Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cops: Write First, Ask Questions Later

The best way to write like a cop is to be one.

Believe it or not, police officers are people too. In fact, when it comes to stories about the world we live in, cops probably have a better perspective than just about anyone.

That's what makes me a big fan of the new program started by the Chicago Police Academy to teach officers how to write their stories down.

Many officers worry about how their work will be perceived by officers; whether their stories will be viewed as biased one or another; whether they will offend other officers, the people in the communities they serve and even the people they arrest.

It's dangerous enough being a police officer without carrying around the burden of having written something that some people consider offensive.

This new program is designed to help them overcome these fears. It's meant to help them understand that the stories they share add to the greater good, not detract from it. From a cop's point of view the world is a very different place. We are all just a few short steps from being on the wrong side of the law, whether we're a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. Crimes are committed by people of every race, every religion and every economic background. It doesn't matter if you are worth $5 or $5 million, you are no more or less likely to be a suspect in the eyes of a police officer.

We need their views, their opinions their stories as seen through their eyes, if we truly want to know who we are as a nation.

It astounds me to think the people in the best position to tell us something about ourselves have been mostly silent when it comes to the truth about our very nature. This needs to stop. We need their stories if we want to grow as a civilization and if the Chicago Police Academy can help them find their inner writer, speak aloud and share the stories they have carried in their hearts, then I say, "go for it!"

There's never a good time to be squeamish if you're writer. Even if you have a pen in one hand and a baton in the other.

We need your stories. So, write them.

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