Officer Michael "Mike" Doody unwrapped his taco dinner and took a bite. Seconds later, he scrambled from the Cherry Road restaurant to his standard issue Crown Victoria and sped down Interstate 77, topping 100 mph as he hustled to an armed robbery.
It's another night at work for the York County Sheriff's Office deputy, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Most of the interesting crimes are at night," said Doody, who pulled into a Fort Mill grocery store parking lot six minutes later.
An armed man had demanded money from clerks. The robber fled on foot into nearby woods, and police called in a tracking dog.
"The dog never really got the scent because the wind was whipping up too much," said Doody, a 28-year-old deputy of nearly six years.
That was 8:42 p.m. Nov. 15, and the first call of Doody's 12-hour shift. He works a fluctuating schedule of 12-hour shifts and averages 40 hours weekly.
Flood lights poured into the parking lot and woods surrounding the store as blue and white lights flashed.
"They robbed them with a fake gun with an orange tip," Doody said.
About three hours earlier, Doody started his shift with a 10-41, a code signaling a dispatcher he was initiating his shift. He left his York home, stopped by Moss Justice Detention Center and hit York County streets and roads.
He's normally a floater deputy, which means he works all four of the county's patrol districts. On this night, Doody worked in Districts 3 and 4 -- Rock Hill and Fort Mill.
"The Catawba/Lesslie area is the busiest district with the most reports and calls," Doody said. "Fort Mill comes in second."
After the robbery, the beat was relatively quiet on this night.
Doody, who is from New York, said being a cop wasn't his first career choice. "I can't say it was a calling," he said.
Instead, his college studies at State University of New York at Potsdam dictated his future.
"I went from major to major," he said. "They offered criminal justice."
He settled on that major, which left him with two career choices: police officer or social worker. Police officer won.
"I do it because I love it," said Doody, who started at the sheriff's office as a deputy and is trying to make sergeant soon. "There's a lot of people who don't enjoy their work. I look forward to going to work."
He also disputes several stereotypes of law officers, especially those involving traffic ticket volumes and doughnuts.
"The sheriff's office does not have a quota," he said about tickets. "I can write zero tickets or 100."
And, he said, most officers eat doughnuts in private. "I'll go to the back of the store and hide," he said. "Nobody will eat doughnuts in public."
But the job has at least one major drawback: Doody doesn't see much of his girlfriend.
"I'm sleeping when she's awake," he said. "I'm working when she's sleeping."
Doody stopped talking as he spied two women sitting in a Ford Explorer in the parking lot of a dark convenience store along Porter Road.
"Let's see what they're up to," Doody said before he walked to the Explorer.
"Just closing up," one of the women said.
A microphone worn by Doody picks up the conversation, which can be heard from a speaker inside the car.
Satisfied, Doody left the pair.
"She'd left the store but couldn't remember if she'd pulled the doors so she turned around," Doody said as he pulled out.
He followed an SUV speeding in a 45 mph zone.
"We're going to pull this guy over," he said as he flipped on his blue and white lights. "I clocked him at 62."
The SUV and Doody's car pulled into a car wash near Albright Road.
"Is there a reason you're going that fast?" Doody asked the teenage girl before requesting her license and registration. "You have any kind of weapon on you?"
She answered no. Doody came back to his car to write his first ticket of the night. Not only was the 16-year-old speeding, but her license prohibited driving without adult supervision after 8 p.m.
"I'm probably going to have to call her parents," he said as he checked boxes on the ticket. "She was doing 60 at one point."
An officer pulled up. "You got it?" a sergeant asked.
"Yeah," Doody responded. "I appreciate it."
Doody walked back to the girl, who was hidden by dark windows.
"You supposed to be driving right now?" he asked. "Your parents know you got their car?"
He told her to call her parents and then returned to the patrol car, finishing the ticket while he waited. It could have been a $180 ticket and four points but he reduced it to $76.50 and two points, citing officer's discretion.
