PDA

View Full Version : Work experience in the police



The_Ink_Goddess
10-25-2013, 03:26 AM
Hey all!

So my sixteen-year-old MC gets stabbed during summer vacation. Her dad's single, they have no other family and she has no-one to spend the days with, but he's not happy with her being home alone. Could she plausibly come to work with him (he's a homicide detective) for a couple of days? Obviously she wouldn't be able to handle any confidential/case-related stuff, but could she deal with some/any of the bureaucracy that the police handle, e.g. even outreach programs to schools? He's pretty popular with the other people in the police station, so it's possible that he puts her to work in one of the other departments, which has lower stakes than homicide - whose work I'm assuming she'd be able to handle almost none of, if anything.

Also I was thinking she gets put on a volunteer tip line for a girl who's been murdered a month before and the investigation is drying up fast - could this happen?

I'm going to exploit the wonder of Story Research just a little more because I have two scenarios and I'm not sure if they're totally implausible. You don't really have to have any knowledge of police/hospital work (though it would be greatly helpful if you did!), but I'd like a show of hands as to how ridiculous these scenarios are and if you have any way to improve them.

Secondly my MC's boyfriend is a serial killer and that's why he stabbed her (it's a long long story). In the book, they put her under guard the morning after her attack (which is shrugged off as being sloppy work and complacency caused by the fact that she's already being watched by her dad), by which time her boyfriend has already paid off one of the nurses so he can see her in total privacy. This is a minor plot point in itself but kind of important in that it allows a lot of the rest of the plot to work.

Also, the MC's being very hazy on the details and pretends not to remember a lot of the attack, which nobody really buys. As it's seen to be 'one of us', the police are coming under a lot of pressure, one of the police detectives gets it into his head that somebody stabbed her, and pushes her (unprofessionally - he turns off the recorder and tells her confidential details about the guy's previous convictions "to aid her memory") to ID him.

Obviously, both of these latter examples are corruption, which she acknowledges in the text, and are in no way shown to be representative of how these organisations work in general, but I was raised on film noir and crime drama, and it probably shows. So are either of these scenarios implausible?

(This is loosely set in Missouri, if it's important. Sorry for the massive-long post, I'm from the UK and Google is turning up nothing.)

T Robinson
10-25-2013, 03:34 AM
Nope. Not really plausible, unless it is a very, very small town police department. Even then it would be iffy. She is legally a minor. Exposing her to what might happen in there is not something they would allow. If she was an adult, there might be areas she could stay in, if the administration allowed it. I still do not think so.

Now if your story was set 40 years ago, maybe yes. My dad was a deputy and I went and stayed at the jail while he was working lots of times. Sat there and read while he did his shift.

Hendo
10-25-2013, 05:31 AM
Junior Police academy programs are offered by some departments. That's about as close to things as she would be able to get. My former dpt didn't have one but a town over from where I live does. They teach the kids all of the ins and outs of daily police operations.

frimble3
10-25-2013, 09:28 AM
Hey all!

So my sixteen-year-old MC gets stabbed during summer vacation. Her dad's single, they have no other family and she has no-one to spend the days with, but he's not happy with her being home alone. Could she plausibly come to work with him (he's a homicide detective) for a couple of days? Obviously she wouldn't be able to handle any confidential/case-related stuff, but could she deal with some/any of the bureaucracy that the police handle, e.g. even outreach programs to schools? Speaking purely as a reader, I wouldn't believe a word of it. He might take her to his workplace, but I cannot believe she'd be allowed any further than sitting in the lunchroom. Even in the lobby, who knows what kind of arrested-criminal drama she might see? He's pretty popular with the other people in the police station, so it's possible that he puts her to work in one of the other departments, which has lower stakes than homicide - whose work I'm assuming she'd be able to handle almost none of, if anything. In what department would the stakes be so low, that an untrained teenager, under no obligation to the employer, could be guaranteed not to mess up a file, or a record, or a chain-of-custody? If word got out, I imagine every lawyer in town would be rubbing his or her hands with delight. Might as well let a petty criminal work off his fine by doing the filing.

Also I was thinking she gets put on a volunteer tip line for a girl who's been murdered a month before and the investigation is drying up fast - could this happen? This wouldn't be about her being untrained, but about her being 16, a minor. Apparently there are people who confess to stuff for the thrill. I shudder to think the kind of people who might phone a tip line just to talk about dead bodies, and how people might have died. Even if her father was dumb enough to allow it, I can't imagine a conscientious tip-line supervisor allowing it. Maybe making coffee for the tip-line people.

I'm going to exploit the wonder of Story Research just a little more because I have two scenarios and I'm not sure if they're totally implausible. You don't really have to have any knowledge of police/hospital work (though it would be greatly helpful if you did!), but I'd like a show of hands as to how ridiculous these scenarios are and if you have any way to improve them.

Secondly my MC's boyfriend is a serial killer and that's why he stabbed her (it's a long long story). In the book, they put her under guard the morning after her attack (which is (what is? Waiting until morning? She probably spent the night in ER and/or surgery) shrugged off as being sloppy work and complacency caused by the fact that she's already being watched by her dad), by which time her boyfriend has already paid off one of the nurses so he can see her in total privacy. This is a minor plot point in itself but kind of important in that it allows a lot of the rest of the plot to work. Sounds dubious. Unless it's a big city, every nurse would know that the teenage cop's daughter stabbing victim has a police guard, and if common sense didn't say "Don't let people in to see her", surely the head nurse would. Probably with the helpful suggestion that if anyone asks to see her, call security, or one of the smarter cops.

