I’m so embarrassed. In the first few paragraphs of my work in progress, Crazy for Trying, I have a police officer doing something totally not done ever, and especially not in front of civilians. One officer tells another to go to the door and be ready to draw her weapon. Yikes! First of all, that’s something the other officer should already know to do. Second, the first office wouldn’t say that because there are people in the room and it implies he doesn’t trust the officer to know what to do. I am so grateful to my critique group for pointing that out.
Speaker Jack R. Davidson is a retired police officer and investigator who now runs his own security company. He came to speak to the Romance Writers of America chapter to which I belong so that we might avoid mistakes such as I made. He used a 2010 Ford commercial to show how the advertisers and much of the public think about police officers when they give chase. Then he showed a video from South African police. That is a whole other world.
Once we were charged up for the day, Jack laid out the objectives for the day and explained what led him into police work.
The Objective for the Day is to understand the following:
Law Enforcement vs Private sector
How local, state, and federal agencies work together during a crisis
How civilians can help or hinder an operation
What government can or cannot do during an emergency situation
What your character can expect during Natural Disaster or terrorist action
When Jack was 4 years old, his family lived next door to a police officer. Every day, when the officer came home for lunch, Jack was allowed to sit in the police car, as long as he didn’t touch any buttons. He never lost that fascination and was, with his high school partner, one of the youngest cadets hired. After he was in, he learned the truth about why he was hired. That eye-opening experience convinced him to always be honest with subordinates.
As you might expect, he was always challenged about being old enough to do the job. He did a great job investigating crimes and accidents and wrote well, so he got into internal affairs investigation. He took the job of PIO (Press Investigation Officer) and became good at saying, “No comment.” No comment usually allows the press to make up the details. So that allowed the police can also make stuff up or pass off partial comments.
Here are some tips to be sure your heroes and heroines are not acting like idiots unless they should be. If he or she is being followed and they realize that, don’t have them go home. Go to a place where security personnel will be or a police station. Walking and using a cell phone tells bad guys the person is not paying attention. That marks them as a victim. Don’t have them walk alone unless they have superhuman powers and are trying to catch the evil doers. Facebook check in tells everyone you are not at home. If you use your real name there, it’s easy to look up your address. This is why Jack doesn’t have a Facebook account. (We did point out that Facebook is important for authors. He suggested we use our pen names only) He admitted he drank the Apple Koolade so his phone does have tracking information.
Jack caught us out by asking how many of us had seen the backpack left near the coffee station in the back of the room. Almost all of us raised our hands. Not one of us had asked who it belonged to, why had it been left there. If you see something, say something. I’m going to share humorous situations where someone did say something and luckily, it turned out to be nothing. But that’s for another blog.
We’ve learned to respond to the term Active Shooter. Another event seemed to occurred the day before the meeting. The mass shootings started with James Oliver Huberty at San Ysidro McDonald’s. However, in 1966, Charles Whitman became known as the Texas Tower sniper. He killed 14 people and wounded 31. His autopsy showed he had a small brain tumor pressing on his amygdala.
Homeland Security created an easy to remember even while panicking saying to help people survive: Run. Hide. Fight. The video expands on the concepts. Don’t go look at where the noise is coming from and what it is. If you can get away, go. If you can’t get away without endangering yourself, hide. And finally, if you are able to do so competently, fight. Today people will take action faster. Everyone needs to commit to fighting to be successful.
In case you are unaware, the amygdala is an area of the brain that guides the fight or flight responses we instinctively make in such situations. Try to not let it cause more problems. Stay in command of your actions. For the police, new recruits need to be trained to not freeze or run. SWAT teams are in the mind set of stop the killing.
That’s about half of what we learned from Jack Davidson. We had a great time with him. I will blog about the rest of his information in a few weeks. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.