Interview with a Community Service Officer


Recently I have been writing the Vega Bloodmire Cozy Witch Mystery Series. I realized I needed to do some research and spoke with a friend who is a community service officer. I warned her ahead of time I might ask her weird questions like, “If someone found a finger in their ice cream, what would the police do?”


Here are some of the questions and answers from our interview.


What is the difference between a plain clothes police officer, a regular police officer, and a detective?

Detective are more prestigious than first responder/patrol officer.

A community service officer responds to non-emergency calls and doesn’t have the power of arrest.


Are there other “ranks” or positions that would be more appropriate for an officer who is investigating a crime scene?

Homicide Detective.

On the East Coast there is a CSI team.


When are police officers paired up to work with another officer versus when would they be working alone? Do the police (or only writers) call this a buddy cop?

In a big city, two would work together, but rurally in a city like Springfield, Oregon (West Coast officers) they might only be paired together when one is in training. If there is a major incident, multiple police would attend a situation/called to work together. 


What kind of items would a police officer wear on his belt?

According to Google: Equipment commonly carried on the belt includes: handcuff, radios, baton, hand-held protection devices such as pepper spray, firearms and ammunition, taser, flashlights, batteries, gloves, pens, pencils, keys, multi-tool, window punch etc.

What would an undercover police officer/plain clothes police officer have in his possession?

A detective might only have a gun and handcuffs. Often they wear khakis, polo shirts, a tie when in court, or office casual. Sometimes on Fridays they get to wear jeans. (Like teachers!) A community officer might only carry pepper spray, handcuffs, and a radio.


If someone found a finger in a scoop of ice cream, what would be the procedure? Ask for names from everyone at the scene, clear the scene, interview certain people there or at the station?

The officers would arrive on scene and try to secure the scene. They might also laugh at a severed finger–but try not to in front of people.


The officer would wonder if the person who found it did it. He or she would interview other people around, call a detective potentially afterward, call a hospital to find out if anyone is missing a finger, take the finger to the hospital to preserve it for reattachment or might take it to the station.


The police can’t detain people indefinitely without a reason, so they would get ID, interview as quickly as possible before releasing. Probably where would be three officers on the scene.


If someone found a severed finger in a scoop of ice cream at a dessert shop, what kind of questions would the police ask the person who found the finger? What kind of questions would they ask the owner of the shop or the person working?


They would evaluate the people nearby as well as the finder of the finger and ask:

Did you leave your food unattended?

How do you think the finger got in your ice cream?

What time did this happen?

Did you see blood on the floor?

Do you have issues with anyone?

Does anyone have an issue with you?

Is there someone who might do this to you?

Is this a symbol of something?

Have you received any threatening Facebook posts?

Do you have an ex in your life?

What would they do with the evidence of a body part?

How long would they keep it if they couldn’t find the body of the victim?


Is calling the police “cops” insensitive or impolite?

No, they have thick skin.


In the back of a police car, do the doors automatically lock or is that a special setting? 

It is a special setting.


Are there interior handles?

No. It is a specially designed car for the specific purpose.


Are there seat belts in the back of a police car?



How does an officer keep the back of a police car clean?

They are 2 separate plastic bucket seats that can be hosed off easily. Sometimes it gets gross back there because of what people do on purpose or accidentally. Inmates at the jail sometimes clean them in exchange for an easier sentence or getting to leave early. Also there is a cage and a plastic guard so people can’t spit on the officers.


If there was a scenario like a trail or blood and/or a missing body at a graveyard, what would be the procedure? Close off the scene? How soon would forensics have to examine the scene or would they? When do they call in a forensic team? If outside at night after the scene has been secured, would they wait until it is daylight?

Sometimes they would wait until the next morning if it was dark. They would use crime scene tape or close a road if needed. The East Coast uses a CSI l forensic team but on the West Coast the officers do the same kind of work and they do everything.


If there is a homicide, the officers make the scene safe, look for the suspect, and collect evidence. The scene needs to be closed, they take photographs, the ME examiner comes out, the district attorney might come out e


What is the procedure for when a detective would shoot? For example: would it be appropriate if someone is unarmed but feasting on a dead body who has been dead for a couple days. If the person runs away and they aren’t attacking but would an officer shoot? Put gun away? Or tackle?

They only use force when necessary, when it is equal to the danger. For example, if the attacker is using lethal force with a knife, gun or car and going to attack the police or someone else. If they threaten others it might be seen as a necessity. If the attacker is 7-15 feet away, a taser could be a better weapon for an officer than a gun.


When does the FBI or CIA get involved?

The FBI gets involved with bank robberies, across state lines, or sometimes when DNA or unsolved cases occur.