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Please help me welcome author Melanie Atkins. Here is her bog about working with her local police department.

“Put your hands up! Put your hands up!” three Jackson Police Officers
shouted as theybolted from their patrol cars. Brandishing 9mm Glocks,
they quickly surrounded a darkgreen Acura Legend hidden deep in the
shadows on avacant lot at the corner of Hooker andWillow Streets in
Precinct 2.

The car was occupied by four known prostitutes. All but one
immediately put up their hands. The woman on the front passenger
side stuffed something beneath her seat.

“Get your hands up now,” one of the officers ordered, aiming his
weapon in her direction. This time, the woman obeyed.

One of the officers called dispatch with the car’s tag number.
“Carjacked!” he reported triumphantly. “This one was taken at
gunpoint Saturday in west Jackson.”

He and the other officers ordered the women out of the car,
secured their wrists with plastic tie-wrap cuffs, and separated
them. One was put into the back seat of the cruiser in which I
sat, totally awed by the real-life scenario playing out in front
of me.

The girl started to cry and bang her head on the side window.
“I’m only nineteen. Tell that man to come back over here. I’ll
tell him everything. Everything!”

I’m sure my mouth was wide open, but I didn’t say a word. I
simply sat back and watched the officers search the Acura. One
dug under the front passenger seat and pulled out a brown paper
sack, from which he extracted two small zipper bags. He brought
the packages over to me and illuminated their contents with his

“Crack cocaine,” he said. “And a dime bag of pot—meaning it
cost ten bucks.”

My eyes widened. Having been raised in a vacuum, I’d never seen
real drugs before. The crack rock was smaller than my thumbnail.

The girl in the backseat of the car said, “That ain’t my dope.
No, sir. It ain’t mine. I didn’t have nuthin’ to do with no

A female officer was called to the scene to pat down all four
women, and the male officers searched their purses. No more dope
was found.

After waiting for a tow truck to impound the car, we took the
women downtown to meet detectives with the Violent Crimes Task

This was business as usual for the Precinct 2 officers, but I
was amazed at having seen a real bust first hand. I was there
thanks to the Jackson Police Department’s Citizen’s Police
Academy, which I completed a few summers ago.

In addition to riding along in Precinct 2, I also rode in
Precinct 1—but that evening wasn’t nearly as exciting. My
favorite part was chasing a speeder down Woody Drive--the
irony of which wasn’t lost on me, the queen of the lead foot

The CPA lasted ten evenings, during which we learned about
crime prevention and domestic violence, heard from detectives
in Robbery/Homicide, House Burglary, Auto Theft, Juvenile
Detention, and Narcotics, and visited the Public Safety
Communications Center, where we listened in on police
dispatchers and operators taking 911 calls. We also had a
session on forensics with the Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

My favorite session, other than the Precinct 2 ride along, was
the Saturday morning visit to the pistol range. We had
demonstrations from the Bomb Squad and the Special Weapons and
Tactical Unit (SWAT), and were taught how to handle a Glock 9mm,
JPD’s duty issue weapon. Then we were taken to the range and
were allowed to shoot!

We fired not only the Glock, but also two assault weapons, the
M-4 and a Hechler & Koch MP-5. That was cool. One of the SWAT
guys was really cute, and he helped me fire the M-4. I was a
real pistol-packin’ mama—until the weapon’s Nylon strap caught
on my boob, which was extremely embarrassing. Yet, even with
the hunk's arm around me—I hit the target!

This past fall I participated in another CPA, this one
sponsored by my local sheriff's department. It was similar to
the first, but gave me insight into a different department. And
during that ride-along, the deputy hit 120 mph on I-55
while responding to a call about a 4-wheeler accident. OMG! I've
never gone that fast before.

I now have a greater sense of admiration and respect for the men
and women who face the worst of humanity every day for very
little reward. I recommend that everyone take classes like these,
no matter what you write. It’s a wonderful way to learn more about
law enforcement. My SO is offering another class this summer—it’s
free and open to the public--and I’m considering adding my name to
their sign-up list so I can take it again. This pistol packin’
mama can’t wait to get back to the pistol range.


  1. Mary Marvella // April 13, 2010 at 12:23 AM  

    Melanie sent me some great book covers I couldn't download last night. I'll try again.

  2. ArkansasCyndi // April 13, 2010 at 12:48 AM  

    here's my fear...doing the police citizen academy and KNOWING the people they arrested! LOL

    Sounds like you had a blast though

  3. Mary Marvella // April 13, 2010 at 12:50 AM  

    Now that would be scary, Cyndi!

