Students ride along with ASU Police

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The Appalachian Online

Josh Wharton

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or students who have ever wondered what it is like to spend a day in the life of an Appalachian State University police officer, the department allows students to ride along in a patrol car.

Students can meet with a police officer at a planned time and get insight to what the duties, responsibilities and challenges of being part of ASU police entails. This involves patrolling town in the passenger seat of the police car, joining the officer when they are called to residence halls or other locations on campus and any other duties the officer may have to perform during the allotted time.

Every ride-along is different. Some nights are slow and the police receive little calls on campus. Other nights, an officer could be very busy, allowing the passenger to see multiple aspects of an officer’s work.

“We like when students take part in the ride-along program,” said officer James Robertson. “I welcome people to come ride with me.”

Taking a ride-along allows a student to see the daily life of an officer in a more realistic light.

“It’s a good thing for people to come and see us when we’re not arresting someone or doing the things people see on TV,” Robertson said. “People are used to seeing us in a certain capacity and being able to see us in a regular setting is a real eye-opener.”

Robertson expressed how people could have inclinations to feel uncomfortable around police officers because they only see them in the event of something unlawful happening.

“I want more people to do ride-alongs so they can feel more comfortable around officers,” Robertson said.

To sign up for a ride-along, the ASU police website states that, “a signed agreement by the participant for confidentiality and liability purposes must be completed, as well as prior written approval from the patrol commander.”

After filling out the form, applicants are required to read the description and rules for the ride-along program. Sometime after the application is submitted, the patrol commander contacts the applicant to schedule a proper time for the ride along.

Cameron Muir, senior political science major and Board of Student Conduct member said although it was required to become a member of the board, he enjoyed his recent ride-along experience very much.

“My experience with the ASU Police Department was very informative and provided great insight into the goals of the department,” Muir said. “Student safety and security are the primary concerns of our police force.”

Muir expressed how his ride-along experience allowed him to see the work of officers firsthand, enabling him to understand what it really means to be part of the ASU police force.

“Personally, my ride-along helped me better relate to officers on and around campus,” he said.

Muir recommends this program to anyone curious about the ASU police department.

“They go into situations every day without knowing what to expect, knowing that the mere presence of a uniformed officer on the scene might escalate things,” Muir said. “And yet every member of the ASUPD I have met has been courteous and professional in every situation.”

Story: Josh Wharton, Intern News Reporter