WHEATON, Md. - Police officers across the United States are on high alert after the fatal shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Policing in today's world has turned stressful for many cops who see themselves as targets.
To get a better understanding of how officers are coping on the job, FOX 5 went on a ride along with a Montgomery County police officer.
Officer Jonathan Morley has been on the job for just over three years. He is a Rockville High School and University of Maryland graduate. He is also a member of the National Guard.
We were in his cruiser for just a few minutes when we got the first call – a minor fender bender on Georgia Avenue involving a couple with an infant in a car seat. The worried parents wanted the baby checked out.
Back in the cruiser, we talked about the recent assault on law enforcement in Louisiana.
"It upsets me and it just makes me angry because the vast majority of us, we go out there and we patrol these neighborhoods,” he told us. “I don’t think a lot of these officers on the road, unless they are veterans, really know what they are supposed to do in those situations.”
As we rode along, we talked about what it is like to be a cop today.
"You are really never off duty doing this job, especially when you have a take-home car like this,” Morley said. “Even when you are not working, everybody knows who you are, what you do, where you live.
Our second call took us to a house in Wheaton where a woman called 911 to say she was worried about human trafficking. Officer Morley suspected she was having some mental health issues, and after making sure she was okay, we were back on the road.
“Just check her welfare, make sure she is all right and go on to the next one,” said Morley.
Our third call was far more serious. Two cars collided near Connecticut Avenue and Veirs Mill Road. In one of those vehicles was a baby in a car seat. The air bags deployed and the parents wanted the baby checked out.
Morley has had a body camera for a few months. Although he was apprehensive about using it at first, he now likes it.
“Honestly, I do like having it,” he said. “If I’m on a call, I don’t see everything with my own eyes.”
With every cell phone now equipped with a camera, Morley said he expects to be photographed at every stop. But what concern him are the people who turn on a camera and then try to goad him into something confrontational.
“The cell phone doesn’t get the whole side of the story,” Morley said. “It only takes where they started videotaping. It doesn’t take what led up to that.”
Since the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Morley said he is getting more people thanking him for his service. It is something he appreciates. But more so, this cop said he wants people to talk to him and don't be afraid to say hello.
“If people would come up and like to speak to me, I would love that,” he said. “It helps me get through the day and it helps build relationships with the community. I would say 90 percent of my interactions with people every day are goodwilled.”
Our fourth call of the day was a 911 disconnect. It was nothing serious, only a misdial by a receptionist. Just another day on the job.