A knock on the door in the middle of the night

As uneasy as it made me, imagine what it feels like for a lone police officer

I was abruptly awakened at 4 a.m. one recent Monday morning by a loud banging on my front window.

Startled, I got out of bed to investigate and saw a woman peering through the window into my darkened living room.

Considering the time, I was a little reluctant to go to my front door to see what the cause was for my much-needed sleep to be so rudely interrupted, but I noticed a police car in my driveway through the window as I approached the door.

The woman banging on my window was an RCMP officer and the quick conversation that we had while I stood there in my underwear has been playing over in my mind ever since.

Although I was agitated at being forced to answer my door in the wee hours of the morning, I learned a long time ago in my younger years that it’s never a good idea to be belligerent with the police, so I politely asked her what the problem was.

She said she was tracking a person, whose name now eludes me, by using the tracking devise on his cellphone and she had followed the signal right to my house.

I knew that rescue authorities sometimes use cellphone tracking devices to locate people lost in the woods, and I’d jokingly been warned in the past that if you’re on the run from the police, you should ditch your cellphone as soon as possible.

But having some kind of fugitive tracked right to my door in the middle of the night was the first time I’d seen a cellphone used for such a purpose.

The officer asked if I knew the person, to which I replied that I didn’t and that I live alone and the only living creatures in my house at the time was myself and a cat.

In my state of undress, the officer didn’t ask for identification, but did ask for my name, which she quickly scribbled into her note pad for later verification.

She then asked if it was OK to take a look around my backyard, which I allowed.

I was heading straight back to bed to resume my night’s rest when it occurred to me that the officer was alone in the backyard searching the bushes with her flashlight in the middle of the night.

I figured it could have been a good opportunity for an ambush of the lone officer, so I watched her quick search of the yard through a back window until she was satisfied that there was no one hiding there and left in her patrol car to look further up the street.

Although I thought the officer was brave to start banging on a window of an unknown house in the middle of the night all alone, and then search the backyard by herself as well, I had to wonder about the RCMP’s safety standards these days.

There was a time when the police would always work in pairs, but I guess budget constraints have seen this practice cut back.

Small wonder then that the RCMP experience high incidences of officers having to take time off due to stress these days.

It’s something to think about at 4 a.m.

(Robert Barron is a reporter with the Cowichan Valley Citizen. He can be reached at Robert.Barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com).