Writing Cops

How does one “write cops?”

A very serious, studious man editing one of my manuscripts differed with me on a point of order. I had a character - one I knew pretty well - saying something in a moment of pique. Specifically, it was a juvenile moment between…

It was Karen. Early in her relationship with Adam, they had something of a tiff. He explained that he did not care to be touched at that moment. A “can-cannot” exchange intervened in an otherwise adult conversation. I thought it was hilarious. The editor’s comment?

“Policewomen don’t talk that way. I’ve met several, and…”

It is the writer’s privilege to stop listening at that point. He was a great editor, Out of Ideas is a good book because of him, but… Several? One ignores a good editor at their peril, so I asked a subject matter expert. I asked a woman cop at work if the scene had any hint of authenticity.

What transpired might be labeled “grade school behavior” by an outsider. Any outsider. She started poking the nearest male cop in a fairly exact rendition of the proposed scene. He responded in kind and… Well, we were pretty sure I had written Karen accurately.

And then, I went home and fixed it. I had a contract.