Cpl. Nate Lewis arrives at the District IV headquarters located inside the Eastover Shopping Center at around 3 p.m. on this day. He’s working the third day of five consecutive days of the evening shift. He has two more before he gets some much needed time off.

Lewis takes his seat at roll call with the rest of the officers working this shift. They hear updates about the working police cruisers, the arrest total from the previous two days and what to look out for that evening.

Before the men and women leave the room they get a reminder from Lt. Davis: “Stats are due at the end of the month.”

There’s a jovial nature to the roll call as the officers share jokes with each other. Lewis says it’s like that all the time because of how close the men and women are to each other. It is a bond born more out of necessity than anything else.

“We’re like a fraternity,” Lewis explains. “We have to have each other’s backs.”

Unlike a lot of other jobs, not having the necessary help from a colleague in the field could result in a life or death situation.

It’s definitely a stark change of pace from Lewis’ original career path as a photojournalist. The former photographer for the now defunct Journal Newspapers said he wanted to bridge the gap between citizens and law enforcement.

Lewis hops in his cruiser knowing he needs to safely hop out at the end of his shift so he can return home to his wife, 18-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Today, he’s dealing with a bit of a hiccup, though, as his cruiser is void of its laptop, which is currently being upgraded. “I’ve got to do everything manually,” Lewis says, as he begins his trek through one of the largest police districts in the county.

District IV is broken up into two sectors: John and King. John sector stretches from the Maryland/District line at Livingstone Road down to Accokeek, encompassing most of Oxon Hill. King Sector stretches from the Maryland/District line at Branch Avenue to Allentown Road in Fort Washington, covering areas in Suitland and Temple Hills.

Lewis is assigned to the King sector, but as one of the veterans in the district, he gets to cover more area than does some of his colleagues. As he traverses his district, his eyes scan from side to side to make sure he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary. “Any disputes, any arguments, anything that looks strange at a business,” Lewis says about what he keeps an eye out for. “You always want to be observant.”

Lewis observes a motorist with a brake light out. He pulls the motorist over and gives him a service repair order, not a ticket. Lewis says a lot of citizens believe all traffic stops are bad ones, but he says this one could end up saving lives.

“Nine times out of 10, motorists don’t know their brake light is out,” he said. “Now, if he doesn’t get this one fixed and the other one goes out then someone could potentially run into the back of him and now we have a serious safety problem.”

That motorist, like most of the people that live in his district, was “not a threat” Lewis said. He says most people just want to “go to work, come home, and mind their business. I like people who mind their business.”

Lewis drives around a bit more, but gets a call about a dispute between a patron and the owners of the Shell gas station on Allentown Road. By the time he arrives, the dispute has been settled and the patron is leaving peacefully.

It was the most action that Lewis saw that sweltering evening, but Lewis still had a few hours to go and anything could happen.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO