Monday, March 4, 2013

The LAPD and me....


     As you’ve seen in some previous posts, I think all of us writers love research--especially the hands-on kind.  I've done our local Citizen's Police Academy and the Citizen's Fire Academy, and both were wonderful experiences.  I've enjoyed interviewing people from all over the United States when researching a particular topic, and have met many wonderful people, through Internet connections, who had just the right background to tell me what I need to know. And every year, there's an opportunity I hate to miss!

     Though the name of the organization may sound as if it pertains only to romance novels, Romance Writers of America  represents members interested in the full spectrum of genre fiction--inspirational, suspense, mystery, young adult, mainstream, westerns, fantasy, and so on.  In addition to its 140 chapters in the United States and far-flung parts of the world, there are also many special interest chapters that the 10,200 members can choose to join.
     The Mystery/Suspense Kiss of Death (KOD) chapter is a wonderful resource for those  who write mystery and suspense--from the very active e-mail loop, to excellent monthly online classes on all aspects of writing this type of fiction, to a very special annual event: an all day research tour which occurs during the week of the annual RWA conference.
     One of my favorites was when RWA was in Washington DC, and we had an entire day at the FBI headquarters and with the DEA. I couldn't take notes fast enough during all of the wonderful presentations, and when I got home, I incorporated those notes into a four-book series involving DEA agents out in the field.

     Some of us were in Anaheim last summer for RWA. What a week it was!  When I unpack on the  Monday of conference week and settle in, the trip home on Sunday always seems a long ways off, but the time always flies too quickly and then it’s over.   Back home, and back to work!  This past summer was our daughter Emily’s fourth RWA conference, and her first time on a KOD tour. She wants to become a writer too, and it's such fun to share my world with her!  She's still in graduate school, but she has finished a full-length single title young adult manuscript, and is starting on another. 

This year, the KOD planned a full day with the LAPD, and it was quite an experience for both of us! 

The officers and staff members   gave us an incredible opportunity to tour their training facilities and gave us some wonderful presentations.   Here is a female member of the Swat team.  She was charming and fun to listen to, but she's also heavily armed and is clearly a tough cop who knows her business!

The horse’s name is Montana.  He is paired with the officer in the photo, and they usually work together on six hour shifts, but when situations demand it, it can be far longer.  This officer hadn’t owned horses before he bid on this position, but he sure gets plenty of saddle time now!  And no, the bad guys don’t get to ride double with the officer on the way to jail.  There’s a patrol car nearby to haul them away!

Here is Sage, the bloodhound.  Unlike the other specialized dogs on the force, she is much less intense, and is supposed to be a friendly, easy-going type of dog.   She sure is.  
 She basked in all of the attention from those of us on the tour. 

 If you follow my own blog and Facebook page you know what an animal lover I am, so Montana and Sage were a fun part of the tour and also made me homesick for our own dogs and horses!

Here is a photo of some recruits who were practicing arrest techniques, in the "town set up" area of the training facility.


Think it's easy to be a cop?  Ever critical when you hear of a suspect being shot by the police?  Split-second, life and death decisions are incredibly difficult.  A moment too late–and perhaps the officer or his partner could die.  The wrong decision, and an innocent person could be hurt.   

After this tour, I only have total admiration for what they do–and do so well–a thousand times a year.  
Here at the training center, they begin to develop those skills with a computerized weapon and countless scenarios that are played on a screen, requiring instant decisions.   The exercise–the recruit’s response, and even his (or her) accuracy with the weapon, are then played back onthe screen and analyzed.  In the photo of two gals aiming at the screen, Emily is  the blonde on the right.

Speaking of practice, we got to don helmets, buckle into a five-point harness and ride in a patrol car racing around the practice course at a high rate of speed through a serpentine of tight turns, sirens blaring.  Talk about exciting!   After Emily and I got out of the car, our driver–one of the driving instructors–took off her helmet, shook out her hair and turned around.  She was petite, drop-dead gorgeous, with a wonderful sense of humor.  
She said her little boy is so proud–he says she is the coolest mommy in the world, because she’s a policeman AND he thinks she is a race car driver, too!
In addition to the hands-on driving course, the recruits spend a lot of time practicing via video set ups involving split-second decision making.  And believe me, it's a lot harder than it looks!

Have you ever enrolled in a citizen’s police academy or a fire department citizen’s academy in your area?  If you ever have the chance, don’t hesitate!
Have you enrolled in other classes or lessons of any kind as an adult?  What is the most interesting, fun, or fascinating thing you’ve done?

Have a wonderful day!

Roxanne Rustand


  1. What a great post! The entire experience looks like so much fun. I am an aspiring author, and I also write mysteries and suspense. I look forward to participating in this type of hands-on research! So far I have interviewed various experts in their fields when I need insight... one being my dad. He is a physician, and it works out well because he never minds how often I call with medical questions! ;) Haha

    Thanks for posting! God bless.


  2. You are so very lucky to have a resident expert like your dad! When writing mystery/suspense, there are countless times when I wish I had someone close by with that background. Not only can your dad answer lots of questions, but I'll bet he can get you in touch with a variety of experts and also proof your scenes for accuracy.

    I also wish I had a coroner, a fingerprint analyst, a forensics specialist and a FBI agent in my family tree.