Making sure residents are safe is the top priority for the Ann Arbor Police Department. And as you can imagine, they encounter a variety of situations in the field on a daily basis. To give you a glimpse of their interactions with the public we sent WEMU’s Jorge Avellan out for a police ride-along.
"So we’ll head down south and we’ll see what we can come across."
Shortly after, we drove away and stopped to check-in on another officer who was in the middle of a traffic stop.
"So he’s looking for someone right now? Yeah, hang on, I’ll try to get more information and let you know what’s going on."
An attempted home invasion had just happened nearby, so both officers were interviewing what could be a potential suspect. I was instructed to remain in the patrol car, so I began recording audio of the conversation that’s being transmitted over the radio.
"He told me not to say that we are Uber, apparently that’s illegal here. I Uber all the time in Chicago."
Officer Fechik informed me this isn’t their suspect.
"A little bit earlier there were two heavy set females that were in the Burns Park area that we’re trying to get in people’s homes wearing latex gloves. So when Officer Grant saw this van pull out and there is a male passenger in back seat, it looked a little suspicious coming from the area and it kind of appeared that they were trying to find the females to pick them up. But apparently it’s an Uber driver that was hesitant to give that information because he was afraid he was going to get in trouble for operating an Uber car."
Less than an hour later, a call took us to a house on Easy Street. This time, I went inside with Officer Fechik.
"We were called because you said there was some kind of illegal dumping complaint."
Homeowner Marc Bradshaw made the call after hiring a man to do yard work for him.
"He mowed the yard for me and I had a whole bunch of trash here from a tree that came down in a thunderstorm and I asked him to clean that and he said sure, loaded into his van and I thought he took it to the landfill."
The suspected illegal dumping took place at Mary Beth Doyle Park. We headed over and saw yard waste tucked away near trees at the entrance of the park.
"It’s very disappointing, I paid him good money to take this to the landfill and he basically cheated me."
But the suspect did leave behind a business card with Marc.
"Parks and Rec portion of the city will determine what the cost was to remove this debris and that could be something that the suspect would have to pay as far as restitution goes."
Later on that afternoon we came across someone who Officer Fechik has dealt with before. A suspected heroin addict is panhandling near Arborland. The officer quickly gets out before the man takes off. From inside the car, I once again record the conversation.
"Going back to jail again? Not this time."
The officer tells me that 25 year-old Zachary makes about $300 a day in the Arborland area to feed his addiction. So even though he’s received over a dozen misdemeanor citations for panhandling he continues to go back. Officer Fechik looked disappointed to see Zachary yet again.
"There are some good stories here and there people who have overcome the addiction and those are always nice to see on the streets but for him in his situation, it’s not very likely because of the amount of his addiction and he doesn’t have any will to fight. So to see him actually overcome is possibly something that’s not in his future."
This was just one day in the life of an Ann Arbor patrol officer. A day in which some people stopped to wave or smile, others reached for help and some appeared to be continuing down the same wayward path.
— Jorge Avellan is the Ann Arbor beat reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him email@example.com