Over the years they've had a wonderful array of speakers, many authors, but also D.A.s, the County Coroner who showed us slides of the most gruesome murders, one of the investigators on the O.J. Simpson murder case who brought along Nicole Simpson's autopsy report, various police officers, detectives, P.I.s, a female Police Chief, narc officers, and so on. I've gleaned lots of information from these talks and used some in my mysteries.
One time we went on a field trip to the airport to see the police helicopter and the sheriff's helicopter. We also heard many exciting tales about crimes they've stopped. Once the helicopter chased a motorcyclists, landed and made the arrest. The officer who was showing us around asked me to write a fiction story centered around him. If I'd lived in Fresno I would've taken him up on it--and unfortunately this was long before emailing was such a common practice.
This last Saturday there were two guest speakers at the meeting, retired police officer Denny Griffin who is now an author and has written mysteries and also the history of law enforcement in Las Vegas which led to him writing about Frank Culotta, an infamous Chicago mobster who also operated in Vegas. (Think Casino, the movie.)
With him was reformed gangster, Henry Hill of GoodFella fame. Ray Liotta played Henry in the film by that name.
I sat next to Henry during the lunch and I can tell you that he's a most charming man and after listening to his speech, he's led a fascinating (albeit scary) life, from gangster to informant to being in the witness protection program. He also served time in several California prisons also in protective custody. Besides writing GoodFella he also wrote a GoodFella CookBook and is writing another about his life.
You can see and hear part of their speeches here:
a.k.a. F. M. Meredith