Archive for the ‘police procedural’ Category

SDPD Sergeant Wes Albers Authors “Black and White” a police procedural novel.

March 31, 2017

[Ashland, Or] Sergeant Wes Albers of the San Diego Police Department, and author of the novel Black & White, has just signed with CopWorld Press— a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories.

Sergeant Albers has served in a number of different communities throughout San Diego and has extensive field experience as a training officer, evidence technician, border team supervisor and emergency negotiator. He presently serves as Director of the Southern California Writers’ Conferences in San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs where he has spent many years in the writing community helping new and aspiring authors
realize their dreams of publication. When not writing, Wes teaches at Alliant International University.

CopWorld Press, located in Ashland, Or., publishes true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

New Publishing Company for Law Enforcement Authors

March 23, 2017

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy B. Smith—Email: submissions@copworldpress.com; Phone: 541-887-9421

**New Oregon Publishing House to Feature Law Enforcement Authors**

[Ashland, Or] CopWorld Press is a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories. Its books will feature true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

Company founder Tim Smith (who writes under the name of T.B. Smith) is a retired police lieutenant from San Diego, Ca, with 27 years of policing experience. In 1984, Pantheon Press published a non-fiction book by British author James McClure called “Cop World: Inside an American Police Force.” McClure utilized the ride-along format to chronicle the  experiences of the San Diego Police Department’s Central Division officers as
part of a broader look at American policing. Smith was one of the officers chronicled under the pseudonym of Luke Jones. Mr. Smith has since written two police procedural novels (The Sticking Place and A Fellow of Infinite Jest, published by Hellgate Press) that feature a Shakespeare quoting cop who uses the name Luke Jones, the name that James McClure gave Smith.”

“Cop World was a look at stories about police as witnessed by and told to an expert author,” says Smith. “But spend an hour or two at the corner bar with a few cops and you’ll soon find they’re the best story tellers on the planet. With that in mind, I formed CopWorld Press, which will work exclusively with law enforcement authors in partnership with my former publisher at Hellgate Press.”

Joining T.B. Smith in the venture is Harley Patrick, owner of L&R Publishing, an Ashland-based company that published Mr. Smith’s first two books under its Hellgate Press imprint (www.hellgatepress.com). Hellgate Press was founded in 1997 and publishes books on military and regional history, veteran memoirs, travel adventure and
historical/adventure fiction. L&R Publishing also publishes children’s books under its Paloma Books imprint (www.palomabooks.com). After receiving a master’s degree in 2000 from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Patrick went to work as an editor at Hellgate Press. In 2007 he purchased the Medford-based company and moved it to Ashland where it has grown to become one of the leading publishers of military history books in the country.

“Law enforcement professionals have such amazing stories to tell,” says Patrick, “and Tim and I are committed to helping them do just that, as well as assisting them in navigating the sometimes complex world of mainstream publishing and distribution.”
For more information, or to submit an author query, visit the CopWorld Press website at
http://www.copworldpress.com.
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Advice on Writing about Cops

March 22, 2017

Several months ago I spoke to a meeting of Partners In Crime in San Diego and offered to be a resource for any police related questions. Below is a question and answer session with one of the participants.

1) Question: Do police customarily use the 24 hour clock in their verbal discussions of a case, or just say 8:00 pm (as opposed to 20:00)?

1) Answer: Yes, cops use the 24 hour military clock in all things. In my case, it was one of the first things taught in the academy.

2) Question: Is it likely that a police officer, interviewing a witness in their own home, seeing the witness was in distress, would offer to make the witness a warm drink (in the witness’ home)?

2) Answer: It is possible that police officers could offer to make a warm drink. However, it’s much more likely that the officers would ask the victim/witness to make them a drink. This would potentially accomplish several things. It would likely get the witness “out of their head” a little bit as they attended to routine things around the home. It would also establish some rapport as the officers and witness engage in a little domestic ritual that could break down barriers, and it might give the cops an opportunity to casually look around a bit as the witness is busy performing the task. Every bit of information officers can gather about the environment could prove useful.

3) Question: Would a police officer go with a family member (or meet a family member) to the morgue to view their next-of-kin or relative who is deceased? And if the officer needed to question the family member would they do it right then, at the morgue, if the family member was not in too much distress? Or would they go to the police station or another location?

3) Answer: The answer to your question about the morgue requires more clarification. Is this a patrol officer or a homicide investigator? What’s the size of the department? This information is necessary for me to understand the potential resources available. What type of rapport has the officer established with the victim?

It’s highly unlikely that any officer would accompany the victim to the morgue. However, this is your world that you’re creating. Is there a strong connection established that would compel the victim/family member to ask the officer to go with them in a support role. If so, find a way to make it happen through character development and interaction.

As far as the questioning goes, the officer would not engage in any sort of formal interrogation under the circumstances but could certainly utilize the the opportunity for casual and useful conversation. There’s one important point to remember here, there is no need to provide the person with their constitutional rights unless they’re in a custodial situation, meaning that the victim/witness is not free to leave. If the officer ever does develop enough information to lawfully detain that person, that is the time for the admonishment. Open ended conversation that could develop new information or line of inquiry is an open possibility until that time. If the officer wants a more formal discussion, that could happen at the police station, the home of the witness or any other place that would be suitable to the situation. If you want the victim/witness to feel intimidated, the police station is the place. If you want them to feel comfortable or safe, use your imagination for the right place.

4) Question: Is it possible to recover fingerprints from a rope?

