Yesterday, my daughter Lorien graduated from the Howard County (MD) Police Academy as an auxiliary police officer. This is a volunteer position but mandates a uniform, adherence to policies and procedures, training in CPR and other skills. As an auxiliary police officer, she may use the official auxiliary police car, issue tickets for parking violations, help out at events, provide assistance to the public and police officers, and other duties.
As a mystery writer, I am very interested in how the police department works and was thrilled to take part in the Citizens Police Academy, a 12-week course that describes the various functions of the police. Lorien also took the course and that is how she became interested in the auxiliary police officer opportunity. There is also a citizens advisory board for citizen input on police activities.
I’m proud to say that Howard County, MD, where I live has one of the finest police departments in the nation. The department also sponsors informal gatherings called “Coffee with a Cop” at a local Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s. No agenda, just an opportunity to sit down with one of your friendly local cops and chat.
Fortunately, we are not a high crime area, so most problems stem from juveniles with nothing to do. We are close to the Route 1 corridor, which is a high-risk area for human sex trafficking. The police usually get a call from the local hotel manager or one of the guests who report unusual amounts of traffic going in and out of a hotel room. The predators are quick to move out and on down Route 1 to set up again at a different hotel.
We asked about Tasers and found out their limitations and the instant decisions police have to make under high-stress conditions. There is also a chart of acceptable responses to escalating threats of violence.
Of course, I got the card and email address of the community resources officer assigned to my neighborhood. He’s a friendly easy-to-talk-with guy and I plan to use him as a resource for police-related questions I run into in writing my novels. Good to have a name and a face for these questions.