Getting Arrested for the Greater Good… Or Research Gone Too Far?

Without giving away too much about the chapter I’m currently working on, most of it takes place in a police precinct. While I was describing the interior of the office, I realized that I’ve never really been inside a precinct. I was basically just writing about what I see every day on reruns of Law & Order and CSI. Is this acceptable?

"I know you're new here, so lemme tell you where the water cooler is..."

“I know you’re new here, so lemme tell you where the water cooler is…” 

Should I visit the precinct in Philly that I was describing? I wondered if they would even let me in if I walked through the door. Especially if I wasn’t there on official police business: filing a report, bailing someone out, or whatever. I imagine the visit would probably go something like this:

“Hi, you don’t mind if I poke around and jot down some stuff, right?”

“Am I here to file a police report? No, I’m author.”

“Yes, I know you haven’t heard of me, I’m not published yet. But I have a blog!”

“Hey, wait, let go of me! At least tell me if your desk chairs swivel and what corner your water cooler is in!”


But I really, really want the setting to be authentic. So, what do I do?  At this point I became truly irrational. I should get arrested! Something minor. I’ll spray paint my blog address on an overpass in broad daylight. (Research and free ad space! Two birds with one stone! Score!) This way, I get brought in, I check out the layout, sit in the chair I’m handcuffed to, ask for some water and note which direction the officer heads to get to the kitchenette area. Gotta see where they keep that pesky water cooler, right? Sounds like a plan. Just have to work up the nerve…and figure out how those grafitti artists get up there in the first place.

But it would all be worth it to not have a Philly cop (or criminal, I don’t discrimate. Read one, Read all!) finish that chapter in my novel and be like,”Pshhh, thats not where the water cooler is and the chairs are way cooler .”

7 thoughts on “Getting Arrested for the Greater Good… Or Research Gone Too Far?

  1. You ought to see if they’ll give a tour…and it wouldn’t hurt to mention that when you get published you’ll give a shout-out to them in your book. Or see if you know someone who knows someone who works there, you know. 🙂

  2. I often wonder how ‘debut’ crime authors get all their background research. I expect once you’re published it will be much easier. Maybe that’s why people say ‘Write what you know’.
    They may have a press officer willing to help you.
    Hope all goes well.

    • Thanks! I happen to know a lot, as I majored in Bio, Psych, and Criminology in college, so that’s why I chose this genre.

      I have a friend who just got a job as a cop, so I think I’m gonna stalk him for info!

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