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Cruisers play Cops & Rodders
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Almost everyone has watched FOX television's "Cops" on Saturday nights.
You know, "Bad boys, bad boys. What'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do when they come for you?"
The Baker County Sheriff's Department would have fit right in Friday when officers patrolled downtown Baker City. The two-hour patrol netted more than two dozen "cite and release" citations for a variety of "infractions."
The patrols could easily have been a move by the agency to clean up Baker City's Main Street core area. But, when all was said and done, and darkness settled over the staging area at the Pioneer Bank Corporate Offices parking lot, everybody had a good laugh about the evening.
That's because all of the "citations" issued were part of Thunder Mountain Motorsports' Cops and Rodders fund-raiser, part of Memory Cruise weekend.
"Cops and Rodders is a chance for an interface between the police officers and the public," said Terry Schumacher, TMMS president.
"It gives people something to do on Friday evening while they're here for Memory Cruise weekend," he said. "It's a good will thing."
The idea behind Cops and Robbers is similar to a giant game of hide and seek.
Members of the public try to hide their vehicles long enough from the officers to earn a prize, or still be running when the half-hour time limit for each heat expires.
Ground rules are simple. The "suspect" vehicles are allowed to go on any public roads or streets in the designated area in this case between Campbell Street on the north, Auburn Avenue on the south, Resort Street on the east, and Second Street on the west.
Drivers could park in one place no longer than 10 minutes at a time, had to stay within the perimeter of the designated area, could not hide in alleys, driveways, garages, or on private property, and had to follow all traffic laws.
Each "suspect" vehicle had a pink sticky note displayed in the upper left corner of the rear windown. When an officer stopped the vehicle on a traffic stop, the officer noted the time and location of the stop and the vehicle returned to the starting area.
Sgt. Tim Fisher and Deputy Chris Galiszewski manned the two Sheriff's chase cars. Fisher has been a part of the Cops and Rodders since it began.
"I've been here since day one,"
he said, adding that in all that time he has never had to handle a real infraction during the event.
In the first of three heats, after allowing the seven "suspects" a few minutes head start, Fisher started his search north of Broadway, and Galiszewski south of Broadway.
It took Fisher about three minutes to make his first citation.
"One down, six to go," Fisher told his partner by radio.
Then, after Galiszewski evened the score at one stop each, Fisher earned probably his easiest stop of the evening.
While traveling south on Resort, Fisher noticed a motorcycle about two blocks behind him traveling in the same direction. Fisher pulled over to the curb behind U.S. Bank and waited. As the cyclist rode by Fisher extended his arm, motioning the rider to his vehicle.
The biker readily handed over his pink slip and returned to the staging area.
The officers then traded stops until only Jimmy Hall's pickup remained alive.
Fisher spotted the vehicle near the Baker Elks Lodge and ended the first heat with a stop a block later.
In the second heat, the 11 drivers appeared a little more wary of the officers. It took the officers almost 22 of the alotted 30 minutes to catch all but one driver.
The officers then combined their efforts to catch the last vehicle with about five minutes left.
Fisher spotted the vehicle going east on Campbell as he traveled west on the same street. He radioed Galiszewski, who was moving south on Main Street, that the car was headed in his direction, and had turned south on First Street. So as Galiszewski closed in from Main, Fisher did the same from Second. They made the stop just behind St. Francis Cathedral.
The event, which was held for years as Cops and Robbers before being cancelled a couple of years ago, was revived last year with the help of the Sheriff's Office.
The $5-per-heat entry fees have gone primarily to the DARE program in past years. This year, however, the proceeds went to Kids & Cops.
"The program is intended to establish a mutual respect between the kids and police officers," said Troy Hale, Baker County Sheriff.
Hale said the program, which started in January 2001, "lets the kids understand we're not the bad guys."
As part of the program, Hale added, this fall officers will be visiting the schools with their canine unit.
They also plan to begin a lunch buddy program with the schools, probably in September or October, where officers would visit the schools and have lunch with the youngsters. Hale said the program would continue throughout the school year.