Cop Commandeers Surveillance Vehicle: 2006 Honda Odyssey EX

David Hester
by David Hester
cop commandeers surveillance vehicle 2006 honda odyssey ex

Moonlighting is as much a part of the job as donuts and Crown Victorias. As municipal budgets have gotten squeezed over the past few years, the overtime honey holes that I and many of my fellow officers had become accustomed to shrunk as well. In order to make my nut I’ve had to go back to hustling off- duty gigs. My neighbor runs his own security company on the side and had a detail for this weekend. The catch was that it was outside of my sworn jurisdiction, which meant that I’d have to use one of my own cars instead of the city’s Crown Vic. My options were my ’02 Camaro SS, my ’01 Silverado, or the wife’s ’06 Honda Odyssey. I decided to channel my inner Roger Murtaugh and commandeered the family truckster.

Anonymity in Beige -Turn off the parking lots and the van blends right into the building.

The gig was fairly routine in this day and age. A company located just north of Lexington had to fire an employee, who had taken the news less than well. Threats were made, vengeance was sworn, and management made the decision that the employee was just odd enough that his ravings needed to be addressed. The fact that a somewhat underreported workplace violence trial began this past week no doubt figured into their decision. They contacted a nationally known company, which then subcontracted the work to my neighbor, who hired me to observe and report for $30 an hour from 2130 hours on Sunday evening to 0800 on Monday. With no arrest authority, my role was no different from that of any civilian security guard. If the subject showed up, I was to tell him he was trespassing and call the local PD. I was only to apply force in self- defense or to prevent injury to other employees.

Deep dashboard provides excellent place to rest a backup Glock when your ankle starts to itch six hours into a ten hour job.

The plan was for me to sit outside in my car and watch the road leading into the facility. If the subject pulled into the lot, I would intercept him and direct him to leave. August in Kentucky makes air conditioning mandatory, even at night. I selected the Odyssey primarily because it gets the best gas mileage of any of my personal cars, the better to protect my profit margins for the gig.

It’s also the most comfortable for an overnight shift of staring at a mostly empty parking lot and waiting (hopefully) in vain for a disgruntled moody loner with homicidal tendencies to show up. The high sitting position and minimal blind spots give me a decent view of the area from either the front driver’s seat or the second row captain’s chairs. I spend the first couple of hours in the driver’s seat, backed into the rear corner of an auxiliary parking lot across from the plant. With five cupholders in reach of the driver’s seat my Mountain Dew was always convenient. The door lid of the central cubbyhole makes an excellent shelf when opened to rest my Kindle Fire on. (I bring it on these jobs to watch law enforcement training videos like “Pulp Fiction.” Multitasking, you understand.)

The seating is comfortable enough, although after a while I find the Odyssey’s surprisingly aggressive seat bolstering presses in on the hard plastic of the holster holding my Glock to my hip. I dig into my backpack for a leather holster that tucks inside the waistband of my cargo pants and switch out. Problem solved.

Every hour or so I drive the perimeter of the facility. Securing the place with only one person on the outside is not a serious attempt at security. The back of the plant is wide open, with loading bays off of the factory floor. The suspect could have gone inside from the rear and killed everyone inside. I’d never know.

Still, the Honda works well for the detail. Nobody pays it the slightest bit of attention as I roll between empty trailers and through the lot, checking the rows of employee cars for either of the two vehicles the suspect might be in, described as either a Chevy Colorado or mid- eighties Volvo. If life was an episode of “Magnum, P.I.,” I suppose I would end up in pursuit of him through the hills and dales, maybe through the interior of some of the nearby warehouses. I figure the Odyssey would probably hold its own against either of those two vehicles.

Magnum’s Ferrari has less floorspace available for coolers and Robert Parker novels.

After every loop I return to my darkened corner of the auxiliary lot and back into a space. As the night drags on, I decide to get a sense of the surveillance capabilities from the back of the van. The rear privacy shades on the center widows make the interior almost impenetrable from the outside. I’ve no sooner settled into the leftside captain’s chair when I get my only looky- loo of the night. A Jaguar leaving the employee lot pulls up perpendicular to me. I sit quietly, waiting for the driver to get out and approach. He or she looks for awhile and then drives away . After they leave, I get out and shine my police issue flashlight at the blacked out windows. The privacy screens, combined with the factory tint, really are impenetrable from the outside, even when you walk directly up on them.

As dawn begins to break traffic entering the facility picks up. A madman intent on mayhem would be impossible to stop before he caused a lot of chaos. My relief arrives early and I start the most dangerous part of my shift, the 40- mile drive home after working all night. I stop and top off the tank. My profligacy in running the A/C most of the night has cost me $29.56 in low- grade unleaded. My other cars would have no doubt cost me more. I tuck the Odyssey into the garage and stumble off to bed. Sooner or later another moonlighting gig will come up. Minivans might be boring, but that’s definitely an asset for surveillance work.

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2 of 71 comments
  • Scribe39 Scribe39 on Aug 15, 2013

    Yes, thanks, Dave. As for whoever it was who quibbled over "civilian," there is a clear difference between someone whose every move is regulated and those who think nothing of showing up late, surfing the Net on company time, having a drink for lunch, etc. I've been on both sides of the street, and have some knowledge whereof I speak.

  • PeteyCrack PeteyCrack on Aug 19, 2013

    geez, cut the guy some slack. most people don't mind officers driving around in marked or unmarked cars off duty. i'm sure it has a deterrent effect on crime.

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.