Law Enforcement. The job is dangerous, no doubt about it. Driving at high speeds. Guns. Bullets. Knives. Fights. Bombs. Well, you get the idea.

So what can officers, fictional or real, do to stay safe in a world where bad guys have no problem with taking pot shots at anyone, anytime? Certainly there’s no guaranteed method of living to see tomorrow, but cops are trained survivors. They’re taught the things they need to do to make it home at the end of the day, and they’re definitely taught the things officers should NOT do.

Unfortunately, with time, convenience often wins over safety. And let’s face it, a false sense of cozy well-being and street survival do not play well together. The complacency monkey that often hangs over the heads of both new and seasoned officers is very real and very dangerous

So, what can officers do to rid themselves of the deadly monkey?

1. Search. Search. Search. And search again! – Always search suspects thoroughly before placing them inside your patrol car. Never assume your partner searched the guy.

2. Handcuff, handcuff, handcuff – Always handcuff suspects, and always handcuff to the rear. Never, ever cuff anyone with their hands in front no matter how passive they may seem. The exception, of course, is when transporting jail or prison inmates to court and other locations. Those situations occur long after an arrest when adrenaline and the desire to flee or fight is greatly reduced. Still, some prisoners are escape risks and/or a danger to the officers and others and extra precautions should should be taken to avoid trouble. For example, the use of waist chains, leg irons, hinged cuffs, deadbolt locking cuffs, and black box or other handcuff covers to prevent shimming or lock-picking.

Safety first. It’s impossible to undo an assault, or death.


3. Hands – Always watch the hands. They can be used as deadly weapons. Always make the bad guy show his hands and keep them where you can see them.

4. Relaxing is for home, the beach, and at ball games. While at work, however, never let down your guard when answering a call of any type. Each and every person encountered has the potential of harming or even killing you. And, speaking of relaxing, get plenty of rest during your off time. There’s nothing worse than being partnered with someone who’s sleepy, not alert, and not functioning at the top of their game.

5. Upper hand – Officers should always maintain control of the situation. Assume an advantageous position and keep it. Do NOT let the suspect move into a better tactical position than yours.

6. The Cop’s Sixth Sense is rarely ever wrong. If something doesn’t feel right to you then it’s probably not. Regroup. Back out. When unsure, wait for backup. And that brings us to #7.

7. A dead hero will always be dead. There’s no shame in waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Do not enter into a dangerous situation alone, if possible. Sure, we all know there are times when you have to do some things that civilian folks would never do, but don’t be stupid.

8. Good equipment. Be sure all your equipment is in top-notch shape—radios working, handcuffs free of anything that’ll prevent them from locking in place, weapons are super clean, oiled, and ready to fire, OC spray is not out of date (be sure to shake the can once in a while to keep the ingredients well-mixed), ammunition is clean, magazine springs are in superb condition, etc.

9. Drive safely. Use the tips you were taught in the academy. Two hands on the wheel (let your partner work the radio and lights, if you have a partner). Never follow the suspect’s tail lights unless you intend to follow him off a cliff. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. BACK OFF the pursuit if you’re uncomfortable with the speed you’re traveling. Remember, the bad guy can’t outrun your radio. You already have the license number and description of the car, right? One dumb bad guy getting away is not worth your life. Never.

10. ALWAYS wear your vest. Wear reflective gear when directing traffic or at accident scenes. Use flares when needed. Get plenty of exercise and eat well and eat healthy food. And train, train, and train!

Spend time with your family.


The Monkey Song

“Here we go ’round the dry thistle
Monkey can climb but I can whistle
He can’t sing and I can’t dance
And the monkey don’t have to wear no pants.” The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “The Monkey Song”

You’re working patrol on the west side, the crime hub of your area, with thirty minutes to go on your last graveyard shift of the month. And, as your typical run of bad luck would have it, the only type of luck you’ve ever known, you catch the call. Homicide. Male victim. Multiple gunshot wounds. It’s a call that’ll have you working well into the next shift, causing you to miss out on precious early morning sleep

Your department’s small, with no crime scene unit and only two detectives. The senior detective is out sick. Doctors say she has a severe case of the Crawling Creepy-Cruds and won’t be able to return to work for several days. Her partner is away attending a weeklong cordite festival, a historical reenactment event where enthusiastic attendees dress up as characters who made the stuff (cordite) back at the end of WWII.

And, to top off this bout of wonderful misfortune, your sergeant is busy preparing his workshops for MurderCon, a special event hosted by the Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie. You’re hoping to catch the keynote session this year because the guest of honor is bestselling author Andrew Grant, who, writing as Andrew Child, continues the internationally-bestselling Jack Reacher series with his brother Lee (Child).

Then, well, it’s two full days of crime solving paradise for writers, readers, fans, journalists, investigators, patrol officers, and anyone else who has an interest in seeing how crimes are solved in the real world. 2021 MurderCon  classes include homicide investigations, toxicology—murder by poison, forensic entomology, forensic botany—plant evidence, cold cases investigations, human/fugitive tracking, FBI case studies, and much more. To sweeten the pot, each attendee will receive a cool mini Sirchie fingerprint kit to use during a hands-on class..

