When I found myself in the backseat of a patrol car gazing thru the mesh-like cage that divided the rear from the front seat, realizing I couldn’t unlock the doors from the inside, I was reminded how precious freedom is—and thankful I had parents who had raised me right! My second thought was how authentically I can now describe the vehicle in stories I write, because yunno, my mind is always on writing.
First, let me clarify that everything is okay. I’m not a trouble maker (Sorry to disappoint all the rebels out there!) I had the unfortunate instance where I lost both my headlights and the officer was kind enough to give me a ride home after escorting me to park my car in a nearby parking lot. Let me say this again—THE OFFICER GAVE ME A RIDE HOME! (See folks, policeman really are kind—meaning they aren’t out to “get us”—and want nothing more than to keep us safe!) A huge shout-out goes to the Carterville Police Department and the officer who had to endure this task. (The officer requested not to have his name published for several good reasons.) He even explained how to remove the headlight so I could replace the bulbs myself, surfed net trying to find a better price, and named a place to look that I hadn’t realized was near me.
I know a few of you might be laughing at my unfortunate circumstance, but think about all the things they do every day that no one ever hears about, besides the fact they save lives by responding quickly to calls and work hard to keep criminals off the street so we can enjoy our freedom. With all the bad media lately, I thought it’d be nice to give credit where credit is due. These folks are overworked and underpaid in my opinion. So the next time you see a cop, smile and thank them for volunteering to put their lives in danger EVERYDAY so yours can be safer!
Now, on to writerly things. I wouldn’t be a good writer if I hadn’t engaged the officer to learn a few things:
- When you see a patrol car fly past your vehicle with no sirens or lights flashing, don’t get upset. They aren’t abusing their power! Most likely they are in close range of where they are heading and don’t want to announce their arrival. One example would be a domestic call.
- Cell towers can ping the wrong address. When this happens, they still have to check out the incorrect location. But don’t worry folks, if you call 911 and the dispatcher feels your life is in danger, they’ll contact your service provider for the correct address. (The wrong pinged address gave me a brilliant idea with a novel I’m writing. Oooh yes!)
- The officer had to report his start mileage and end mileage because he was transporting a female. A female cop would have to do the same thing if she transported a male. I didn’t realize this, but it makes sense. And yes, I got another idea from this.
- Ride-alongs can sometimes be applied for even in rural areas. He named three facilities close to me that allow ride-alongs. Applications can usually be picked up at the facilities. After you clear a background check, you will be permitted to ride along IN THE FRONT SEAT! (If you’re not wearing a badge, this is about the only way you’ll ever sit in the front seat.) An average time to expect to be in the vehicle is four hours.
If I lived further away, I could have gotten more information! Sure, a lot of stuff can be searched on the net, but nothing beats hearing things straight from the source. And now I can not only describe how the inside of the cop car looks, I really know how it felt and smelled. As writers, we have to use all our senses. And truthfully, I can’t wait to do a ride-along. If there are dead peeps in my stories (and there usually are), there are definitely cops lurking about. I need to know their perspective to write my characters better.
Again, thanks to the CARTERVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT and their fantastically kind officer! Now go forth and write people!
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction