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What's a day in the life for an officer on modified duty?

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  • What's a day in the life for an officer on modified duty?

    I have to write a scene with my detective on desk duty while an incident is under investigation. All I know about this is they shuffle papers, file and answer phones. But to write this scene realistically, I need more detail than that. Have any of you done this sort of work and could you describe what a morning would look like? (I know, you probably don't want to relive it, but it's for a very good cause! My detective is the heroine of the story and her talents should not be squandered on administrative minutia! )

  • #2
    Terminology and policy varies but at my agency "modified duty" means the officer is recovering from an injury and is assigned to a desk job until they're healed. Sometimes called "light duty."

    An officer under investigation would be placed on "administrative leave." The officer would be expected to be at home and available for contact during scheduled shift hours. The officer would not be allowed to do any police work and might be required to turn in badge, commission card, weapon, etc. for the duration.

    This newspaper columnist describes such status as like "house arrest (during business hours)."



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    • #3
      Detective Sarah Dorey trudged to work everyday like she has for the past eight months- spending her career in place she never envisioned: behind a desk on the rubber gun squad.

      Not that she didn't have it coming, or so say her peers in hushed conversations at the station or over two dollar pints at The Factory, the nearby cinder block bar with a hidden backroom for cops, home to weekly 'choir practices' and many a retirement party or Irish wake over the decades. The common sentiment among those with an opinion: "Dorey's been on thin ice for a long time". Well, ever since she started dating the rogue officer Brock Chestwell.

      It wasn't a bad shoot that hobbled Dorey to the purgatory called desk duty, or a late night drunken fender bender in her sedan. It was guilt by association that doomed her. All she was trying to do was clean up a domestic situation with her ex-boyfriend and co-worker after a "he-said, she-said" public argument led to his arrest one cold angry night. Even though there was no violence, the circumstances were enough to charge. Bosses had been waiting with baited breath for months and years to smack Brock in the gib, and now finally he'd stuck out a glass jaw. But civil service rules kept the wolves from their ultimate goal of terminating without process so instead they clipped Brock's wings, awaiting the day when his "early retirement" would be official.

      Sarah only wanted to protect Brock, despite their complicated relationship. But her denials about the details only added oxygen to flames and now she too was under the gun, guilty by association. Because in this indifferent, inverted universe, men like Brock Chestwell don't go down alone. They also take down the people closest to them.

      The misery didn't take long to sink in. 0830 hours at the front desk, half an hour for lunch, back at the desk until 1700 hours. Eight hours a day, forty hours a week, 160 hours a month of sitting there, like a browning fern in a doctor's office. Peers who once respected Dorey now walk by and barely acknowledge her. Peers that used to be friends became distant and cold. That's what happens when you get shelved at The Desk.

      Several times an hour, the phone rings. Sometimes it's legitimate, like a department from the county north wanting to speak to a detective about a suspect in a series of recent robberies who may hiding under a rock in her city and wants to run some names. Names of career criminals that Dorey knows well- in fact, knows their older brothers and fathers. At least she could help someone out.

      But mostly it's crackpots. "Hello, yes, I'd like to report some aliens living next door." Illegals from Mexico? "No. From space. And I think they've bugged my house. I want you to send an officer."

      The calls pile up. Dorey finds a way to filter the endless stream: whackadoo calls go no further than a quick dismissal and admonishment to call back only in case of emergency. The calls with actual, actionable information get funneled to the proper people.

      Citizens walk up. Just like the telephone calls, some have legitimate issues. Most do not. The trick is to be respectful and deftly handle situations that may not have an quick solution. Easier said than done.

      The multitude of secretarial tasks structure her day. Small jobs, like sorting the mail, collating monthly fuel receipts for the fleet, and calling the plumbing company when the men's toilet stops functioning. In a workplace filled with meat eaters, having an operable commode is an important as having fresh batteries in a flashlight.

      As if the small indignancies of menial work weren't bad enough, the bigger assignments were worse. The file room was an absolute disaster. Even though the Atlantic coast was a thousand miles away, it looked like a Cat 4 hurricane had passed through. The powers decided Dorey should be the one to tackle the Aegean task of sorting and filing years of investigative files randomly strewn about. She grimaced slightly when she came upon her old cases... salt in the wound reminders of what she used to be- a detective, not a file clerk.

      During one of the lulls in activity, as tiny specks of dust floated through the soft rays of sunlight coming though the front window, Sarah remembered the first time she first saw Brock. The ink was barely dry on her degree when she started the internship that led to a job. The warning signs were all there- his three divorces, his long history of being sideways with management, his rollercoaster mood swings. But he protected her like no one else ever had. Or ever will.


      The worse part of her situation was not knowing what the future held. With her job. With Brock Chestwell.





      When you're 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you're 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you're 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

      -Winston Churchill

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      • #4
        Ha! Are you writing a novel as well or is this just off the cuff? Love the names...Brock Chestwell, lol...

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        • #5
          Total off-the-cuff cheese.

          Isn’t that what police fiction books are made of??

          Feel free to use. I don’t care about royalties. Just as long as I get mentioned in the credits....
          When you're 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you're 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you're 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

          -Winston Churchill

          Comment

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