REGINA (CUP) &- At 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 22, I arrived at the Regina police station where I had to sign a form &- waiving the force of any responsibility regarding loss of property, injury, and even death.
During extensive conversations with members of the Regina Police Service for a separate story, it was suggested I join them for a shift. I heartily agreed that this would be the best way to gain a comprehensive understanding of the average night of an on-duty police officer.
I was given a quick tour of the police station before being ushered into a car with officers Curtis Lawrence and Landon Hagen, who opted to bring a shotgun.
I climbed into the back of the police car &- a personal first, I assure you &- was shown the car’s communication system on a mounted laptop and instructed that I wasn’t allowed to talk about the people we met that night by name or discuss the cases in detail.
The first call of the night was from a woman who called every night asking for information on her break-in case. The second was a domestic call regarding an unwanted guest who might have had a gun. I was too chicken to get out of the car, so I observed from the inside.
We began driving around the two major prostitution strolls of the city.
Officers Hagen and Lawrence told me that prostitution is easy money and that sometimes people do it casually, though there are regulars. Hagen added, “There’s politics to it.”
The officers said that while some 13-year-olds claim to be working the streets, the age range is typically 18 to 40.
In the two-minute interval it took us to turn around to talk to a prostitute we had seen several times, she had been picked up. “It happens fast,” Hagen said. “They can be picked up within 10 minutes of us seeing them and be back in the next 20.”
Our conversation was interrupted by a call for backup. We arrived on the scene to find a young intoxicated man who was jumping in front of cars. Another officer arrested him for an outstanding warrant. During the confrontation, the suspect spat in Hagen’s face.
We followed the other unit down to cells where the man inside the car was yelling, obviously upset over his arrest.
He was eventually led inside where he continued to argue with the officers in charge of cells. He could be heard banging on the door and yelling to be released from his cell.
Back in the car, we noticed a truck driving around that we had seen few times before. We pulled him over and he admitted to have been looking for a prostitute. Hagen said that a main part of the job is being observant. “If you notice someone was driving around the last few blocks too, it clicks in that they probably don’t belong here.”
Eventually we were called to a house in which a woman claimed a man was trying to kill her. It turned out that this woman is well known within Regina law enforcement. Because the man and woman had breached legal conditions imposed on them, the officers arrested them both and took them down to the cells.
An interesting thought occurred to me then: where was I going to sit?
I had been sitting in the back seat, sitting with someone under arrest seemed unnerving. Hagen told me to sit in the front and he sat in the back to keep the suspects under control.
When we reached the cells, the woman began taking her clothes off to show she didn’t have anything on her, and I was told we were lucky she was fully clothed when we arrived at her house. The entire time she was shouting hysterically to the man, proclaiming her love for him and asking where he was.
Our friend, the spitter from earlier, was still shouting that he didn’t want to be down there.
I talked to the other officers working in cells about the prostitutes in Regina and their guess is that 90 per cent of them probably have Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.
A woman officer added the prostitutes are not with customers for long amounts of time and it’s mostly oral sex that occurs. Other officers who chimed in said it’s not like Las Vegas &- the prostitutes here aren’t glamorous and appealing.
The rest of the night was filled with uneventful paperwork. I got tired around 5 a.m. after riding along for 10 hours.
I finished the ride-along with a renewed appreciation for the police.
Graveyard shifts are filled with people and circumstances that are commonplace in Regina. These officers don’t spend all night at the coffee shop. They work 12-hour graveyard shifts and it’s better for them take 10 minutes to get a coffee and remain alert than falling asleep at the wheel.
“I wish more people would come on ride-alongs to understand what we do every day,” said Lawrence.