Yes, and I’m nervous and excited about it all at the same time. After weeks of fear-fueled procrastination, I called my local police department–on their non-emergency line, of course. My intimidation only grew as I spoke to the first officer: a stern-voiced woman with a disconcerting ability to speak while barely opening her mouth. I explained in a very scattered way that I was calling as a local resident and writer (yep, that’s the word I used 🙂 ) with a question about police procedure in a missing persons case.
(Note: The book I’m working on is not a crime story, but it does contain an important incident involving the police, and I wanted it to be accurate.)
As she patched me through to the detective division, my palms really began to sweat. My thoughts at this point were: I’m not worthy; the detectives are busy solving crimes; I shouldn’t be troubling them with a petty writing question.
But then I told myself: it’s just one question, and I repeated this aloud to the next person I spoke with, Sharon, who surprised me by speaking in a lilting Scottish brogue. (I’ve never heard a character on a cop show speak this way, and since that’s pretty much my only exposure to police detectives, I was surprised.)
I’m not going to say getting an answer from Sharon was easy. If today’s call was any indication, law enforcement officers do not like giving definitive answers to questions like:
If there’s a missing person whose vehicle is taken into evidence and there’s no obvious sign of foul play, how long might it take for the vehicle to be returned to the family?
Sharon went off on several tangents (I took notes anyway), and I kept reeling her back in with comments like, “That makes a lot of sense. What do you estimate the range of time might be for a vehicle to be returned to the family?”
More tangents. More variations of my question. Then, at last, an answer:
In a missing persons case, if a vehicle is taken for evidence, detectives and CSI officers try to process and release it back to the family as soon as possible. If there’s no blood stain or other evidence of homicide, the vehicle might be returned to the family in as soon as a day.
Eureka! What a relief to finally have an answer to my question; the uncertainty had really been bugging me and was putting a crimp in my plot timeline. Now, as I dry off my sweaty palms, I want to share that I am also proud of myself for taking another step in my journey toward becoming a successful published author. For those of you who’ve read my blog, you know this is my mission and my dream.
— Eve Messenger