Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cop Walks

This handsome fellow is Detective Sergeant Creighton Bates. He heads up the Major Crimes/Domestic Violence Unit. I hate to embarrass him, but he is as close to my male protagonist, Chase Waters, as a guy is gonna get. In fact, one of my critique partners just couldn't believe he was a Creighton and not a Chase. What can I say? I wrote him well.

Sergeant Bates is demonstrating his preferred interview technique with a suspect. Up close and personal, there is no table acting as a protective barrier. The rooms are small, soundproof, and wired for both sound and sight. The basic layout consists of one table and two chairs, which can obviously be altered depending on need or personal style. At about head-height, near the door, is a large red button that can be pressed if things get out of hand. Somehow I think the response time would be pretty impressive, don't you?

(Note: There is something called "Interview School" where new detectives go through training. The psychology of the physical layout of the interview room is only one part of the course. Somehow I think that from now on, I'll be as incapacitated talking to a detective at a cocktail party as I would be a shrink.)

There was an actual interview going on while I was there. A separate equipment room, where detectives witness all of the interviews as they are recorded to DVD, is just down the corridor. (Two-way mirrors are history. Technology reigns.) A juvenile was being questioned about some extensive vandalism he and some buddies had caused. His mother sat on one side of him, his father on the other. In that small room, their pain and disappointment covered them like heavy, hot, wet blankets. Dad had a notepad and pen in front of him. He fiddled with the pen as if it were magic and could come to life, with a little urging, to impart the secret formula that would protect his son and end this nightmare. My heart went out to him when I learned he hadn't made one note. To their credit, and their son's, the boy was coming clean. I saw Mom and Dad leaving later . . . alone. Praying for that family.

Alex (my fault, I didn't get his card) is the master of cold cases. I learned from Sergeant Bates that Alex is a retired detective. One who has achieved a level of respect within the department that he should be proud of, and because of that respect, has been asked to come back and become the go-to guy for cold cases. Think Michael Connelly's character, Harry Boche. When we were on the hunt with Georgia, Alex was thoughtful. He drew on his experience in the field to come up with probable, and improbable scenarios. This is one guy who may look like a friendly TV actor (or your next door neighbor), but who has seen more things in his lifetime than any of us will ever see.

Alex, not only do you have the respect of the team around you, but the respect of those us who don't have a clue.

Random Impressions:

Cold case detectives are a rare blend of cop. Their knowledge of how things used to operate is invaluable, but they also have to be aware of the newest advances in forensic science and technology. One without the other would be less effective.

The scope of training extends beyond anything I actively considered. Sure, I knew they had to employ a bit of psychology here and there. They should know a bit of first aid. They should know the law. But the list goes on. And the "bits" of knowledge get expanded. These men and women keep our society from disintegrating and losing value. From someone who takes the life of someone else, to a juvenile who popped car windows, to a husband who uses his wife for batting practice, to a motorist who flies through a red light. These are the people who help the rest of us appreciate a quality of life we wouldn't otherwise have.

After all, who ya gonna call?

Currently reading: I have absolutely got to just sit down and get this book read!

It's all better with friends.

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