Workshop Notes: “Cop Talk”

who: “Officer Adam”
what: Police Sergeant
where: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
why: Sisters in Crime meeting, Chicagoland


If you’re trawling through my blog, you probably think I have an unhealthy obsession with the myriad mundane ways you can die. And you’d be right. I do. It’s a job hazard. But judging from my super-popular post on maggots and the runner-up most popular post about Andrew, the crime scene clean-up guy, I suspect some of you are just as fixated. Not pointing at anyone. Just sayin’.

I give you Officer Adam, whose face I cut out of the picture not to protect his identity, but because I liked his shoes.

Officer Adam…and possibly Miss Marple

In the series of talks by normal people who deal with death and crime on a daily basis, “Officer Adam,” a 24-year veteran of Chicagoland police departments came to chat with us today.


I tried to approach today’s talk with an open mind, to sweep away the pre-conceived notions I have about cops, whether derived from recent media hate-blitzes or the other end of the spectrum…romance novels. Because from a random sampling of literary ladyporn, even I know the ladies love the uniforms.

Immediately, I failed. This guy was a serious typecast. He sounded like one of Bill Murray’s brothers.

Mayor Murray from Groundhog Day

Delightfully nasal and Midwesty, he probably would have been rejected by TV producers for being too obviously Chicago. Otherwise though, Officer Adam was a pretty normal guy. Healthy and trim, not outwardly appearing to fit other stereotypes [*cough donuts cough*] and wearing the same shoes as I was, he had some fascinating insight into today’s criminals. 

Today’s criminals are as dumb as ever. But now they’re on Facebook

Every Chicago public high school has two police officers on payroll. Officer Adam used to be one of them. “Good hours,” he said. “But 160 arrests were made at one school last year.”

Suddenly my desk job doesn’t seem so bad to me.

Who are all these kids being loaded into the paddy wagon? “Fifth and six graders are already lost to gangs,” he said. “Domestic disputes. Orders of protection. Drugs. Weapons. Disorderly conduct. And girls are the worst. They’re so mean. They call someone a [&(*$] on Facebook the night before and the next day, they’re fighting.”

Mean girls? Yeah, I know about them. Tale as old as time. 

But Facebook? The internet? Cell phones and cameras? Surely that means the average criminal is smarter than before, right?

Not so much. 

“Facebook is a hinderance and a help. Detectives use Facebook more than teenagers.”

Do you think he’s single?

Apparently there’s a whole lot of bragging going on. And that selfie your bae just posted today? It could be in a photo line-up tomorrow.

Officer Adam then told us with a story about an armed high school student he chased from the school into a dead end yard full of cars. His firearm drawn, ready to shoot, he shouted for the student, whose foot he could see sticking out of a car, to surrender. The student didn’t respond. After what seemed like a long standoff, the student finally came out. Because he was done texting his girlfriend.

“He had to explain to his girlfriend why he wouldn’t be around that night…People are…maturing…less,” he said to a room full of embarrassed chuckles. I hurriedly finished tweeting and put my phone away.

But what about body cams, video cameras, and security cameras? Isn’t that making crime fighting easier?

 Yes and no, apparently. Video footage is good for collecting evidence and protecting the innocent, but it’s also making officers hesitant in possibly life-threatening situations. 


That is, unless the officer didn’t remember to turn on his body cam in the first place. “When you’re running after a guy, it’s hard to stop and press Record first.”He speculated that with a suspect reaching for his gun, an officer might waste a critical second or two wondering if he might get sued. 

But what about the cop? I asked, ever the nosy one. What about the person behind the badge?

 I mean, 24 years is a heck of a long time. 


“You gotta have interests outside of the job,” he said. “After retirement, the average lifespan of a cop is three months.”

Nice shoes, dude. Er…Officer Dude

Holy heck. Say that again? After three months of leaving the police department, the average retired cop dies. In movies, the cop always bites the dust two weeks before retirement.

My horribly inappropriate joke aside, I was heartened to hear that Officer Adam has side interests.

“When are you retiring?” someone else in the audience wanted to know.

“Five years. Six months. Three days. And two hours.”

And his back-up career?

Writing police thrillers, of course.
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Interested in reading fictional snarky crime stuff? Click here.

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