Alone Under the Lights
I grew up in a sheltered environment. Wasn’t exposed to much crime (thank goodness). So when I decided to write crime fiction, I quickly realized I needed to do some serious research. And not just book or internet research. I needed to get some hands-on experience (no, I didn’t rob a bank!). I took a Citizen’s Police Academy.
Many jurisdictions offer these programs; if you’re interested, check with your local PD. Most require an application, but I don’t think the admission requirements were too stringent (I believe they conducted a background check—I got in anyway).
The academy was about twelve weeks long and consisted of a weekly meeting and several field trips. At each meeting, we’d learn about a different aspect of police business. The undercover gang cops told us what their jobs entailed. The drug unit showed us a display of all the illegal drugs available on the streets. We got a K9 demonstration. We got to use radar (LIDAR) guns on actual vehicles (alas, we couldn’t arrest anyone). We went to the shooting range (I put all my shots right in the center circle—don’t mess with me!). We toured the county jail, which was fascinating in a terribly depressing way.
And we got to go on a Saturday night ride-along.
At first, we handled a few routine incidents. A too-loud party. Some possible gang activity (nothing there). A DIP (drunk-in-public). Interesting and a little exciting.
Then we got a call over the radio. “We have a report of individuals running through the Community Center parking lot with rifles.”
Things just got a lot more interesting. And a lot more exciting.
The police officer flipped on the siren and we went screaming through the streets, then roared into the Community Center parking lot. Another cruiser was already there, it’s doors flung open, empty. My officer unstrapped the shotgun from between the seats and said, “Don’t go anywhere!”
“Don’t worry,” I croaked.
Then she jogged off across the neighboring ball fields. Leaving me. Alone. Under the bright lights of the parking lot. Did I mention I was alone?
With armed individuals running around?
I shimmied down in the seat until I could barely see out the window. And waited. Alone.
After what seemed like two hours (only about fifteen minutes, in retrospect), the officer came back with a few teenagers playing around with air rifles.
Crisis averted. Luckily. But I often think what might have happened, and it still makes me shudder. Those kids could have been shot!
I prefer writing about crime over being involved with crime.
Alan Orloff’s thriller, PRAY FOR THE INNOCENT, won the 2019 ITW Thriller Award for Best E-Book Original. His debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was an Agatha Award finalist; his story, “Dying in Dokesville,” won a 2019 Derringer Award (“Happy Birthday” was a 2018 finalist); and “Rule Number One” was selected for THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2018. His first PI novel, I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP, was released from Down & Out Books in February
Alan loves cake and arugula, but not together. Never together. http://www.alanorloff.com
A note from OneReadingNurse: I want to thank Ellen at Booksforward PR for making this guest post possible, and Alan Orloff for writing on his experience at the Citizen’s Police Academy! My review of his most recent book, I Know Where You Sleep, can be found at https://onereadingnurse.com/2020/03/17/book-review-i-know-where-you-sleep-by-alan-orloff/ ! Thank you guys for checking out this guest post. Show your support by liking or dropping a comment so I can keep bringing you guys more great content!!