By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

det badge lapdWhat does the average citizen know about detectives? I would imagine those raised on a diet of TV, movies, books, would with some confidence state they knew quite a bit.

Ok then. Tell us what you know. Well, ah, suits worn in public but coats off the minute they are in the station. Sleeves up two turns, tie pulled loose, top button undone. Yeah.

When talking to victims or witnesses or suspects, nobody ever takes notes or fills out long involved reports. They come and go, showing up at whatever crime scene suits them, whether state or federal, makes no difference. They “take over” but usually let some vague other person do the real investigative work. They walk in and out of crime scenes giving incredible orders to everyone, then leave.

If it’s a “period” piece the detective works in a “quaint” squad room. If modern, then he/she has either an office or very well-equipped work station. There are computers that with a few key strokes can access any and all data bases worldwide; then correlate and collate all information in an instant to reach a conclusion without having to go from point A to point B.

notebook-308849_960_720At a crime scene, they can examine a bullet gash in a tree then look back along line of sight and announce the shot was fired from the 7th floor, 3rd window from the right. “In that building across the park, you will probably find an empty shell casing for a 22-250 with a 9-power scope. That is the weapon used.” (Apologies to Hal)

Later, after visiting several more locations he will announce that the killer will be, “a male in his early 40’s with a college degree in chemistry, born and raised in the mid-west. He will walk with a pronounced limp and has a slight speech impediment. He also has halitosis.”

The captain is a gruff old codger with a heart of gold. He demands you solve whatever it is quickly as he is getting “heat” from downtown. Even the mayor’s office is calling. If the boss is a she then we have to balance authoritarian with feminism.

Then, there are foot chases where the detective completes acts that would make an iron man envious.

Don’t forget car chases. Since yours is a plain sedan, you must use that stupid red light that you reach out and put on the roof while driving. No siren? Well that should not faze you as you careen through city traffic and crowded streets endangering life and limb.

 

Detective_Maxwell_on_his_desk_in_the_movie_Until_Death
Detective Maxwell on his desk in the movie Until Death

Gunfight? Sure. The suspect(s) are usually heavily armed with automatic weapons and have nothing to lose.

 

Married detectives must fend off suggestions and innuendos. But single? Then prepare for gratuitous sex, almost always with the wrong person.

If only it were that easy and glamorous.

End of part one; part 2 will appear Sunday, 12/24/2017.