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A night with Waco Police Department through a virtual ride-along

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Friday evening the Waco Police Department featured their first ever virtual ride-along, and it was quite an experience.

In July, Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton, the department's public information officer, invited residents to join him for the virtual ride-along on the department's Facebook and Twitter pages.

At 5:00 p.m. on the first day in August, the journey began with a standard roll call and briefing where officers shared a care package sent in by a citizen who was helped by an officer after running out of gas on the interstate a few days prior.

Swanton then announced his partner for the evening, Assistant Chief Ryan Holt. Their first call? Ambulance services requesting assistance with a belligerent drunk man in the downtown area.

He posts before heading out to the call, "Really??? Well I guess it's is 5 o'clock somewhere!"

The next update comes in with a picture of a man on a stretcher. The caption reads, "ETMC transporting one. Had a few too many margaritas says the man on the stretcher. He will be okay. Just headed to the hospital for a check up."

Matt Reed with KCEN News checks in next, announcing that he's along for the ride, taking a picture from the back seat of the patrol car.

So far around 150 people have been interacting with Swanton's social media posts.

Shortly later the trio announces their presence at what appears to be a local apartment complex as they attempt apprehend a felony theft suspect. Apparently the suspect's mother isn't happy about what's going on and is nearly arrested herself before her daughter is led away in handcuffs by Sergeant Scott Holt with the traffic unit.

Soon after, they get a call about a vicious dog and head out to investigate. It turns out though the dog is pretty friendly. Swanton reports, "Officer Evans found the "vicious dog". Often times officers find the situation at scenes much different than first reported to us. Welcome to our world folks!! We are taking fido to get checked out at our animal services center. He is actually very friendly."

The image included with the status update shows Evans petting the dog as a Bud Light box can be seen in the background. A lot of the people commenting on Facebook take the time to crack some jokes about the dog suddenly mellowing out after "having a few."

Over 400 people are interacting with Swanton's postings now.

Next up is an update showing Officer Roy working a criminal mischief call. Vandals threw rocks through a sign and LED display, causing over $5,000 in damages at Precision Tune AutoCare.

The officers then head over to Torchy's Tacos for a meal and break with the update "Ummmm??? Would you buy it if we told you we were checking on a suspicious type something or another here???? Ya me either... Back out in a few."

Apparently someone is quite handy with Photoshop skills as Swanton posts an edited picture from the previous vandalism call.

Where Precision Tune AutoCare's sign used to say "You're too cool to ride in a hot car. AC Special $29.90," it now says "You're not too cool to ride in a cop car. Lawyer special $10,000.00."

First coverage of a traffic stop is up next, as a suspect attempts to hide in a backyard before being arrested.

Swanton follows up with, "For those of you who like stats, Patrol Officers have answered a total of 82 calls since 3 o'clock this afternoon. They have ranged from minor disturbances, large fights, several thefts from various businesses, numerous traffic stops and arrests on felony warrants. And the night is young..."

Another traffic stop, another arrest, this time the driver has a suspended license and Waco's K-9 unit Hondo finds a small amount of cocaine stashed in a pill bottle between the seats.

"The traffic issues just became the least concern for the arrested driver" Swanton states.

This is followed up by a photo of them turning into the McLennan County Jail and the caption "And now the paperwork begins!!"

Around an hour later there's another update, "Okay. Jail paperwork done, now to the property room to tag the dope and it's back to the streets."

A call comes in about reckless driving. An 18-year-old male is pulled over on Valley Mills Drive for nearly hitting another vehicle while texting. Because it's his birthday, Holt lets him off with a verbal warning. The update is accompanied with "Happy birthday from Waco PD!!!"

Afterwards, two calls come in at nearly the same time, a crash near the interstate with injuries and a truck fire, and a suicidal man. Swanton and crew head for the three vehicle crash on 18th Street and Interstate 35.

No details on what happened, but at least two of the vehicles are totaled, judging by their appearance. Three people are transported to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries and the intersection is shut down for a while as crews clear the wreckage. It's now around midnight.

Fifty minutes later there's an update on the suicidal person, who has been transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Soon after there's another update, "Just cleared a disturbance with a gun reported. Future son-in-law and girlfriends daddy not getting along to well. That will be a cheery future!"

The night ends up being concluded around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning with a final post from Swanton, "Big shoutout to all the agencies participating in tonight's virtual-ride-out!! Folks hope you enjoyed getting to see what your police officers go through on a shift. We would say that tonight's call load was actually light for Waco PD and mostly uneventful except for the injury crash. We look forward to doing this again in the future and hope you had as much fun as we did providing this for our citizens. Have a safe rest of the weekend to you all!! Sgt. Swanton and Assistant Chief Holt wish you all a good night."

Several other departments from across Texas joined in on the virtual ride-along as well, including Hewitt, Belton, Frisco, Cockrell Hill, and Arlington.

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