Sara Ahrens’ OffBeat: Where Sara takes Michael Bane and the Outdoor Channel on a ‘ride-along’

Last year at the SHOT Show, I had the good fortune to meet the host of the Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery, Michael Bane. I had been invited to participate in a couple of their episodes last season and during one of my visits with Michael and the producers of Shooting Gallery, I invited them to do a ride-along with me in Rockford. I promised a memorable experience.

Sara Ahrens gunsite shooting

Sara at Gunsite during a filming for Shooting Gallery. Photo courtesy of Shooting Gallery

I was excited when they actually agreed but worried a little that it might not be exciting. After all, I have no way of predicting crime, and with my “luck,” there wouldn’t be any. So I made a ’Plan B.’ I planned a surprise that was sure to be entertaining. In August the crew came and I am pretty certain Michael Bane is a changed man!

I hadn’t expected that the ride-along to be so physically and mentally taxing. Just trying to get the ride-along approved had me worn out. I also felt some concern over my lack of knowledge of what can and cannot be filmed, especially when some citizens became irate. Guess as it turned out, people don’t enjoy being filmed when they are acting silly. The irony there is no one seems to have a problem if the police are filmed, albeit a distraction that at times poses a personal safety risk to the officer.

One of the most challenging parts of the ride-along was narrating everything I did and heard on the radio. Speaking, thinking and trying to listen to the radio (with my poor hearing) were almost impossible tasks for me. As it turned out, I was glad it wasn’t busier because I couldn’t have multitasked like that for long.

The first night presented the usual crimes, burglaries, armed subjects and disorderly subjects. Those sorts of calls are old hat for me and they are not the sorts of calls that cause adrenaline to course through my veins. I like complete chaos or funny people. At one point, I did stop to speak with a prostitute, who had apparently just hit the crack pipe. She was “geeking” and dancing on a street light pole. I asked for consent to search her, looking for her pipe. She agreed and responded, “Would it be easier if I lift me dress?” Before I could respond she pulled her dress above her head and was not wearing under garments. I thought to myself, I don’t know how that’s going to work out for the Outdoor Channel. They chose to leave that part, probably wise. Other than that, the first night was pretty mundane for me.


Sara during the second night sting. Photo courtesy of Shooting Gallery

In order to ensure that there was something of interest happening on day two of the ride-along,  another sergeant and I scheduled a prostitution sting. We had to adjust our operations for the video-taping, so one of my male coworkers and I posed as a married couple looking for some excitement.  We found it as we drove around Rockford picking up prostitutes with ease (right out of the chute we got two females to make a deal with us within less than five minutes).

After the prostitution sting we went back out on the street and went to a couple more calls. I was really surprised there wasn’t shooting or stabbing victim within the two days they were with me. That’s pretty rare in the summer. When it was finally time to drop the crew off to their cars, they hadn’t been gone two minutes and I was sent to a local hospital for a shooting victim. Within the next 24 hours, we had four shooting victims!


If we had to call 911, we know who’d we would want to answer! SARA! Photo courtesy of Shooting Gallery

Even though I felt a little under the weather and the ride-along was completely exhausting, Michael Bane and the Outdoor Channel are welcome back to Rockford to ride-along anytime. The way I see it, the more they visit, the less crime we will have!

The Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episode, “Ride-along with Sara,” airs on 1/9/13 at 4 p.m. and 10:30 pm, and 1/10/13 at 12:00 am and 2:30 am. Visit Shooting Gallery.

You may watch a cut from the episode at Downrange TV.

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Sara Ahrens’ OffBeat is graciously sponsored by Otis Technology.