A night inside Westminster PD

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Posted Sun, May 1, 2011

By Tyler Grimes

“Given the nature of the job we see people in their worst moments in life. They are frustrated about something whether it’s their out of control; kid, their spouse, their job or other life situations and usually when we’re called they have done something in frustration because of that.” – Officer Smeester

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Friday, April 8, 2011, I had the opportunity to ride along in a police car with Westminster officer, Zeb Smeester. I arrived at police headquarters at approximately 7 p.m. I filled out paper work and signed a waiver and met up with officer Smeester. He gave me a tour of the office, mostly a typical office environment with little activity as most people were home for the weekend.
“You don’t have knives or weapons on you, do you?” asked Smeester before unlocking the next door. He showed me the holding cells, no bars and chains, as I would have hoped. They were sterile, small rooms with a single toilet, and a single door with one bulletproof window.
Next I met the dispatch staff. They sat in a circle of tables with computer monitors. Three people were on staff at the time, all wearing headsets and sitting at computers monitors. ESPN played on a TV in the center of the room, for time between calls.

“Most people we deal with, it is because some need hasn’t been met, whether it is their parent’s or other loved one’s attention, physical needs like food/shelter, money, etc. Some realize their needs aren’t being met, but most don’t realize the lack of their emotional needs being met.” – Officer Smeester

Officer Smeester and I checked out a car and hit the road to make rounds. Within a few miles we saw a car pulled over so he made a U-turn to see if the person needed help. Another officer had already stopped to check and the situation was under control. For the next hour and a half we drove around Smeester’s assigned zone, looking for suspicious behavior, traffic violators and listening to dispatch.
It was an uneventful evening so I was able to hear about some of Smeester’s experiences. He told me his favorite part of the job.

“I don’t sit behind a desk, there is no telling what you will deal with that day, it certainly has its exciting moments,” said Smeester. They get frustrated and do stupid things to cope. Some turn to alcohol, some assert themselves physically over others, some turn to drugs. When we get called we can’t fix things, we just try to put a band-aid on it. -Officer Smeester

There is two sides to every story and police work is no different. “Seeing some of the things we see like the mangled fore of a person in a motorcycle accident, when you hear a woman tell you how she was raped, seeing a teenager who has just cut her wrists or shot herself in the head and dealing with the hysterical family after,” said Smeester about the unfortunate side of his work.
Later in the evening, around 8:30 p.m. we pulled over a vehicle that did not have a visible license. Smeester told me to shine the spot light into the rearview mirror, that way the driver can’t see the officer’s location as he approaches the car. Smeester checked to make sure the trunk was locked before approaching the window.

“Personally I try to help them see the big picture and at least realize the implications of what is going on in the situation or what their need is. Some officers don’t, but I have found that if I take a little more time on a call then that will at a minimum keep us from being called back for the same thing.” – Officer Smeester

“We have to check things thoroughly to ensure our own safety out there,” said Smeester. He gave the driver a warning, telling them even temporary tags must be well lit.
We hit the road again after the stop. Shortly after we saw another officer who had pulled a car over. He called us for backup. The driver seemed to be under the influence. The officers performed sobriety tests before deciding to arrest the driver. The first officer on the scene took the driver; Smeester took care of the towing logistics. After that Smeester took me back to the station to fill out exit papers. Then he headed back out for the remainder of his shift.
The experience gave me great insight into what police officer’s jobs are like. It was a privilege to hear one officer’s experiences. Smeester summed up the difficulty of his work.
“Staying positive about people and humanity as a whole can be a challenge sometimes.”

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2 Responses to “A night inside Westminster PD”

  1. Justin Says:

    It’s interesting to get an inside view of what police officers do, ever if it’s a small one. Great quotes throughout the piece. Too bad more action didn’t take place!

    Reply

  2. Landen Says:

    Using the officer’s insight as a basis for your piece was a creative and intresting way to detail a seemingly uneventful patrol. Transitioning between your observation and Officer Smeester’s quotes was a perfect way to bring balance to your piece.

    Reply

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