400 THINGS COPS KNOW by Adam Plantinga is another book from Quill Driver Books that will join Books, Crooks and Counselors by Leslie Budewitz and others in my personal reference library. Plantinga spent thirteen years as a patrol officer, which he boiled down to observations about life as a street cop, which are practical and blunt when they aren’t funny, heart-rending or chilling.
As a writer, my next manuscript with a police officer as character will be checked against this book to see if I have avoided the errors that pop us so frequently when the uninformed try to write about the uniformed. Do you know how Columbine changed the responses of police departments all over the United States? I do because I read this book and it is just the sort of detail that a cop might drop into conversation with a citizen. It is also the sort of detail that adds a sense of authenticity to a piece of writing.
About the importance of teamwork the author writes, “…if some citizen feels the need to challenge you on why it took seven officers to take the lone suspect into custody the answer is because eight weren’t available.” I remember a news conference in which a police spokesperson was asked why so many shots (Sorry, I don’t remember the exact number.) were fired by a group of officers at a gunman who first opened fire on a police unit. The spokesperson answered in effect — eventually you run out of bullets.
Why do cops toss their cups of coffee out the windows of their squad car when they get a high priority call? Can a car with a powerful engine outrun a cop car? (You may notice I ask questions but I don’t provide answers.) 400 THINGS COPS KNOW provides answers as well as giving hints about how an experienced officer might answer question since an experienced officer wrote the book. I highly recommend this book.