Singleton

“You are too enthusiastic about doing this!”

 

I could attribute that quote to my mother, my sister Courtney and at least three of my friends after I shared my excitement about doing my first ride-along with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

Now let’s be perfectly clear on one thing. Riding in the back seats of law enforcement vehicles has never been something I have aspired to – nor should it really be high on anyone’s bucket list.

I don’t even think the late Henry Hill, whose story inspired the movie “Goodfellas,” even wanted to be spending time in the back of a police car, though he always wanted to be a gangster (and he eventually spent plenty of time in those vehicles).

Forget all of the trick or treating, or the litany of “Trunk or Treats” scattered throughout Lincoln County (those are indeed appreciable things).

This trip served a purpose. 

The LCSO, along with the Troy Police Department, spent Halloween evening doing sex offender compliance checks. 

Are you starting to get the excitement now? Getting a first-hand look at how law enforcement operates with the possible opportunity of seeing some of the county’s worst offenders mess up – and get locked up in the process – is much more fulfilling to me than shooting photos of trick or treaters.

These are the people protecting your trick or treaters on this night. As for edibles mixed in with the candy, that’s a parents’ job to inspect!

I saw more of Lincoln County than I expected to see on that night, and learned just as much. I’ve been working in the area for nearly two years, but Lincoln County is 632 square miles – and there’s a pretty decent chance I still haven’t seen anywhere close to all of it.

Also, if you’re expecting to get into a wild car chase, or a shootout during one of these forays, expect to be disappointed. You’ve watched way too many movies.

Even though the “Ride Along” movies with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are quite hilarious, most are mundane affairs. 

While, I was more than looking forward to this, I am still a professional – and I had a job to do. 

However, the trip reaffirmed something I have always known, but sometimes forgotten. Sex offenders can live anywhere – and look like anyone.

They don’t have a mark or proverbial “scarlet letter” signifying they’ve committed a sex offense somewhere in their past. They’re not all going to look like the stereotypical monsters we’ve come to expect, thanks to television documentaries and social media.

They look like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy or Dennis Rader: relatively normal. Most sex offenders shop at the same grocery stories, drink at the same bars, eat at the same restaurants – and in this case, live in the same neighborhoods as the rest of us.  

For those who believe this county isn’t doing enough within the law to keep registered sex offenders compliant, and punish new ones, there are a great deal of factors not seen by the average person that could lead to such faulty reasoning,

I’ve already written at least two columns on those factors, and interviewed as many people as possible on the subject, including District 41 Representative Randy Pietzman, who also joined us that evening on the ride-along.

I can only talk about so much that I witnessed during my ride-along. There are still active case files to be adjudicated by the Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and to be honest, if a case falls apart – it’s not going to be because I did something stupid to compromise it!

Voltaire once said, “…appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

I want to thank the LCSO for the opportunity to get a deeper look at how operations are handled. I was given a rare opportunity to “peel back the curtain,” and see how cases of this kind are handled in Lincoln County.

It’s far from perfect, but nothing is.

I arrived at the Sheriff’s Office on Halloween evening with expectations, and I achieved them. I expected to be cold that night, and I expected to learn a great deal.

As long as your expectations are tempered, your enthusiasm will never be.