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  1. #1
    Motherboard is offline Junior Member Motherboard is on a distinguished road
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    small town police departments and sheriff's departments

    Hi, I'm Kate and thanks to Google I came across this site while doing research for a novel I'm working on for next month's National Novel Writing Month. I'm hoping someone here can help me with some questions I have on small town police departments vs. sheriff's departments and how they handle investigations--like a murder.
    The idea for my story is that a police detective temporarily returns to the small town he's from for family reasons and gets involved in a murder investigation. The reason I planned to have him get involved is that the Sheriff's department usually turns over cases like this to the State Police who have more resources and doesn't want to do it in this particular situation. I've also thought of switching from a sheriff's department to a small town/city police department.
    What I'm wondering is, would a small town pd or a sheriff's dept. turn over a case like this normally to the state police? Do small departments and sheriff's departments have detectives? Do departments like this have a pretty well laid out set of procedures for crime scene investigation?
    I'm just hoping to create a realistic situation for this story to exist and stay close to how investigations would be handled in this environment. Thanks to anyone who can give me advice on this!

  2. #2
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    Most people believe what they see in movies and on television, so there isn't an inherent need for what procedures are truthful. Frankly, they're boring and that's why entertainment uses "creative license" to make things more interesting for the audience. If not, they'd fall asleep or change the channel to something more stimulating.

    If you want to get the most realism possible, go visit your local law enforcement agency in person and ask to speak with their Public Affairs person.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherboard View Post
    What I'm wondering is, would a small town pd or a sheriff's dept. turn over a case like this normally to the state police? Do small departments and sheriff's departments have detectives? Do departments like this have a pretty well laid out set of procedures for crime scene investigation?
    I'm just hoping to create a realistic situation for this story to exist and stay close to how investigations would be handled in this environment. Thanks to anyone who can give me advice on this!
    They'd prolly just let your detective handle it. Or, the FBI would just come in and save the day.
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  4. #4
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    In rural Kansas, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will work the case.
    They have the manpower and expertise to handle it.
    On a clear night, I can see the other deputies emergency lights at least 10 miles away.
    But it isnt flat here LOL

  5. #5
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    In Oregon, if the small town is within a county that has a decent size sheriff's office, the S.O. will handle it. In rural, E. Oregon where even the S.O. is often a four or less man department, the state police take care of major crimes. Sometimes they will be assisted by investigators from the state Attorney General's office, but OSP is in charge of the investigation.

    We have a funny situation around Portland. There's a very high profile missing kid case that occurred just outside the city limits and the sheriff has it. In Multnomah county, the S.O. has a very small LE presence because nearly all the populated area is within a city limit. With the exception of a tiny area just outside Portland, their patrol is rural and has few residents. He's trying desperately to find a way to kiss it off onto someone else because he doesn't have the budget to handle a case that big (nor the experienced investigators, if the truth be told). The state won't take it and it's not within any city jurisdiction. He's trying to form a task force, but those are generally for cases with multiple victims and cash strapped cities in the area aren't eager to spend money on something they have no responsibility for.
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    You just gotta realize he is hard of hearing and cranky, and try to speak up more clearly next time and make it perfectly clear what you were saying so there is no misinterpretation. You gotta try not to get mad at the old guy, recognizing the issue at hand.

  6. #6
    mcsap is offline Veteran member ( retired) mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute mcsap has a reputation beyond repute
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    In PA , the State Police would be called in to handle it.
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  7. #7
    Motherboard is offline Junior Member Motherboard is on a distinguished road
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    Thanks everyone for you help! It seems to vary by area, which helps--if I keep from naming the state, whatever I decide might sound plausible.
    I didn't realize all states had a bureau of investigation! That gives me a whole other way to take this.
    Thank you!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherboard View Post
    Thanks everyone for you help! It seems to vary by area, which helps--if I keep from naming the state, whatever I decide might sound plausible.
    I didn't realize all states had a bureau of investigation! That gives me a whole other way to take this.
    Thank you!
    Not all states do. Oregon uses the state police for statewide investigations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat_Doc View Post
    You just gotta realize he is hard of hearing and cranky, and try to speak up more clearly next time and make it perfectly clear what you were saying so there is no misinterpretation. You gotta try not to get mad at the old guy, recognizing the issue at hand.

  9. #9
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    Arizona does not have a "State Police"...they did that on purpose.
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  10. #10
    retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat_Doc View Post
    Arizona does not have a "State Police"...they did that on purpose.
    Oregon didn't until about 1935. Before that, they were only traffic, like Arizona DPS.

    They're a pretty good organization, they've never tried to jump in where they weren't wanted or needed. They've also been very helpful when asked. One child molesting case I had started involved multiple victims in various counties. It would have been a pain for me to try to deal with 4 or 5 different agencies to coordinate an investigation so I called their detectives and they were happy to take it. They knew I wasn't trying to kiss it off on them, they do stuff like that all the time. But on the other hand, they avoid the urban areas like the plague. At one point, I know they had orders not to get off the freeway in Portland except to complete a stop or go to their office, which is at an exit.

    And much of Eastern Oregon is so desolate and poor that w/o them, there wouldn't be anyone to work criminal cases. One county has only the elected sheriff and one deputy to cover an area about half the size of Cochise county down there. The biggest town in the entire county is maybe 1000 people.
    I used to be with it, but then they changed what "it" was, and now what I'm with isn't it. And what's "it" seems weird and scary to me. -Grampa Simpson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat_Doc View Post
    You just gotta realize he is hard of hearing and cranky, and try to speak up more clearly next time and make it perfectly clear what you were saying so there is no misinterpretation. You gotta try not to get mad at the old guy, recognizing the issue at hand.

  11. #11
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    August 10, 1935 is when Texas DPS came alive. We have been celebrating our 75th year anniversary this year.

    Ms. Motherboard, a Texas Ranger would assist the small town or Sheriffs Department with that type of investigation down here. Which reminds me; Has anyone ever heard the saying, "One riot, one Texas Ranger!" Does anyone know how one Texas Ranger stops a riot?................................by calling in as many Troopers as he needs!



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