"That's as low as I can possibly reduce it," he said.
When the girl's parents arrived about 10 minutes later, Doody lectures the teen.
"You can get into trouble," he told her. "I don't want you to lose your license."
He circled the car wash and headed toward the Neely Road area for a harassment call. Along the way, he recalled checking property and getting lost -- his most embarrassing moment as a sheriff's deputy.
"They were doing so much construction that, before I knew it, I was in Lancaster County," he said about construction in Fort Mill. "Then when I went back, I ended up in North Carolina."
For the call, Doody made his way down a dirt road to a mobile home.
"Been here before," he said as he grabbed a victim's rights brochure and walked toward the home.
"What's going on, folks?" Doody asked as he walked through the front door.
A woman complained that her roommate's husband had made harassing phone calls. Doody stepped outside to call the man.
"I told him not to call you," Doody told the two women. "If he calls back, give us a call."
Moments later, he made his way back to his car.
"That's the basic harassment call," Doody said as he backed out of the yard.
It's quiet. He stopped at the Crenco gas station off Mount Holly Road to check the property before he turned around to follow a speeding motorist but lost him.
Another deputy responded to a fire while Doody pursued a car with a broken light that traveled 45 mph in a 55 mph zone.
"Kind of too careful," Doody said. "It's hard to find people who do the speed limit. Ordinarily, I would have pulled that car over."
Instead, he responded to a 911 call in which someone hung up around 10:43.
"Sometimes, it's just kids on the phone," he said. "You never really know."
Doody recalled pulling a similar prank.
"I must have been about five," he said. "I dialed zero. We didn't have 911 back then. They called back, and my mom answered the phone. I picked up, too. I just wanted to see if it worked."
Doody stopped pursuing the 911 call about halfway across the city when another officer responded. At 10:48 p.m., Doody took I-77 to Cherry Road.
"Please be on the lookout for a possible 10-55," a dispatcher said, using the code for a drunken driver.
Another officer responded, so Doody cruised through several parking lots, including Tubby's on Cherry Road. A gray Honda Accord sat on the empty lot.
Doody walked around the back of the building, waving his flashlight before he touched the car's hood and checked the car doors.
He checked all of the Tubby's property, using a flashlight to peer inside the business. Everything seemed in place.
"Property check," Doody said to dispatch as he got back in the car. "The vehicle was still warm."
He drove along Cherry Road and checked property along Mount Gallant and Ebenezer roads.
"Two o'clock is the witching hour," he said. "I don't know if it's when people are getting out of the bars. They all just seem to get up and do silly stuff."
So far, Doody's career hasn't included any of the crises that often get deputies in the headlines. He hasn't delivered any babies along solitary country roads. Nor has he stepped up in a hostage crisis or shot a criminal.
"I don't ever want to," he said. "If I could go through my career without shooting anybody, that would be great."
Around midnight, spotting a car became a rarity.
"This is a very easy night right now," Doody said as he crossed South Paraham to S.C. 161. "Usually, I'm just going from call to call. During the summer, it's worse. It starts to die down in the winter."
Slow nights give officers time to catch up on completing incident reports and other paperwork and to focus on motorists, he said.
"When I pull over a car, I can have anything from somebody who is wanted (for a serious crime) to a traffic violation," he said. "I never know what I'll find."
Doody checked on a state trooper who was writing a ticket. "It's always good to stop and check," he said. "Troopers don't always have back up."
As he drove near the Catawba River area, Doody recalled one of his scariest moments as a deputy. A bridge had frozen over but some motorists still were speeding across it.
"Nobody was paying attention. Everybody was in a hurry to get to work," Doody said. "Cars were spinning out."
Moments later, Doody spied a speeding car.
"Right now, I'm thinking DUI," he said as he took off. "Everybody thinks we're mean when we're doing our jobs."
He followed at a distance without turning on his blue lights because he didn't want to tip off the driver that a cop was tracking him.
