University of Arizona Police Department officer Nathan Venger, 29, graduated from the UA in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in history and is currently taking classes as a pre-pharmacy student.
Accompanied by a Wildcat reporter, Venger headed out for his Friday night shift.
The first call Venger responded to involved a male student who was arguing with a bus driver who refused to give the student a ride because he wasn’t a resident of the apartment complex to which the shuttle runs. As Venger escorted him out of the bus, the student expressed his dissatisfaction with the proceedings in a string of loud, obscene remarks directed at the officer.
When the student refused to comply with Venger’s instructions to sit down on a nearby bench, opting instead to stand and continue his tirade, he was handcuffed and detained in the officer’s cruiser.
Venger was about to release the student, as the bus driver chose not to press any charges, but he was met with unusual resistance: The student wanted to be arrested.
“I will spend the night in jail,” the student yelled from the back seat of the cruiser.
His request was rejected, however, and he was denied a ride for at least the second time that night.
As Venger drove through campus after the incident, he reflected on the situation and talked about his approach when it comes to interacting with suspects.
“There’s no point in yelling and screaming at people,” Venger said. “I just treat them with respect … Sometimes you get it back, sometimes you don’t.”
After a routine traffic stop, Venger was summoned to the Steward Observatory where an alarm had been set off. Inside, Venger searched the first floor of the building for the cause of the alarm. After an unfruitful search, Venger returned to the cruiser where he recorded the event into the car’s on-board computer system.
He explained that a substantial part of an officer’s time is spent doing paperwork. They detail the key aspects of every incident to which they respond, Venger said, adding that property crimes like theft are among the most common, followed by alcohol related incidents and assaults.
Driving east on Sixth Street, the officer yawned and said he abstains from drinking coffee because it makes him jittery. Abstaining from coffee isn’t the only cop stereotype he defies.
“I hate doughnuts,” he said.
Dispatchers called Venger to a sorority house where a fire had reportedly broken out.
Venger immediately initiated a “Code 3” response, turning on his siren and lights and flooring the accelerator.
At the house, Venger discovered the cause of the call was a dryer, not a fire. An empty clothes dryer in the house was left on and began emitting smoke.
Leaving the sorority house, Venger was told that a bus that had just transported a group of sorority members from a “date dash” had struck the fire engine parked in front of the sorority house. The low-speed collision damaged the fire engine’s side mirror.
Venger couldn’t help but laugh at the new development.
“It’s a typical night,” he said.
For the next hour, Venger tended to the various procedures and paperwork required following the fender/mirror bender, which the bus driver said occurred because he was disoriented by the flashing lights of the fire engine.
After he attained the necessary information from the bus driver, Venger was approached by a group of students in Halloween costumes. They engaged in small talk for a few minutes before the students went on their way.
Venger said interactions like that are one of the perks of working for a small department like UAPD.
“Here we have the privilege and the luxury [of having time] to make contacts with people, to see how they’re doing, to integrate ourselves into the university community,” he said. “I think that’s fantastic.”
As the night drew to a close, Venger headed back to the station to finish the remaining paperwork for the accident. It was just another Friday night for UAPD.
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