No-Brand Nudo

Female Cop on the Beat: My Case for More Literary Journalism

I mentioned in a previous blog post how I’ve been going through an old box to look at past published material with my name on it. Some of the writings have been cringe-inducing while others I’ve been pleasantly surprised about.

Sifting through the box of publications, I recently came across a 2003 issue of buzz, which was run by students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and published by Illini Media Company.

Starting on page three, I was surprised to see a literary journalism piece, “Female officer comes full circle,” written by Dan Kurash. The article captures the nighttime beat of a Champaign cop named Lisa Staples, who was 33 years old at the time. In the piece, Kurash covers the action of the night alongside Staples’ interesting personal history, a back-and-forth style commonly used in creative nonfiction.

Prior to getting into law enforcement, Staples worked for a lawn-care company and at a hobby shop. During her younger years, she is described in Kurash’s article as being “a rebellious punk-rock teen with an orange and fuchsia Mohawk.”

Staples talked about in the article a horrible relationship in college she had with an ex-boyfriend who bullied her, eventually sapping her confidence. “Something that’s hard to believe when you look at her today,” Kurash wrote, noting in the piece Staples’ height, weight, “powerful hands,” and broad shoulders.

Kurash’s article gives readers an on-the-spot feel of how diverse – and dangerous – a cop’s job is while patrolling the streets in a car inundated with gadgets. During his time with the dedicated cop, Kurash observed calls that came in about a vehicle potentially holding illicit drugs and a domestic conflict between two neighbors in an apartment.

But Staples’ work that night encompassed more than just patrolling the streets. At one point, Kurash accompanies her to the evidence room at the police station, where Staples uses chemicals to determine fingerprints on a letter. “Look at those fingerprints,” Staples says in the article. “We now have so much to work with.”

This is an entertaining and informative night-on-the-beat narrative, and it demonstrates why literary journalism pieces should be more prominent in newspapers today. I love the wide-angle view it gives of a woman in law enforcement. Cops get such a bad rap these days, but most of them are good, noble people who try their best to protect their communities.

Interestingly, I did not contribute a write-up in this issue of buzz. I think the only reason I saved it is because Hysteria was ranked No. 5 in the issue’s Top Five Party Albums on page twelve. I’m a big Def Leppard fan, as you can probably decipher.

I encourage readers to check out this issue of buzz, and specifically Dan Kurash’s story starting on page three, here.

And be sure to view the rest of the top five party albums.

Photo by Pixabay


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