Twitter Update

Back at the beginning of February, I invited readers to come along on a virtual ride-along as I tweeted a few shifts working as a police dog handler. The growing number of followers during the first week was proof there are certain aspects of law enforcement that people really want to know about, and I think I was able to confirm our jobs aren’t like what you watch on TV or see at the movie theatre.

Sure, there are similar moments, but the action and adrenaline rarely last for a complete hour.

Sometimes, nothing happens, which makes for boring Twitter updates. Other times, moments happen in spits and spurts, and are ideal for interesting and fast updates.

Then there are day where everything happens at once.

Like today. Too busy for Twitter, and the sort of day only a proper blog post can address.

At one point, while returning from a stolen auto incident where an officer from another agency was injured (last I heard, he should be okay, but he’s pretty banged up), there were two residential break and enters and a theft from auto in progress being broadcast at the same time but in different districts. I had to choose one to go to (the closest one) and told the other dispatchers I would get to help them if I could. Immediately after that, I raced across the city to a hit and run where the suspect driver fled on foot.

On days like today, there could have been half a dozen dog units zipping around the city and we all would have been kept busy.

By the end of the day, I was sweaty, tired, covered in mud, and my hair was a wild thing barely contained in it’s ponytail. I spent a few minutes picking blackberry thorns out of Hondo’s feet and giving him a good once-over as we had climbed an overpass on Highway #1, sloshed through a flooded area and scaled a barbed wire fence.

Some of you may think this sounds awful, but to a dog handler, these are clear indications it was a good day.


But back to Twitter – I love the ability to micro-blog and send out messages in only 140 characters. Twitter balances ‘proper’ blogging and definitely has its place, especially in the policing world.

I’ve ‘met’ dozens of officers (many from the UK) and other people I never would have had the chance to interact with. Keeping in mind that Twitter is a social media platform and should not replace face-to-face interactions, it does provide a great avenue for expanding horizons.



Public Perspective

A young woman working in one of the clothing boutiques helped me as I went about spending some of my hard earned pay cheque.

While I selected items, checked price tags and assessed quality, the young woman and I chatted about how she liked her job. Then she caught me off guard by asking what I did for a living.

If I’m in unfamiliar surroundings or speaking to someone I don’t know, I’ll simply say I work for ‘The City’.  This response is sufficient most of the time, as the question often seems to be asked out of social nicety rather than true interest.  If pressed, I’m usually able to supply some vague description of a job encompassing  data entry and public order.  I’m proud of what I do for a living (and I’ll talk your ear off if given the chance) but there are many times when I simply don’t have the time to answer the deluge of questions in response my answer of law enforcement.

But this time, the young woman was truly interested and I had some time, so I answered her.

“I’m a police officer,” I said.

“Really?” she asked, with genuine surprise. “But you’re so nice!”


Yes, I was caught off guard – again.

Most of the officers I know are ‘nice’ and some are downright outstanding people, so it surprises me (even though it shouldn’t) when non-law-enforcement people comment how friendly certain officers are.

That said, I’ll let you in on a little secret – most police officers are like everyone else.

We have families and loved ones. We work hard, make sacrifices and make mistakes. We raise children, go to work, go to school, belong to sports clubs and enjoy our social lives. We experience happiness, love, pain, anger, fear and jealousy.

We are like you.

Yes, there are differences, but it’s not as simple as saying our jobs are different as it’s clearly more complicated than that. At the root of it – we are you, and you are us. We have the same fears, the same passions and the same drive.

We may focus on different priorities, but one opinion and way of life does not make it more or less important than the other.



Posted in A Day in the Life by Sandra. 12 Comments

Changing Gears

March 16, 2012 was my last driving column in the Vancouver Sun, and while the reasons for ceasing the column were many, I listed the need to spend more time with my family as my main motivator.  There are simply too many roles to fill and too few hours to fill them in.

A reader sent me an email yesterday and asked if I regretted the decision to stop writing for the paper, to which I replied,

“Not at all.”

Sure, I’ve had ideas for articles and drivers still make me crazy with their seemingly complete lack of road safety and traffic awareness, but it’s been liberating to have a few extra hours a week to do other stuff. It helps that it’s been Spring Break and I managed to get some time off – from everything; work, writing, other distractions.  I’ve spent quality time with my hubby and children.  I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the recent stretch of beautiful weather. I’ve been focused on recharging.

And it’s been glorious.

If 17 years of police work have taught me anything, it’s that police officers need quality time away from the job to keep themselves balanced.

Officers can be committed/loyal to their department and still take time to ensure their own well-being. In fact, I’d suggest ensuring your own well-being be a priority, because if you are unable to look after yourself how can you be expected to look after anyone else, let alone ‘serve and protect’?

Another reason for stopping the driving column was my other writing was suffering – this blog was simply not getting the care it so badly needs.  My loyalty remains here, with these various forms of social media (blogging and Twitter), in an effort to build on relationships between the police department and the public we serve.

Now that I’ve managed to rein in writing to a more manageable level, I expect to be blogging again on a more regular basis.

Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to it!





Today’s Twitter “Ride-Along”

Today, I will be bringing Twitter followers along on a ‘ride-along’ during my shift at work.

If you are interested in joining us, click through the Twitter link up at the top of the banner on the right hand side of the page.

Now it’s time to go get ready.


Posted in A Day in the Life by Sandra. 5 Comments

Paying it forward

It’s January, I know, but this Christmas video sent to me this morning serves as a reminder of how we act today will have a ripple effect on the rest of our lives.


The speaker is Bob Welsh, a retired Ohio State Trooper.