It truly is a job that can go from quiet to shear madness in a split second. That's how best way to describe the duties of a police officer.
However, on the two afternoons I was lucky enough to "ride along" with two Newcomerstown Police officers, the days were relatively calm (which was just fine for me).
Newcomerstown Police Chief Gary Holland granted me the "clearance" to ride along with two police officers to see what it was it like to be a police officer -- at least for two, relatively calm, afternoons in the village. Granted, I have no experience in being a police officer. The only "real" law enforcement knowledge I had (prior to this) was being pulled over by the State Highway Patrol on Route 36 for going 68 in a 55. Lesson learned, ticket paid.
Anyway, on to my trips with the police (riding in the front seat, of course) ...
The two police officers were different in their approach to the job but each had the goal of maintaining the safety of the village residents at heart.
My first afternoon shift was with Patrolman Mark Stahovec.
"It's a good way to interact with the public," he said when asked why he wanted to become a police officer. "I want to help out people I serve."
Stahovec started on the Newcomerstown Police force in 2001 after graduating from Meadowbrook High School and Muskingum Area Technical College's (known now as Zane State College) police academy. He became a full-time officer in 2005, and has since become a Taser Instructor and travels to different parts of the region giving instruction on how to administer a Taser. His time teaching others is on his own personal time with many of the hours of instruction being donated to villages that can't afford to pay for additional training courses for their officers. Therefore, his time is volunteered and donated.
"Everything changes," Stahovec said about laws and additional certifications for police officers.
He said the job is made up of a lot of paperwork, as well as trips to the courthouse for testimony and taking prisoners for court dates.
He said there is also a lot of following up on cases, which is what he did during my ride along day with him.
Some things may seem so trivial and non-important to an outsider but to the person who is actually involved, it is monumental, and those types of issues are what police officers deal with on a daily basis.
"There's never a dull moment," Stahovec said about his job on the Newcomerstown Police force.
On my second day as a "police officer" (and I use that term loosely), I rode along with Patrolman Bryan Eubanks, who sometimes rides with Stahovec on certain shifts.
"It's just something I wanted to do," Eubanks said about why he decided to become a police officer. "I have interest in it and I like the town."
Eubanks, a 1998 graduate of Meadowbrook High School, also graduated from the police academy at MATC and then went on to other police departments, including the Village of Port Washington, before coming to Newcomerstown in August 2009.
Eubanks also serves as the Drug Officer for the village, as well as an Operational Street Smart instructor for area schools where he teaches school staff and teachers how to identify drugs and students who are inhibited by drugs. He taught them some of the tricks or places that drugs can be hid on the students without the teacher or staff knowing.
He said his past nine years of experience as a police officer has helped him to become more knowledgeable of criminals and some of the things they do.
Patrolling village streets and checking how fast vehicles were traveling in the village were just a few of the activities that I took part in on my afternoon in the passenger seat of a police cruiser.
They are vigilant in making every effort to catch speeders in the village. That was no more evident than on my ride along day when a motorist was pulled over for going a little more than 5 miles over the speed limit. That's something that everyone needs to take note of, especially when school starts again.
Chief Holland said the police department is continuing to operate with five full-time and three part-time police officers, and having a budget cut from $600,000 down to $429,000 a year. He said they are continuing to maintain the safety of the village residents' at heart.
That was evident on my short two afternoon shifts with the police department. Never was there not something to do or someone needing something. They never once said, "I don't think this is important and I'm not going to do it." They just did it.
The police officer's creed was never more apparent than those two days: "I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself to my chosen profession ... law enforcement."
We can be thankful they are here to serve and protect the Village of Newcomerstown.