Commentary: Ride alongs are not as scary as they seem

Natalie Veissalov, LV Life Editor
Natalie Veissalov, LV Life Editor

Yet again, I was given an eye-opening assignment for my advanced news reporting class. This time though it rattled my nerves a bit. Our professor by night and a Los Angeles Time reporter by day, Ari Bloomekatz, told us to schedule a ride along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He told us to choose a city we were not familiar with.

At first I was excited. When I booked my ride along with my classmate at the Lennox Sheriff’s Station in Inglewood, Calif., I began to worry. I knew Inglewood was not the safest of cities. It borders Compton, which has a reputation of gang violence, murders and robberies. My anxiety increased when people began telling me how dangerous it was to do a ride along in Inglewood. I was required to sign release forms at school and the sheriff’s station stating that they are not liable if something happens to me. This made me have more negative thoughts of the possibility of getting injured, shot or killed on this ride along.

So a couple a days before our scheduled ride along, I backed out. I called other stations to reschedule another one, but all were either booked or did not do ride alongs. So I decided to be brave and face my fears. I must admit the night before my ride along, I did not sleep very well. Finally, the day came and we arrived at the station. I was scared and excited.

The female deputy, which we did the first two hours with, was in charge of any traffic calls. However, the other deputy on duty at the same time was in charge of any crime calls. When they get called to a crime call, the traffic deputy goes to their call as back up. Vice versa. It was exciting when the deputy got called to a scene and accelerated on the gas pedal. I felt like I was on an episode of “Cops.”

Since our deputy was mainly in charge of traffic that day, she prowled for any traffic violaters. As we were driving, she was on the look-out for any suspicious activity.

While on the ride along, she pulled a man for an illegal U-turn at a stop sign. She waited for him to turn, she followed him and turned her sirens on. She pulled him over. The man raised his hands and waited for the deputy to get out her car. She asked him a few questions and found out that he was on probation for narcotics, specifically methamphetamine. He was driving with a suspended license and had no car insurance. She told him to get out of the car. She told both of us to get out of the car so she could put him in the back of the cop car.

I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness because the man was taller than 6 ft., and I did not know what he was capable of. She searched his car for any drugs, but found none. He was released with a court date hearing.

Finally, we were able to continue our ride along. This was just one of the many dispatches the deputy got called to.

After the two hours passed, we went back to the station to drop my classmate so she can continue the ride along with another female deputy. Our ride along lasted about three and half hours. Both deputies were very friendly and informative. At each call, there was an adrenaline rush.

We mainly went to drug calls. The ride along opened my eyes. I learned a lot and had a good time. I was glad to face my fears.

Natalie Veissalov, a junior journalism major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

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