My day with the NPD: Burglary, escape, capture

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part “Punching the Clock” series where I spend shifts with law enforcement officers in the county: A day shift with the Norwich Police Department, a night shift with the NPD, and a 4 p.m. until midnight shift with the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office.

I arrived at the Norwich Police Department Saturday morning dressed in jeans and sweatshirt, as instructed by Police Chief Joseph Angelino, ready to accompany Norwich Police Officer Reuben Roach for a total of 12 hours.

Roll call begins promptly at 6:50 a.m., and the day shift officers work from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. I was told that a Saturday might not bring much excitement, but – at least for me – the day turned out to be rather eventful.

The NPD is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days a year.

I’ve already been provided a tour of the station, so Roach proceeded to explain his usual morning duties after I arrived.

Sergeant Ross Tumminia was on duty, as well as officers Jeremy Burdick and Paul Slack.

Roach asked if I was ready to go, and we went outside to his patrol vehicle. He checked the trunk, explained all the equipment, then we got in and went on our way.

He showed me the license plate detection system, and explained that it scans all license plates in the car’s path, stationary (such as in a parking lot or driveway) or moving on the road. A photo is taken of the plate, and it’s run through a database. The program will say aloud, “Suspended license,” “Revoked license,” or “Stolen plate,” if the records deem necessary.

We drove slowly through a parking lot and I could see how it literally scanned each plate and a photo popped up.

If a call comes into the station, the sergent radios one of the patrol cars and tells the officer what’s going on and where to go. We drove around the city for a while and no calls came in. We returned to the station because he said he had something else we could do.

Both Roach (and Sgt. Tummina later in the day) explained to me that some officers are “V & T guys” (vehicle and traffic), some are “drug and possession guys,” and others are “property theft and violent crime guys.”

This didn’t come as a surprise to me… to each his own.

Officer Roach has been with the NPD for nearly 11 years. Any question I had, he could answer. He remained professional, courteous, and was very knowledgeable.

He grabbed some paperwork regarding a complaint of an open crime, briefed the situation with me, and we hopped back in the car and drove to a location.

Upon arriving, we went to the door of a residence and Roach’s rapport with the individuals was commendable. He operated with a friendly demeanor, and upon completing that specific intended task, we went on our way.

We met the chief at a location where he was preparing to head into the woods with a group as part of a training. The group consisted of volunteers who offer their time to search in instances of missing persons.

At one point – I can’t remember if it was before or after lunch, and military time isn’t my forte – there was another complaint, upon which we went to another residence in the city. Roach explained to me that the city deals with the same small percentage of the population nearly 90 percent of the time.

When we got to the residence, he politely asked the individuals if they would mind coming down to the station, and they said they would and they wanted to grab a coffee on the way so they would walk and meet us there.

They did. With coffee.

Officer Roach explained to me interview tactics and techniques on our way back to the station, and offered me the opportunity to sit in. I gladly accepted.

We went back and forth between interview rooms for an amount of time I’m not sure of. Not all that long. Officer Roach treated the individuals with respect, and operated with – what I will call – the perfect amount of compassion and intensity.

You know the phrase “good cop/bad cop?” He was a little like both, but wrapped in to one. Empathetic but firm. One individual completed a written statement with regard to said person’s role in a burglary, a felony.

The subject was then processed and booked by another officer. Cuffed to the pole in the processing area pending arraignment by a judge.

Roach and I went back to his vehicle and headed to another location where we brought another individual to the station, was interviewed, asked for counsel and was released. That interview, too, was conducted in an absolutely professional manner.

Each time the individuals (even though they were not being arrested) were read Miranda – verbatim from the card all officers carry – although, of course, he knew it by heart.

Anyway, a short time later, while sitting in the front desk area, Officer Burdick walked in and asked Officer Slack to please check the area. The arrested subject had asked to use the restroom, and as the subject was a female, had to be escorted (by PO Burdick) to a private bathroom not in view of the cameras in the holding cell area.

I’m not exactly sure how long the subject remained in the bathroom, because when the three officers and I made our way to the door – and after knocking, unlocking, and entering – the subject had escaped out the window.

Burdick and Slack left the building, and Roach and I got in his patrol car quickly. With no need for lights or sirens on Roach’s part, we were able to locate the subject within mere minutes and bring her back into custody without incident. No need to draw a weapon, no need to slam the subject around … the subject, in tears, was re-cuffed immediately.

Roach remained stern but never heartless.

The felony charge of escape was added to the list of charges.

The Sgt. did some checking within the system and according to his search, he did not locate another instance where a subject in custody escaped the station.

… And I was told it might not be exciting.

The rest of the day remained semi-eventful, but paled in comparison. We checked on the welfare of some animals – who were in good health – and responded to a couple other calls. We attended the subject’s arraignment before the judge.

Roach had to write up all the reports for the day, which, as a writer, I found to be fun. I’m not sure he would use that same word to describe it.

He even let me proofread before handing it to the Sgt., and I may or may not have located a typo in the initial draft.

Overall, I considered Saturday with the Norwich Police a successful day. Huge drug bust? Nope. A crazy shootout? Negative. But, I did get to tag along in locating the first subject charged with escaping the station.

I’m glad I was able to accompany an officer who cares about enforcing property and violent crimes, and does so in a manner that is respectable and appreciated.

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