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The Weekend Shift

The Weekend Shift: Police Officer

Marc Sanchez

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Officer Lundquist
(Marc Sanchez)
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Mark Lundquist laughs at the snow and subzero temperatures of St. Paul, Minn. If that was all he had to worry about, he could do his job blindfolded. Lundquist is a police officer. So putting up with a little snow, or even a lot of snow, is nothing compared to trying catch a crook. Lundquist started his career in Dallas back in 1987. And even though he's been a cop ever since, his job has varied. He's been a bicycle cop, protected a housing project, and worked as part of the mounted police riding a horse. Now he patrols the streets of St. Paul in a cruiser. Producer Marc Sanchez took a ride with officer Lundquist as part of our Weekend Shift series.

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Marc Sanchez: It's a chilly Sunday morning. The sun is just about to rise, and Mark Lundquist and his fellow police officers file in for their morning briefing. The chief gives a rundown of what's been happening in their precinct since they clocked out. The list is brutal.

Mark Lundquist: People always talk about that officer that they get a ticket from. And they always say, "He was so mean. He was so cranky." I have to remind them that how would you feel if every morning that you start your work hearing about the guy that was killed or burglars that are wanted that you've been chasing around the city for the last 20 years - and they're the same ones. And, it's hard not to have a real cynical attitude. The vast majority of cops are a cynical group. They have to be."

It's obvious that Mark can be the friendly, neighborhood cop. At about 6'3", and with the build of a quarterback, his size can be a little off-putting. But, as we hit the streets in his cruiser, Mark is cracking jokes and working to put me at ease.

The onboard laptop and dispatches from three radios provide a constant din of beeps and static clutter. It's about 7:30 in the morning when we respond to the first call of the day. The alarm at a health club has been tripped - a possible forced entry.

Mark hits the lights and guns it. We're doing close to 60 miles an hour in a 30 zone. And, except for the drivers who aren't getting out of the way, this is cool.

Lundquist: Nobody pulls to the right anymore. They stop in the middle of the road, they pull to the left [laughs], you never know what they're going to do.

We arrive at the health club. Mark's not smiling any more. He has his game face on. We enter through the back door. The cops have their hands on holsters. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. It's a false alarm.

After we leave the scene, it's clear to me how vigilant Mark is all the time. His eyes are constantly scanning the streets for anything out of the ordinary.

Lundquist: If we go out to dinner with my family, I can't sit at a table with my back to the door. I'm definitely aware of my surroundings, and it's a conscious thing. At the same time, when I'm at home, some of the cop comes out of me sometimes, if I have to discipline my kids. Sometimes the cop in me will come out, and I have to bring myself back and take a deep breath, and let my wife handle it [laughs].

At home Mark's wife and two kids are getting ready to spend the day with grandma. He's out looking for criminals. The weekend beat does have some advantages.

Lundquist: It's kind of a love/hate relationship, because all those people who were doing bad things on a Friday - partying and whooping it up and getting into trouble and everything else - now they're all sleeping in and none of them wake up until 11 o'clock or so. People are working in their yards today. People are out doing stuff, so I see and deal with more of the good crowd. I get to stop and talk to the guy raking his yard and just talk

We have a little down time, and stop in at a local cafe. Mark strikes up a conversation with the cashier.

The next call comes in: "Shots fired." We head for the car. My heart rate doubles as I realize
we are purposely heading towards gunshots. Mark drives into an alley behind an apartment building. Cops are fanned out searching for evidence. Bullets are being plucked from garage doors and nearby parked cars. Eleven bullets were fired. None of them hit the intended victim. He's off to the side giving a statement. Mark takes pictures and chats up another cop.

Cop: That's one lucky man.
Lundquist: He's a very lucky man.
Cop: He should be going to your church.
Lundquist: I wanna know who he ripped off or whose daughter he's dating.
Cop: Oh, absolutely.

Mark cracks a smile. It's a bit odd at a crime scene, but that's how he keeps the cynicism at bay. We get back in the car a little after noon. The bad guys are definitely awake now.

More stories from our The Weekend Shift series

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