Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime 2010
Years ago I used to live in Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time walking some of the lesser traveled streets and met up with some fascinating and offbeat characters. The kind of people you don't meet in my neck of the woods. I fell in love with the city of Angels then, and that love affair has not abated over the years.
In 2008 I signed up for a mystery writers convention called Left Coast Crime, mostly because it was being held in Hawaii, another place I lived briefly and also loved. At the same time I saw that the LCC after Hawaii was going to be in L.A. I booked the conference the minute I could and sat back and waited and dreamed about the trip, hoping nothing would come up to prevent it, and feeling a mix of euphoria when all seemed good, and despair when it would look like Icouldn't go.
But in the end I went. I had wanted to stay longer than the conference, to give myself some time to reacquaint myself with the city, but that I couldn't manage. So I flew in on Tuesday, March 9, stayed at a friend's for one night, and bussed in to the city early Wednesday morning. That was the day before the actual conference started, but on that day we had a tour of the new California Forensic Science Institute where both the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department have labs. What an incredible day. We had several lectures from the people who did the actual work at the labs, from DNA to firearms to a car bay with a hoist that will allow an investigator to search under an impounded vehicle for evidence. We were led through the processing of a complex crime scene that took their Scientific Investigative Division or SID four days to process. We saw how bullets and bullet casings could lead an investigation to a particular gun and how forgeries are detected. We had a detailed look at the labs they use to sequence and process both DNA and mitochondrial DNA and what the differences were between them.
All in all, it was a day well spent that I will find infinitely helpful in my future writing. I was also pleased to know that the money spent on our fees for the trip and the lunch we were provided will all go to the lab to help them in their work as this lab, like all the other ones around the country, struggle to clear the back log of DNA cases waiting on the shelves at CFSI. And we got to see the human side of what they do there and what it can mean to a victim or victim's family when results come from inside the lab and help solve a case and give peace and closure to them.
Both the conference itself and the Forensic Day were well worth it, and I would do both again in a heartbeat.
Pat Brown is the author of the L.A series featuring gay LAPD homicide detective David Eric Laine and his lover computer engineer Chris Bellamere in L.A. Heat, L.A. Mischief and L.A. Boneyard as well as several short erotic stories and the recently released Geography of Murder. She wrote her first book at 17. She read her first positive gay book, The Lord Won't Mind, by Gordon Merrick, in the late 70s and had her eyes opened to a whole new world..
Author of the award winning L.A. series of crime fiction