by J.C. De Ladurantey
The Crime Doctor
With over 40 years of law enforcement, you can imagine the frustration when I read or listen to a book or watch a movie depicting various law enforcement activities. I shout, “That’s not how it’s done!” Publishing my first crime novel, I decided to portray police work as it is. Sometimes boring, sometimes routine and sometimes exciting. There is a brother/sisterhood that defies all but the military.
My only claim to fame was writing one Dragnet script in the 1960’s which was sensationalized, and being a technical advisor for the Columbo television series in the 1980’s. After two seasons I was dismissed for being too adamant about police procedures when others wanted to do it their way.
So, what can the Crime Doctor do for you? Just as there are subject matter experts in law, medicine and the arts, law enforcement should have at least a modicum of accuracy in its portrayal. Everyone thinks they know how or why something was done a certain way; but do they, really? I can help accurately walk you through procedures, explain policies or practices, even provide the why or why not. If I do not know the answer I certainly can obtain that information. Then you can write it the way you want to anyway!
The #1 Error in Crime Fiction
To get started, let me tell you, my number one irritant is that many crime novels do not depict the rank structure or job descriptions accurately. Lieutenants, Captains and Chiefs do not solve crimes!
Aside from that, you may want to know the answer to these questions:
- Why does an officer walk up to a vehicle with his hand resting on the butt of his weapon? Why do they call it a weapon? What is a Sam Browne?
- Why did the officer not exit his vehicle right away upon stopping someone?
- Why do things like a crime scene or traffic accident take so long?
- What is the correct terminology to use? Adam for A Boy for B and Charles for C…
- Why do some agencies have one person units and others two?
- Why do some officers use a badge and others an ID card to identify themselves? Which is better?
- Why do some agencies use the 10 Code system and others do not?
- Why so many little police departments, why not just one?
- Are all Officers required to wear a bulletproof vest? Two pair of handcuffs?
These and so many other scenarios are many times depicted inaccurately due to the requirements of the story or character; but do they have to be? It is the author’s prerogative but I would offer that you may want to know how it should be done before you venture too far afield.
What are your biggest pet peeves about the portrayal of law enforcement in books, movies, and television? Do you have any questions for The Crime Doctor?
Answer in the comments!
Dr. Joseph C. De Ladurantey is a retired Chief of Police for the City of Irwindale, California. With over 40 years in law enforcement, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Management, he brings a broad range of real-world experience to the classroom and keyboard. He has published two textbooks, written several articles for professional publications and is in possession of too many unfinished manuscripts for other books. He published his first crime novel, Cowards, Crooks, and Warriors, in April 2015.
Since 2011 he has hosted a radio show “Making Your Memories” on Orange County radio station KSBR, 88.5 FM specializing in Rock & Roll and Doo Wop music of the 1950’s and early 60’s.
He resides with his wife Sandra in San Juan Capistrano, California.
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