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Need help on police parts of a novel

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Old 05-18-2014, 10:54 AM
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Icon5 Need help on police parts of a novel


I am writing a first draft of a novel, but I'm stuck because of some crime investigation parts. It is mostly a suspense novel, but there are some parts where the police come in. My main character is kidnapped, but sometimes I switch over to the girl's mother's point of view, which involves police investigating the kidnapping. Please keep in mind that I am talking about the U.S. So here are my questions:

1. When a person under 18 goes missing, do the police take immediate action?
2. Once the person has reported a person under 18 missing (with suspected foul play, may I add), do the police come to that person or does she have to go to the station for questioning?
3. Who investigates the case; deputies or a detective of a sort?
4. Is it common to have a search party for a 16-year-old who has suspected to have been kidnapped?
5. If the police finds evidence or a new suspect, do they keep the person who reported informed of this progress?
6. Are any average citizens allowed to search for the missing person, such as friends and family of the missing person?

I will appreciate if any of you can answer one or more of these questions!

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Old 05-18-2014, 01:34 PM
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It is hard to answer this because in all probability the police response is going to reflect who you are, rather than any set policy.

Is the missing person's family well-respected? Wealthy? Do they have connections within the police department? Response will likely be quick and thorough.

If not, response will likely consist of a report being taken (maybe) and buried. Find your own kid. Sorry, but that's how it works.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:36 PM
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Well, that's a fairly cynical view of the police. I think you can adjust the setup a bit, so that whatever works best for your story is what happens.

Do you want the police to make a big drama out of it? Then say that Gruesome George, the serial murderer/rapist/kidnapper, went missing from police custody in the last 48 hours and someone matching his approximate description's been seen in the area. High-ranking officers rush to the scene to look for the missing teen. Tracker dogs, helicopters, the works. (Obviously, if you do this the reader will expect the Gruesome George subplot to be resolved before the story ends.)

Do you want the police to be indifferent? Then say that Rupert Zwickermann, the notoriously frugal commissioner, has cut their budget by another 20% this year. When mum shows up at the police station, the senior officer sheepishly asks whether she's willing to volunteer for unpaid work on the reception desk, because that'll free up an officer for a few hours to look into it... a junior officer, I'm afraid, because the best three guys in the force walked out the day before yesterday and we're all on double-shifts at the moment...
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Non Serviam View Post
Well, that's a fairly cynical view of the police. I think you can adjust the setup a bit, so that whatever works best for your story is what happens.

Do you want the police to make a big drama out of it? Then say that Gruesome George, the serial murderer/rapist/kidnapper, went missing from police custody in the last 48 hours and someone matching his approximate description's been seen in the area. High-ranking officers rush to the scene to look for the missing teen. Tracker dogs, helicopters, the works. (Obviously, if you do this the reader will expect the Gruesome George subplot to be resolved before the story ends.)

Do you want the police to be indifferent? Then say that Rupert Zwickermann, the notoriously frugal commissioner, has cut their budget by another 20% this year. When mum shows up at the police station, the senior officer sheepishly asks whether she's willing to volunteer for unpaid work on the reception desk, because that'll free up an officer for a few hours to look into it... a junior officer, I'm afraid, because the best three guys in the force walked out the day before yesterday and we're all on double-shifts at the moment...
That's a good way to put a Mayberry, R.F.D. twist to it, but I say reality more follows my scenario. Just going by real-life observation.

However, stories aren't real life. I know I would much rather read a story following Non-Serviam's suggestions than mine, unless you are writing a rather bleak story.
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Old 05-18-2014, 06:20 PM
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Thank you, JustcallmeEd and Non Serviam. That was kind of what I wanted to hear! Please forgive me if those questions sounded foolish, because I have never read a crime novel and didn't know what was expected. I just want it to be as realistic as possible while not compromising the story, so it looks like this will be easier than I had initially thought. I wanted to make sure before I jumped into crime scenes that I had the right idea. Thanks again!
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