You know as writers we need our resources. As a romantic suspense writer, I’ve found myself with lots of questions about police procedures. (Unlike Kathy, I never worked in law enforcement.) So I had questions like: “Is this legal?” (For my book, and not me personally.) “Would my hero cop not just shoot the jerk now?” Important stuff that makes romantic suspense novels read true. And I’ve found it really helps to have a . . . well, a cop in my pocket. I’m not sure Duke likes being in my pocket, but so far he’s never refused to help. (I found he can’t stand it when a woman cries.)
I knew Duke was the man for the job the first time I spoke with him on the phone. I mean, I didn’t know this man, and he was already insulting me and it was funny stuff.
Anyway, I’ve roped Duke into being our guest blogger today. He’s agreed to answer questions about police work. Now, I’ve told him that the only person he can insult here is me, which basically makes me an open target, but he’s promised to behave and not to report any of our comments or questions to the authorities.
So go ahead, pick his brain. (Duke, doesn’t that sound painful?)
My Life with Christie Craig
Or How I became an official police advisor
My name is Lt. D.R. “Duke” Atkins and I work (well, I may have used to work after this gets out) for the Houston Police Department. In police work, I’ve had the opportunity to see human interaction (that’s interACTION) at both its finest and its most depraved. I have seen great acts of compassion and great acts of atrocity, both enacted with equal amounts of zeal.
One of the major things that you think I would have learned is how the decisions you make greatly influence your life. The decision to become a police officer was the best thing I ever did short of marrying my wife, having our son, and knowing God. Then, there have been other decisions. Such as the time I wanted to see what it was like to cut human hair with scissors, you know those little rounded-end ones from elementary school? One big snip from each eyebrow! Did I mention that school pictures were taken 2 days later? That image still looks down on me in my own home today.
One of those other big decisions that I look back on with a bit of trepidation is the day I got a call from a lady named Christie Craig. She was working on story about my Cowboy Action Shooting club, the Texas Historical Shootist Society (THSS) for a state-wide law-enforcement magazine. She wanted to show that police officers had lives outside of law enforcement, kind of like normal folks. (Normal? That’s where she went wrong.)
This little interview/photo session led to a story filled with numerous quotes from then Sergeant “Duke” Atkins. Most of this was because I kept talking when I should have kept me mouth shut. Apparently, I must have said something wrong, because Christie began to spell my name as “Adkins”. This little error thus dashed my chances of being the guy who would be the so-called face of the department who would get to travel around the world while representing the department at events and important stuff. I think this was all because they couldn’t find a sergeant named Adkins in the system. Another opportunity lost.
After a few months, I get another call from Christie. She explained that in addition to writing articles and misspelling people’s names, she also wrote humorous romantic fiction. And she wanted me to talk to her group of writers. I was impressed that anyone wanted my opinion about anything. But romance? She told me that I, along with a few other officers, could bring guns and talk about them. I was as good as there.
Interesting bunch of folks at that meeting—they actually asked some questions about guns. The one question that sticks in my mind was directed to the female detective who worked at another agency, “What did the detective hate to see most when reading a book?” I knew that answer and replied first, “Big words”. Thought I was going to have to shoot my way out past the detective, who didn’t think it was as funny as the rest of the room did as they lay on the floor laughing. Hmm, I don’t get invited over to that agency much anymore.
Now, I’m convinced that every officer in law enforcement failed the psychology test. I think it’s practically a requirement. I mean, you bring in a normal guy, nice guy, and send him out to work in the cesspool of life for 20 years or so and then see what you have caused. He is on his fourth or fifth wife, with three to nine children, not all from the various wives, paying so much in monthly “fines” for making bad life decisions that they nearly have to live in the station locker room. As one officer put it years ago, “every four or five years, I’m just going to walk up to some girl and buy her a house, it’s what I’m doing now and it would save me the marrying and divorce part”. But, heck, if they only take the ones who fail the tests, at the end of those 20 years the department can honestly say, “Hey, that’s not our fault; he was already screwed up when he came in”.
This may have been somewhat the angle that Christie took when she sought me out in the first place. I mean, once my used-to-be-friends find out that I am listed as a “police advisor” in a humorous romantic novel, my goose is cooked. On the plus side, most of them don’t read much anyway; I might slide on this thing yet.
My real problems began when Christie began to call on a semi-regular basis and ask, “You have a minute, I’ve written myself into a corner.” My first inclination was to advise her to go write at a desk or a table and stay away from the darn corners. But feeling sorry for her, I tried to listen. I said, I tried! Where in the world does she dream up this material? I remember in the 60’s a lot of folks experimented with some stuff and they could imagine some pretty similar things as I recall.
She would want to know general procedures for going to a homicide scene, and then what would happen if someone was shot with this kind of gun. That one was easy. “They die.” Then, “Seriously, what if you got hit here?” My answer, “I’d probably shoot the idiot who shot me first, and then I’d die.” But of all Christie’s questions, my all time favorite was, “What kind of gun has a barrel about the same size as a super absorbent tampon?” No lie, she actually asked me that!!
Okay, I’ll admit, we’ve spent some enjoyable hours in discussions. (Some of which I taped for my own protection.) Not that she always explains why she needed such information. However, I have been assured that I will get autographed copies of all her books for my efforts as an official police advisor. Maybe then I can finally get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
But if any of you have any questions, barring anything about tampons, I look forward to talking to you.
D. R. “Duke” Atkins