Writer Cindy Carroll is one busy woman, but she found time to visit us this
week. She writes scripts as well as books and short stories. She teaches
classes, too. (Ask her about them.) Cindy is our fourth blogger talking about
training with law enforcement. She shares her experiences with the Halton
Region Citizen’s Police Academy. She just graduated! Welcome, Cindy

It wasn’t what I expected

It was better. I received the letter in December telling me I was accepted into the Halton
Region Citizens’ Police Academy. I had completely forgotten that I applied because I applied for the September session. A letter came for that one too, saying I didn’t get in but they’d hold onto the application. Sure, I thought. People say that but they never do. Well, they did.

Classes were every week starting January 12. And let me tell you, from the very beginning it was like suspense writer heaven. Almost every unit or bureau was scheduled to talk to us at some point during the 12 weeks of classes. Some of my favourites were the homicide bureau, the intelligence unit and the TRU team (Tactical Rescue Unit).

The classes were invaluable when it came to practical knowledge of things I’d only read about. For instance, a grenade is heavier than it looks.

At least it was to me. The gun we used for target practice was lighter than I thought it would be. It was also way louder and had more kick than I expected. You really do have to exhale and squeeze the trigger slowly until it just goes off. If you think about pulling the trigger you squeeze too fast and you miss your target. The bullet proof vest was also lighter than I expected.

I had my favourite presentations. The intelligence unit officer was awesome. He took us from the beginning of an investigation when they get a call reporting suspicious behaviour right to the arrest. He changed the names and nature of the crime of course. But for that one I took pages and pages of notes.

The one that struck me the most was the crisis negotiator. They’re not called hostage negotiators in Canada because we don’t have a lot of hostage situations. Hollywood usually portrays these people as burnt out, bitter cops. But she was not burnt out, definitely not bitter. She LOVED the job. Got excited by those 2:00 am phone calls summoning her to somewhere in the city to talk someone into not killing themselves and getting help instead. It was also interesting to learn that the crisis negotiating was on top of her regular duties as an officer.

One of the best parts was that it was free. I would have paid to have twelve weeks of access to police personnel, demonstrations, hands on practice, presentations. But it’s part of the community policing initiative they have going on to help citizens better understand what is involved in policing. It gave me lots of information to work with, caused a few breakthroughs in the story I was working on and sparked a few ideas for other stories.

I advise everyone to do a search to see if their city offers a citizen police academy. It can be invaluable to a suspense writer. It can also be a great way to get more involved in your community and understand the police a little better. I already respected them. Now that respect is through the roof.

www.scriptscene.org - Go ahead. Make a scene.


  1. Mary Marvella // April 15, 2010 at 12:28 AM  

    I forgot you were in Canada 'til I saw your spelling of some words. I enjoyed posting your experiences!

  2. Donnell // April 15, 2010 at 4:06 AM  

    Cindy, exactly. You didn't know the grenade was so heavy. The Citizens Academy brings real world experience to attendees who might never have the opportunity. Sounds like you got so much out of it. And you did pay for it, it was your tax dollars at work, right? Congrats!

  3. Judy // April 15, 2010 at 8:10 AM  

    Welcome to the Fuzzies, Cindy, and thanks for sharing your information. Justknowing how something feels and acts makes a writers work more realistic, more believable. I'm going to check on the availability of a Citizens Academy here in Florida.Thanks again!

  4. Joanne // April 15, 2010 at 9:26 AM  

    Thank you, Cindy, for joining the Pink Fuzzies. Great article, and congrats on your graduation!

  5. Edie Ramer // April 15, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

    Cindy, though I don't write suspense, this sounds awesome. I really, really want to do something like this. I'm calling my sheriff's office today to see if they have any similar program.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. Anonymous // April 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM  

    Cindy, thanks so much for sharing your experience with the pink fuzzies. We learned alot through your eyes. Imagine, learning a grenade is heavy. Where else could you have found this information? All the information this week has made me eager to find out about the citizens academy in our town.

    Melba Moon
    President-Elect KOD

  7. Karin* // April 15, 2010 at 12:31 PM  

    I'm late to the party as usual! I think it's awesome how the local cops are doing these academies, it really gives the public a solid and positive view of what these men and women do. They serve and protect! Us! So any citizens forget that wee fact.

    Last fall I attended an FBI Citizen's Academy and was awestruck not only by what those men and women do, but their commitment. Amazing.

    Karin* Tabke

  8. Mary Marvella // April 15, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

    Welcome, all visitors! didn't Cindy do a great job with her fresh enthusiasm!

  9. Joelle Charbonneau // April 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

    Thanks for the great info, Cindy, and for stopping by the fuzzies. I admit that you have now inspired me to learn to shoot a gun:)

  10. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

    Thanks for having me here, Mary! LOL. Yes, the spelling of some words is different. My favourite is cheque.

  11. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

    Donnell, that's exactly why I wanted to take the course. I had no idea about some of the hands on things. Grenades are so small so I thought it would be very light.

  12. Mary Ricksen // April 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM  

    I think it takes a lot of courage to do what you've done. It was such a great learning experience! I would love to do a ride along myself!

  13. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 2:07 PM  

    Hi Judy and Joanne! Thanks for having me.

    Judy, I highly recommend it.

    Joanne, thanks. Graduation was awesome. Feels weird not going to the police station on Tuesday nights now though.

  14. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

    Hi Edie! It is a great learning experience. Of course I thought it was weird that I was the only writer in the class of 42 people.

  15. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 2:24 PM  

    Hi Melba. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, some of the things I just had no idea about. The bullet proof vest threw me too.

  16. Cindy // April 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM  

    Karin, the FBI version would have been awesome. I wish we had something like that here.

  17. Nightingale // April 15, 2010 at 9:17 PM  

    If I write a suspense novel, I know who to call! Congrats on your graduation. It must have been an experience!

  18. Mary Marvella // April 15, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

    You should have read all the fun emails she sent.

  19. Liz Lipperman // April 16, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

    Okay, I'm definitely going to find a Citizen's Academy around here. All of you have made me realize how valuable it really is.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed and to you, Mary, for being smart enough to bring them together.

    Okay, so I'm a day late. Whatever!

  20. Cindy // April 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM  

    Thanks, Joelle. I have to admit shooting the gun was a lot of fun. I had never done it before.

  21. Cindy // April 16, 2010 at 11:26 PM  

    Thanks, Mary. It is a great learning experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.