Wednesday, September 24, 2008

serving and protecting

I recently went on a 'ride-along' with a member of one of Patterson's finest... Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Day.

After brainstorming with the other guys in the office here at the Irrigator about possible photos to go along with the Patterson City Council's decision to renew the contract with the county sheriff's dept. for the next 5 years, I suggested that maybe we should just get some shots of the guys in black doing their thing on the streets... so a 'ride-along' was arranged for last Thursday September 18th.

<Here's a sequence of photos I took, one of which ended up on the cover of the newspaper when we ran the contract renewal story. I ended up taking 10 different photos when Deputy Day pulled up to provide backup for Deputy Wagner on S. Del Puerto, in front of the Total Discount store. I was really trying to incorporate the flashing lights from the vehicles and the available light from the street lights.

I really liked this photo, but Day ended up looking too much like he was from Blue Man Group, so I eliminated it from my choices.

This was my first time meeting deputy Matthew Wagner, so he naturally is looking at me and wondering what the hell it is I'm doing. I didn't normally like people looking in the camera (unless it's unavoidable, and really makes the picture), also Deputy Day is just too dark, and he kind of looks evil with that really red light, so I also nixed this one.
Again... too blue.

This was the fifth shot I took, good expressions on the face, perfect exposure of flashing light on Deputy Day, the color isn't too drastic either. I wished that Wagner's face wasn't as blown out as it was, but there's no way to predict how the flashing lights are going to react during a fraction of a second. Either way, it's easy to tell what they are both doing, it is a pretty sharp photo as well, so this was my #1 choice in photos for the story.

This was the last photo of the sequence I took. After getting the good one I decided to try something newer, a little closer.

Too close. My being closer grabbed their attention too much, causing Day to step back, and Wagner to glance at me once again.

These photos were all taken at ISO 1600, 1/15th of a second @ f4, so even the slightest movement from anyone gives the blurry out of focus effect.>

-Back to my accounts of the ride along-
I arrived to the back door of the police department (the door to go to when you really need to get helped) at around 5:00, filled out some paperwork with Sargeant Banks, and was on my way with Deputy Day patrolling the streets of Patterson in the passenger seat of his Police Interceptor. He was armed with his police issued side arm and an M-16 that was mounted in his car between the seats. I was armed with my Canon 30-D with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 17-40mm f/4, ready to capture anything on the camera's digital sensor that I could.
Day asked me what I wanted to see that day and I told him, "whatever it is you do out on the streets."

So he started cruising the streets, first responding to reports that somebody had been seen jumping a fence in Patterson Gardens, possibly making off with some stolen property from an unoccupied home. A vehicle was identified along with a license plate which gave an address off of Kinshire Way here in Patterson. After Day looked for the suspects vehicle in the reported neighborhood, he went to where the registerd owner's address was reported, however the suspect was not at home.

...back to patrolling the streets. Then another call, from a home owner on the 1200 block of Ganet Way who reported his home had been broken into and burglarized. When the victim's address showed up, he automatically knew who it was and told me that his home had already been broken into recently twice before.

Many times during the four hours I spent that evening with Deputy Day I found myself laughing at the jokes and criticisms he offered while driving around town looking for criminals... however this time he was very serious, and very seriously bothered that he missed the crime as it happened. Day would make many passes into Heartland Ranch and Walker Ranch by way of American Eagle (adjacent to Ganet) that day and every other day due to many of the crimes that occur there, and he was upset that this crime happened in broad daylight and he missed it. Apparently someone had broken in through the back glass sliding door, picked up a a widescreen television, and took it out through the front door. He looked for some fingerprints that could have been left behind, and after finding some possible prints, called in the crime scene technician to have the place screened. back to the streets again. I'm glad that the officers on the street take the time to joke and laugh, especially with the very serious job that they have. Maybe it was because Day finally had someone to talk to in his squad car, or because of the novelty of having a photographer follow your every move... I don't know. One thing's for sure though, I definitely felt safe there in the front seat of his car... except when I would bump my elbow on the magazine cartridge of his M-16 assault rifle sitting right next to me.

A few times Deputy Day would end up providing back up for some of the other officers patrolling the streets at the time, and alot of time checking up on areas known for crime. He said that it was a pretty slow day. I wasn't complaining. Any day with less crime in Patterson is a good day.

-Here's another one of the many photos taken that did not work out. It's kind of funny too, every time I would take a shot from inside the vehicle he would ask why I wanted a picture of his big nose. Little did he knows.-

While I'm glad that the city has the sheriff's around to 'protect and serve' us, I am also glad that the city is going to be looking at ways to retain its own police department (again!) by the time the contract is up in 5 years. Right now, many county sheriff's deputies spend only two years in a community before being shipped off. Many county sheriff's look up, toward aspirations of working for the Modesto Police Department, or Turlock Police. Why can't we be the community that police officers want to serve in, instead of only seeing our community as their duty. I've met many great sheriff's deputies here in Patterson that I've gotten to know well, only to find that their time in Patterson is almost all but over. Prior to going on the 'ride-along' I realized that all the deputies on the street (beside deputy Parra) at the time, I did not know at all. While that may be a good thing for some people, I really like to get to know who is protecting and serving our community, don't you?

I really like what the city of Ripon's police department does. They have baseball type cards placed at different sponsoring businesses that showcase the different police officers, what they've done in the community, and how long they've been a part of the force. Something so simple, yet effective in integrating the faces of the police force with the local community, letting people know that these people are here to help us.

Since there is such a high turnover of sheriff's deputies here in Patterson, maybe the City Council should push to have new officers introduced at council meetings more regularly. After all, new city staff and maintenace workers are slated to be introduced at every city council meeting.

1 comment:

James Leonard said...

Entertaining as always, Elias. And you're right -- even though you might have gotten some more exciting photos, the city was better off having a "slow day" for the local sheriff's deputies.