If you had a chance to work in law enforcement, what part of the profession would you choose?
I can hear my friends and family snorting as they considering this on my behalf. If ever there was a match not made in heaven it would be me and law enforcement. So many reasons…
1. I’m too empathetic. Really, I’m an old-fashioned, totally out of fashion bleeding heart liberal and am sure I could be convinced that the burglar with the bag full of Mrs. Jones’ silverware was only trying to take it to be cleaned as a favor to her.
2. I hate guns. Some reasons are personal; my family has been touched by gun violence. Some reasons are practical. I’m not sure I understand the concept of a trigger guard, and it’s not on my life list to learn. Mostly, I think how precious life is, how hard we work to save life in other situations, and compare it to the instantaneous blowing away of lives on TV and in the real world.
3. In a profession where cops, psychologists, lawyers, investigators have to make decisions, combining facts with intuition, I would fail miserably. I noticed a few years ago that I cannot look at a face and see the bad seed. I would see a newspaper photo of a proven killer and think, “Oh, he’s a nice looking kid.” (I’m more accurate where female faces are concerned. What does that say about me?)
4. I have too much imagination. The other side of being credulous, soft-hearted, and wary of weapons is that I have a writer’s imagination. Getting to “what if?” is easy and fast for me, and I’d spend my whole life, were I in law enforcement, in a nervous crouch, hand on that trigger guard, scanning faces for clues, getting ulcers.
Best that I stay on the sidelines, writing about fictional crime, albeit stories influenced by the over-abundance of the real thing. My hat is off to the thousands of individuals who have careers within the overall law enforcement field and who stay with it year after year, retaining their compassion, professional standards, and mental and physical wellbeing. In the immortal words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, the wonderful actor Michael Conrad on ”Hill Street Blues,”
“Hey, let’s be careful out there.”