What I'm reading: Blind Justice by Kelsy George; contest entries.
What I'm writing: Chapter 31, scene two!
I was particularly interested in hearing the section on Motors, as the protagonist in my third release, Starting Over (coming out in August, 2007) is a Orange County Deputy Sheriff who wants to move from Traffic to CID. I'll have to go back and check my manuscript -- I didn't think to ask if the Motors uniforms were any different from the others. They are: they have a yellow stripe down the side of their pants.
Things I learned: traffic stops, etc., are secondary to all deputies EXCEPT Motors; that's their primary assignment. However, they are responsible for more narcotics arrests than the narcotics unit. That's because they have such a high volume of encounters. They will have times when they saturate an area, pulling all the Motors deputies to work one area, and others when they will funnel all traffic into one lane at a specific intersection, and simply stand on the median, approaching vehicles stopped for red lights. And people tend to be stupid, doing things like leaving drugs in plain sight in their cars. As our speaker said, "sometimes, it's like shooting fish in a barrel."
The unit uses both motorcycles and cars, the cars being used primarily by those working the DUI specialty. However, for safety, at night or on rainy days, they all leave the bikes at home and ride in cars. Our speaker wanted to make it very clear that although those in Motors get both a car and a bike, the cars are the ones that should be rotated out of the fleet. They're not using our tax dollars to provide brand new cars AND motorcycles to the unit.
They also use Radar and Lasers; there's a mobile Blood Alcohol Testing van (the BATmobile), and the newest innovation is an electronic ticket writer, where a driver's license can be scanned and all the fields populated by the device. I checked; my license is so old it doesn't have the bar code. And it doesn't expire until 2011. I didn't ask how our system of issuing stickers for renewals affected the deputies trying to do their jobs.
Orange County also has funds for a Violent Crime Initiative, where ALL divisions will be working to try to reduce crime, and Motors also takes part. From February 7th to March 31st, they put in 20,151 man hours and made 1375 arrests. However, as one officer put it, "You can't arrest yourself out of this situation," so there will have to be another long-term approach to reducing the crime rate.
To get into Motors, there's a two week training school. 60% of the applicants wash out, a lot on the first day, where one of the requirements is righting a tipped over bike. They also spend one full day every month in training exercises.
A lot of time is spent when dignitaries come to town, especially during Presidential election/campaign years. We saw a video of how many cops it takes to keep thing secure. Years ago, my husband received one of the "other" George Bush's thousand points of lights awards, and the President presented it in person. I saw all the Secret Service guys, but didn't realize how many of our own law enforcement folks were tied up getting him to SeaWorld where he made the presentation. (The Secret Service stuff was cool -- remind me to blog about that someday.)
We also got a few anecdotes, like the guy who clipped a deputy's bike in the Sheriff's Office parking lot. He came up to apologize, the deputy asked him to wait while he asked a few questions. The guy ran for his vehicle and ran the deputy down (but he was OK). The guy had 69 prior arrests.
Or the deputies who dress in costumes for holidays and do radar/laser traffic patrol. It's all about increasing awareness.
I'll be counting down this next week until the release of "What's in a Name?" Pop back here, or on my website for sneak peeks.