Last week I had the good fortune to work for a special event at our local community college campus. It was a citizens academy but this was not for our local citizens. It was only for authors, mostly writers of mystery novels.Over the years I have helped out a more than a dozen citizen academies. They are almost always the same deal. A few local business owners, a news reporter, maybe some vocal community member who is critical of police and a few other random civilians. They come in one night a week for a few hours for about a month. During that time we show them how we as police do our jobs and let them role play cops for a few minutes.
A typical citizen academy is nice to do, but the civilians never seem super excited about the experience. This Writers Police Academy was done over a weekend and these people were super excited to be a part of it. Seriously I have never seen a group of people this happy, make that ecstatic to be around a bunch of cops.
At every citizens academy we keep getting asked the same questions, “Have you shot anyone?”, “How often do you TASER people?”, “What was the longest chase you have been on?” and all the other cliché questions. The two days I was with these authors I never once was asked a cliche question.
They asked a ton of questions but they were all good question I have never been asked before. “After you TASER someone what is the first thought you have?”, “During a chase do you keep the radio on for music or turn it off? If the music is on do you sing along like a normal drivers do?”, “In the middle of the night and coffee stops helping to keep you awake what do you do to prevent falling asleep?”.
Lost of questions about feelings (not emotional but touch type feeling), smells and sounds. Details that I guess a writer needs to know. Yet also as a human was nice to share with someone. No one has asked me these before and it was refreshing to answer these questions. When I talked to the other LEOs helping out at this event they said the same thing.
My advise to any of you reading this. If your PD gets a call from a writer working on a novel take some time to talk to them. Assuming your policy allows ride-a-longs take the out for a few hours to show them real police work. It is worth your time, it will leave you feeling better about your community and remind about the good we as police truly are doing.