Reporter goes on the job with local police officer.

Staff writer Cody Easton recently participated in a “ride-along” with Coos Bay police officer Pete Kirk. Easton shares his experience of spending a few hours with kirk to see first hand what a local police officer experiences in a typical shift.

By Cody Easton | Reporter

They patrol the streets of Coos Bay.

They are there in times of emergency or crisis.

They are the officers of the Coos Bay Police Department and I had the opportunity to spend an evening on a citizen ride-along to witness part of one officer’s shift. As soon as I got into the car, Officer Pete Kirk, a senior officer with the department for 13 years, told me many of the dangers which could happen at any given moment.

“We always try to prepare for the worst,” Kirk said. “That way if it does go bad we aren’t unprepared.”

I arrived at the station late into Kirk’s shift. When I got into the station, he gave me a short tour of what it looked like. Then we went into his office. where he was filling out a report from an incident earlier in the day; a regular part of his job.

“It is not the most exciting part of the job,” Kirk said. “But it is something that has to be done.”

Most of the time during his shift, Kirk patrols the streets of Coos Bay. When not patrolling, he is writing incident reports on his computer in Coos Bay City Hall. There are usually three to four other officers patrolling while Kirk is on duty.

Kirk and the officers respond to calls from dispatch, which receives 911 calls and sends them in the direction of the incident. The officers at the Coos Bay Police Department can receive dispatch calls in patrol cars via laptop or radio, which they carry at all times.

At about 9:15 p.m., Kirk received his first call from dispatch. There was a fight near Blossom Gulch Elementary School. But when he arrived, it was revealed to be an argument between a man and a woman.

“Sometimes the calls may not be as serious as other ones, but we try to take them as serious as any other call,” Kirk said.

There were no charges filed for this case. The woman had packed her bags and left the man’s residence because she was no longer able to stay there.

Kirk returned to his patrol car after the call, and while driving by the boardwalk something caught his eye. He stopped the vehicle to go and check it out. It turned out to be a homeless man sleeping in a covered area. Kirk told the man to find another place to sleep outside of city limits.

Kirk believes paying attention to details while patrolling can prevent bigger problems from occurring later down the road.

“When I patrol, I try to keep my eye out for anything that looks suspicious or unusual behavior,” Kirk said.

With only about four hours left in his shift, Kirk then headed back to the station. I watched while Kirk finished up some reports and found it interesting how much detail goes into them.

“We try to answer all the questions the judge or anyone will have when they read the reports,” Kirk said.

At about 10:45 p.m., another call came in from dispatch. The call this time was about a woman at the hospital who was causing trouble for hospital employees, but by the time we arrived there other officers had already responded and were on the scene.

“Every officer gets the same call from dispatch, so it is whoever is closer and not doing anything that responds to a call,” Kirk said.

After Kirk left, he began patrolling again. His vehicle is equipped with many gadgets to help him. The laptop is particularly useful, allowing officers to look at calls from dispatch. Officers can look up people right on the spot when they pull them over or are trying to find more information about a suspect.

Late in Kirk’s shift, around 12:30 a.m., he decided it was time to take a break and pulled into the Bayshore Chevron gas station and store near the Coos Bay Boardwalk and there we encountered Officer Hugo Hatzel. The officers discussed what had happened throughout the night, locations where there had been a lot of suspicious activity and spots where there was no activity. They also visited with the employees at the store.

It was evident throughout the evening how passionate Kirk is about his job. He took great amounts of pride in everything he did.

“I love my job,” Kirk said. “I don’t know what I would rather be doing.”