One of my favorite by products of writing books is the chance I get to answer questions from other authors. I love to teach writers how to write realistic police scenes or dialogues. Most people are pretty well versed now on police procedures because of the plethora of reality police television shows. I was recently asked how one officer can handle a particular call so differently from another. Well, there’s a long answer and a short answer and right now you get the short one.
Actually, there are many answers to that particular question, but I’ll just give you one today to whet your appetite. Within the confines of the law, there is no one “right” way to do police work. There are many, many different ways to handle the same situation. For example, a cop walks up to a local gang member on the street and asks for identification. The gang member takes off running down the street. If the cop has twenty years under his belt, he’ll probably watch the young man running away and think to himself “Tomorrow’s another day, Punk.” He knows he’ll run into the kid again.
Now take the same scenario, but make the cop a twenty-one year old rookie fresh out of the academy. Everyone knows, the chase is on. The rookie keys his mike while he’s running after the suspect, breathing heavily while giving his location and letting everyone in his division know he’s chasing a bad guy.
Two different responses to the same situation. Maybe the rookie’s response is the right one, maybe the veteran’s. I guess it all depends on where the writer decides to take this particular scene.