Now back to the homicide case du jour.

Do you, as responding officer, remember the basics? After all, with the exception of the occasional strong-arm robbery and nabbing a few peeping Toms, you’ve mostly done nothing for the past six years but write traffic tickets and respond to B&Es and he-said-she-said calls.

What do you do first?

Well …

  • Call for backup/assistance. If needed, the sheriff’s office and/or state police would probably send someone over to help. Besides, the killer may be waiting at the scene to ambush a cop. Don’t be a hero!
  • Avoid tunnel vision while on the way to the scene. Sometimes the bad guy can be found walking or running away, or hanging around to see the police lights and subsequent activity.

  • Secure the scene. Set up some sort of perimeter. The sheriff’s deputy could help with this duty. If your department is really small, other first-responders, such as firefighters and EMS, could help with stretching and hanging crime scene tape. Otherwise, have fellow officers seal the area to prevent anyone from entering and exiting.
  • Record the names and contact information of everyone in the area.
  • Separate the witnesses.

No, not that kind of separation …

  • Render first aid, if necessary. Call for EMS and the medical examiner.
  • Survey the scene. Develop a mental picture of what happened.
  • Examine the area for tracks. There may be an identifiable mark, brand, or logo. You may be surprised to see one of the nosy looky-loos wearing that very shoe.
  • If possible, collect or protect items of evidence before the medical examiner’s team and/or EMS enters the scene. Remember, writers, in some rural areas a medical examiner, or coroner, may not visit the scene, opting for EMS to transport the body to the morgue for examination/autopsy.

Trust me, EMS is not kind to evidence. Their priority is to save or revive the victim. Therefore, when the scene is a hot one, where there’s a possibility that they could save a life, they’ll trample, stomp, drag, kick, and move whatever’s in their path.

The aftermath of EMS and fire personnel (aka – Evidence Eradication Team, or EES) sometimes has the appearance of the destruction left behind by a small tornado. Stuff—gauze, paper wrappings, IV lines, dropped or discarded bandages, shoe and bootprints—is everywhere and, well, when they’re gone detectives look around and wonder … WTF just happened to my crime scene?

  • Make notes of everything, including the date, time, weather conditions, etc.
  • Document statements made by the M.E.. Record the M.E.’s time of arrival and the time the body is removed. Notes. Notes. And more notes.
  • Chain of custody has begun. Document all evidence collected and who took possession of it, including the body. Was the body bag sealed? Did the medical examiner transport the body to the morgue, or was it transported by the ambulance service?
  • Photograph everything. I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have one handy, use a laser scanner to record details and measurements of the crime scene

  • Question as many witnesses as possible before calling it a night. It’s best to get statements before they’ve had  chance to talk to anyone, or perhaps get cold feet and not want to get involved. Besides, people tend to forget things in a hurry. They also tend to exaggerate or embellish a story if given the time to do so.
  • Be sure the notes you jot down are things you won’t mind having read aloud in court. Defense attorneys may ask to see your notes, and it would be embarrassing to hear your grocery list, or the beginnings of a mushy poem dedicated to your beloved schnauzer, read aloud to the jury.
  • Develop and use a written crime scene checklist. By doing so your testimony will be consistent in each and every case.
  • Be careful not to contaminate or transfer DNA evidence. Even fingerprint brushes can transfer DNA, so you should use a fresh brush for each crime scene. It would certainly ruin your credibility to have the DNA from the victim in your last case show up in the current one. Fingerprint powder can also become contaminated by dusting a surface and then dipping the brush back into the container for more powder.
  • Collect everything that could be used as evidence. Who knows what you may need later. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago when scientists began using DNA found in evidence from old cases.
  • The last item on the mental checklist … use common sense.

* This list is not an official, standard checklist. Nor are the steps listed in a particular order. A formal, universal list does not exist. Each agency has its own policy, and each investigator has his/her own method of solving crimes.


MURDERCON

Registration Opens in March 2021!

Spots are Limited for this unique learning experience brought to you by the Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie.

 


2021 Guest of Honor – Andrew Grant (Child)

Andrew Grant was born in Birmingham, England in May 1968. He went to school in St Albans and later attended the University of Sheffield where he studied English Literature and Drama. After graduation Andrew set up and ran a small independent theatre company which showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Andrew moved into the telecommunications industry as a ‘temporary’ solution to a short-term cash crisis. Fifteen years later, after carrying out a variety of roles – including a number which were covered by the UK Official Secrets Act – Andrew escaped from corporate life, and established himself as a critically-acclaimed author. He published nine novels under his own name, and in 2020 began a collaboration – writing as Andrew Child – with his brother Lee, to continue the internationally-bestselling Jack Reacher series. He is married to novelist Tasha Alexander, and lives on a wildlife preserve in Wyoming, USA.

