Most police/sheriff departments will allow interested citizens to accompany a law officer during their regular patrol, which is commonly referred to as a ride-along. Both the department and citizen benefit from this practice as most riders come away with an increased knowledge of the job and a heightened sense of awareness for real life “ground conditions” in the community. A citizen with this type of exposure is not only more educated about his or her neighborhood but also may be less likely to pass judgment on the police before all the facts come in whenever the inevitable next “shocking” video or other incident hits the airwaves.
The best way to maximize the ride-along experience is to conduct it with a trusted police officer friend. While this is not possible for everyone, it is about the only way to get the “uncensored” version. Naturally, if an officer is accompanied by someone they don’t know the rider is most likely to experience a sanitized viewpoint for obvious reasons.
If you want to gain some valuable insight regarding dealing with dangerous people, and etc., look for an opportunity to tag along with a cop on patrol. Try to do it with someone you know and also request to go to the worst neighborhoods. Summer and other times of nice weather will greatly increase the activity, especially in an urban area. I’m confident it will a good and mutually beneficial experience!