My schedule is such that I don’t go on patrol as much as I would like, but I make it a point to get out when I can. I always work side by side with my officers during major events, including Spring Break. On a personal level, patrol allows me to go back to my roots and do what I love most about law enforcement. From a professional standpoint, it helps me keep things in perspective.
I have to deal with the same issues and work in the same environment as my officers. It serves as a reminder that the view from the top is often much different than it is from the street, and what works in theory is not always realistic in practice. As an old-school street cop, it sometimes takes every ounce of patience I have to show the restraint I expect of my officers when dealing with a bunch of unruly drunks.
Working the streets also serves as a reminder that patrol is a young man’s sport, particularly during Spring Break. As a 50-something-year-old, my eyes are not as sharp as they once were and my reactions are a bit slower. I have to put on my bifocals to write a ticket, and after dark I prefer to be the cover officer instead of the primary.
Coming off a 100-plus-hour workweek, my body aches in places that I did not even know existed. I woke up the other morning with a charlie horse in my thigh. I am sure it is from climbing in and out of those dad gum patrol trucks so many times.
My lower back is having spasms from all the hours wearing a duty belt and all the miles of driving the rough beach.
My feet are sore from standing and my elbow hurts from directing traffic.
As I sat down to write this week’s column, I could hardly move. My arms and legs feel like they are filled with lead from the fatigue. The adrenaline has worn off, and I am completely drained. I am functioning on the overdose of caffeine and nicotine that remains in my blood stream from the past week.
I felt a little better after talking to some of my younger officers. Every one of them is dragging after this past week too; of course, most of them worked a lot harder than I did. One officer stopped to visit as I was writing. As he plopped down in the chair he told me that when he got home this morning, he was so tired that he was only able to take off one boot as he lay down on his bed. A couple of hours later he woke up with a sore back from sleeping on his duty belt.
But at the end of the day it is well worth it. Working in Port Aransas during Spring Break is a law enforcement experience unlike any other.
Scott Burroughs is the chief of the Port Aransas Police Department. Contact him at sburroug firstname.lastname@example.org or at 749-6241.