Three lights later, the driver turned into a driveway near Gold Hill Elementary School. Doody circled back as the man exited the car and walked toward the house.
"He's home," Doody said, abandoning his pursuit.
Doody stopped by the District 4 office before he drove to the Carowinds Boulevard area, where he drove through the parking lots of hotels and other nearby businesses.
"Carowinds is notorious for getting armed robberies," he said. "Some nights, I'll just black out and sit for two hours. We've had guys just hide out in the hill waiting to rob Petro (Express). A lot of times, they hide out in the Dumpsters."
He drove behind Crossroads Mall, but nothing seemed out of place at 1:10 a.m. Then, he turned off his car lights and sat in the median along Carowinds Boulevard.
A car drove by. Another car followed -- neither were speeding at 1:14 a.m. Then, a green Honda flew by doing 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.
"He's getting pulled over," Doody said as he threw on his blue and white lights.
"She said she didn't realize it changed so quickly," Doody said about the posted speed limit. "She slowed down to 35 when she passed me."
At 1:25 a.m., Doody wrote his second ticket. As he did so, another car sped by.
That's "another reason I don't pull over every car because I miss the ones who are hitting it," he said before he carried the ticket to the crying motorist in the green Honda.
"She said she wished she was dead because she'd just got a speeding ticket last week," he said.
Doody turned up Fort Hills Way, a dirt road.
"This road's been used for robberies," he said. "People go back here and smoke dope."
No one was there, so Doody returned to checking businesses along Carowinds Boulevard.
"We work Carowinds Boulevard pretty hard," he said. "We actually had a clerk thanking us for all the blue lights. He felt safer."
Doody drove through five parking lots, where he checked on cars and businesses that had been burglarized before. But everything was okay.
"It's been a good night for the police and public so far," said Doody, who drives between 250 to 300 miles each shift and refuels his car at least once a night.
Doody spotted a pickup whose speed topped 50 mph in a 35 mph area and stopped the driver. About a minute later, another officer arrived. Both approached the motorist.
"He said he didn't know," Doody said as he wrote yet another ticket.
"Make sure you slow it down," Doody told the motorist.
Back in Rock Hill, Doody stopped by the district office to finish some paperwork. About an hour later, he crossed the city to handle a suicide call.
"Use caution," he warned fellow cops about the man.
Doody had been called to the man's house on another night, when he claimed to have a weapon but didn't.
Doody's car and three others arrived on the man's street. Doody parked his car in the middle of the dark street, turned off his lights and walked more than 50 yards to the man's home. Other officers did the same.
"Bring jacket and gloves," a male deputy's voice called to Doody. "Might be here awhile."
Another officer got a flashlight from Doody's car and made his way down the dark street to the only house on the left with a lit porch light. Then, time stood still until the car microphone picked up a voice around 4:50 a.m.
"I got him coming to the door," a male voice said. "He's putting his clothes on. He was thinking about suicide."
"He's opening the front door," a female officer's voice said moments later. "Says he's not coming out because it's cold. He's standing in the doorway."
Officers talked with the man. Four minutes later, their voices were muffled. Yet, the man's voice was clear.
"I didn't threaten," he said. "I'm not going to no hospital."
Police told the man at 5:06 a.m. he had to go to the hospital. Then, the microphone went silent again.
At 5:13 a.m., Doody moved his car to the man's driveway. A minute later, the man was placed in the rear of the car, and Doody left for Piedmont Medical Center.
"I don't think anyone would do this job unless they loved it," he said before driving away from the hospital. "I couldn't think of doing any other profession."
An officer relieved Doody, who signaled a 10-42.
That code means he's home.
Editor's Note: Contrary to the TV stereotype, county deputies who work through the night don't just chase down doughnuts with coffee and soda. The Herald spent some time with one York County Sheriff's Office deputy as he pulled his nightly rounds along county roads and streets.