Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fellowship of the Badge

The brotherhood of police is a true, strong, fine and very real bond. Some fall into the hype and myth of police work. Some fall under the spell of equipment and toys. Some follow the path of duty and service. Some appreciate a job that provides challenges, excitement and decent pay. Regardless of the reasons, most law enforcement personnel do believe in the concept of helping a fellow police officer.

Over my career I’ve seen this bond expressed in a variety of ways. From fund-raisers for injured police officers and their families to attendance at funerals, cops tend to stick together in times of need.

In fiction and TV shows this bond, this instinct, is often perverted to make people believe cops regularly scoff at any allegation against them and close ranks to avoid scrutiny. I’m not saying this doesn’t occur but not like the movies portray it. Like any other profession, police officers want other police officers to reflect the highest values of society and project the best possible image.

Since I’ve entered the world of publishing I’ve seen another element of police solidarity; they tend to support and promote one another. There doesn’t seem to be jealousy or envy, just a genuine desire to help others in their effort to survive in an industry famous for leaving the wasted husks of neophytes in the remainder bins and discount tables of Barnes & Noble.

The first police officer turned writer I met after starting on my new career was Joseph Wambaugh. Although a legend and bestseller, Sergeant Wambaugh has never been anything but supportive, offering advice in publishing as well as my police career. From his classic Choirboys, with it’s unique, quirky characters to his newest novel, Hollywood Station, he has set a high standard for any writier. A gentleman and truly great writer, Sergeant Wambaugh is an example to all of us who follow in his very large foot steps.
The photo above is me interviewing the Sergeant during Bouchercon 2006.






From an entirely different direction comes Lieutenant Raymond Foster who has offered support through his Police-Writers.com. He also

set up a Yahoo group to connect the various cops turned writers. Lt. Foster, a prolific author of articles and of the non-fiction books like, Police Technology from Prentice Hall, is generous to a fault. His website lists over 700 writers with updates at a very regular pace. Lt. Foster’s 23 years experience with the L.A.P.D. give him the background to write with authority on every facet of police work.

Here in Florida the local chapter of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) has written articles about my books and spread the word with great enthusiasm. The Palm Beach County Chapter President, John Kazanjian, has taken an interest in my books that started simply because I’m a cop.

I’ve posted photos before like this one of cops more than willing to jump in and help with a photo or give me the inside scoop on any number of areas. If it weren’t for ATF agents I couldn’t write the Alex Duarte series.

I became interested in police work in graduate school because I needed a challenge. Reading recruitment pamphlets and watching videos gave me little indication of the real life I would be joining. This bond of brotherhood is a benefit not defined in any recruiting material or mentioned in any state handbook. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

3 comments:

  1. I was really hoping you were going to discuss Clemson's demolition of your alma mater today. Totally disappointed.

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  2. patty smiley9/06/2007 11:17 AM

    Interesting that you were in graduate school when you had your epiphany about police work. I was in graduate school when I decided to write a novel. Do you suppose it was brain overload and something short-circuited?

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  3. James O. Born9/06/2007 1:50 PM

    Patty,
    It wasn't so much about police work as not about psychology, which I was studying. Put I made the right choice.

    As to Mr. Shelby, I don't know what you are referring to.

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