Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tampa Police in "Obedient Heart"

A scene from Chapter Five in "Obedient Heart"
Jennifer tapped her fingers against the phone. Should she call the police? A man ringing her doorbell and running off wasn't a crime. But if that man had driven by her house, followed her, then come to her door, well...that was a different story, wasn't it?
She picked up the phone and dialed the non-emergency number. "Tampa Police Department, Operator Eighty-Six." The woman's confident voice reminded Jennifer of a female Jack Webb.
"I don't know how to report this," Jennifer said.
"Just start at the beginning, ma'am."
"Okay." Jennifer took a deep breath. "Earlier this evening, two men in a van drove by my house. And then I went out with...um, I went out." No need to bring up her botched blind date. "I saw the van following me. I think it was the same one. And a few minutes ago, one of the men came to my front door. So, I don't know. Is this a prowler, a prankster, or a stalker?"
"I'll send a patrol car out to you. What's your name and address?"
Five minutes later, the patrol car drove by twice before pulling to the curb in front of her house. The officer walked to her porch, pausing to shine his flashlight through the shrubs before climbing the steps to ring her doorbell.
Jennifer opened the door to let him into the foyer. Another patrol car pulled to the curb, and an officer climbed out of the vehicle.
Our protagonist, Jennifer Ryaan, lives on Davis Islands, a neighborhood sprinkled with eclectic businesses and homes. D. P. Davis dredged up these islands in the 1920s from two small islets: "Little Grassy Key" and "Big Grassy Key" where Tampa Bay meets the Hillsborough River. He purchased the land for $350,000.00 and later sold three hundred of the original lots for over $1 million. He didn't live to see the growth and development of his islands. In October 1926, he was lost at sea during a transatlantic voyage. Another lesson in "you can't take it with you."
The homes range from modest 1920s bungalows to the infamous "St. Jetersburg," the nickname the news media gave Derek Jeter's mansion on Bahama Circle. Jennifer would never meet the famous baseball player since her modest brick ranch-style home, built in the '60s, is on the east side of the island facing the shipping canal. Bahama Circle is on the west side, which has direct access to either the Hillsborough River or the bay. I used the theft of my husband's bicycle to research the quick response to Jennifer's call for police. Tom had left the shed door open while he ran inside the house to get a tool. It took five minutes for a thief to move my bike out of the way (how insulting!) and steal Tom's Schwinn. The phone call I made to the police, and their quick response, was similar to the scene above. The thief must have beamed up to the Enterprise for the two patrol cars to have missed him.
The officer who took the report sympathized with us that, since the bicycle's value was under $500, the theft was considered a misdemeanor. That meant they wouldn't assign the major case squad to investigate. {sigh}
In the fifteen years Tom and I have lived in South Tampa, this was our first experience with a neighborhood crime. I was so impressed with the two officers' quick response to our call, as well as their professionalism, that I wanted to boast about Tampa's Finest in my novel.
(Tampa police photos taken from www.tampagov.net/dept_police)


  1. Love this chapter, and thank you for praising Tampa police!
    Karen McMillin

  2. Love the Blog Janet!
    Peter Cannon