Helping Heal Divisions: New Book by Former Officers Offers Insight to Policing
By Jinnie Chua, Assistant Editor of In Public Safety
Many officers retire from a career in the workforce with a wealth of knowledge and experience. So how can they apply their skillset in a new way? After retiring, former partners Andrew Bell and Bruce Razey decided to document some of their experiences in a new book entitled Cops of Acadia: The Beginning.
The book follows two fictional police officers named Mark Anvil and Mike Casey, who are based on Bell and Razey, as they go about their daily duties. “This is all based on real-life stories that we were personally involved with,” said Razey.
“We wanted to make sure that the stories were as close to the true events as possible,” added Bell. “We wanted to show citizens what police officers are really like.”
Addressing Police and Community Relations
The authors hope that sharing their stories will help rebuild divisions between police and the public. Police shootings and use-of-force incidents have been a major cause of tension in many communities. Most recently, news footage from the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota went viral. The heart-wrenching footage shows the daughter of Castile’s girlfriend attempting to calm her mother down immediately after the shooting, sparking renewed outrage and debate over the incident.
Cops of Acadia: The Beginning addresses the negative perception of police by offering insight from the officer’s perspective. “Sometimes the cop is wrong, but a lot of the time citizens don’t understand how police operate, so we wanted to share more of that,” said Bell.
The authors hope to present a more comprehensive view than what the media can provide when a police shooting occurs. “There’s all kinds of things we rely on when it comes to ‘shoot’ or ‘don’t shoot,’ including firearm training, use-of-force training, training on things to look for, and emotions,” said Razey. “The book goes into all of that.”
Also covered in the novel are the lighthearted moments of being a police officer, including how cops interact with each other at the station and the more amusing cases they handle. “We want to show some of the right things cops do, hopefully in an entertaining way and not just an educational way,” said Bell.
Writing to Entertain and Educate
In addition to providing a new perspective for the public, Bell and Razey believe that their book has the potential to help educate law enforcement students inside the classroom. Bell is a criminal justice professor at American Military University (AMU) and believes that the book could be used as a complement to criminal justice courses.
“I was just teaching my AMU class and we were talking about burglary and in our book we stay true to what those investigations are like, how difficult they are to solve, and why different investigative procedures are hard for the detective,” said Bell. “I would tell [the students] the same stories anyway and this is more entertaining than a textbook.”
In order to serve as a tool for education, accurately depicting the laws, tactics, policies and procedures of the job was one of the main priorities for the authors. As former officers and supervisors who were used to writing up reports, that part came easy for Bell and Razey.
“Our first proof was very educational for the public, but not super entertaining,” said Razey. “We had to go back and put a little bit of Hollywood in there and change the characters around so they aren’t recognizable, but it’s still as realistic as possible.”
The Writing Process
Since crime is part of their everyday reality, officers often have the best resources to draw on for writing a crime novel. For who are thinking about a writing career, the transition could be easier than they think. “Officers already have the stories,” said Bell. “Just commit to it, be prepared to do the additional research, and definitely think about how you’ll publish it way ahead of time.”
However, as Bell and Razey discovered, reliving old memories can be hard. “There were different experiences that were difficult to write about,” said Razey. “It’s hard to debrief yourself, but we always did it in the police department and we’re doing it while we write the book as well.”
For these authors, having a clear purpose played a big part in seeing the Cops of Acadia: The Beginning to completion. “We’re writing these books for a reason.” said Razey. “It was our desire to show citizens the difficulty that police have to go through in making decisions.”
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