Not often does an officer get a "thank you" after a traffic stop.
But Hudson Police Officer Jeffrey Read does.
I witnessed a traffic stop Feb. 7 on West Streetsboro Street -- actually, I was the one stopped by Officer Read.
Let's step back a few days.
I was writing a story on the increased police presence in the Hudson City Schools and had the idea to swing by the police station and take a photo of a cruiser to go with the story.
As I circled the police station, I saw a parking lot which had a sign posted "official vehicles only." I decided to forgo that lot and continued to drive around the building. I saw another lot marked "employee parking." It was behind the building and the wooden gate was open. I saw a line of cruisers and I decided this was my lot.
I knew I should have called dispatch and filled them in on what I was doing and ask permission. As a reporter and former police officer, I know there is a chain of command to follow -- but I decided to skip a link.
As I drove slowly through the lot, snapping pictures, backing into a spot for a better angle, pulling out and shooting more, I started a whole new chain; this one had all the links.
My actions alerted Jo Ann Lowman and Krista Roch, the dispatchers on duty.
They thought my car looked suspicious and in turn alerted Officer Read, who soon alerted me.
As I was driving along West Streetsboro Street I decide to pull over and check my cell phone's GPS. I wasn't leaving the station my normal way and I wanted to make sure I was headed the right way to our Kent offices.
Now, previous to this all happening, I had sent an email to work letting them know I was going to be a few minutes later than usual, because I was taking pictures. A bit later I sent another one advising them I was going to be further delayed.
Back to the story.
As I pulled over to the berm, I notice a red SUV behind me, also pulled over.
I thought that perhaps the driver believed I was having car problems.
That's when I saw the black and white Hudson cruiser with lights flashing, zip in behind me.
My first thought was, "I'm busted."
I thought that I had exceeded the speed limit and had my window down and license out of my wallet in seconds. I fully expected my driving record, unblemished since 1997, to get a two-point demerit.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the Hudson officer.
Watching Officer Read approach my car, I expected the "I carry a badge and you don't" attitude some other departments exhibit. I was wrong.
"Hey, what were you doing back there?" Officer Read asked, as I prepared to hand him my license and explained who I was.
"I know who you are, but what were you doing back there?" he continued.
I showed Officer Read the photos and explained about the story.
He told me I should have called dispatch, and he was correct.
"You know the dispatch number," he said. "We get a little nervous when we see someone driving around our private cars and backing up slowly."
I apologized several times and told him that I knew better.
Officer Read put me at ease with his demeanor, while at the same time letting me know I had made a mistake. I appreciated that.
When I got back to the office, I called dispatch to apologize to Lowman and Roch. I was told they understood and while I'm not sure which one I apologized to, we shared a laugh over it. But I also appreciated them doing their job.
When I deal with Hudson Police, it's usually with the head of communications, chief of police or a detective. This was my first real dealing with an officer in the field.
Hudson, I've got to tell you, if all of your officers are like Officer Read, count your blessings.
The dispatchers and officer did their jobs, and while I laugh now, under other circumstances, the outcome could have been different.
I'm glad it wasn't.
I'm also sorry I took up the department's time due to my lapse in judgement.
However, I did learn one other thing.
I found an answer to the age-old question of, "How do you find a cop when you need them?"
If you ever need to find a Hudson officer, feel free to let me know.
It seems I've found a way to get their attention.