National Police Week 2011: Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen Ryan is a retired 21-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island, NY. She studied Memoir Writing with Frank McCourt, Creative Nonfiction with Matt Klam, and Screenwriting Adaptation with Stephen Molton.

Kathleen tweets as @katcop13. She is an active participant in #cclivechat and never hesitates to brainstorm on a case. She also blogs on Women of Mystery!

To help me celebrate National Police Week, she answered these questions:

1: Give us a short bio.

I am married with two teens, who keep me very busy. Three years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I retired to spend more time with my family. It was my dream to pursue writing, which I enjoy tremendously. I write every day, in between laundry, cooking and cleaning!

2: When did you realize that you wanted to be become an officer?

I come from a civil service family. My father suggested I take the police exam. After scoring a 97, then passing the subsequent tests (medical, psychological, polygraph, background investigation, physical fitness), I couldn’t wait to start the police academy.

3: Can you give us a brief overview of your law enforcement career?

For five years, I worked in patrol. For sixteen years, I worked with the media in Public Information, and in Crime Stoppers, I took anonymous tips from the public to help solve crimes and locate wanted people.

4: Which trials/cases still haunts you till today?

One that has haunted me since March 1996; the death of two young brothers in a fire. It inspired me to write “Playing with Matches,” which appears in HINT FICTION: AN ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES IN 25 WORDS OR FEWER, edited by Robert Swartwood.  Also, the tragedy of Flight 800 in 1996. I spent more than eight weeks at the scene working with the media.

5: If you have a blog, how did you get started? Who or what inspired you to blog?

I write on two blogs. I started blogging in March 2009, when fellow members of the NY/TriState chapter of Sisters in Crime invited me to join them on their blog. In May 2010, I launched my own blog.

Since retiring from the Suffolk County Police Department in 2007, I’ve turned to writing full-time, and these blogs were a natural progression. The group blog focuses on writing, and my personal blog allows me to write about police-related issues, parenting, writing, and whatever else I feel like writing about!

6: Did you end up in the profession of your childhood dreams?

I always wanted to be a lyricist. Music meant a lot to me as a child. I always admired how a story could be told so succinctly, and have a great melody to boot. However, my maternal grandmother, and armchair detective, got me interested in unsolved cases at a young age. Detective stories always fascinated me, but I never dreamed of becoming a cop, as it didn’t seem realistic while growing up in the 1960s and 1970s that a female could become a cop. It became a reality in 1986, though, when I became a Suffolk County Police Officer. I retired after 21 years on the job, and now I’m living yet another dream: I’m home with my family and writing full-time (looks like I’m working with words, after all).

7: If you could trade places with a cartoon character for one day, who would that be?

Garfield … I could sleep as much as I wanted and eat plenty of lasagna!