The term beat is used to describe your patrol area.
When you leave the academy and go to your duty assignment, you go into field training. For three months you ride with three different field training officers, one for each month. They are like a mentor/trainer and help you to make changes where you need to make changes and encourage you where you are doing well.
One was an officer who you would consider salty, only with a little better attitude than those I met my first day. He was very practical.
Location location location. He would continually ask where we were; the main street and closest cross street. Knowing where you are can make the difference of whether help can find you when you need it. If you got out of the car without your radio, he would drive off and leave you. Not for long, but long enough to make the point, never leave the car without your equipment.
He also had the best eye sight. We’d be driving down Route 97 at 60 some mph and he would pull off the road and say: “I saw a 1/2 inch slotted screw driver back there!” He was right every time! Wrenches, Phillips head, flat head, what ever it was, he saw and knew exactly what it was.
My three months was up. I hit the street solo. It was in the first few weeks of being on my own and I was patrolling Cape St. Clair. I worked it for my 6 days of day work, 7am- 3:30pm, then my 6 days of evenings, 3:00pm-11:30pm. It was during the evening shift that I got lost in the Cape.
How can a place seem so different at night, in the dark! Even with a map book I could not find my way out! FYI, no gps phones or even a gps! Finally after about 45 minutes of wandering around the community in my patrol car, I stumbled my way out!
Then there’s my first time taking a prisoner to the detention center.
He’s cuffed and in the passenger seat. I reach back and grab my map book and start looking for where the detention center is and how to get there.
He looks over at me laughing and asked, “what, you don’t know how to get there?” I explained that I was new and from Pennsylvania. He laughed again and told me he would tell me how to get there. I looked him in the eye and asked him if he would give me the right directions and he assured me he would. On the way he did try to get a burger from a fast food joint, to which I explained that as much as I appreciated the directions, I could not get him a burger.
He still gave me the right directions.
Life on the beat.