I was driving my patrol car last week randomly running license plates on my computer when I heard the distinctive beeping of a stolen vehicle hit. I double checked the plate I entered of the car in front of me and confirmed it was stolen.
I broadcast my location, direction of travel, and description of the car. The rest of my squad responded and I knew they were coming code 3 (lights and sirens) to back me up.
Our standard procedure is to wait for a few other patrol cars to arrive before attempting to pull over the stolen vehicle but the driver quickly turned into a mall parking lot when he saw me behind him. I didn't have time to wait for my backup to arrive but I knew they were close. I didn't want to give the driver a chance to run into the mall so I activated my lights as we entered the parking lot.
My heart started beating double time as I anticipated the possibility of him taking off, bailing out on foot, or even pulling a gun.
I positioned my car tactically behind his, opened my door and sat half-in, half-out of my patrol car with my gun trained on the driver. I kept my sights aligned on him and began shouting my commands:
DRIVER! PUT YOUR HANDS UP! (he complied)
TURN OFF THE IGNITION AND THROW THE KEY OUT YOUR WINDOW (again, he complied).
Just then my Sergeant and another squadmate arrived and took up positions on both sides of me. With three guns pointing at the driver, I continued to give commands. The driver followed my every instruction and was taken into custody without any problems. I then noticed the crowd of shoppers, pedestrians, and other rubber-neckers who were standing downrange watching the felony stop. None of them had the sense to realize they were in the line of fire even though about 8 of us now had guns drawn and pointed toward the suspect (and also at them).
We cleared the car and confirmed it was only occupied by the driver. In a shaky and trembling voice the driver informed me it was his car. He told me he reported it stolen 2 months ago after leaving it parked in a bar parking lot and getting a ride home from a stranger. He then found his car a few days later but never bothered to call police. He had been driving it ever since and never considered telling the police the vehicle was no longer stolen. I guess he assumed we would somehow just know he found his own 'reportedly' stolen car.
I recently learned one of my friends has been accepted into the department. He actually graduated from the police academy two classes ahead of me and went to another agency. At the time, his wife wrote a blog of his academy experiences which I read every day in anticipation of my own pending academy enrollment. His blog inspired me to create this one so I owe him and his wife a big thanks for the idea. It didn't work out for him at his first agency so he returned to the civilian world for awhile. It looks like he still had cop in his blood and reapplied with my agency. Unfortunately, his extended time off meant another trip through the academy. Good luck, my friend!! I hope to see you out on the streets soon.