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Author Topic: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s  (Read 2119 times)

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bostonbookwriter

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Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« on: June 18, 2020, 05:16:22 PM »

Hello, I am writing a novel that takes place in the 80s, in a small, 5000-person rural town in NJ, and I have a question.  Would there have likely just been one detective in the town?  And if he was assigned a case of a missing girl, who disappeared at the local lake, and he was interviewing neighbors door-to-door, would he have been working solo, or with perhaps the police chief?  Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. 

Part two of my question is:  If the FBI were to be called in, would the town people have been aware?

Thanks so much!!  Karen
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Dave Freas

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Re: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2020, 08:07:05 PM »

In most small town police departments, there often is no one officer who is strictly a detective.  The uniformed officers wear many hats - traffic control one day, murder investigator the next, narcotic officer the the following one, and missing person investigator the fourth.

He would probably work solo, but may have other officers assist him just to cover more ground in less time.

If the townspeople know the FBI is there, it would be because the police chief (or public information officer) revealed it.  But...bear in mind that the FBI would probably not get involved in investigating a local missing person case.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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bostonbookwriter

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Re: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2020, 08:44:02 PM »

Very much so, thank you!
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Dave Freas

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Re: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2020, 10:43:04 PM »

You're welcome.
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Dave Freas

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Re: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 03:41:03 PM »

Some further thoughts:

I would suggest you find a rural NJ town and contact their PD to see how the force is structured.  In fact, contact several because each town has their own way of doing things.

It's possible, too, they may have combined their force with one(s) from a (or several) nearby town(s).

Or they may have disbanded their local PD and are getting law enforcement from either the county sheriff's office or the New Jersey State Police.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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bostonbookwriter

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Re: Question about Small Town Police Department in the 1980s
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2020, 06:23:10 PM »

Thanks, great idea!
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