IPA UK’s Rob Weaver enjoys spending a day with Lexington PD on his trip to the USA

27 May 2019

I’m a Police Officer with almost 11 years’ service currently working within the Royal Household Protection Group in Gloucestershire, and last month I visited Kentucky, USA. I was lucky enough to spend a shift out on patrol with Lexington’s finest.Lexington1

Parade was at 07:00 and I was met by a steady influx of officers who arrived fully kitted in their department issued marked Force Interceptor cars, which they take home and can drive off duty. Apparently, this decision has been welcomed by the officers, who cut down on personal mileage expenses, as well as the community who get to see more cops driving around town.

After briefing, I was introduced to Ryan from West Division and we had our first call of the day, which turned out to be a bit of a recurrence - an alarm sounding at a business premises. These all ended up being either set off in error by staff, or genuine faults with the line. We then stopped for breakfast at a local fried chicken place (because, Kentucky!) where eating a succulent deep-fried chicken breast sandwiched between an American biscuit washed down with some iced tea seemed the most normal thing in the world.

After breakfast, Ryan showed me the kit he carried in his car. Along with the usual road signs, cones, police tape, first aid kit etc., is a personal issued carbine and ballistic body armour. I was impressed by the in-car laptop computer which mimics everything on a desktop exactly, making everything easy from writing statements and creating crime reports, to running checks on vehicles, people and property. Between the front and rear seats is a Perspex screen protecting officers from anyone sitting on the wipe-clean rear seating - making the transport of less-desirable prisoners a lot safer; and also making it easier to keep the car as hygienic as possible. The Interceptor models are large, powerful cars with plenty of room inside making them comfortable to patrol in all day. Definitely fit for purpose.

Next we were dispatched to a call of an intoxicated female causing problems in a sandwich shop. There were around 30 patrol officers on duty that morning so there was always plenty of back up, and in a State where a resident can openly carry or conceal a firearm, it’s nice to know. The female was arrested for public intoxication and taken to the local jail.

After lunch, we had a few more calls regarding a domestic assault and someone with mental health issues walking in traffic; then it was 16:30 and time to book off.

Having been a response officer in the UK for 10 years, I don’t know why it surprised me that the job is almost exactly the same across the pond. The differences lie in the investments they make into uniform, personal issued kit, firearms and vehicles. I was pleased to see morale in the force was generally very high. Officers don’t appear overstretched; they enjoy coming to work and are trusted in their decision making.

A few handshakes and the obligatory exchange of patches and that was off duty. I’m extremely grateful to Lexington Police Department for allowing me out on a ride along, and also the IPA for being so efficient and positive about actioning my travel request.

Rob Weaver, IPA UK