It is simply named a “ride-along,” and if you are a law-abiding Independence citizen over 18 years of age without a criminal record, can pass a background check and sign a waiver, you too can ride along with a police officer in what could be the ride of your life – and it’s free.

It is simply named a “ride-along,” and if you are a law-abiding Independence citizen over 18 years of age without a criminal record, can pass a background check and sign a waiver, you too can ride along with a police officer in what could be the ride of your life – and it’s free.


Last Thursday I partnered with Officer Thomas Wagstaff, a 38-year-old veteran with nine and a half years as a police officer.


As you buckle up in the modern, computerized and tactically loaded black-and-white Ford Crown Victoria, another party soon joins you – the radio dispatcher, who directs all of the units from the station.


Officer Wagstaff alerted me that you never know what you will encounter while on duty.


My five-hour ride in unit 121 included escorting a disgruntled pregnant teenager to meet her case worker at Research Hospital, providing backup for a motorcycle patrol officer citing a motorist, taking into custody a motorist with arrest warrants, observing paramedics place an elderly man into an ambulance, cruising the area for possible stolen cars and taking a stolen item report from a local business involving three young men who fled in a Jeep Cherokee.


Later, a heart-wrenching report came in that a baby had swallowed some Clorox. First responders zoomed from three directions – the ambulance, fire department and Wagstaff racing with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Fortunately, the child had thrown-up several times, expelling most of the liquid. She was taken to the hospital for further cautionary testing.


More drama. While waiting on 23rd Street, a motorist suddenly made an illegal left turn from the middle lane on to Noland Road. Wagstaff waited until traffic cleared, then took off after the offender, who turned out to be an 80-year-old woman. She was let off with a polite but stern warning.


While I was along only for five hours of Wagstaff’s 12-hour shift, fortunately there were no major crimes or incidents threatening the lives of the public or first responders, but as Wagstaff notes – much to the chagrin of the their spouses and loved ones – “You never know what tomorrow will bring.”


Drive-along requests can be obtained at the central police station, 223 N. Memorial Drive. Or call Donna Wiley at 816-325-7272.


And thanks Donna and Tom for the ride.


I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.