By Steve Jefferson, WTHR Crimebeat reporter - bio | email
IMPD Ofc. Joel Reierson
As we've witnessed, police officers respond to all types of calls for help on our city streets.
We want to show you what our law enforcement officers have to deal with in just one shift in one district. Eyewitness News Crimebeat reporter Steve Jefferson and a photographer spent more than nine hours in a patrol car this week with officers sworn to protect and serve the people of Indianapolis.
Officers in IMPD's East District respond to more calls than any other district around the city. At any time, the officers know their promise to help can be the most dangerous moment of their lives.
"I've got three kids, my wife works full-time. They are younger kids...somewhat young, 10, 8 and 3," said IMPD Ofc. Joel Reierson.
Reierson works in one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. At the end of every shift, he has one single goal - to go back home to his family.
"This is actually my first day back to work since Officer (Perry) Renn was killed Saturday. Think it made it a little tough for them to see me go," he said during his shift Tuesday.
Reierson looks up in his police car, he gets a reality check. He sees the button of fallen IMPD Officer David Moore and the memorial sticker of Officer Rod Bradway. Both officers were shot and killed in the line of duty.
"The realities of the job," Reierson said.
A job that's both rewarding and dangerous.
"In the academy, I was always told that a year on East District is equivalent to five years somewhere else," Reierson said. "Generally, it's a pretty violent district. We get a lot of shootings, a lot of stabbings, a lot of people assaulted, as well."
Officers in the district go on back-to-back runs, most days.
Tuesday night, one of Reierson's runs was to a woman who was assaulted, punched in the eye during an argument with another woman about an unpaid debt.
"She hit me with her fist real hard," the woman said.
"Just one time," Reierson asked.
"One good time," she replied.
"You definitely get to know the people. You get to know the good people, you get to know the bad people, obviously," Reierson said, back in his patrol car.
During roll call and shift change, the officers get their zone assignments. Officer Francisco Olmos headed to Zone 20, taking our crew with him.
"I've been in that zone almost my entire career," he said.
The zone is the most violent in East District, where Olmos starts another non-stop night. His reminder of fallen Officer Bradway is personal.
"Rod Bradway was my classmate. We graduated the academy together," Olmos said. "It's always in the back of your mind. Everyone thinks about it. Every single officer, but we still have to come and do a job."
It's a job that Olmos knows is high risk.
"Don't do that, though. When I pull up, you take off and you had that big (expletive) knife on you. I don't know what you are doing," Olmos tells one person on the street.
Later, he spots a woman getting in a man's car.
"When you stop in the middle of the street to pick her up and stop traffic, it looks bad on everyone. Do you understand that?" he asks the driver. "I am going to run you. If everything checks, I just want you to leave. Deal?"
The driver agrees, but the woman doesn't check out. She went to jail on a bench warrant.
The night is still early and Olmos has many more runs before his shift ends and he goes home to his family.
"You got to hug your kids a little tighter, because you never know," he said.
The officers can't let their guard down, even during the most routine stop.
"Sit tight in the car, okay?" Olmos tells another driver.
Most of the officers work six days, then have three days off. They use those three days to recharge and spend time with their family.
Even when they lose a fellow officer in the line of duty, they still come to work, because they are sworn to protect.