“Sir, you have been pulled over for speeding,” I yell to the guy in the car in front of me. “I need to see your license, registration and proof of insurance!”
Approaching the vehicle, I know something bad is bound to happen. The guy’s dangling his keys out the window, asking if he should throw them at me and is generally acting like a jerk.
“Keep your hands where I can see them,” I tell him, and he jumps out of the car, his gun blazing. My pistol jams and I’m frozen, unable to process what to do next. Until, that is, I hear someone yell, “Run!”
So I do that. And I survived to tell my story.
Most Saturday mornings I’m home in my robe, drinking coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal and listening to NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! But this Saturday is not so peaceful. Here I am being shot at, Taser-ed, attacked by a K9 and wearing a giant red diaper at the Spokane Regional Training Center, taking part in the Spokane Police Department’s annual Media Academy.
The point of the whole thing is to teach us media folk (reporters, photographers, etc.) what it’s like to be a cop. Maybe in hopes we’ll be a bit nicer next time we cover an officer-involved “incident.” Maybe.
For instance, here I am with KREM photographer, Al Lozano. We’re “responding” to a home burglary where the assailant could be armed — but, really, we’re in a darkened theater looking at a screen, handling some seriously heavy plastic guns.
The image fades in of a man with his back turned to us, his hands on the back of his head.
My cool-headed partner keeps mum and I start yelling at the man to keep his hands up, don’t move, put that hand back where it was, stop doing that and then, whoops, the guy has pulled a gun out of his pants and is firing at us. We unload on the video image.
Reviewing our response, we’re told we did well. We fired heavily on the body and, when that wasn’t working, moved to the head. Nice shooting.
So far, being a cop isn’t bad. Kinda fun, in fact.
Except, not so fun when Officer Shawn Kendall has me in a lateral vascular neck restraint (something I would call a chokehold if he hadn’t told me not to). My neck is in the crook of his arm — which happens to be thicker than my neck — and with just a bit of tensing, I gag and turn red. And not so fun for KREM reporters Will Pitts, Grace Peña or Dietrich Nissen, whom Kendall is kneeling on top of, hitting with a baton or tossing around the room by just holding a wrist, sequentially.
And not so fun getting Taser-ed.
But really awesome when I pull that jerk over for the second time. Again, I tell him he was speeding, and that I need to see his documents. I barely get this out of my mouth when he pops out his car.
This time, my gun is greased and fully operational. I fire, fire, fire, fire. He’s prone on the concrete before me and I begin to relax when someone yells, “You’re not done yet!”
Catching his drift, I dash over and kick the criminal’s gun out of reach. Scenario complete, I’m a hero.
The jerk stands up, says I did fine, got in a lot of good body shots. The jerk’s actually very pleasant and I thank him and pat him on the shoulder. I walk off, helmet-ed and in a diaper. My work here is done.