain circumstances, i.e. when dealing with researchers or educators, the number of rides is frequent. During the times when the demands are high, one ride-along per day in patrol is appropriate which takes the number to at least thirty ride alongs per month
Benefits of the program
The benefits of ride-alongs are numerous including giving civilians a chance to comprehend what policing is all about. This program humanizes policepersons as well as gets the public questions answered. The programs bridge communication between police departments and the community they serve. As been noted, these programs credit the transparency policies of police departments while also acting as potential recruitment platforms for police departments. Ride-along programs also highlight the officers intentions of building trust with the communities they protect.
There are demerits of this program, like dangerous calls that can place the life of participants in danger. This is where the responsibility of the officer in charge comes to aid. The ballistic vest or the soft body armor plays an advantage. Knowing that the participant is not a criminal overrides the potential dangers he/she possesses unless they are targeted by criminals after the program.
Ride-along in reducing crime
The effectiveness of ride along programs in minimizing crimes begins from the screening of riders, of criminal backgrounds. Ride-alongs themselves a patrol shifts aimed at discovering or responding to criminal activities in the community. If participants get interested in police forces, then it is a first step to community safety.
Ride-along as a cost-effective crime-prevention program
Since ride-alongs are free, there police departments incur no financial costs to conduct them. They are a free way of educating the society against crime as well as answering their questions concerning policy and policing. Patrolling in itself discovers some criminal activities or prevents them before they happen.
Ride-Along Program. (2014). Directives.chicagopolice.org. Retrieved 10 May 2017, from http://directives.chicagopolice.org/lt2015/data/a7a57be2-12946bda-6b312-946c-0ceb2c04cdccd679.html?ownapi=1
Strandberg, K. W. (2014). How well does your agency do the ride-along? Command/HQ. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from http://www.officer.com/article/11542822/how-well-does-your-agency-do-the-ride-along.
Khan, S. (2016). FOP addresses DOJ findings on Baltimore police. WBAL. Retrieved 9 May 2017, from http://www.wbaltv.com/article/fraternal-order-of-police-addresses-department-of-justice-findings-on-baltimore-police/7148643
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