Lingo, Acronyms, and Slang…Oh My!

Most of my time in Portland was spent with my old pals, most of whom either work or previously worked at the D.A.’s Office with me.  As they exchanged stories (always either exciting, hilarious, or both) about their cases, I found myself translating for the husband.  “Did you tack on a K2?”  That’s kidnapping in the second degree.  “Lamborn’s in an Agg.”  Trial for aggravated murder.   “He’s the MDT deputy.”  Multidisciplinary Team.  It’s for child abuse cases.


A few years away from the D.A.’s Office, I still knew the lingo, but had enough distance to recognize the need for translation.  The experience reminded me of some of the reviews of my first book, Judgment Calls, many of which praised the “attention to detail,” “insider’s view,” and “lingo of the trade,” while others decried the “legalese,” “jargon,” and an “alphabet soup of acronyms.”  Since then, I have tried to use law enforcement-y words like a spice — just enough to give the book the flavor of authenticity, but not so much to overwhelm.  
But the trip to Portland reminded me that the flavor of authenticity is not the real thing.  In reality, cops, prosecutors, and defense lawyers speak another language, one that, if transcribed, would require translation on every single page.  (Let’s save the separate discussion of 4 letter words for another day … in another lifetime.)  So what is a writer to do?  Should a book strive to be readable or realistic?  Have I sold out by cutting down on the lingo, or have I grown enough as a writer to portray that world authentically despite cutting through the slang?  As readers, do you enjoy the insider jargon or does it take you away from the story?  I like to think I’ve struck the right balance in recent books, but, still, I wonder…