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Get Your Cop Right

derek as cozy orig
Derek Pacifico conducting Homicide School for Writers

Real Cop Details in Your Fictional World

Unless you have worked in law enforcement, writing realistic cops for your mystery involves getting to know law, law enforcement procedures, and a realistic picture of how cops think, act, and work. 

Reading and online research will give you a general background on how cops operate on a daily basis

Knowing a law enforcement officer who is willing to share details about procedures, daily life, worst case scenarios and the like
is gold. Connect with your local law enforcement agency to find a resource. It may take some doing because cops are busy. Perhaps someone on the team can refer you to a recently retired detective who has more available time. 

You’ll be on your way to verisimilitude that engages readers and doesn’t get your book tossed because of inaccurate details.


You may love noir loners who go against all odds and the bad guys, but real cops work as a team and call in professional teams for various aspects of an investigation. You’ll need to know who does what where your fictional cop is located

Procedures vary from big city locations with many personnel
to small town cops who may call in the local sheriff’s department for crime scene details. 

Teams that may interact with your fictional cop:

  • Crime scene specialists
  • Forensics laboratory
  • Coroner or Medical Examiner 

Wherever your detective is located, make sure he is surrounded
by the right colleagues. 

Writer Resources from Real Cops

Some cops are willing to share their experience with writers. The following three cops have years of experience and the willingness  toshare their knowledge with writers.

B. Adam Richardson a police detective does a lot to actively support
writers in getting their facts right from cop lingo to procedures and jurisdiction. Find him at
Writer’s Detective Bureau a podcast with the same name, an email newsletter Writer’s Detective APB, and a very active FaceBook group  Writer’s Detective Q&A community where you can join with other writers to answer questions. 

Lee Lofland conducts the Writers’ Police Academy as well as
his website
The Graveyard Shift
And, a group to ask specific questions Crimescenewriter2@groups.io.

Police chief and retired homicide detective Derek Pacifico taught interview and interrogation techniques to law enforcement personnel world wide. He offers a course for writers on how to do the same. Writing Fictional Police Interrogations. His book Writers’ Guide to Homicide gives background and provides insights into what cops do when faced with legal parameters.

The forums and Facebook groups are places for you to get specific answers to details you want to include in your story. Responses come from other law enforcement folks, forensic scientists, and other professionals related to solving crime.  

Resources like Derek Pacifico will read chapters and passages from your story to ensure you are representing a true-to-life scenario.

First Hand Research 

Real cops are the backbone of getting your details right when it comes to writing about cops. You’ll avoid mistakes like having a cop share investigative details with your cozy mystery heroine. 

Every novel takes background research. Mysteries often involve cops as well as civilians. Do the background research to make your story realistic and believable. Your readers will appreciate the work you do.

​Zara Altair

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