Friday, August 15, 2008

Briefing Rooms to Legal Briefs

This is the briefing room. Each shift meets here for about ten minutes to cover new information.

Hierarchy exits here as anywhere else. Rookies sit up front while the officers who have been around the longest hang out at the back of the room. I can picture it, can't you? Pity the new recruit who didn't get the memo. Ouch.

Crime Lab
From fingerprint analysis, to computer forensics, to photo enhancement, the people who work in the crime lab can make very little, in terms of evidence, go a very long way. The Lakewood crime lab handles just about everything short of DNA, which goes to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The CBI is almost within shouting distance and that makes it very convenient.

Moving from patrol to investigations means your days are far less regimented. Whatever else is required of you during the day, interviews, court appearances, carting around civilians who are writing books, you still need to get your work done. Flexibility and discipline are as much keywords for this segment of law enforcement as they are for writers. Detectives Michelle Wagner and Michelle Current knew they needed to go to the DA's office that day. They didn't know they'd be spending the morning with a bloodhound.

For the curious, Detective Wagner's case involves a stalker, Detective Current's case, an assault.

The District Attorney's office has an Intake area. This is where detectives meet with attorneys to determine whether or not they have a case, and if so, what charges need to be filed. In most instances, the detectives and attorneys agree. If they don't, and the detective has strong feelings about either upping the charges or lowering them, he or she will plead their case. Together, they work to make sure all of the possible angles are covered—and then some.

Random Thoughts

Personalities come into play as much, or more, in law enforcement as anywhere else. Officers, detectives, investigators, attorneys, judges . . . all of them have to figure out a way to work together and do their jobs, even if they clash.

If your name is Michelle and you want to be a detective in Major Crimes, try and get on board in Lakewood. They have three Michelle's that I could count.

When I was riding in the car with Detectives Current and Wagner, I was amazed to see the details they noticed. Or rather, to miss the details they noticed. Years of training and keen awareness made even a drive down a city street very different than for the normal Joe.

Whenever my dad sees a cop in uniform, he makes a point of trying to personally thank them. They get up every day and put on clothes that to some, make them a target, but they do it anyway. Their presence, and willingness to risk their lives for me is what allows me to live the kind of life I choose. One where I don't have to always look over my shoulder, or feel I need to seek justice on my own.

My thanks and deep appreciation to the people who allowed me to share a part of their day with them. My goal was to get a feel for people and place, and try and pick up a couple of details. If I've made any errors in this series of posts, rest assured they are entirely my own, and not the fault of anyone with whom I spent time.

You also have my thanks and deep appreciation for the jobs you do.

It's all better with friends.

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