Thursday, March 31, 2011

Enlighten Me.......Observations

Driving down the freeway, kids in tow. We had a picnic lunch in the trunk and our hiking backpacks loaded with water bottles.  The thermostat read 80+ degrees and the kids cheeks were already slightly pink from being outdoors the day before. 

The new bottle of sunscreen rolled around my feet and I looked forward to kissing their foreheads and smelling the aroma brought on by that protective layer of lotion.

We cruised down the freeway with CA Cop's preselected tunes serenading us. Shasta's eyes were already growing heavy as he snuggled in his car seat, his head turned the direction of the window. Despite the sleep beginning to overtake him a small smile would creep the sides of his lips upward with every garbage truck that we passed. He loves them, dearly.  Sierra flipped the pages of a book and read to her stuffed animals to keep them entertained on the drive.

With near silence from the back seat, a rarity, CA Cop and I began discussing various topics. I was asking him questions about police work. Specifically how he communicates with dispatch during a traffic stop and what kind of information he knows, if any, prior to approaching a vehicle.

As he answered my questions and our conversation continued he would point out various cars ahead of us on the freeway.  He would state different facts about the vehicles and their drivers.

I sat in silence.  I didn't know what to say. I realized at that moment he knew exactly who was driving every car that had passed us and probably some behind us as well.  He had just rattled off, in casual conversation, the ethnicity, gender, and approximate age of all the drivers of the vehicles within eyesight along with the makes and models of the cars they were driving. Now, make and possibly models I could have pointed out, but descriptions of the drivers.......I guess I was too busy waving to the garbage trucks. It was fascinating to me to see how and what that brain of his is now storing and compartmentalizing.

So am I right to conclude that they never really turn "it" off? Even on their days off? They are still scanning for the bad guys? Sometimes I watch CA Cop look into vehicles as we pass by them and I can just see him salivating, thinking about how he would like to get into that car.

I don't know?  Enlighten me.... Is this a rookie thing? Or is the level of alertness just something that develops into a character trait?


 (PS. Could the views from our hike have been any better?)


  1. No one really "sees" everything their eyes take in. We are bombarded with visual information, and much of it goes in and right out (which is why eye witness testimony is so unreliable). We learn to focus on what is important to us for whatever reason. A union flooring worker will notice carpet styles and types and where the seams are. Gardners will see specific trees and plants. I'm told dental hygeinists notice teeth.

    Cops watch people. We do it for shifts at a time, watching who's coming and going. Watching how people react when they see us. Watching what they do when they don't see us. So just like the dental hygeinist is checking out your teeth at the cocktail party, the cop is still noticing every place and every driver that goes past him on a leisurely ride with his family. You can't turn it off, because you've learned to see differently than you did before.

  2. LT- That definitely put things into perspective. Seems so obvious now. Thanks for the feedback.