This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, bad cops, romantic complication and interview rapport. I'm Adam Richardson and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode number 60 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. This week I'm answering your questions on how to write about bad cops, romantic complications between a detective and a victim, and a quick hack for building rapport during an interview. But before we get into that, as always, I need to thank Gold Shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from debradunbar.com, C.C Jameson from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp of vickitharp.com, Dharma Kelleher of dharmakelleher.com, Chrysann, Jimmy Cowe of Crimibox and Larry Darter for their support.
I'd also like to thank all of my coffee club patrons for their support every month, especially Amanda Feyerbend for upping her monthly pledge. Your support keeps the lights on in the Bureau. You can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode in the show notes at writersdetective.com/60, and to learn about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business, visit writersdetective.com/patreon.
This week's first question comes from Mark William Smith of markwmsmith.com, who writes, "Can you talk about bad cops? What happens when a cop goes bad? How do his fellow officers react and how protective is the thin blue line? My current work in progress has one good detective and one very bad detective who's helping the much worse human trafficking antagonist. After your last podcast, episode 59, I'm considering a revision, but I'd like more ideas on how to handle a character like this."
Well, Mark, most "bad cops" didn't start out that way. It's a slippery slope that starts with very small acts of misconduct. Things that may not seem that bad, like accepting that free cup of coffee from the gas station clerk. It's a shift in mindset that starts making way for the gray area to become a little more acceptable or even they feel entitled to it. So does accepting a free cup of coffee mean that you're a bad cop? Of course not. But where is the line between acceptable and not? If a cup of coffee is okay, how about a whole meal? If a whole meal is acceptable too, then how about a $100 gift card? How about free car from the local car dealership?
Obviously that's a steep example of a slippery slope, but seriously, where's the cutoff between okay and not okay. A dollar? $2? Five? 10? 20? 50? Or is 4.99 okay but $5 is too much? I know I'm splitting hairs here, but that's exactly the point. It's either acceptable or it isn't. When it comes to the behavior. Store owners have the right to charge or not charge their customers whatever they want, but it's up to us as cops to maintain our moral code. I was taught in the police academy to provide a commensurate tip anytime we received an unsolicited discount, and we were not supposed to solicit discounts. So if the burger joint has a company wide policy of charging us 50% of our meal, I give them a tip that covers more than the full price of the meal I just received. It isn't about what someone else is offering me. It's about me remaining ethical at all times and not cutting corners.
I realize though, Mark, that you aren't really referring to receiving discounts on food, but that's usually where the "This is okay to do" mentality begins to fester. You may have a field training officer that believes cops are entitled to those discounts because we're being thanked for our service and "the department doesn't pay us what they should" and all sorts of other excuses that are really just psychological justifications for doing something they know is wrong. If your FTO is saying it's okay, that trainee officer working with the FTO is going to chalk this up to another one of those things that's different on the street than what's learned in the academy.
The street is different than the academy. There is definitely truth to that, but there's danger lurking in that concept too. The academy is where you learn how you should act. The street is where you start to see how the system actually works. The only way to improve how the street work is handled is by changing what is taught in training. That's how you change any kind of systemic culture. Never teach the new hire the old bad habits. This is how law enforcement has changed so significantly over the last 30 years... Continue reading...
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