A New Cop Shares Life On The Beat (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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A New Cop Shares Life On The Beat

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:08
Welcome to "Metro Connection," I'm Rebecca Sheir, and in case you haven't noticed, the hordes are arriving.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:18
No, not the cicadas or the Poltergeists, for that matter. No, we're talking about summer interns, thousands of summer interns. Many of them fresh-eyed and super eager to make their mark on politics, or at the very least to have a grand old time in the nation's capitol. And so today, as a tribute to the annual intern influx, we're doing a show all about rookies.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:49
We'll meet young activists trying to change the debate on immigration reform.

MR. RAYMOND JOSE

00:00:54
Today, I'm going on legislative visits, trying to gauge whether we can get swing votes.

SHEIR

00:01:00
And we'll hit the beach with high school grads savoring their first taste of freedom.

MR. RYAN GIELEN

00:01:04
People have an incredible time. They take a lot of stupid risks and they have a lot of fun. It's a crazy time.

SHEIR

00:01:13
Plus, we'll hear from a rookie musician who landed a coveted one-year gig with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

MS. TAMI LEE HUGHES

00:01:18
I think it's breathtaking. It's like what music would sound like in heaven. It's just beautiful.

SHEIR

00:01:28
But before we get to all that, if you watched any movies or TV back in 1990 you might remember this movie trailer.

SHEIR

00:01:51
The Rookie is your classic rookie cop/veteran cop flick. The veteran's all set in his old-school ways, the rookie's just getting his feet wet, and inevitably, at some point, the rookie decides he's ready to step up his game.

MS. KIMBERLY CURRY

00:02:08
Like on TV they make it look so cool. They jump out of the huge, like, black trucks and they bust down doors. You know, "Police, everybody show me your hands."

SHEIR

00:02:15
Kim Curry is a rookie officer with the Montgomery County Police Department.

SHEIR

00:02:20
So I have to ask, in your experience so far, you know, you had those childhood dreams and visions of this like really exciting life. How does it compare so far?

CURRY

00:02:26
Yeah, put it this way, I haven't jumped out of a black SUV and kicked down anybody's door.

SHEIR

00:02:31
But at age 25, Curry has seen a fair share of action during her first 18 months as a patrol officer in Germantown, Md. I recently joined her on the overnight shift, riding shotgun in this totally tricked out SUV.

SHEIR

00:02:44
Oh, my God. This is quite the setup.

CURRY

00:02:46
Yes, it is. It's pretty intense.

SHEIR

00:02:48
And with help from continual updates on a laptop computer…

SHEIR

00:02:55
…and a flurry of messages over the police radio…

SHEIR

00:03:00
…Curry handled all sorts of incidents around Germantown. At 10:00 p.m. or so we responded to a 911 call from a potentially mentally-disturbed woman who claimed voices were threatening to kill her.

SHEIR

00:03:16
Then we pulled over a driver who blazed his way through a no-turn-on-red light.

SHEIR

00:03:28
And a little bit later, we provided back-up to a senior officer who'd stopped a kid for drinking in an abandoned parking lot. By the time we arrived, the officer had cuffed the 19-year-old, who, apparently, had initially lied about his name and age.

SHEIR

00:03:55
Kimberly Curry says her initial inspiration for getting in on all this action was her uncle.

CURRY

00:03:59
Growing up, my uncle was a police officer in this department for years. And he just always had a very demanding like presence. When he walked into a room people paid him so much respect, and I just admired that. And that helped push me in to it.

SHEIR

00:04:13
Was it super intimidating, I mean, when you started?

CURRY

00:04:15
Oh, yes. I mean, you have all these people with brass on their shoulders, and you're like, "Is that my sergeant? Is that my lieutenant? I don't know who that is." In the academy, you had to -- get this, you had to address them by their rank, yet you could not look at them. I'm like, "Without sounding like an idiot, how am I supposed to know what your rank is if I can't see your shoulder?" But we mastered the art of glancing out of the corner of our eye to catch their rank.

SHEIR

00:04:42
Curry says she and her 30, mostly male classmates, also had to master all kinds of law, constitutional, criminal.

CURRY

00:04:48
Day one, we get there and there are two stacks of books on your desk, and you can't see over top of them.

SHEIR

00:04:54
But Curry made it through, and now ranks as PO1 or Police Officer One, which she tells me as we drive around Germantown, is basically the lowest rung on the ladder.

SHEIR

00:05:04
You describe, like, your position as bottom of the barrel. I mean, you still get to do a lot of stuff.

CURRY

00:05:12
Yeah, I mean, we have full police powers. So I get to do, like, everything a PO3, which is the highest patrol officer, I mean except for like sergeant. We get to do all of the same stuff, but bottom of the barrel, meaning if I go on a call with a PO3, he calls the shots.

SHEIR

00:05:30
And quite often, Curry says, she actually prefers being so deferent.

CURRY

00:05:34
And there are times when you get on the scene of a call, and you're like, I feel like a rookie. I don't know what to do with this. And then sometimes I run calls with the officers who just got out of the academy. So I'm the senior car. Uh, that's weird. I'm like, I have six months on you. Like, that's it.

SHEIR

00:05:52
But sometimes, she says, those six months can make a big difference.

CURRY

00:05:56
It's fun because then I actually feel like I know what I'm doing and they don't.

SHEIR

00:06:03
And it's true. Curry says since getting out on the street, she's learned all sorts of things, the neighborhood, the people, not to mention all that cool police lingo. Here's one I'd never heard before, 41.

SHEIR

00:06:15
41 means okay?

CURRY

00:06:17
Yeah, 41 means okay. That comes from the old 10 Codes. We don't use those anymore. But 41, it's easier than "I'm okay." And then sometimes, even if you say, "I'm okay," you use our phonetic alphabet, "I'm Ocean King."

SHEIR

00:06:29
Curry says in the police force, you're considered a rookie for the first five years. And once her five years are up, she hopes to get promoted and, ideally, keep protecting and serving the community here in Germantown, a place she's truly grown to love, even if it's nothing like a movie or TV show.

CURRY

00:06:44
I mean I have some that I like, but it's really hard because you're like, that's not real. It doesn't happen like that. You enjoy when you're like, oh, I’m going to be a cop. I'm going to watch these shows. It's going to be awesome. But that's Hollywood, you know.

SHEIR

00:06:57
The reality may be far less glamorous, far less dramatic, but PO1 Kimberly Curry says she can imagine being a cop for the long haul. For her, that would be positively 41, if not Ocean King.
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