Ride-along with a Renton police officer reveals range of scenarios

One encounter involves a homeless man, while another involves a shooting victim.

Renton Patrol Officer Patrick Lantagne points out two men on the right side of the street as we drive past, heading for downtown Renton. He knows one of the men as a drug dealer, and the second as a person with substance abuse issues, he tells me.

After the Renton City Council re-criminalized the use of substances in public view, Officer Lantagne started informing his contacts about the policy changes, he said. He’s needed to respond to fewer calls from residents and business owners concerning public drug use as a result of the ordinance.

The radio lights up with dispatch providing details on calls, coordinating responses, and suspect information minute to minute. Lantagne shows me his laptop screen and walks me through the dispatch-officer call interface. Lantagne tells me he likes to explain everything to his ride-along passengers to help them understand what’s happening.

Officer Patrick Lantagne briefs an FD Cares unit regarding the condition of a man requesting assistance for homelessness. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)

Officer Patrick Lantagne briefs an FD Cares unit regarding the condition of a man requesting assistance for homelessness. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)

First call

We arrive in a neighborhood and meet Officer Roseanne Hynes for a call regarding a conflict between a homeowner and homeless man parked in a vehicle in front of his house.

According to Lantagne, the man also started a fire in the area to make food.

Hynes and Lantagne approach the man’s vehicle.

I notice tracks of ash on the man’s elbow as I watch Hynes and Lantagne speak with him.

Hynes and Lantagne communicate and ask him regarding his situation.

He explains struggles with bankruptcy and homelessness.

“I’ve been there,” Hynes tells him.

The officers tell the man about an ongoing burn ban and inform him regarding his expired plates and the violations of local ordinances of having his vehicle parked for an extended time in the area.

The man responds receptively to the information, and Hynes hands him a sheet of paper with a list of resources to contact for assistance in finding housing, financial assistance, mental health resources and more. Hynes provides him with recommendations for resources on the sheet to contact as Lantagne heads back to his vehicle to look at his virtual map of Renton and identify the edges of Renton’s city limits.

Lantagne returns to the conversation to inform the man of locations outside of Renton’s city limits exempt from city ordinances for him to park.

Lantagne contacts FD CARES — the Renton Regional Fire Authority’s community assistance, referrals and education services program — and we wait in the patrol vehicle for the unit to arrive so Lantagne can provide them with a rundown.

Lantagne explains that he wanted to connect the man with resources and provide him with information regarding locations to park to help him from inadvertently violating laws in the future.

The FD Cares unit arrives and after he informs the two women of the situation. We leave the scene and plan for the next call.

Drive-by shooting

We receive notice of a drive-by shooting from dispatch at 1:53 p.m. at the Fred Meyer at 365 Renton Center Way.

Dispatch says the offending vehicle fled the scene. They have no license plate number.

Lantagne flips on his lights and sirens.

We head to Valley Medical Center after learning the victim of the shooting, a man shot twice in the chest, drove himself to the hospital after the shooting. The man’s Escalade sits parked out in front of the Emergency Department, driver’s door open. Dried blood streaks the driver’s seat and center console.

A member of the department sees the camera on my neck and requests I refrain from taking pictures.

A woman arrives on scene behind Lantagne’s vehicle crying uncontrollably. She says she’s the wife of the victim, and that her husband called her at work saying he had been shot.

Lantagne attempts to ask her for basic information and tells her he can’t work with her unless she calms down. The woman becomes angry at him and refuses to work with him further. The woman’s mother apologizes to Lantagne after.

Another officer speaks with the woman as Lantagne stands next to the Escalade to prevent anyone from messing with the scene.

Lantagne tells me it’s understandable the woman’s emotional state and says he should’ve stopped questioning her earlier.

More units, including a detective arrive on scene. Lantagne and I leave the scene.

Officer Patrick Lantagne parks in front of the emergency department of Valley Medical Center after a drive-by shooting victim drove himself to the hospital after being shot twice. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)

Officer Patrick Lantagne parks in front of the emergency department of Valley Medical Center after a drive-by shooting victim drove himself to the hospital after being shot twice. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)

End

After my two and a half hours as a fly on the wall in the day of the life of a Renton Police Officer, Lantagne drops me back off at the Renton City Hall and we say goodbye.

In my time, I saw Lantagne respond to two distinctly different incidents.

Lantagne tells me he likes being a patrol officer because he likes not knowing what’s in store when he comes into work every day.

I leave with a limited though increased knowledge of the Renton Police Department’s operations. I also leave feeling as if I’ve seen two ends of a spectrum in police work, minus the shootouts and homicide investigations.

The equipment in Officer Patrick Lantagne’s patrol vehicle. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)

The equipment in Officer Patrick Lantagne’s patrol vehicle. (Photos by Benjamin Leung/Renton News)