I would not want to be a law officer. The thought of walking up to a car, not knowing who or what is in it, is above my bravery level. Even worst would be to get a call and go to a house where a domestic quarrel is in progress. Nine times out of ten, the battered woman sides with the husband or boyfriend, after the anger subsides, and the officer becomes odd man out.
That being said, there is a lot to be learned from the Sheriff.
Let me say, it is my belief, that most people who commit a violent crime would do just about anything to take back that 15 minutes where they lost their temper or made a very bad decision.
I am not talking about serial killers or whackos. I am talking about the average joe who is 40 or 50 years old,and goes to work everyday. His life goes south after a divorce or another of life's missteps he can't handle. He begins to drink or starts doing drugs and his since of right and wrong jumps out the window.
Then there is the other type of criminal who believes the world owes him something. He breaks into cars to steal computers and stuff he is too lazy to earn because he wants drugs or whatever and he doesn't care how hard you worked for anything. How dare you drive a new car, live in a nice house with the lawn mowed and eat three meals a day while he was beaten and battered by a drunk uncaring father and a mother too scared to make a move. I am NOT defending this scenario. I firmly believe some people are what they are because of the way they were raised and others are the way they are in spite of the way they were raised.
But, I am not telling you what I learned. So here is some of it.
Always treat the criminal with respect. It goes much easier when you want to talk to them to find out what actually happened. They will open up more to the guy who lets them smoke a cigarette and have a coke than the guy who pushes them around and treats them like scum.
The faster you can get a suspect isolated and get him to talk, the more likely you are to get the true story. The longer they sit alone or with someone else involved in the crime, the more time they have to think about what they can say to justify what they did and make it seem not as bad as it is.
One man I met should have been protected by the Castle Law. The law says if you are in your home and someone comes in to harm you, you can shoot them and not be charged with a crime.
In this case, the intruders came in, harassed the home owner. He had a gun on is coffee table.
Dumb, it think. Anyway, the situation was defused and the guys left but the homeowner was so angry he followed them out and got into a scuffle with one of the men. Subsequently, someone was shot and now the man is charged with murder.
Another man shot a guy in the eye because he "didn't respect" a pick-up truck he borrowed several years before and since then the man let it fester and fester until when the guy came to his house he shot and killed him.
Anyway, we didn't have much to do the night I rode with the Sheriff. We helped a motorist who was stranded on the highway and patrolled. I heard lots of war stories and how people make a bad situation worse by lying and saying things that just could not have happened.
I plan on incorporating these stories into my next novel.
Any law officer who reads this will probably think I am being simplistic or off the mark, but comments are always welcome and discussions are good for the soul.