Nate McMann is a perfect house husband. He’s home on weekends and he’s around the house all day. However, McMann is never home at night. It’s not a lurid affair or a dirty secret; Officer Nate McMann spends his nights from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM policing the streets of Longmont.
This fresh-faced young officer came to the Longmont Police Department after working in Clarksville, TN for five years on a special police task force related to curbing gang activity. McMann left Clarksville because it was a fairly small town and, as pointed out, “people you’ve arrested before don’t exactly thank you for it when they see you in the streets.” McMann had reached a point where he couldn’t safely go anywhere in Clarksville without carrying his gun, even if he was off duty, and so he decided to move with his wife and two young children to Fort Collins. “Clarksville is the kind of place where people only want to see the police is they call them,” McMann said, “here I actually feel appreciated by the community.”
I was granted the honor of going on a ride-a-long with McMann on the evening of Wednesday, October 15th. We met for the first time that evening at the Longmont Police Department . McMann is a young, gentle, boyish looking man, and upon seeing for the first time I thought he must be brand new, assigned to desk work. He did not convey the same kind of stern authority that I expect out of a cop. McMann grinned sheepishly, however, and told me that I would be riding with him for the evening, and led me into the briefing room.
Police briefings are terrifying. Not because they discuss big scary things, although the sign on the wall reading “never point a firearm at something you are not willing to destroy” is not exactly reassuring. The actual brief was fairly tame. The most important thing for us to look out for that night was a 75 year-old man who had escaped his nursing home and could be heading to four or five different states across the southwest. The scary thing about the brief was that all of the cops were incredibly amped up on caffeine and adrenaline. I certainly would never, ever want to be in a position where people this jumpy had their gun pointed at me.
The first thing McMann told me when I got into his car was that there was a big red button, and if anything should happen I was to push it and scream. This concerned me a little, because I thought it might be more useful for me to give the nature of the emergency and its location however he insisted that screaming would be adequate. McMann and I patrolled the south side of Longmont, and he showed me some of the worst areas. Apparently the apartments along south Coffman are a big spot for drugs and domestic violence. The 7/11 on Ninth and Lashley is McMann’s favorite spot to hang out and wait for trouble. He mostly catches DUI’s there, and the occasional pot smoker. I was able to show him one of my favorite alleys to walk through if I was looking for trouble, and in return, he showed me the house in town that controls the drug trade, the gun trade, the violence trade, the gang climate, and the sex trade. I asked if there really was a sex trade in Longmont and he told me that in the past six months he’d worked for the Longmont Police Department nearly ten women have been arrested for prostitution and all of them have been traced back to that house.
McMann told me the rules of a car chase—officers cannot chase a car unless they know the driver is wanted for an armed robbery or another violent crime. I asked him if that meant that if someone tried to pull me over for speeding I could run and nothing would happen. McMann grinned what was rapidly becoming his trademark sheepish grin and said, “I wouldn’t try it if I were you.”
Our only call of the night was to the home of a woman concerned about a man standing in her driveway and speaking to her. We found no evidence of theft or vandalism, and were also unable to find the man. McMann and his back-up made fun of the woman a little, although she didn’t see the humor in it. He promised her that if they found the guy who had spoken to her from her driveway, we would call her.
We made a traffic stop which was a little more interesting. McMann very nearly caused a four car accident as he abruptly switched lanes to pull over a car with potentially fake plates. The two cars behind him came very close to hitting him, and he got darn close to hitting the car in front of him. Adrenaline and caffeine. McMann gave his location as Third and Airport. We were actually at the intersection of Boston and Hover. Once he corrected himself, two more police cars joined us in a matter of seconds to provide moral support while McMann checked on the guy’s plates and let him off with a warning.
After this incident I asked McMann to take me back to the station, as it was far past my bedtime. We said our goodbyes and I filled out the mandatory officer critique form. After promising McMann that I would do my best to make him look good in my article, I hopped on my car and drove home, vowing that if McMann ever tried to pull me over I would run just to see what happens.