Also, the MC's being very hazy on the details and pretends not to remember a lot of the attack, FGS, why? To protect the boyfriend? Seriously too-stupid-to-live territory. She may not know that he's a serial killer, but when anyone stabs you - you tell everything you know that might stop him! Her father's a police detective, didn't he ever tell her that stabbing is not a sign of affection? If she thought it was an accident, why does she lie? which nobody really buys. As it's seen to be 'one of us', the police are coming under a lot of pressure, one of the police detectives gets it into his head (she had stab wounds, didn't she?)that somebody (the wrong somebody, I gather?) stabbed her, and pushes her (unprofessionally - he turns off the recorder and tells her confidential details about the guy's previous convictions "to aid her memory") to ID him (the wrong guy).

Obviously, both of these latter examples are corruption, which she acknowledges in the text, and are in no way shown to be representative of how these organisations work in general, but I was raised on film noir and crime drama, and it probably shows. So are either of these scenarios implausible?

(This is loosely set in Missouri, if it's important. Sorry for the massive-long post, I'm from the UK and Google is turning up nothing.) I'm not as worried by the possibility of corruption on a fictional police force as by the behaviour of your MC. Maybe I've misunderstood, but she sounds like either a total ninny, or the sort of female who thinks that a violent boyfriend is cool.
Not a police officer, or a nurse, or, indeed a Missourian, but it sounds unlikely.

The_Ink_Goddess
10-25-2013, 12:57 PM
I'm not as worried by the possibility of corruption on a fictional police force as by the behaviour of your MC. Maybe I've misunderstood, but she sounds like either a total ninny, or the sort of female who thinks that a violent boyfriend is cool.
Not a police officer, or a nurse, or, indeed a Missourian, but it sounds unlikely.

Ahhh, I always try not to take up loads of room on my Story Research threads explaining my characters' bizarre behaviour and I get responses like these. Sorry. Basically, she's a serial killer herself (nobody knows). She's supposed to be his victim BUT she tells him that she "understands" him and he impulsively saves her life (they're both fairly unstable, can you tell?). Now she thinks they're "in love", but more importantly, she is smart enough to know that handing him over to the police is basically asking him to turn on her. So they're keeping each other's secrets - for now.

Okay, so what I'm getting from this is paying off the nurse (it gives them some time together but crucially, which I didn't mention, it doesn't work - they end up getting interrupted after a few minutes anyway) and the police corruption thing is vaguely plausible, but staying at the police department is not? (Not even making the tea/just sitting in the admin area?)

T Robinson
10-25-2013, 01:01 PM
Not even close. Try again.

The_Ink_Goddess
10-25-2013, 01:29 PM
Not even close. Try again.

Sorry, which plot point is this regarding? Presumably working at the police station? Ok, never mind, it's cut.

ironmikezero
10-25-2013, 11:13 PM
Kudos for cutting the police station scenario - it just wouldn't work on too many levels.

The hospital scene with the BF/serial killer bribing a nurse and getting past a security detail undetected is simply too far fetched for believability - especially when the victim/protectee is a cop's daughter.

As for your MC's contrived hazy memory and otherwise reluctance to cooperate, that sort of behavior is easily interpreted as some level of criminal involvement by seasoned investigators. She'd be fooling no one other than herself.

If you want her to ally herself with her attacker/BF and subsequently have her own sociopathic tendencies manifest, I'd suggest having them establish contact well after she's been released from the hospital and routine surveillance of her has been curtailed. Give her adequate time for introspection and possible rationalization of his motives before she decides she groks him - and would emulate him, given the chance.

Delve into her psyche, contemplate her quirks and proclivities, make it all seem reasonable to her... and take your readers along for the ride.

The_Ink_Goddess
10-25-2013, 11:36 PM
Kudos for cutting the police station scenario - it just wouldn't work on too many levels.

The hospital scene with the BF/serial killer bribing a nurse and getting past a security detail undetected is simply too far fetched for believability - especially when the victim/protectee is a cop's daughter.

As for your MC's contrived hazy memory and otherwise reluctance to cooperate, that sort of behavior is easily interpreted as some level of criminal involvement by seasoned investigators. She'd be fooling no one other than herself.

If you want her to ally herself with her attacker/BF and subsequently have her own sociopathic tendencies manifest, I'd suggest having them establish contact well after she's been released from the hospital and routine surveillance of her has been curtailed. Give her adequate time for introspection and possible rationalization of his motives before she decides she groks him - and would emulate him, given the chance.

Delve into her psyche, contemplate her quirks and proclivities, make it all seem reasonable to her... and take your readers along for the ride.

Sorry, this isn't made explicit in the novel, but I know. She doesn't get away with it - she thinks she's going to (she's very deluded), BUT, as you said, her convenient memory loss has the police thinking and they put more and more pressure on her, which also puts an unprecedented level of pressure on their relationship.

ETA: Story Research, is there any way her boyfriend COULD get into the hospital room to see her (assuming that money is unlimited), and how long would a typical surveillance period of a victim of violence last, if nothing worrying happened?