Photo: Dylan Love
Not even one minute into my ridealong with a North Carolina cop, I heard gunshots.But these were text message notification sounds coming from Sergeant Jonathan Morgan’s mobile phone. Gunshots are one of the worst-case scenarios for a cop, and it isn’t until I point it out that he realises how morbid his cell phone sound is.
Sergeant Morgan picked me up in the parking lot of a computer store in downtown Asheville for a six-hour ridealong.
The cliché is that cops become cops because they don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. Morgan agrees, but explains that a police car can easily feel like an office. There’s a computer, there’s paperwork, and there are people to answer to over the radio.
Despite all this, a cop’s shift is very self-directed — if the police car is an office, then cops are entrepreneurs.
Photo: Dylan Love
DOORS OF PERCEPTIONSergeant Morgan rarely looks straight ahead as he’s driving. I assume his training has him constantly looking around, trying to identify any potential problems that might not be immediately in front of him.
As he maneuvers the car into public housing, he chuckles a little bit.
“Heh. Those guys on the left see me coming with a police car and immediately turn around and walk away.”
Not only did I not notice them when we arrived, but I never would have attributed their walking away to have anything to do with me. It wasn’t until Morgan pointed this out that it all came together in my head.
Police can quite literally see things that citizens can’t.
Photo: Dylan Love
THIS CLOWNWe were driving up a hill just as a yellow scooter came the opposite direction with its headlights turned off.
“This clown again,” said Morgan, flipping on the cruiser’s blue lights and making one of the fastest three-point turns I’ve ever seen.
He pulled the driver over in a parking lot and gave him a good talking to until another officer arrived.
Back in the car, he explained that this guy is a repeat offender and he’s instantly recognisable because he dangles his feet from the scooter and doesn’t fasten his helmet correctly. It’s probably a bad sign if a cop recognises you.
Then his gunshot text notification sound effect went off and we both laughed.
MAKING SHORT WORK OF PAPERWORK
While I was idly staring forward, thinking I might see some infraction and be part of the solution, Sergeant Morgan spotted two people drinking booze on the sidewalk to our left and sprang to action.
We had been talking casually seconds before, but once he noticed the situation he became 10 feet tall, owning it from beginning to end. His change in attitude was almost jarring, but I’ll attribute it to his being a good cop.
He poured the drinks out and got to work writing a citation. Paperwork is a huge part of his job and he zipped through it, but the two parties started walking away before it was complete. Morgan popped his head out the window.
“Get back here and face the wall! Sit on the hood of my car!”
They did. Wouldn’t you?
HURRY UP AND WAIT
An NYPD officer named John Casey once described law enforcement as “90% boredom and 10% sheer terror.”
As we blocked traffic for 30 minutes waiting for a wrecker to reach the broken-down Volvo in front of us, I knew which percentage we were in the middle of.
IT GETS WEIRD
Asheville has a booming arts scene, so this means you might see a barely-clothed photoshoot on the sidewalk.
There’s no law against wearing your undies outside, but as we passed a photographer and his disrobing model, she covered herself up with a big jacket. We laughed at the weirdness of it all.
As we waited at a stoplight, the model actually flagged us down.
“Can you be in a picture with me?” she asked.
“Sorry, I can’t do it,” said Morgan. “I’d get fired so fast.”
Photo: Dylan Love
A WARNING ABOUT WARNINGSWhen Sergeant Morgan ran the plates on a blue CRV, they came back indicating that the car’s insurance had been expired for a month.
Giving the driver the benefit of a doubt, Morgan let him go with a verbal warning. Back in the cruiser, however, he entered the warning into the computer.
Know this — your warnings are documented and will come into consideration the next time you get pulled over.
A HAIRY SITUATION
A call came over the radio that two males were dragging an unconscious female down the sidewalk. Morgan hit the gas and we flew to the location.
When we arrived, the two males were long gone and the female was waking up between the air conditioning units on the side of a house. She was beyond drunk and had no idea what was going on.
Because she was refusing medical assistance the only other choice was to take her to jail, but the other cops on the scene explained that she was too drunk to be booked.
It wasn’t until a firefighter pleaded with her to go to the hospital that she finally agreed.
BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME
“Not a whole lot happened,” said Morgan. “So it’s a pretty accurate representation of a standard shift.”
Morgan clearly enjoys his job and I asked him how he ended up here. He explained: “In college, my major was Spanish or computers or something. Then I found Criminal Justice and I was like ‘Yep, this is it.’ When I came back from Iraq, the economy was all over the place but this job was really stable. I took it, and that was just about four years ago now.”
Morgan dropped me off downtown. He was still on duty until 6 AM.
“Do you ever feel like Batman?” I asked.
It’s quite literally Sergeant Morgan’s job to drive around at night and protect the public. If it were me, I’d feel like Batman all the time.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.