Image via WikipediaHowdunit - Police Procedure and Investigation - A Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland
Is listed on Amazon for $13.59 and used from $9.90
RATING: Highly recommended
Lee Lofland was involved in law enforcement for two decades and is now a writer and the sponsor of The Writers’ Police Academy. (For further information about the 2011 WPA please see my labels below. Also, there is a link under my blog list for Graveyard Shift - Lee‘s blog). In person, Lee is hysterical, and I very much looked forward to reading his book, that I was lucky enough to win in the raffle.
This book walks a crime writer through the labyrinth of law enforcement. Chapter 1 starts with an overview of our policing system. Who is in charge of what? How is a police department organized, and just what does a sheriff do anyway? Lofland reviews the hiring process -which is arduous. The departments look into every nook-and-cranny of a potential hire's life. It’s very intrusive. Lofland then reviews the missions of the various federal, state and local agencies. Very helpful if you are trying to figure out who is going to show up and investigate. For example, I thought that drug culture fell under vice - it turns out that many departments have a separate drug department because the manpower need is so great. And the illicit drug investigators will work closely with gang investigators, etc.
Lee then spends a chapter helping us to understand the training. Last spring, I had the opportunity to go to our State police Academy to ask questions. These men and women must maintain high standards in all aspects of their training - one little glitch and they are out. Most police officers with whom I have spoken all tell me that their job is the culmination of a life-long dream; they had always known they were supposed to be officers. Can you imagine the heartbreak of failing to attain the uniform?
Lee goes through the pertinent aspects of the job. He talks about what a police officer does versus a detective. How arrests are made and searches conducted. How death is categorized and investigated along with crime scene investigation techniques including fingerprinting, DNA, and autopsy. He includes the court process, prisons and jails, and the death penalty. And, Lofland loves to critique TV, so he included a chapter entitled, “C.S…I don’t think so.”
Of further help to writers’ is a glossary of terms, an index of 10 codes, drug quantity, and federal sentencing tables.
Lofland has written clearly, in an accessible voice, with vocabulary free of cop-speak. It is non-fiction that has the hold-you-to-the-page quality of a novel. A great reference - if you’re doing your due diligence and want to get the sequencing, procedure and players right.