If you took a highly caffeinated energy drink and made it human, Griffith police Officer Robert Carney would be the result.
His high-octane zeal for law enforcement and the community he serves made him the perfect subject for the debut of The Times new video series "Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops," now available on nwi.com.
So did Officer Carney's humanity.
You'll see what I mean today by viewing our first police ride-along video on The Times Facebook page and at the nwi.com website.
The video series, which aims to air one new episode per month, is set to put a human face on law enforcement in Northwest Indiana.
In each five-to-seven-minute episode, our reporters and videographers will ride "shotgun" in the passenger seat of a Region officer's squad car each month.
On the rides, you'll see the real action of what your local police officers experience each day on the job.
But more importantly, you'll also learn the fascinating personalities and motivations behind the men and women who risk their lives each shift to keep us all safe in one of the busiest regions in the country for police work.
I personally rode along with Griffith's Officer Carney in November during the filming of our inaugural episode.
I watched the dedication and high energy of a 22-year-old cop, whose hybrid position hovers between patrolling town streets and assisting in detective work.
On this particular shift, Carney had to look a convicted sex offender, whose victim was listed as a child, in the eye when conducting residency checks, ensuring registered offenders are living where they claim to be under the law.
I also watched Carney draw his gun and go into the unknown situation of a reported home break-in, a white-knuckle experience to be sure.
Between these duties and a host of traffic safety stops, Carney pored over surveillance video, trying to help crack a local business robbery case.
And then there was the human side — the characteristics that often get lost in our perceptions of gun-toting, badge-wearing keepers of the peace.
I watched the faces of Griffith elementary schoolchildren light up when Carney visited their classroom to tell them they had raised the most money in a contest for cancer awareness.
The prize: a future pie in the face for Carney and perhaps other police commanders.
And I heard the personal stories of Carney regarding what makes him tick as an officer, why he joined police work and what it means to serve on the Northwest Indiana streets to which he is native.
A Q&A-style profile about Carney, along with photos of our day with him on patrol, is on Page A4 of today's Times.
But a better view of Carney's humanity and zeal for police work can be found in the first video in our series at https://tinyurl.com/rxdnax5.
We hope you enjoy this first installment and ongoing series as we take you into the squad cars, assignments and lives of Region police officers.
"Riding shotgun" is an old phrase signifying a birds-eye view from a passenger seat. We very much appreciate the willingness of Northwest Indiana police forces allowing The Times and our readers and online viewers into this important world.
Our list of participating police departments is growing by the day, so stay tuned. Episodes soon to follow will feature police from Valparaiso PD and the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Each time we release a new video, we also will profile the featured Officer of the Month inside our print editions.
And we hope you'll take away the same elements we are learning: The men and women of blue in NWI are filled with humanity and dedication to serving us all.
Gallery: Recent arrests booked in to Lake County Jail
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