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February 19, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-02-19

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The Michigan Daily- Friday, February 19,1993- Page 5



On patrol with the Ann Arbor Police Department

Ann Arbor Police Department Officer Vada Murray rolls down Main Street while on patrol Friday night.

J 's 1430 hours on Friday, and
Ann Arbor Police Officer
Vada Murray waits in uniform,
ready to be briefed before beginning
his far-from-average eight-hour work-
Murray sits in concentration along-
side 18officerspreparing tobegin their
patrol shifts. Over the course of 30
minutes, they are expected to absorb
information oneverything-fromnew
leads on crimes to outcomes of court
cases to characteristics of a serial killer,
as shown by a video interview with
Jeffrey Dahmer.
On a typical day, 25-year-old
Murray must be prepared to encounter
everything from traffic violations to
domestic assaults to threats to his life.
While donning his badge, Murray
reaches for his police radio and fire-
arms, and sums up the nature of his job.
"Out there, it's life or death. One
mistake and you might not go home."
Murray straightenshis uniform, and
hands his civilian companion a per-
sonal injury waiver form and a police
radio topped with a special orange but-
"That orange button on top of the
radio will summon the entire police
force. Don't touch it unless it is an
emergency, a matter of life or death."
On that note, I am strapped into the
front seat of the squad car, my feet
brushing the barrel of a loaded shotgun
secured by a strong metal ring.
"Are you ready?" Murray asks. An
unsure nod.
"Let's roll."
The snow-studded tires of the ve-
hicle tear through the slushy drive,
heading downtown - toward the des-
ignated patrol area of call sign Adam
On Patrol
The Chevrolet Caprice, capable of
up to 180 mph, speeds down Huron
Parkway as Murray details the meth-
ods the police force uses in patrolling
the city.
Murray explains that the city is di-
vided into six patrolling sectors -
Adam, Baker, Charles, David, Edward
and Frank. All Adam numbers corre-
late to the downtown areas, he says.
Of Ann Arbor Police Department's
(AAPD) 178 sworn officers, 70 have
positions within the patrol division.
TeamĀ§, which are typically composed
of two officers, are assigned to patrol
the various sectors of the city.
Murray says although there are no
areas of town that are particularly vul-
nerable, downtown and campus can be
more prone to crimes due to a higher
population density in these areas.
But, as Murray puts it, the degree to
which the law is enforced depends on
the initiative of the officer.
"A lot of the time the department
will send you to calls, but there are
things you can initiate, and things that
you should initiate, outside of the calls
you're getting."
Patrolofficersarerequired torecord
these activities on a daily sheet to be
examined by their supervisor.
Murray cites several examples of
such initiative including assisting mo-
torists, issuing traffic violations, mak-
ing random liquor inspections and be-

ing aware of any potential wrongdoing
that may be lurking about.
"You have to look for things that
don't look right."
Looking to his report of stolen cars,
Murray boasts that he all but memo-
rizes the sheet each day.
Murray speaks of new patrol meth-
ods, including a $5,400 video camera,
aboutthe sizeofone-and-one-halfpacks
of cigarettes, that mounts between the
windshield and the rearview mirror of
the squad car to accurately record any
incident that may be disputed in court.
Of the 27 cars in the fleet, only two
are equipped with these cameras, but
more will be installed when funds are
Murray said he never knows how
he will spend his patrol.
"There are times when you just
have to drive around until something
happens," he adds as he continues his
circle of patrol.
Murray stresses the importance of
varying surveillance patterns in keep-
ing effective patrols.
"People watch you. They might
think they can get away with some-
thing at a certain time, place, whatever.
You have to keep a step ahead."
Murray reflects on the
unpredictability of the job.
"That'sone thing aboutpolice work,
you just never know. We're just driv-
ing along, and all of a sudden a man
could come out of that house and start
shooting at us."
He gestures to a house on his route.
"That's part of the job because you
just never know."
A right turn onto a street on the
northwest side, and Murray suddenly
slams on the car brakes.
With a force reminiscent of a his
days as a Michigan football player, 6-
foot-3, 195 pound Murray barrels out
of the car toward a group of Ann Arbor
youths, whom he has just witnessed
exchanging funds for what he believes
to be illegal drugs.
Murray questions the youths and
requests identification.
Returning to the car, he calls the
incident in to the department, reading
information from the IDs into a three-
channel radio that is capable of notify-
ing other units within the area, police
headquarters and, if necessary, the
county sheriff's department.
Murray explains that this particular
area has been under observation for
drug trafficking as he records the iden-
tities of those involved.
"Watch to make sure he doesn't run
away," he says, referring to the intimi-
dated youth standing outside the car.
Murray releases the youths with a
warning, and adds their names to a list
of possible drug links.
The Ann ArborPoliceDepartment's
drug enforcement procedures are two-
fold - several Ann Arbor officers
represent the area in state police re-
gional drug enforcement units, and the
AAPD has its own specially trained
task force to monitor drug activity.
The task force is one of many pro-
grams funded by the department's more
than $10 million, tax-based budget.
This budget also funds training and

