Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Life of a Police Secretary

by Joyce Tremel

When I tell people I work for a police department, their first reaction is usually, “That’s so cool!” I probably felt that way, too, for oh, about the first 30 days. After nine years, the novelty has worn off a bit.

A few years back, I figured out that I must be an adrenaline junkie. I love that heart pounding excitement when everything and everyone is falling apart. I do my best work in crisis mode. On 9/11 and the days that followed, I stayed perfectly calm. We locked down the station, and I fielded all the phone calls. When anthrax appeared in mail across the country, I handled numerous calls about suspicious packages. When the remnants of Ivan hit the area, I stayed at work that night taking call after call about the flooding. All this is far from the day to day activities in a suburban police department.

For your amusement (I hope), I’ll run through what a typical week is like for me.

Mondays are my busiest day. There’s no secretary on the weekends, so on Monday the Chief’s secretary and I split the police reports. She takes Friday and I take Saturday. Whoever finishes their day first gets Sunday. In addition to reports, I have the phone to deal with. If there was a accident over the weekend, I get phone calls from drivers or insurance companies asking for the report. I’ve told the guys time and time again, to NOT tell people to call on Monday morning, especially when the guys haven’t even done the accident report yet! Usually by lunch time, I’m ready to kill someone. Our police calls were down the weekend. Friday we had 19. Saturday there were 20 calls. 26 on Sunday.

On Tuesday, I enter Monday’s reports. The weirdest of the 22 calls was a man “attacked” by a deer. He went out to his mailbox carrying his young daughter. There was a buck standing in the street. When the man and his daughter waved at the buck, he chased them into the house, then stood in the man’s yard for awhile. One of the phone calls I took was from a woman who received a junk vehicle warning. Her car had an expired inspection and was parked on the street. A big no-no in Shaler. She wanted to know if she could park it in her yard instead! I had to tell her that, no, that would also be a violation. She wasn’t happy.

On Wednesday, I had 27 reports from Tuesday. On the 4-12 shift they had 5 domestics. Must be near a full moon. I also entered traffic citations. The township employees started the “10,000 Step Challenge” last week. We have 6 teams of 10 people each. Everyone got pedometers and every Wednesday we report the number of steps to our team leaders. I’m happy to say that the team I’m on is in first place.

On Thursday, I am off. Woo-hoo! The chief’s secretary takes my place for the day.

Fridays are usually slow. I get caught up with anything that’s held over from earlier in the week. In addition to reports and phone calls, I usually process requests from insurance companies for accident reports.

So that’s my exciting week. Tell me what you did this week!

23 comments:

Tory said...

Being attacked by a buck sounds pretty exciting!

My excitement comes, not from crisis, but from standing up in front of people and teaching them something. This week I taught Duquesne seniors about the mental health system. They were polite, attentive, and asked good questions. Who can ask for more?

Another thing I do a lot of now is talking people into things. Yesterday I convinced my fellow trainer (ex-cop, ex-lawyer turned social worker) that he had more experience with criminals than I did, and it was his job to bring in the expertise, mine to make it understandable to our audience. After two months of (his) procrastinating, we set up a meeting to prepare our training. That was mostly relieving, but I guess there was a little excitement mixed in.

I've discovered, to my surprise, that I can be quite good at talking people into things (if I believe it's for everyone's good.) It's pretty exciting to realize I have that ability.

Joyce said...

Good for you, Tory!

Martha Reed said...

Joyce, I'm curious. Do you come from a police family background? Where/How did you learn to be so calm?

And, on another note, the last time I took the dog to the vet there were 2 other dogs in the emergency room because they were gored or stomped on by aggressive deer. I think that's getting to be pretty common, oddly enough!

Joyce said...

No police background, Martha. I think I was just born calm!

It is pretty common with the deer. There are just so many of them and with all the houses being built everywhere, they have nowhere to go. In Shaler, Ryan Homes is building a plan called "Deer Run." The area has always been called Deer Run for a reason. One guy who lives near there called last week because he had 30 deer in his yard and didn't know what to do! The township has been conducting a controlled bow hunt, but that hardly puts a dent in the population. Personally, I couldn't kill one, but obviously someone has to!

ramona said...

Joyce, this reminded me of a summer job I had, long ago, when I was in college. I worked at the local hospital, in the medical records dept. Most of the time, I transcribed doctor's notes from one of those audio-thingamabobs, but on Mondays, I filed the ER reports from the weekend. What a mess! A - Doctor's handwriting? I don't have to explain that, do I? B - The things that happened on Friday and Saturday nights in a little Louisiana bayou town were hysterical. One of the doctors used to love to write, in big bold letters at the bottom of the form, PATIENT RELEASED TO JAIL!!! And then he would add a smiley face. He was my favorite doctor.

Nancy said...

Plus this is the rut season, so the bucks are addled and revved up with hormones. They'll attack anything--including mailboxes. (Long story.)

Tory, I'm loving your newfound appreciation of your skill!

Me, I met my new publicist. (7th in 5 years.) Believe it or not, he sounds like a winner! At least he doesn't cry.

Joyce said...

Ramona, way back in the late 70s and early 80s (before children), I worked as a Unit Secretary at Allegheny General Hospital. I know all about doctors' handwriting! Cops kind of write like doctors. Just different subject matter.

