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Police invite citizens to ride along

by: Marcus Hathcock, Take a seat next to Ernie Roberts, or another officer of the Sandy Police Department.

A program instituted this week by the Sandy Police Department invites citizens and other interested people to take a ride with them.

As of Monday, March 3, local law enforcement began accepting applications to take part in the Citizen Observer Ride-along Program, which gives people the opportunity to get a front-seat view of patrol operations.

'A lot of people really don't ever have any contact with police because they're good citizens,' said Sgt. David Lundervold. He hopes locals will see that officers do more than just write them traffic tickets.

The push to welcome citizens into the passenger seat of Sandy's squad cars came from several patrol officers, Lundervold said.

'They thought it seemed like a good idea to show people what we do,' he said. 'Hopefully by experiencing what we actually do, people will get a view of us that they haven't seen or heard before. It will provide an all-around experience for someone.'

Interested citizens must complete a ride-along application, which is used to conduct a brief background check.

'We kind of set a loose criteria to screen some of the interested parties,' Lundervold said. 'Obviously we're not going to have felons riding with us who have committed crimes.'

After the screening process, an officer will call the applicant to schedule a time to ride. Riders may accompany officers during all shifts; however, the department plans to limit participation to 10 riders a month. For starters, citizens may schedule two ride-alongs a year to give everyone a chance and to take into account the department's workload.

'We'll see how it works to start out with and revisit it later,' Lundervold said.

To apply for the ride-along program, pick up a form at the Sandy Police Department, 38970 Proctor Blvd., next to the library, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The department plans to have application forms available for download from the city Web site, www.cityofsandy.com, in the coming weeks.

Call 503-668-5566 for more information.