My Friday night in a police car

UD police
Randi Homola/THE REVIEW
UDPD’s ride along program offers a glimpse of what police officers see on weekend nights.


It’s Friday night. Ever the cool kid, I’ve eschewed partying in favor of hanging out with the cops.

I have my reservations about this ride along. Something about it feels vaguely traitorous: I’m no better than the kids we’ll presumably bust this evening.

Yet here I sit, in the office of “The Man,” about to help bust my drunken brethren.

Et tu, Brute?

Aside from this lapse in loyalty, a more pressing issue troubles me: will I get a cool cop?

Not only do I want my cop to be cool, I want him to be my buddy. A buddy cop, if you will. We’ll careen down blackened highways, eating doughnuts and nightstick-ing fools with total abandon. No need for the police siren? Screw that—POLICE SIREN FOREVER! If you don’t like it, you get maced. Better yet: everybody gets maced! We’ll feel so alive. And both of us will sport thick handlebar mustaches and aviator sunglasses.

Y’know, regular cop stuff.

Luckily, my partner for the evening fits the bill: Officer Andrew Osgood is a youngish man with pale eyes and a penchant for wisecracks. If he weren’t a fully-grown man with kids, and a police officer at that, we’d totally be best friends.

Promptly, we enter his police car, sliding out of the lot and into the night. I ask what he sees on an average Friday.

“It differs every night; it depends on the time, too,” Osgood says. “The later it gets, you see DUIs and people throwing up in the dorms.”

DUIs? Dorm puke? If the cop gods are feeling generous, I shall see both.

We drift around west campus for some time, the police scanner gurgling between us. Words like “robbery,” “intoxication” and “fight” jump out of the static. I can barely contain my bloodlust: when are we gonna see some action?

My hopes flare up when we pull over an erratic taxi. Finally! It’s going DOWN. Bad drivers get handcuffs, right? I really hope he gets handcuffs. I also hope I get to handle said handcuffs. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t get a pair already.

Instead, Osgood returns to the car, no criminal in tow.

“I let him off with a warning,” Osgood says.

Let him off with a warning?! Oh boo, throw the book at him! I came for a show, not level-headedness and understanding! That’s the last thing I want in a cop!

What a tease.

However, my disappointment is short lived: as we leave the scene, a bulletin comes in on the scanner.

Title 10:16 – Weed Odor.

We hasten to the back lot of Smyth, where two similarly congenial cops are waiting for us. Inside, the RA fills them in on what’s going down.

As it turns out, I kind of know this girl. We both pretend not to see each other.

We wind our way through the labyrinth of Smyth, sniffing doors while doling out menacing looks to the dorm children.

We pass a kitchen, which smells gloriously like pasta. Osgood doubles back to address the culprits.

“You’re under arrest… for making delicious lasagna,” Osgood says.

Osgood? Try “Too good.”

We’re by the room in question. The hallway definitely smells of weed, but where is it coming from? As we stand puzzling it out, a garbled voice comes in on the walkie. Before I can process anything, all three officers are in a breakneck sprint, bounding down flights of stairs and out into the parking lot. I waddle behind them as fast as I can, fearful of being left behind.

Foot Pursuit.

We dive into our seats and race to Lovett Avenue. Having had no time to buckle my seatbelt, my body is thrown with vicious velocity at every turn.

(Relatedly, I’ve never felt more unsafe in a vehicle than I do in this police car.)

Once on Lovett, Osgood leaps out of the car. He and a few other cops dash out of sight for a bit, then return with our prized hooligan. The boy sports a bandana and American flag shorts; he’s clearly up to no good.

As Americana bandana boy is cuffed and carted away, Osgood fills me in on the crime: he pulled a rain gutter off a building. In other words, the kind of crime that doesn’t build any street cred.

I hope, for the kid’s sake, that the gutter was worth it.

After taking leave of our Gutter Grabber, Osgood and I drift through campus. At this point, the parties have died down, and the streets are deserted. I stick my head out the window, drinking in the sepia tones of nighttime Newark.

The sound of the police scanner breaks my reverie. What have we this time?

More weed.

We arrive behind Thompson, where our collegiate criminal is already in custody. While Osgood does cop stuff, I mingle with the other officers. Kindly, they show me what this kid had in his backpack: an obscene amount of bubble wrap and half a gallon-baggie full of weed. Clearly, he was dealing.

I wonder idly: what do they do with the “evidence”? Throw it out?

I make my way back to the car to take notes. Osgood follows closely behind, loads The Dealer into the back of our car, then goes to take care of more business. The Dealer and I are now alone.

Well… this is awkward.

I scribble gibberish on my notepad, trying to look busy and unavailable. Please, please, PLEASE don’t talk to me!

He talks to me.

Ashen-faced and with trembling lips, he whispers: “Ma’am, do you know what will happen to me?”

Internally, I panic. Oh man, what do I say?! Am I even allowed to talk to this guy? Do I comfort him? I should probably comfort him.

“I… I don’t know,” I stammer back.


Nailed it. I bet he feels so much better.

Satisfied, I turn back around and wait for my partner to return.

Osgood eventually hops back in, and we drive The Dealer to the station in silence. I don’t know what it is, but the kid’s despair really kills the mood.

After dropping The Dealer off, we glide through west campus a few more times. No one’s around, save for the occasional walk-of-shamer.

Our night is finally drawing to a close. We sail to Wawa at 4 a.m., a perfect cap to the evening. The ever-considerate Osgood asks if I need anything else for my assignment. I pause.

What I really need is a drink.

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