Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good Cops, Bad Cops

The usual good cop, bad cop connotation in a mystery novel refers to the interrogation technique where one tough-looking detective tends to browbeat the suspect, while his more personable partner acts the good guy, seeking to gain leverage by taking the suspect's side. In my new Sid Chance thriller, there are basically two good cops and two bad cops. But their roles don't involve interplay with suspects.

In her review of The Good, The Bad and The Murderous at The Deepening, Sylvia Cochran  wrote:

"Another aspect that makes the storyline quite endearing is the topic of police corruption. It is tackled with respect for the profession but a candor that bespeaks a reality, which we frequently prefer to ignore. Although fictional, the frustration and anger that corruption at this level leaves behind is palpable in Campbell’s writings."

The primary good cops are members of the Miss Demeanor and Five Felons Poker Club, a small group that includes PI Sid Chance and his part-time partner, ex-cop/businesswoman Jaz LeMieux. The active duty officers are Metro Nashville Homicide Detective Bart Masterson and Patrol Sgt. Wick Stanley. Sid and Jaz run onto the shady cops, a pair of detectives, early in the story as they work to prove a young black man just out of prison for a murder he committed at age twelve is not guilty of a new homicide.

I hadn't considered this angle when I began writing the story. I don't plot ahead but follow where the action leads. I suddenly realized (as did my PI's) that something wasn't right about the way the detectives were handling the case.

As I was finishing the novel, I attended the Metro Nashville Citizen Police Academy and got a first-hand look at what goes on among the men in blue. I was struck by the dedication of the officers I met. During a ride-along with a patrol officer, I got a good indoctrination into the ever-shifting milieu that cops face on a continuing basis.

One of our presenters was the woman, a former trial lawyer, who heads the Metro Nashville Office of Professional Accountability, what most departments call Internal Affairs. She told of cases where they had investigated officers involved in variouas crimes. She also stressed that they represented only a small fraction of the city's 1500 sworn officers.

In the end I dedicated the book to "all the great men and women who carry the badge of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. They risk their necks day and night to keep us safe. We owe them more than we can ever repay."


Jean Henry Mead said...

Amen, Chester. I look forward to reading your latest Sid Chance mystery.

Jaden Terrell said...

I too have been really impressed by the police officers (and FBI and TBI agents) I've met since I started researching for mysteries. Most are true white knights.

Jean, you'll love THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE MURDEROUS. I love all Chester's books, but this my favorite so far.