  4. Edie Ramer // April 13, 2010 at 6:56 AM  

    Melanie, this is fascinating! I don't write cop stories, but you never know. I'm going to call my sheriff's dept. and see if they do anything like that. And too funny about your boob. lol

  5. Melanie // April 13, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

    Thanks for reading my post, y'all. lol, Cyndi! We were in parts of the city nobody I know least, I would hope they wouldn't! lol Especially the place where they arrested the hookers. It ain't your mama's neighborhood. lol

  6. Judy // April 13, 2010 at 9:22 AM  

    Melanie, I loved reading about your experiences. After being part of the "real action", you must have been able to add a whole new dimension to your writing! Great info and a great idea on taking a course. Thanks!

  7. Donnell // April 13, 2010 at 9:56 AM  

    Melanie, I would have been the one standing right beside you at one time with an open mouth. You learn fast when you attend a Citizen Academy, you learn even more when you volunteer. Something for people to consider when they're writing mystery, suspense and romantic suspense. Great job and thanks for sharing.

    I'll ask you the same question I asked Amy. Did you have any preconceived notions that went by the way side after attending these programs?

  8. magolla // April 13, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

    That is totally cool, Melanie! I wanna play! Too bad our local cops have had to lay-off officers and I doubt they will having this type of public service for a long time.

  9. Liz Lipperman // April 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM  

    I missed Amy's great post yesterday, but was enthralled by both yours and hers. You've made me want to get out there and find a local police force that offers this.

    Because you write cop suspense, my guess is you've used that hooker scene already. Am I right??

    Thanks for the great blog and thanks to Mary for inviting you guys to tell us about your experiences.

  10. Autumn Jordon // April 13, 2010 at 10:44 AM  

    Wow! I loved reading about your experiences and you gave away some helpful tid-bits to write a true-to-life scene. I didn't realize they would acually put a criminal in the back seat with you. Thta had to get you heart pumping. And they actually waited for a female officer to frisk the ladies of the night?

    I'd really love to read more. How long was your classes? Is there anything you can share about them? Rules you have to follow? Do you have to attend every so often as a refresher?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us.

  11. Beth Trissel // April 13, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

    How very interesting Melanie! Very kewl.Thanks for joining us here today.

  12. Anonymous // April 13, 2010 at 1:31 PM  

    What a wonderful experience. I would like to do this in my town, but I'm not sure they offer it. Will have to check. Are you planning to use these experiences in your writing? Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Pre-Conference KOD tour and we visited Quantico and were allowed to shoot on their range, it was beyond amazing! Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Melba Moon
    President-elect KOD

  13. Mary Ricksen // April 13, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

    What a thrill to see our police in action. I would love to do that, but I don't know if I want to go 120 mph even with a cop!
    So I will support and respect from afar.
    I never shot a gun, even though I could have, I don't like to touch guns...
    Great blog and thanks, Melanie, for coming and sharing!

  14. Mary Marvella // April 13, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

    Melanie, I think you're a hit!

  15. Melanie // April 13, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

    I loved both of the academies I attended. And yes, I've used a lot of what I learned in my writing. Not the specific hooker scene, since I haven't written about any ladies of the night yet, but police work in general.

    I didn't have any preconceived notions before doing this because I was once married to a cop (for eleven years) and I'd heard plenty of war stories and iced more than one black eye after he had problems subduing a suspect.

    I hope to take about class one day. I'd love to do the FBI one, but can't seem to find out anything about it.

  16. Joelle Charbonneau // April 13, 2010 at 2:50 PM  

    Hi Melanie! What a great post. I have to look into attending the police citizen academy. It sounds both interesting and inspirational. I admire all members of the police force and what they do.

  17. Joanne // April 14, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

    Interesting post, Melanie. I will definitely be looking into the Citizen Police Academy in my city.

  18. StephB // April 14, 2010 at 11:17 AM  

    Melanie, your experiences will definately bring a new dimension to your writing. Kudos to you for going out there and wanting to experience it. For 11 years I was an MP in the army. I've got everything from M16s, Shotguns, Grenade Launchers, to 45 cal pistols. Now, as a 911 dispatcher, my job is behind the scenes, but just as rewarding. I couldn't picture a career not in law enforcemnt.


  19. Mary Marvella // April 15, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

    Melanie, you did a fabulous job! I wish I'd been able to put your covers up. I am soooo challenged somethimes!

  20. Mary Marvella // April 15, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

    Oh, thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented.

    Mama Mary