David Rodeback's Blog

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Friday, May 1, 2009
The AFPD Wins a Four-Year-Old Fan

The weather was fine. The street was filled with construction equipment and emergency vehicles. What more could a boy want?

That last post was a little cranky, though not gratuitously so, I think. Let's turn our attention today to things both happier and more local.

Tuesday was already a great day to be a four-year-old boy on my block of 200 West. The weather was sunny and a little warmer than we had been experiencing lately. Best of all, the much-anticipated pressurized irrigation project had come to the block, and there were several pieces of construction equipment digging and poking and zooming around, to say nothing of dump trucks. Long sections of large pipe and piles of dirt and gravel were lined up along the sides of the street. I stopped working about lunchtime and went out to the front yard with my four year old. We watched for a while, and it was construction business-as-usual.

Then someone hit a natural gas line in front of a house a couple of doors up the street. We didn't realize this had happened until the American Fork Fire Department, an ambulance, and two American Fork Police cruisers arrived. The police were there to block off the street, and the rest were there as a precaution. Then even more construction equipment arrived, some of it bearing Questar logos.

Fixing the gas leak proved complicated. It was a steel pipe, not plastic. One local wag said the shovel put a hole in the line, and an immediate geyser of pressurized expletives burst forth. I did finally hear a few expletives, but in fact the pipe did not break where the shovel hit it -- where the hole in the street was -- or so I was told. It broke some 50 or 60 feet away, where there wasn't a hole in the ground.

As the crews worked to find and fix the leak, the natural gas concentration in the air reached dangerous, explosive levels in a place or two, so the fire department evacuated several surrounding residences. Happily, though, there was no fire or explosion. Eventually the leak was fixed, and the various emergency vehicles left.

While they were still there -- and once the patrol cars were properly situated, blocking the street -- the AFPD officers didn't have much to do. The senior officer on the scene, one Sergeant Bateman, saw my son and offered to show him the patrol car. What self-respecting four year old would refuse that invitation? Soon enough, the youngest Rodeback and the sergeant were taking turns pointing out flashlights, a radio, some radar equipment, a laptop computer, and the small arsenal of weapons in each car. (Note that no one touched any of the weapons at any time in this story; they remained locked safely in their places.)

Sergeant Bateman answered numerous preschool questions and plenty of adult ones, too, about the equipment and related topics. He listened graciously to enthusiastic, childish speeches, including the one where the little brother (present) ratted out one of the big brothers (absent) for resisting when a parent assigned chores. After what must have been at least 20 minutes of this, the sergeant had another call, so he took his leave, but not before noting with a twinkle that it was not he, but the junior officer who arrived first, who would have to fill out the reports.

I occasionally hear stories about residents' negative experiences with AFPD officers. At least some of the stories are true, but the offending officers never seem to be the ones I encounter or even work with from time to time. For his part, Sergeant Bateman was not only professional, but friendly and charming. He made a four year old's day.

This is my thank-you note.

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