The beat goes on
Danger, surprise just part of the job for Henrico police officers
False alarms, fist fights, paperwork, gunshots, belligerent drunkenness, more gunshots, another fight, and more paperwork are among the elements that can constitute the Saturday night schedule of a Henrico County Police officer like Justin Coullier on “the beat.”
Coullier’s patrol area is the North district, the place most know as Glen Allen. On this night, he and his partner; Officer Andrew Campo, will respond to approximately 10 calls. Each of these calls requires a thorough assessment, and nowhere in the department handbook does it stipulate that each is to take the same amount of time.
With Bon Jovi whispering in the background to relieve the stress, Coullier patrols a dark winding back road looking for suspicious activity. This time, it is the activity that finds him, in the form of a pair of headlights approaching head on without slowing down.
Narrowly avoiding a collision and without missing a beat, or his siren activator, Coullier throws the cruiser into a U-turn, getting the driver’s attention seconds before she hits another car. Thinking it may be a drunk driver, Coullier must restrain his own emotions in order to ascertain whether or not the situation will call for an arrest. It doesn’t. The driver is an emotional elderly woman who must collect her thoughts before getting back on the road. Running his rugged hands over his buzzed head to clear the sweat, Coullier clears the scene.
After writing the ticket and clearing his head, Coullier has moved on to another call, a domestic conflict. The subjects are given lined sheets of paper and told to make a report, while Coullier and Campo return to their cars to finish their own. With a thin, long grin on his face, Campo begins discussing the night’s events as Coullier mirrors the same grin in a pal-ish affirmation. A fellow officer announces that he is in a foot pursuit on the radio. The two officers listen to the radio with one ear and to each other with the other.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” the radio sounds. The look on Campo’s face is now one of fear and tension, Coullier shows the same. Their eyes are wide, and the grins are gone.
Coullier’s “office” is now hastily advancing towards the scene in order to assist a fellow officer. Coullier must watch traffic, listen to the radio, look at the computer and monitor his speed all at the same time. It’s after midnight, and traffic is thin. On the scene, an abnormally high number of officers sit, watching and waiting for any sightings of the armed suspect. Coullier must return to his domestic call. As a brother would be disturbed to leave his sibling in a dangerous environment, so too is Coullier. But orders are orders.
The domestic dispute is cleared, the night rolls on, and Coullier and Campo have a few moments to discuss some of the night’s events. They will not be able to converse long before they receive their next call, which will be to break up a fight.
Afterwards, they’ll have to make an arrest of a suspect in a completely different neighborhood. A warrant must be sworn and an accident investigation must be completed.
Coullier and Campo, along with the other officers on the night shift, have now worked 11 of the 12 hours on their schedules.
While their sleep regimen may be reversed, their attitudes about their jobs force them to move forward with their tour of duty until it is time to clock out. Their jobs seem stressful because they are, but both men deal with that pressure for a reason. To Coullier, the job is constantly fulfilling, because it is always changing.
Henrico County officers such as Coullier and Campo have a reason they call their job “the beat.” It can be clean or it can be distorted, calm or aggressively loud, and the pace can change in a second.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
CAT Theatre will hold auditions for Book of Days on Sunday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. each day. Auditions will be held at CAT Theatre, 319 North Wilkinson Road in Henrico. Book of Days will run Jan. 23-Feb. 7 and is one of CAT’s submissions to the Acts of Faith Festival.
Book of Days, by Pulitzer Prize winner Lanford Wilson is an exploration of faith, justice, and corruption, amidst the backdrop of murder – and community theatre – in small town America. Book of Days was first written for and produced by Jeff Daniels Purple Rose Theatre Company of Michigan.
Director Leslie Cline is seeking five females between the ages of 20-65 and seven males between the ages of 24-65. > Read more.
CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run Oct. 24 through Nov. 8. The play is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and adapted by Steven Dietz, and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.
The story follows Holmes, whose career as the world’s greatest detective seems to have reached its end until he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer, Irene Adler, Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
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Oct. 16, 2014Click here to read the print edition.
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