refresher courses in areas such as law
and firearm use, and community pro-
grams such as Drug Abuse Resistance
Education. Drug law enforcement,
however, is the responsibility of every
As he pulls away from the scene of
the suspected drug deal, Murray ex-
plains some rudimentary police proce-
He explains that suspected crimi-
nals are subjected toexternal pat-downs,
in order to ensure the safety of those in
immediate danger, including the of-
He says this procedure is legally
very different than afull-fledged search.
"To do a search - to go into
someone'spockets-I'd have to make
an arrest and take that person into my
custody. Then I could do a search."
Shortly thereafter, Murray receives
a radio call notifying him that he is on
a 20-minute break.
Officers typically receive two breaks
during their shifts - a 20-minute re-
fresher break and a 40-minute meal
Officers can be assigned to one of
four shifts: 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 2:30
to 10:30 p.m. (day shifts), 9:30 p.m. to
5:30 a.m., and 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
(night shifts).
As Murray drives toward an empty
parking lot to take his break, he ex-
plains that shifts are assigned to the
newer officers. The remaining shifts
are chosen by officers on the basis of
Because he has served on the force
for less than a year, Murray's next shift
will probably be assigned.
Of the night shifts he says, 'That's
a bruiser there. Got to drink that cof-
Domestic Assault
During the break, Murray meets
with his partner, Andy Zazula, who
rides separately due to the civilian ob-
Murray characterizes his relation-
ship with his fellow officers as very
trusting - a trust that he says is neces-
sary to the team effort involved in
police work.
Murray and Zazula recount an inci-
dent of domestic violence that took
place the night before. A man threw his
wife through a window, inflicting a 5-

inch gash in her hand.
The man was arrested and taken
to jail for the mandatory 20 hours
required by state law, but Murray
said he was extremely uncoopera-
"He was real, real uncooperative,
making racist comments and saying
'you pigs gotta do your job'."
But Murray says he believes the
man was simply attempting to get a
response, adding that racial tension
and tension with civilians is gener-
ally not a big problem for him in his
"A lot of times people say things
to get a reaction, to get under your
skin. But it's not the first time I've
been called a name, and I'm sure it
won't be the last."
Zazula adds that the man said he
would seek domestic violence and
alcohol abuse counseling.
Under Ann Arbor domestic vio-
lence law, anyone who has been con-
firmed to have committed an act of
violence through injury or witness,
must be arrested regardless of the
victim's plans to prosecute.
The new law was implemented in
May of 1987, and within the first six
months of the legislation, domestic
assault arrests increased 26 percent.
In 1992, police made more than
150 domestic assault arrests.
Ann Arbor law requires that the
police force notify Safehouse of all
occurrences of domestic assault and
do periodic follow-ups with survi-
vors to make sure files are updated.
Following the 40-minute dinner
break, an emergency call comes over
the radio for a ongoing domestic as-
The voice announces a dispute in
which a 15-year-old girl is reported to
have been assaulted with a hammer
by her 17-year-old brother.
Several seconds later, the voice
reports that the dispute has escalated
into an all-out family dispute.
Murray responds, "On my way."
Murray reaches to turn on the
sirens of the sophisticated vision light
system - capable of up to 40 differ-
ent light patterns- that are scientifi-
cally designed to attract attention.
The Caprice roars down the snowy
twists of Geddes at close to 70mph to

