A day in the life

Published 9:32 am Tuesday, April 19, 2016


MURFREESBORO – You could call it a ride along if that is all that happened. However the morning spent with Murfreesboro Police Chief Darryl Rowe also included an in office chat and a “get to know.”

There was no preconceived idea for an article planned prior to the meeting. Its origin was one of fact finding in regards to negative and positives spoken about the Murfreesboro PD. As any organization knows, whether a charity or a government entity, that good and bad follows you around like a cloak of confusion. People and perception create what you hear, maybe its true and maybe its not; maybe it is both depending on the person’s outlook or point of view.

This article is not meant to change your mind in any way, but it may help, as it did in this reporter’s mind, to have a clearer understanding of what the MPD deals with on a regular basis.

Here is what was learned from time spent with the police chief of Murfreesboro.

The chief himself is an amiable man, but tough and watchful, and on impression, not a man to be messed with! Looking around his office a common bond was found. Rowe was a military man who served as an Infantry Officer which he said set the tone for what is expected from his officers.

Having served as a deputy sheriff for Northampton County, Rowe had some experience under his belt when he assumed his position as MPD Chief in 1999.

He also shared his perspective on running his police force; he believes in being proactive and not reactive. He stated in simplicity the difference in his mind of reactive and proactive. Proactive, which usually causes controversy and tends to lead to repercussions, is attempting to stop crime before it starts. Reactive is waiting for it to happen and then getting involved.

Some of the proactive duties of the MPD is to educate by lectures and ride alongs. Also, Rowe believes in showing a presence in areas where the “bad people” hide among those who just want to live their lives and be happy.

Rowe also expects his officers to conduct themselves in an ethical, moral, lawful and honest manner when carrying out their duties. Rowe also said something that stood out, he believes in “common sense policing”. That’s a noble thought when carried out in a world that seemingly makes no sense. It’s quite possible that the combination he mentioned is what serves Murfreesboro well as it has one of the lowest crime rates around.

Another aspect of Rowe’s regime is being prepared and doing it in the smartest way that saves the tax payers money. He imparted that the Murfreesboro Police Department was one of the first to deploy in car cameras, which is very important for both officer and citizen alike. They were also one of the first to deploy body cameras, which does take accountability to a much better level. The chief also showed efficiency in supply by the wonderful generator ($26,000), the aggressive Humvees ($78,000), furniture, brand new M16 assault rifles and tons of gear that the department possesses…items that did not cost local taxpayers a single dime.

He said that many police departments do not utilize what is available to them through “law enforcement support programs” such as military surplus because of the initial paperwork and patience required to do so. However, based on the superiority of what Murfreesboro’s police department has at their disposal, this reporter was very impressed. Even some of the patrol cars came through grants.

As far as the efficiency as a police department, it takes knowledge of the situation and variables to make an educated decision in this matter. Rowe was asked to explain the day in the life of a Murfreesboro Police Officer in regards to duties, expectations and situation variables. Rowe began with “ETJ” which is extra territorial jurisdiction. In Murfreesboro’s case it extends the town’s jurisdiction out a mile in radius, and in a small town that just about doubles everything. As in any smaller city or town, it’s the outlying areas where the criminals like to hide.

Riding with the chief, he showed me “pockets” communities in the “ETJ” extension that this reporter did not know even existed. Rowe explained that these are communities with good people who have wrong doers in their midst. It is in these instances where being proactive is probably the most difficult. Rowe used an example of a group of guys who just stand at the entrance to one of the mobile home parks, he knows they are selling drugs, but they hide the drugs somewhere near them, and without seeing the transaction or finding the drugs there is nothing Rowe and his officers can do by law.

Other daily routines that effect MDP duties versus manpower is their obligation to neighboring police departments, prisoner transport, mandatory training, court appearances and policy in regards to serious accidents that may occur outside their jurisdiction.

In regards to their obligation to a neighboring town or community, the MPD officers have a duty to assist if the other police department cannot handle it due to severity or under staffing. Another situation that may take Murfreesboro’s officers out of town is a severe accident in another area; in fact the Chief stated that they respond immediately to a serious accident and only will pull back and return if coverage is adequate.

Prisoner transport and court appearances also drains the man hours while an officer is actually on the beat. You figure between an arrest, a drive to Winton, paperwork and the drive back, a couple of hours are gone from patrolling the streets. Then of course there are court appearances, and they need no explanation as to how much of an officer’s day is tied up there.

Mandatory training may also pull an officer off his beat, but is necessary and certainly acceptable. After all it is very important the officers are trained and freshened in all aspects of law enforcement.

So how does this relate to on duty efficiency? Well you can do the math! After having been cut back two officers in 2015, Murfreesboro has nine full time officers who work 168 hours per month, plus subpoena time and training. That is a lot of hours.

Murfreesboro also has seven part time officers to help round out the roster. So with all the hours in the day, the amount of officers and time worked, obligations to serious situations outside of their jurisdiction, duties to neighboring communities, court and training it is no wonder they are not always seen on Main Street looking for speeders.

Also learned about the MPD is that Chowan University allows officers to study for free. That is very commendable on the university’s behalf.

The Murfreesboro Police Department has some very nice community relation policies in effect, such as ride alongs to educate and offer a clear perspective. So if you still have some questions after reading this, then give Chief Rowe a call and schedule a community ride along.

MPD’s interaction with the Chowan students in class rooms or free security at their events helps these young adults see policemen as peers and helps grow a better understanding between law enforcement and the community.

In closing, a quote from Chief Rowe is more than applicable. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”…Theodore Roosevelt.