Ride Along: One student learns what it means to be police officer


Gabe Trout

Being a police officer is more than just the thrills seen on television.

Gabe Trout, Staff Writer

Law enforcement is a field which few choose and many don’t understand. Each day, both men and women put on their uniform and leave their families behind to walk a thin blue line. On February 3 and 11, I rode along with Brooklyn Center Police Department to get a look into the day-to-day duties of these brave men and women without actually putting on a uniform.

Brooklyn Center is a northern suburb of Minneapolis; it’s only eight square miles in size, has a population of 30,000, and has only 42 sworn-in police officers. The suburb borders North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, the influences of which lead to high crimes rate in the city. During the day, Brooklyn Center has medium to low activity, but once sundown hits, the city comes alive.

At 4 PM my ride along began with Officer Al Salvosa, an eight-year veteran of the force. Officer Salvosa has a unique role on the force; besides being on the SWAT team, he also speaks Hmong and is used as a translator on calls where a Hmong translator may be needed.

Our shift started out pretty slow. Our first call was an elderly woman who was locked out of her house but was mistaken for a possible burglary suspect. As the sun began to set the radio began to light up. Calls came pouring in––everything from accidents to domestic violence. But one call really stood out to me. Around 9 PM, Officer Salvosa and I were eating dinner at the PD when a call came in that would change my whole view of being a police officer.

“3219: Unconscious person at the Quality Inn.”

I looked over at Officer Salvosa.  He took one last bite, covered his food, and said, “Let’s go.” We turned into the parking lot of the Quality Inn and walked through the front doors. The caller was standing in the lobby and told us it was room 212. We proceeded onto the elevator and approached the room. Before we made entry Officer Salvosa pulled me aside and told me, “You may see a body. If you don’t want to go in you don’t have to, but just start to prepare yourself. ” Officer Salvosa and Officer Whittenburg both opened the door; I followed close behind.

What I saw when that door was opened, nothing in my past 18 years of life could have prepared me for. Laying on the floor was a young woman who lost her life at 18 years old, shot to death because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I knew that the job title of being a police officer means you have to see horrible things most people don’t want to see––you have to go into situations most people would run from.

That night changed my whole perspective on law enforcement.  These men and women see the darkest side of humanity and have to act tough and act as if seeing death and tragedy doesn’t bother them. “It’s a profession that many don’t wanna do. Many people wanna live comfortable lives in safety, but someone has to do it, so God created the police officer,”  retired BCPD officer Joe Trout said.