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Friday, April 27, 2012


It’s always a pleasure for us to welcome back F.M. Meredith, AKA Marilyn Meredith, to Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. F.M. is the author of over thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area. Learn more about F.M. at her website and blog.

F.M. is currently on a blog tour. The person who comments on the most blogs on her tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series:
No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email so she can contact you.
-- AP

Going On Ride-Alongs

My police officer son-in-law took me on my first ride-along. For those who don’t know what the term means, it’s when a civilian is allowed to ride in a police officer’s car during his shift. By the time I did this, he’d already piqued my interest in law enforcement by stopping in for a cup of coffee after his shift was over to tell me what all had happened that night.

His first admonition to me was, “Don’t tell anyone you’re my mother-in-law.” This was in the days before seat belts, and believe me, he took me on a wild ride. He even made me get out of the car and run along behind him when he went searching for an intruder on the school grounds. (I doubt that would ever happen today.) I was impressed by his ability to talk down an angry person and thoroughly enjoyed my evening on this first ride-along.

After we moved to a smaller town, I decided I would like the experience again. It is absolutely amazing what doors will open when you tell people you are a writer. I called the local police department, asked to speak with someone about doing a ride-along, and I was directed to the Chief and was given an appointment to meet him. When I told him what I wanted to do and why, he quickly agreed.

My first ride-along with this department began with the evening shift change. When the sergeant said a writer was going along with one of the officers, I heard a young man say, “I hope it’s not me.” Of course that’s who was picked to haul me around.

Though this young fellow did talk to me a lot, he wouldn’t let me out of the car. The best I could do was lower the window and listen. One of the incidents he investigated appeared in my first mystery, The Astral Gift. This fellow drank a lot of coffee, so we went back to the station quite often for potty breaks.

My next experience with this same department was with a female officer. She was great. Her main assignment on that particular Saturday night was doing bar checks. She took me with her into every drinking establishment, some seedy ones and others popular with the younger set. She gave me the history of each one, even telling me about secret exits out of the older buildings. Inside, she’d talk to people, check IDs and when she was through, she’d raise her voice and say, “Anyone see the little old lady who came in with me?” Everyone would point in my direction. (Not so great for my ego and at the time I wasn’t all that old.)

The only time I didn’t get invited to accompany her was on a supposed domestic violence case. Domestic violence cases are considered the most dangerous of all. She disappeared inside the house and all was quiet. Her sergeant arrived and asked me if I’d heard anything. He went and listened at the door, came back to me and said she was a champion at quieting these kinds of situations and he’d leave this one up to her. When she finally came out, she told me what had happened and what she’d done. It hadn’t escalated to physical violence; the kids were just frightened because of the yelling going on and had made the call. She talked with the couple until she felt it was safe to leave.

The rest of the night was quiet, and as we drove the dark streets, she told me what it was like being the only female officer in an all male department. There was no special place for her to dress. Some of the wives resented her and let her know. Her son was worried about her because it was such a dangerous job. Though I didn’t keep notes, I’ve used so much of what she said and her feelings in both of my series. In the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, you’ll find some of the things I learned from this woman personified in Officer Stacey Butler.

By the time you get to No Bells, the latest in this series, Stacey’s status has changed from single mom to a married officer.

Those three ride-alongs gave me a lot of material for my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, and also my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

Would I go on a ride-along again? Probably not, but it’s an experience anyone who isn’t in law enforcement and writes about it should do.

In the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, No Bells, Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.

Thanks for joining us today, F.M. Readers, don't forget to leave a comment with your email address if you'd like a chance to win the three books F.M. is giving away as part of her blog tour. -- AP


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you so much, Anastasia, for hosting me today. I love visiting your blog.

Maureen Hayes said...

Anastasia, thanks for hosting! You have a lovely blog and I will be following you from now on as well. Marilyn, you brought me back to my PI days with your stories about your ride long experiences! Very enjoyable post!

Please enter me in the contest at scrapgirl1467 (at) yahoo ( dot) com.

Thanks so much,

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks, Maureen, glad you made it.

Jake said...

Now there is a great idea for anyone wanting to truly understand what officers face. Your blog contributions have been most informative. Thank you for this cyber adventure and introducing me to so many other sites.

Cris Anson said...

What a great experience, Marilyn. Thanks for sharing it.

Janet Kerr said...

Hi Marilyn,
I went on a ride along when I volunteered for RCMP Victim Services in Canada.
And, your right, it was very interesting.



Dori said...

I took a citizen's police academy class a few years ago and got to do a ride-along as part of that class. It was VERY interesting. Traffic stops, public intoxication, one car accident, and a drunk guy who tried to walk out of the grocery store with a package of steak at about 1:00a.m.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

I sooooo want to do a ride along. Thanks for posting about your experiences and showing all of them so that we know that what we might experience may not be the only kind there is. I thoroughly enjoyed reading No Bells and seeing what the private lives are like for our police officers!


Always a pleasure to have you guest, Marilyn.

Thank you, Maureen, I'm glad you like the blog. Looking forward to seeing you here again.

Margaret Koch said...

Great piece. I rode along with the police several times just a month or so ago, and, besides having some very interesting experiences like you and others have described, I discovered how computers have burst into the squad car world. The policeman I accompanied was often running licenses of cars we followed in traffic. The computer was mounted between us right where he could easily reach it. He also constantly knew what was going on in all parts of the city and had the freedom to join an event in progress anywhere. The police have some great software. I didn't know any of that. I was 10 years behind in my descriptions.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Dori,Di and Margarret, so glad you stopped by.

Carole Price said...

Not all officers are happy with ride alongs. In 2003, I went through Livermore's Citizen Police Academy and loved every minute of it. I've been an active volunteer ever since. Even the police chief is excited to see TWISTED VINES when it comes out August 2012.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

I've never done a ride-along but, as a broadcast journalist, spent a lot of time with police officers and the police chief in our small town, hearing about challenges, crimes, and events, and watching behind the scenes as those who had been apprehended were brought into the PD and questioned. I also spent quite a bit of time with the then county sheriff and a number of his deputies. And, both as a jail chaplain trainee and a news reporter I also was allowed inside the county jails when inmates were present--and when they weren't. I was able to talk at length with female prisoners, but was never left alone with any of the men.

Quite a learning situation. I did learn many things I can use as a writer, and a few things I'll never talk about, let alone write about.

Anonymous said...

Did you have a book publish when you did your ride a long? Sound like great material.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I've been out of town and though I saw the posts, couldn't reply. So interesting to hear others experiences with ride-alongs. Mary, in answer to your questions, the first ride along, I only had a family saga published, as time went on, I had several books published--and I've used material from all the ride-alongs in different books.