4) Answer: Uncovering prints from a rope is problematic. The surface is likely slick and there’s even a good chance that a suspect could clutch the rope with their palm without ever touching it with their fingers. However, if you want the rope to be part of the solution, there are several ways to accomplish this. Are there remnants of the victim’s blood present? If so, have the suspect unwittingly grasp the rope where the blood is. Is the rope stored in a garage or some other place that might cause grease to be present? If so, there’s your solution. Prints could be found in the grease. Depending on the situation, it’s also possible for trace evidence to be present. Has the suspect lost a hair in a struggle that can be recovered? How about a little fleck off of the victim’s shirt or jacket or a button being left behind? This is where the author creates a situation that occurs to their benefit as the creator of their own world. If one of these things occurs, find a way to weave it in and make it part of the case solving narrative.

More Police Procedural Writer’s Questions Answered

August 13, 2016

Here’s a second round of questions from a writer seeking advice about police policies and procedures for a book she’s writing. I’m including the Q&A in a blog so that other writers tackling police issues can benefit from the information. My answers are in bold.

Q.  I have a couple more questions. Can my rookie cop have the same partner after she completes her probation period?

A.  Here’s where things get a little complicated. This may depend upon the size, and or, policies of the department. First, it’s important to point out that there’s a difference between a rookie and a trainee. If she’s a trainee, it’s likely the department would like her to work alone or with a different partner than her training officer upon graduating from the training program. However, that’s not set in stone. If she’s a rookie who’s on probation, then it’s probable there wouldn’t be any problem with her continuing to work with the same partner when her probationary period ends.

Q.  And what is the chain of command? I have her having a Sergeant as well as the Captain. But I watched Southland and they referred to the Watch Commander as the boss, and the rookie had to be assigned a different partner after graduation.

A. This situation is also more complicated than it appears at first glance. The chain of command is likely to differ depending upon the size of the department. If it’s a large department, then the rank structure is likely to be officer, sergeant, lieutenant, then captain. Ranks above captain are likely to vary depending upon the individual policies of the department.

The watch commander position is actually outside of the normal chain of command. He or she is likely to be the ranking officer in charge of the patrol functions of a specific shift. They may also be responsible for approving bookings to verify that the arresting officer has met all of the standards of probable cause, department policy etc.

If you’re a writer with questions regarding police issues, feel free to send them along. I’ll respond and turn the exchange into a blog for the benefit of others.                                                     ~T.B.  Smith 

 

Answers to Reader’s Questions: Getting it “right” when writing police procedural crime fiction

August 7, 2016

Not long ago, I spoke to a group in San Diego and made an ongoing offer to field email questions from participants regarding police issues as they relate to their writing. I recently received my first question. What follows is a slightly edited version of our email exchange.

 

Q-Thank you for speaking at the Partners in Crime meeting a couple of months ago. I enjoyed your presentation, and so appreciate your willingness to help us writers get it right when writing about police.

I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a character who has been on the job less than a year, is (with her cop partner) first on the scene of a murder, and it turns out she was best friends with the granddaughter of the woman who lives in the house. The victim was her best friend’s uncle.

She doesn’t realize at first that she knows the family. Then when she does, she keeps thinking she’ll tell her partner, but doesn’t want to until she talks to her old (estranged) friend. Then after she sees the friend, she realizes she doesn’t know as much as she thought she did, or the friend is lying to her, and she makes up her mind to tell her partner.

 

As she’s about to do so, he goes off on how he hates people who can’t keep secrets.

Finally she makes a list of pros and cons to help her decide what to do.

Here’s the question: What kind of trouble could she potentially be in for not saying she knew a member of the victim’s family? (the murder investigation is ongoing)

 

A-As stated, your character’s situation doesn’t sound too tenuous. But I need to know the role she and her partner play in the investigation. If they’re patrol officers who are dispatched to the murder scene, their main and perhaps sole functions are to secure the scene for homicide investigators and perhaps do some witness canvassing. If they’re investigators, then there needs to be a clear explanation of why an officer with so little experience would be placed in that position. If your character obtains some information through her previous friendships then fails to disclose to her superiors, that could be cause for serious discipline up to and including termination. That may be more trouble than you want to deal with, but it could also be the source of a lot of conflict that could propel the plot in interesting ways. I guess what I’m saying is, I need to know more to fully answer the question but I’m happy to engage in ongoing discussion if you’d find that helpful.

 

Q-My character and her partner were first on the scene at the murder. They secured the scene, and she was allowed to do a first interview of the mother of the victim, as well as one of the sisters of the victim. My character (Regan) was friends with a granddaughter/niece when they were both in 8th grade. They’ve been estranged since junior year of high school. Regan doesn’t tell her partner (or anyone) that she realizes she knows the family, was friends with Beth. Regan contacts Beth, talks to her about why they’re not still close, then tries to question her re the murder victim.

 

A-That all sounds reasonable. I’d add some little explanation about why she did the initial interview. Something like her partner wanted to give her the experience. If that’s the case, he could monitor the interview which would ratchet up the conflict a bit when she tells him of the deception by omission 

 

Q=As I’ve written it, Nick dresses her down, tells her she could lose her job, etc., but in the end, he says she just needs to let the detectives on the case know what she knows, and not to withhold information in the future.

The thing they don’t know yet is Beth is the killer.
While I didn’t include this in the email exchange. There wouldn’t be much point in including this episode unless her friend did turn out to be the killer. The sole exception that I can think of is if it were necessary for some deep character development for the young officer.