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As Sgt. Casey Ann Busch pulled into the Penn Police Headquarters at 4040 Chestnut St. at midnight last Friday, ending a 17-hour shift, she reflected that it had been a quiet night.

Her work included cruising around the Penn Patrol Zone and responding to security guards' calls that turned out to be friends messing around.

Plus, it had been raining - always a deterrent to crime, said Busch, who had been working since 7 a.m. that morning because of Vice President Joe Biden's visit to campus. Still, she said, it's important to stay vigilant at all times.

And about four hours later, her advice rings true. Penn Police found themselves responding to shots fired outside Philly Diner at 39th and Walnut streets. No injuries were reported and three arrests were made.

Though the Penn Police occasionally deal with such serious incidents, their daily routine often involves more low-key duties, like gaining knowledge of neighborhoods in case of emergencies and checking up on concerns.

To gain greater insight into the day-to-day role of a Penn Police officer, I joined Busch - who joined the force in 2003 and took her current position in 2007 - on her evening shift from 9 p.m. to midnight last Friday.

9:10 p.m. - I strap on a bulletproof vest, sign a waiver and Busch and I head out to the waiting squad car.

9:15 p.m. - Busch explains the car's equipment to me - in addition to the Penn Police Radio, she is tuned into Philadelphia Police's Southwest District Band. She also switches on the car's computer, which allows her to view all police activity in the area, as well as run car license plates.

As we pull out, Busch sees a colleague who is also just starting his shift. He says he's leading to "second roll call" - the 7-Eleven convenience store.

Officers typically patrol one of four sections within the Penn Police Patrol Zone so they can get to know the area well, but Busch's position as a supervisor requires her to cruise more widely.

9:31 p.m. - A call goes out on the radio that gunshots have been reported at 43rd and Pine streets. We are currently at 30th and Walnut streets but head in that direction. Although we won't be first on the scene, whichever officers are may need backup.

Halfway there, the radio tells us the reports appear to be unfounded - City police officers found no sign of a weapon being discharged. We carry on in that direction anyway to check for anyone fleeing the scene.

9:35 p.m. - The radio reports a disturbance at the 7-Eleven on Walnut Street. This time we are nearby, but whomever was causing the disturbance is gone when we get there a few minutes later.

We head west along Baltimore Avenue next, and I remark that we have crossed the Patrol Zone's western boundary of 43rd Street. "Crime doesn't know boundaries," Busch says.

9:50 p.m. - Our patrol route takes us to the high-rise apartments at 45th and Market streets. Busch says it's important to know this area's layout because suspects will often run there in a foot pursuit.

Residents on their balconies shout out to warn their neighbors that a squad car is approaching. We carry on to 47th and Market streets, where young people outside make the same loud whooping noises when they see the squad car.

10:02 p.m. - In a quiet period I ask Busch what she thinks about Penn students. "I'll admit they can be trying at times," she says, "But like anyone, if you're respectful towards them, then they'll be respectful to you."

10:42 p.m. - Penn security guards report a fight at 40th and Market streets. We're the first on the scene, and although there is some commotion, it seems to have just been some friends messing around. Although it may seem the guards overreacted, Busch is quick to point out how tough their job is because they are unarmed and have limited powers of arrest.

11:15 p.m. - At this time there is an overlap between the day and night shifts, and from the computer we can see that there are currently 16 or 17 units on the street.

Although her shift was relatively quiet, officers on the next shift saw more action as gunshots were fired outside Philly Diner. And the following night, Busch herself was at the center of responding to disorderly crowds on 40th Street.

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