As indicated in my post last week, I was lucky enough to be chosen for the Inver Grove Heights Citizens’ PoliceAcademy, which started this past Wednesday.
Since I not only write mysteries, and also have a police procedural/thriller I’ll publish soon, I knew I’d be interested and would like the class. I had no idea just how much.
What’s so very nice is that Inver Grove Heights has a brand new public safety building, geared to be a good fit for the community “forever.” The old building was supposed to be for a city of up to 10,000 people, and as of the last census, the population is 32,000 and expected to someday reach about 50,000. It’s a beautiful building, clean and spacious and a joy to be in (as long as you’re either working there or a visitor and not an arrestee).
The first class took place in a meeting room where they had a computer with a huge wall screen as a monitor. There were three cops there: the Chief of Police (my technical advisor), the Sergeant in charge of organizing the class, and the Lieutenant who was the sergeant last year. They went through the organization of the department, the history of the department, and some “big news” cases, two of which I remember quite clearly, one of them involving prosecution of a man for the murder of a little girl. They never found the body, the man went free and if he ever admits it, they won’t be able to prosecute. I was working for a law firm at the time and one of the lawyer’s wives was on the jury. A very sad case.
When the cops found out about my book (two of them hadn’t known about it), their great interest was absolutely evident. I have to say that all three of them were warm, interesting, and anything but the closed “cop face” people one usually sees. Of course, a lot of that is due to the fact that those they were teaching wanted to be there, rather than the reverse.
Last, the sergeant and lieutenant took us on a tour of the entire building, giving very detailed information. This was my second time touring the place, and I picked up some information I’d missed earlier. Because of their attitude, it was also a lot of fun. Two of the rooms we went to were holding cells. The first contained six individual cells (no bars, just doors and no windows), while the second contained a long bench with dividers that would accommodate perhaps 7-8 prisoners. The lieutenant asked two of us, another woman and myself, to sit on the bench. He then handcuffed us and took pictures. I couldn’t help laughing, especially since I was wearing a striped shirt (remember the striped prisoner’s suits of the distant past), and was delighted to learn I would get a copy of the photo.
Next week we will meet at a local airport and will be combined with the students from South St. Paul. It’s a combined effort between the two police departments, and will include South St. Paul’s K-9 team, which I’m looking forward to. I’m not sure what week they’ll have the K-9, though.
I have wanted to take part in something like this for a long time, and especially appreciate the openness and interest of the cops, along with the obvious camaraderie between the Chief, the Sergeant and the Lieutenant.
However, I don’t think I’d be smiling if I were handcuffed for real.
Joan K. Maze
Writing as J. K. Maze