The Houston Police Department’s Ride Along Program provides opportunities for citizens, civilians, and law enforcement workers to accompany Houston police officers that are on duty. I walked into the HPD Midwest Patrol Station with no idea of what to expect. I was assigned to ride during Officer Dua Querashi’s shift at 3 P.M. Dua had transferred from a police department in Missouri City, Texas and was very passionate about serving in Houston. She was very friendly, and her instructions were clear; to not interfere in physical dilemmas and be aware of your surroundings. During the eight hours that I was there, Officer Querashi ran numerous license plates. I know that if an HPD police car is behind you at a stoplight, there’s a high chance that they’re putting your license plate number through their system. However, watching Officer Querashi’s actions, I was able to learn that this was done from the inside of the car with a computer. It was fascinating to see everything in action. After the license plate number is entered, the technology verifies whether it’s a valid license, cancelled license, if the person is a sex offender, etc. Later on, we got to the point where we had to pull over a male in his mid-40s because he was driving around with two license plate numbers.
Querashi spent a great amount of time looking up records in the computer. Since the driver was cooperative, Querashi let him off with a warning instead of a ticket. Going more into the evening, Querashi had to assist two other HPD officers who were putting handcuffs on a young African male for being charged with theft. He was being persistent and refused to comply, which is when I realized that I had to prepare for situations like this in the future. I would have to know how to act and not let the criminal’s words bother me. Officer Querashi handled the issue in the best way possible and we continued to drive around different neighborhoods within the area. It was a pretty slow night and we didn’t encounter any mischief or illegal activity. I took this opportunity to prepare more questions for Officer Querashi. I wanted to hear how she felt about serving the public and what she believed is the most important thing an officer can do.
Querashi’s answers really stuck with me; she said that not only do you have to deal with bad people, but you also have to deal with bad decisions. She also mentioned that listening is key for a police officer. It was clear to me that Querashi took her job very seriously, just like any officer should. Within every instance, I got to stay by Querashi’s side and watch her interact with the public and her colleagues. I was even more inspired by her for taking on a usually male-dominated occupation and commended her on that. It made me feel empowered to see how females in the workplace has evolved and excited to become a part of the force in the future.
After our long day, Officer Querashi gave me some recommendations on how I could continue to educate myself. She offered different books to read and television programs to watch. She said to feel free to come back anytime, and after thanking her with a handshake, we went our separate ways. Although my ride along experience didn’t involve a lot of action or any car chases, it was still very interesting. I gained a great amount of respect for the police that serve our community; their jobs are not easy, and it takes a lot of practice to keep personal emotions at bay. You never know what kind of situation you’ll end up in, so it’s important to develop thick skin and a true motivation to public service to be able to do this kind of work every day. Overall, I had a great time on my ride along and feel stronger on the topic of crime and police. I would relive this experience all over again, and I can’t wait to become a part of the Houston Police Department one day.