My Office Has Four Wheels and not enough Room.

Yes, I am talking about my work space, the place I spend the majority of my shift when working. Officially called a scout car, or a fully marked scout when in court, and to most of those in society, just a police car, cop car or a cruiser.

Scout Car
Iphone photo of a scout car, converted to a cartoon in Topaz

It is the place I store my lunch. and my duty bag. The duty bag is a huge duffle-like bag,  which stores anything and everything, including the kitchen sink, should I need it while on shift. And I must not forget my partner’s lunch and duty bag too. Then of course is the person under arrest, should they have any belongings …suddenly the trunk just isn’t big enough! The big honking Ford Crown Victoria quickly becomes very small and really over crowded. This is what I call my work space for the duration of my shift.

It never fails to happen. If I stop for twenty minutes to say, write a report, or maybe wolf down some soup, or just complete some notes, my car will be approached by at least one person during that time. Sometimes it’s just to ask if anything is wrong or if everything is okay? I recognize that person, the nosy neighbour. I’m also one of them where I live. Or there’s the person who wants directions. “Excuse me officer. Can you tell me where the lake is?” they ask while they have a cell phone in their hand, texting instead of looking up on Google to see where to go. Then there is the “Officer, I have a quick question,” which we all know, the answer is anything but quick!

This is where the term ‘shit magnet’ came from I’m sure. You see, there are just some cops, that seem to always find, or have ‘shit’ find them. It’s those inopportune times when you happen upon something much bigger, quite incidentally or accidentally. I have had my moments and times when I have been the magnet. For instance, parked on a side street finishing a report when a vehicle stops next to me to ‘ask a quick question.’ “Officer, I have this contractor who was doing renos in my kitchen. He was doing a really bad job, so I fired him, refusing to pay for such shoddy work. Before leaving the house, he took a saw and took all the kitchen cupboards off the walls, cutting them into small pieces and he put cut marks in all the ceramic tiles on the floor. This was all the things he had installed. What can I do? ” After explaining how that is mischief and the way the contractor should have handled the contract dispute was through civil court, the gentleman turned to me and said “Officer, I am the contractor.” Yep, magnet. “Meet you at the station,” I responded, as I pulled away in my cruiser, my office on wheels, and head for the station with this arrest.

My partner, Ralph, I’ve described as a ‘big boy.’ That’s an understatement. We often use him just for the magnitude of his size to keep potentially volatile persons calm. When he walks over to them and they are suddenly in shadow, their resistance starts to fade. Good for the road. Not good for in the car. I often joke with him about how he has to get into the car. As a smaller person, I have no problems, but tall, long people do. They back into the seat, lowering their butts first and then sliding their legs and body around after they are seated. Lets just say, if you’re not completely on your side of the car, you get an face full of a**!  Me, I like to harangue my partner, so I make sound effects as he gets into the car. You know the one. That sound of ‘beep, beep, beep’ as a truck backs up. And, once he starts his descent into the car seat, he can’t stop. Much like a mother pig who lies down – run little piglets, run!

A computer separates us. When I am on my side, the passenger side, and he is in the driver’s seat, we seem to fit perfectly. However, if a person we are transporting has any belongings, we run out of room in the trunk with all our gear. I mean, we carry everything ‘just in case.’ I still have a bottle of Vic’s vapour rub, I was told to have back in college days, ‘just in case’ we are overcome by any strong odours. Yep, never used it yet. Then there’s the extra hat, scarf and gloves. If I am outside that long that I need them, I have learned it’s usually a big incident. That means I ran out of the car really quickly and usually I get separated from my partner. Ralph usually stays with the car, nice and warm, maybe transporting people. But always with those extra clothes in my duty bag in the trunk. There I am, standing out in the cold, shivering, guarding that scene. Last time, there was a car that was left running at the scene. Although I wasn’t allowed to enter it, I sat on the hood and kept warm. Thank God for ingenuity. But it doesn’t make that scout car any bigger! And when I am driving, I don’t understand how we don’t ‘fit’ anymore. All of a sudden, Ralph spills over and across the computer, brushing against me and hitting me at times. He seems so much bigger in that seat. The car doesn’t work.

Now we have a new chariot, the Ford Taurus. What a gem! They are smaller than the Crown Vic’s and we have yet to figure out how to fit both our equipment in the trunk. My solution – just leave the camera at the station lol. The vehicle is too small for the ‘big boys’ and two of them definitely can’t sit in them shoulder to shoulder. Even whilst they MAY be able to get in, and MAY be able to lean far enough into the door so the other person can fit (yes seriously, one must enter at a time when it’s two big boys,) when we arrive on scene at the emergency, they can’t get out of the car. At least not quickly. And definitely not when I park on the curb. Opps, sorry. Again.

There’s also two big technical problems besides space with these cars. The gear shift doesn’t work right. Drive and reverse are too close together. I have often driven the wrong way. I have been lucky that I’ve caught it each time, usually just as Ralph is screeching “Stop” in a loud, high pitched voice. He’s so annoying! “I had it” I say, but it still doesn’t in still any confidence for him in my driving abilities! The second is that the sirens and lights are not close at hand and are not on a dial for easy switching between the sounds. They are in fact, almost a full arm length away from the driver, who controls these, and are buttons one must push to toggle the sounds. Way too far out-of-reach when one is driving very fast and navigating in and out of traffic. I vote when I’m driving to just have Ralph lean out the window and holler loudly “WOO, WOO” when I need to go lights and sirens. I think it would be easier!

One last thing I found out about the new scouts that is different is that they are front wheel drive. I found this out on the one snowy day in Toronto this winter when going to a call. I was following another scout and as we approached a stale green light, the car ahead, being driven by Ralph, speed up to make the light so I had to follow suit. Then Ralph realized it would be tight for us both to make the intersection before the changing lights so he decided to stop and wait. Well, as I tried to brake from a speed a little faster than the stop mandated, I found out there was front wheel drive, not rear wheel drive. I quickly had to change driving strategies and I maneuvered my car out from behind Ralph’s stopped scout and continued slowly past him, waving as I went, and coming to a full and complete stop just over the hash marks for the pedestrian crossing. Hurmph! It was sealed. I hate the new scout cars!

So, each day, Ralph and I fight to get the old Crown Vic’s, watching as the supplies of them steadily decline. I don’t complain about not having enough room anymore, but instead praise the roominess of the old square cars. I dread the day we can’t find a Crown Vic. To get Ralph into the Taurus, I think I might have to use a plunger to stuff him in there. Question is, will there be enough room for the plunger?

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