Strapping on a
gun and a radio
that may save his
life, Police Officer
Vada Murray
speaks on the
reality of business:
'Being a police
officer is not
like on T.V....
One mistake
and you might
not go home.'
reach its location in time.
The police car arrives on the scene
shortly thereafter, along with several other
emergency vehicles- three other police
cars, two fire engines and an ambulance.
Murray instructs, "Stay back until I
tell you it's okay."
The officers enter to investigate and
find the dispute has settled down. After
questioning those involved, they learn
that the young woman had threatened
her brother with boiling water, and the
young man retaliated by swinging aham-
Though the hammer did not strike its
target, the young man was arrested for
what is still deemed an act of felonious
Last year, Ann Arbor police made 36
arrests on similar charges.
Police Training
After driving away from the scene,
Murray plans the last two hours of his
He remembers the patrol techniques
he learned during his extensive training.
Every officer becomes part of an ex-
tremely selective process, in which a
pool of 600 to 700 applicants is narrowed
down to a group of about 30 finalists by
a committee of city and police depart-
ment representatives.
The finalists must undergo a total of
20-22 weeks of training -14 weeks at
the state certification level and 8 weeks
of training particular to the AAPD.
The state level teaches everything -
from law classes to patrol techniques to
constitutional law and firearm use.
The Ann Arbor program re-empha-
sizes these things - citing laws that are
particular to the city, refining firearm
use, and promoting sensitivity in han-
dling instances of race relations and do-
mestic violence.
Murray said the selectivity of the
process is necessary to choose the best
officers possible.
"Ann Arbor is very selective, there
are very strict rules and requirements
that need to be met. It's no easy task."
But according to Murray, the sacri-
fices may be worth it.
"It's a good job, and there's a lot of
flexibility. I've developed a lot of close
relationships that I will cherish after I'm
'This is just what I've always wanted
to do."

winter of
Pitchers and catchers report to
Spring Training today.
Those magical words bring
baseball fans across the country
out of hibernation and back to
their roles as baseball fanatics.
The Hot Stove League has
come to an end, and the Grape-
fruit and
Leagues Josh
are just Dubow
winter has
winter in
history. Instead of talking about
winter leagues, trades and hot-
shot rookies, fans were forced to
look at Marge Schott, the search
for a new commissioner and the
reopening of the collective
bargaining agreement.
The threat of another work
stoppage loomed on the horizon,
because some teams were doling
out more than $100 million to
free agents, while others were
complaining that they could no
longer make a profit with the
skyrocketing player salaries.
These off-the-field controver-
sies are not what made baseball
America's pastime.
Fans don't really care about
which player will be making $3.5
million, or whose contract has
what incentive clauses. What fans
look for are batting averages,
strikeouts and ERAs. Wins,
losses and a trip to the ballpark.
And starting today, all of the
controversy will drift to the back
burner. The game will take
position front and center once the
first fastball pops into a glove.
Fans will be able to pay
attention to the true beauties of
baseball. Instead of checking out
the win-loss record of the owners
versus the players in arbitration
hearings, fans can look at
standings and box scores.
There has been talk lately that
baseball is on a downward trend.
It is no longer America's pastime.
The contract squabbles and
controversy that seem to surround
baseball have alienated many of
its fans.
For the first time in years,
attendance dropped at Major
League Baseball games last
season. At the same time,
attendance at minor league games
has been skyrocketing.
So people still enjoy baseball
games. More people went to
professional baseball games last
year than ever before. The game
itself has transcended the
controversies that have offended
its fans.
And again this year, there will

be sights and events that will
bring droves of fans to stadiums
across the country.
Bo Jackson has returned to the
Chicago White Sox training
camp. Hopefully, it will only be a
matter of time before Bo is once
again running the bases with
reckless abandon and hitting
towering home runs into the
The Atlanta Braves have
compiled one of the greatest
pitching staffs in recent memory
with Tom Glavine, Greg
Maddux, Steve Avery, John
Smoltz and Peter Smith. Can the
Braves finally win the first
professional championship for
the city of Atlanta?
Nolan Ryan has announced
that he will retire at the end of the
season. This is the last time fans
will have a chance to flock to
stadiums to see Major League
Baseball's strikeout king.
Former Michigan pitcher Jim
Abbott is a member of the New
York Yankees. Hopefully, he can
restore some of the past glory of
the Yankees and lead them back
to the top of the American
League East.
This is why Americans have
lnviui har~hnii fnr mnre thain 100l




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