I-Team report: Day on the job as a sheriff's deputy - WNEM TV 5

I-Team report: Day on the job as a sheriff's deputy

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Police work is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have.

Every day the men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect and serve their community.

It’s an important job that not everyone can do.

That’s why the I-Team wanted to take a look behind the badge and give you an up-close view of what it’s like to be a Saginaw County deputy.

For one day, the I-Team was given the chance to tag along with Deputy Charles Gibson. He’s a 14-year veteran of the department.

“I love my job, I really do. We get to protect and serve and we get to help out a lot of our residents,” Gibson said.

TV5 rode along with Gibson for six hours of his 12-hour shift. Believe it or not, not every moment was as busy as TV might make the job look.

“We’re gonna do traffic tonight, that’s what I prefer to do. I used to do traffic full time. When we have a lull or a void in the operation we do traffic. We do business checks. We go to school, make sure all the doors are locked. We call that a property check," Gibson said.

Gibson is one of three deputies on duty responsible for policing 810 square miles of Saginaw County. The bulk of that time is spent on traffic patrol.

You might think the most dangerous part of an officer’s day is pulling up to a burglar alarm or domestic situation. But officers are most vulnerable when doing traffic stops, as they walk toward the unknown and can only hope the traffic behind them doesn’t hit them.

Gibson showed TV5 how to perform a traffic stop and what should, and should not be done when approaching a car.

“So what you are going to do is jump out of the car. When you walk up you’re going to be on the road-side so you’re gonna shut your door,” he said.

Slamming your door is a mistake because, as Gibson explained, the people in the car know you are walking up to them.

While a traffic stop isn’t as tense as a bank robbery, Gibson said you still need to be stealthy.

“So you’re gonna walk up and I always say, ‘Hey, I’m Deputy Gibson with the sheriff’s department and the reason I stopped you is because…’ give them a reason. Don’t argue with them, but always give them the chance to respond. ‘Hey sir, I’m running late to work. Hey sir, I got a light bulb right here.’ You’d be amazed by how many people have that," Gibson said.

During TV5’s night with Gibson he pulled over several vehicles. Most were given warnings about a broken tail light or turn signal. One person was driving with only an expired learner’s permit.

After driving halfway around the county, Gibson only had one driver running above the speed limit. Gibson sent him on his way with a warning.

At about 11 o'clock things started to heat up.

Gibson was called to back-up another deputy who pulled up behind the driver of a truck. The driver was incoherent.

The man, who had parked his truck in the middle of a state highway said he wasn’t under the influence.

The deputies had the man take a sobriety test. It didn’t take long to see that the man was having trouble following simple directions. Walking in a straight line proved quite challenging.

After several failed attempts, he insisted the problem wasn’t with him, but instead some loose gravel.

A field breathalyzer test registered a 0.0, so the suspect wasn’t drunk.

Then Gibson heard the suspect fiddling with a wrapper in the back of the squad car. He found the wrapper for a fentanyl patch, a highly addictive and dangerous painkiller that is placed on the skin.

“They are easy to conceal. You can conceal it under your clothes. You’re not eating something. There’s no pills, nothing. We got a wrapper, that’s the only reason we know he has it,” Gibson said.

After an extensive search deputies didn’t find the fentanyl. With no other explanation for the driver’s condition he was moved to an ambulance and taken to the hospital.

Gibson said it’s good they got this guy before he could hurt himself or someone else.

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