Writing Street Cops

Writing Street Cops

Aug 26, 2021

This week I did some reading in a book called Howdunit Street Cops. I learned quite a bit about leveraging basic law enforcement procedure to writer better characters and stories. I also learned that the reality of police work is not at all like what we see on television or in movies or we read in books.

One thing that stands out to me is the fact that the reality of police work is that police work is somewhat boring in the real world when compared to what we see on television. It seems like there is much more paperwork that must be done and procedures that must be followed.

Another thing that I noticed is that following proper procedure is a much bigger detail in the real world then it is in the movie world or on television. In the movie world law enforcement will run into a situation with guns blazing. Movie law enforcement will take much greater risks in pursuing criminals then law enforcement in the real world.

When operating in the real world I believe they are more concerned with risk of breaking the law and getting hurt or even killed. In movies we see many of them acting out in a much more dramatic way for entertainment purposes.

This leads me to thinking about how I might apply this in my own writing. On the one hand I want to write realistic law enforcement characters. On the other hand, I want characters that are interesting and full of action.

So, what I conclude from this is that when I create my characters, I need to find the right balance of reality and drama. My characters and their actions must be believable, but they also must be entertaining. Boring characters will lose the readers very quickly. Characters that are not believable will also lose readers.

As I contemplate writing characters for my stories, I will balance the real world with the dramatic. I will make sure that I'm inserting details into the characters and their actions that follow procedures and adhere to the rules that most law enforcement must face. I will also include details in their daily routines that include realistic details. Some details that I picked up in this chapter are:

  • Roll Call
  • Inspection of weapons
  • Exchange of information
  • Formality of the workplace
  • Equipment and dress code
  • Only approved uniforms can be worn
  • Grooming
  • Badge and ID
  • Properly maintained weapon
  • Approved equipment

I will make my characters have believable actions to keep the readers engaged. While I might not have them running into a room blindfolded shooting their gun off, I will put them into that type of a situation while following standard procedures and safety protocols such as clearing a room or engaging the enemy.

On a side note, I have to say that this book is pretty boring. I love the information that's in it and I know I will learn a lot by reading it. But I did find this to be one of the driest most boring I have read in a long time. Well maybe not that bad but close. No doubt I will become a better writer of law enforcement characters in situations with the information that I'm reading in this book.