Nancy, I'm glad your new publicist doesn't cry!

Annette said...

Nancy's right about the bucks being in rut. They are definitely horny little buggers right now and nothing to mess with.

My week has been pretty boring. I've spent every day visiting Mom, doing a little writing, and teaching yoga classes. Today I get to meet with my critique group, so I'm bubbling with excitment just because of the change of pace.

Friday is grocery shopping day (yawn) and then hubby and I have plans to go on a DATE! To Cabela's. Whoo hoo (Double yawn). At least I'll get dinner out of the deal.

Joyce said...

Cabela's--how romantic! :-)

mike said...

And here I thought we lived in a metropolis, but with all these aggressive deer, attacking turkeys, rabid raccoons and clouds of crows, well, it makes you wonder just who is ruling this Earth.

Joyce--Deer Run has deer? I bet some of those residents probably think they were trucked in for their own amusement. As for your job, it sounds positively exciting compared to mine. Imagine sitting at a computer typing pompous, pretentious text into computer code that magically turns into a tedious training web page. The most difficult part of my day is simply trying to stay awake for 8 continuous hours.

Nancy--Congrats on the new publicist. So glad to hear he hasn't cried...yet! (Must be some back story that you're not telling us.)

Brenda said...

Wow, shuffling museum loan forms and talking to little kids about art doesn't require nearly that amount of composure! good post, Joyce. I love to know what other people do in a day.

Joyce said...

I don't know, Brenda. Dealing with kids requires a lot of composure. I still shudder when I remember chaperoning Josh's fifth grade class when they went to the opera. You'd think I would have learned my lesson after Andy's class trip several years earlier to tour Three Rivers Stadium and the Gateway Clipper boat ride.

Joyce said...

Mike, I hope they pay you enough to do that!

Did you know that we have coyotes in Shaler? We get calls about that all the time.

mike said...

Joyce--That's right, I forgot about the coyotes. Maybe we need to import some in the city to take care of the growing wild turkey population. Those turkeys are getting to be a problem. Down near Junction Hollow they've attacked cyclists who got too close to the hens. Up around Highland Park I've had to steer around peacocks who've escaped the zoo for a leisurely stroll on the streets!

Cathy said...

Couldn't you discover the police chief has destroyed evidence incriminating a local criminal? That would make things more exciting. Let's face it, excitement's not all it's cracked up to be.

Thanks for sharing about your work. Sounds exciting to me.

Gina said...

I actually spent the weekend and most of Monday at home writing!

At work I've been writing, too, civil complaints and a reply to someone's objection to a bankruptcy claim. That kind of writing is interesting in its own way. It's somewhat formulaic but primarily you just have to make sure you have the facts straight and put them down in a comprehensible fashion. On Tuesday I got to go to court to present a motion for continuance (i.e., formally ask a judge to postpone a trial). Other than that, I've just been talking to co-workers and clients and opposing attorneys and drafting simple things like fax cover sheets, not to mention making file notes in an electronic case management system. Not very exciting, but fun in an odd sort of way.

Donnell B. said...

Joyce, great post! You sound perfect for your job. You get the job done, and take everything in stride. As for deer, I had a huge 6 point buck in my front yard rutting his antlers on my beautiful just trimmed bushes. I ordered my husband to go out there and get him off. He took one look, shook his head and said, honey, they're ain't no way.

Donnell B. said...

Joyce, great post! You sound perfect for your job. You get the job done, and take everything in stride. As for deer, I had a huge 6 point buck in my front yard rutting his antlers on my beautiful just trimmed bushes. I ordered my husband to go out there and get him off. He took one look, shook his head and said, honey, they're ain't no way.

Kristine said...

Joyce, I actually think your average work week sounds exciting. Although I spend most of my days editing articles and news releases about hydraulics and manufacturing equipment, so deer attacks and car accident reports sound like heaven!

I think you should develop a protagonist who is a police secretary. I don't think it's been done before, and I think people would be interested in seeing the crime world from your perspective. Something to think about!

Kristine said...

Annette: My husband loves Cabela's. He will be jealous to find out you're spending your date night there.

Felicia Donovan said...

Joyce, great blog and always glad to hear about the work of others in both law enforcement and writing (same to you, Leo).

On Friday, I gave a "CSI vs. REALITY" speech to a lovely group of young ladies from around the country to try and debunk the "CSI Effect." On Tuesday, I delivered a presentation to the Police Commission explaining my division's work. On Wed, I reviewed cases and did some work on unsolved homicides. Today, I tried to catch up, but didn't. This weekend, I'll try and work on the 3rd book in THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY series. And so it goes...

Yes, it takes a special person to work in law enforcement, no matter what the job. It takes something even more special to do that plus have the energy left to go home and write.

Felicia Donovan
THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY Series

Joyce said...

Thanks, Felicia. Your job sounds a little more exciting than mine!

Felicia Donovan said...

Not sure if it's anymore exciting, but it keeps me on my toes. We're all in it together, I say.

And Lee, my apologies for calling you Leo, but anyone in the business will understand why I made that goof...

Felicia Donovan
THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY Series
www.feliciadonovan.com
www.blackwidowagency.com