LUCY BURDETTE: When I first met my stepson, he was going through a phase of police adoration. Most days, he wore a miniature police uniform with his name sewn over the pocket. He carried a pretend radio with him everywhere and talked to his pretend police officer colleagues. He was four and it was all very cute.
My husband thinks I'm going through a similar phase, only I'm, ahem, quite a few years older. Maybe it's not quite so adorable? All he can do is shake his head.
You probably read last Wednesday that I'm attending the Key West Citizens Police Academy, which I find fascinating. Having published ten mysteries in the last ten years, you'd think I knew this stuff, right?
Of course, I interviewed experts when I wrote myself into a corner, asking questions like "Would a golf tournament continue if a dead body was found on the course?"
Or I'd call my friend Steve Torrence, the community liaison officer for KWPD, and get a general idea of what real cops would do in certain situations.
But all in all, I fell into the camp of if you don't know something about police procedure, make it up.
But now I'm obsessed with the details.
In our citizens academy, we had a session led by Chief Donie Lee about the particular challenges of "protecting Paradise"--the large homeless population, the enormous influx of tourists (3 million visitors a year!), the wild and crazy events like Fantasyfest and Spring Break and New Year's Eve on Duval Street.
We learned to do traffic stops and DUI investigations. (Yes, that's me with the fake pink gun.) When we came upon the aftermath of a terrible accident early Friday morning, I was able to explain to John what the officers were measuring and why.
In another session, we donned purple gloves and looked for clues in a crime scene that two of the department detectives had set up for us. On Friday, I took one of the detectives to lunch and got what I hope will be a great idea for my plot-in-progress, based on what she called her "white whale." In this case, the one that got away was the brazen theft of a gold bar that had been discovered in a wreck. You can see the video of the theft from the Mel Fisher Museum right here.
And best of all, I had a ride-along with Officer Ryan, including several traffic stops and a trip to the jail with a very drunk woman, under the auspices of the Marchman act.
I don't think I'd make it as a real police officer though. I don't like dangerous situations. And I'm not great at confronting people. And I like to be in bed by ten:).
But it's still fun to imagine...
Do you have a career you'd like to try out if you had the chance?