La Verne Magazine
Winter 2001

Protecting the Night

by Matt Cresto

Life on the beat means life on the edge. The most important shake down a La Verne police officer can have is the one when he returns home to hug and kiss his family. An officer does more than just worry about tickets; he worries about returning home to what he truly loves.

Nights driving the black and white are filled with unexpected incidents out there waiting to happen. No police officer can determine what type of calls they will be sent on each night. The fear of being injured or not seeing his family again sits in the back of each officer's mind as he ventures out each night.

Officer Ramzi Rabadi, of the La Verne Police Department, enjoys the repercussions of his job. "I love it. This is the job for me," he says. "I can't see myself doing anything else."

I went on a ride along with Officer Rabadi to get an idea of what goes on in the life of an LVPD officer. Any casual clothing will suit perfectly for the job as a ride along. Something dark may be appropriate for you to wear to blend in with the force. The only apparatus you will have to wear is the small clip stating you are just a ride-along participant. You may want to clip it on your belt in a spot not too many people will see. It could take you out of the undercover role that you are playing in your head.

Our beat for the night was "Area Two." We were in charge of downtown La Verne and the area surrounding it, out west to Wheeler Avenue and east to White Avenue. Our night finally got underway with our first violation. A car drove by with the music bumping way too loud. We flipped around and accelerated toward the suspect. We stopped him at the corner of E street and Arrow Highway. The lights were shot onto the suspect as we stopped him, making sure that we could see every move. This was for cautionary reasons against the suspect. It was more of a barrier for the officer to stay behind and an angle for a light to shine on the suspect. You never know what could be in the car.

"You are on their turf when you pull someone over," says Rabadi. "You don't want them to know where you are. That is why we use so many lights."

After a brief talk with the suspect, officer Rabadi let him go with a warning and relaxed nerves. The next call was for a missing child. We cautiously entered the trailer park where the family had reported the violation. Questions to the family were asked immediately to understand the situation. Once everything seemed in control, he signaled to the other officer and was on his way.

The next stop was dinner. You cannot work on an empty stomach. A half-hour break is awarded to Rabadi to get a quick meal. As he entered the restaurant, all heads turned his way. Once he ordered, the crowd of people settled and continued with their meals. The respect toward the officer as he entered a public arena was highly noted."People definitely respect you more when you are in uniform," says Rabadi.

As the night continued, Officer Rabadi noticed a suspicious vehicle. He ran the plates on the vehicle to check for any problems with the driver or the car itself through the computer system attached to the face of the dashboard. The system revealed everything about the history of a given car.

Confirming his hunch, Rabadi found out that the driver was on probation. We followed the suspects into a gas station, and immediately called for backup. It turned out that all three suspects were on probation.

Officer Rabadi decided to search each individual to make sure they were staying clean. He selected each suspect one by one, but not until backup arrived. A pipe was found, but no actual drug to convict them. It is a standard 10-8; subjects are checked and cleared.

Safety is the most important idea on an officer's mind. He is trying to keep the community safe, but he also wants to keep himself out of harms way. "My thing is to go home at the end of the night," says Rabadi. "If you do not have a little fear, that is when you get hurt.

"I am more worried about my family," says Rabadi. "What is going to happen to them if something happens to me?"