 

An assignment working homicide cases is, without a doubt, a first class ticket to the bizarre and all things macabre.

Cops who investigate murders for a living see it all, from poisonings to gunshot wounds to decapitation by sword. The list is limited only to the far corners of a killer’s imagination. In other words, endless.

It’s bad enough working a murder scene during daytime hours, but to do so at night, by moonlight, can be a bit spooky. And, when a crime scene involves a cemetery, a shovel, and a rotting corpse … well, that’s extra spooky. No, that’s downright S.P.O.O.K.Y.

As I mentioned, killers are sometimes quite creative. I’ve investigated uses where victims were stabbed with a sharpening steel from a kitchen knife block, suffocated with a plastic grocery bag, and even one poor soul who was deliberately pushed in front of a very fast passenger train. The latter did not end well at all. Well, neither did the others, but the train … an ear there, a finger over there, a brain two miles away (beneath a bush), an eye, an arm, a leg. No, not pleasant at all.

Once in a while a killer blames his dastardly deeds on some unseen force, such as voices in his head, or as in a case I once worked, the killer blamed what he’d done on aliens from Mars.

This troubled man used an ax to hack his sister-in-law- to death. An extremely violent act. However, in stark contrast to the frenzied savagery, he was quite calm during my interview with him. He told me that Martians dictated every step of the murder, from his walk to the woodpile to get the ax to the point where he’d started hacking at his brother’s wife.

The victim’s small children were in the room, no more than fifteen feet away from the spot where their mother was being butchered by their uncle, a man who’d been released from a mental hospital two weeks prior to the murder. Doctors there said he was fine and showed no signs of violence.

Two weeks later … an ax and another separation from reality.

Blood spatter on the ceiling and walls. Dripping and slowly running down the drywall and trim. Pooling on the floor. The killer’s bloody footprints throughout the house. Blood on the bed and linen. On the clothing, arms, legs, and faces of the children. They, tiny kids, huddled together, crying. Brain matter, flesh, and bone, all scattered about.

This was the scene when I arrived.

So yes, I, like all homicide investigators, have seen a few oddities over the years. Such as …

Miss Evelyn, R.D. (Root Doctor)

I knocked on Miss Evelyn’s front door, and while waiting for someone to answer I had a look around the front porch. Nothing unusual … a one-gallon vegetable can filled with sand and topped with a handful of cigarette butts, an old wooden rocking chair, five flower pots with each containing the remnants of some sort of plant—all dead, dried up, and crispy—, a well-worn green cloth sofa, and a portable radio that was missing its volume control knob. A foil-wrapped coat hanger rose up from a hole in the top of the radio’s plastic casing. It replaced the former antenna that, at some point, had broken and was either lost or discarded as trash. Either way, the radio, in it’s present condition, had been there for as long as I could remember.

And, as always, smack-dab in the center of the front door were three fairly fresh chicken feet that were tied together at the ankles with a piece of colorful twine. The collection of gnarly toes and bony knuckles dangled from a rusty thumbtack. Nothing odd at all … for Miss Evelyn. I knocked again. The “decor” hadn’t changed in all the years I’d gone there. Not a thing.

I’d met Miss Evelyn after arresting a man for burglary and, while searching his pockets for weapons and other illegal items, I discovered a small flannel pouch tucked inside his wallet. I figured the contents could possibly be drugs, probably marijuana or hash, or something of that nature, so I asked the kid to level with me so I’d know what to expect.

I was surprised to hear him say that what I held in my hand was not was I’d suspected. Instead, he said, it was his “medicine bag,” a ground up mixture of chicken bones, tobacco, human hair, and herbs. Its purpose was to keep him safe. This was my first contact with a medicine bag. However, it was far from the last.


Root doctors make medicine bags containing plant and animal matter, such as human or animal bone, sage,
garlic, and even dirt from a grave. The purpose of the bag is, for example, to provide safety, heal and prevent illness, and to help ignite or halt romances, etc. 


The aforementioned young burglar purchased his bag from Miss Evelyn and, since this was a totally new experience for me, I decided visit the “doctor.” Long story shortened a bit, Miss Evelyn “knew all and saw all” and she soon became one of my most reliable informants.

Her customer base was massive and many were criminals, so …

A young man, Miss Evelyn’s nephew, answered my knock at the door and then led me to the kitchen where his aunt stood at the head of the table. She was hard at work assembling her latest batch of medicine bags and other concoctions. A large black kettle was at full boil on the wood stove. I didn’t ask.

Miss Evelyn wore her usual attire, a blue bandana tied over her hair, a faded pink and blue housedress that was three sizes too big, white gym socks and black pumps. If I’d had to guess I’d say she weighed in the neighborhood of just under a hundred pounds. As always, her face was peppered with sweat and her fingernails were bitten to the quick. When she smiled it became instantly obvious that dentists were not a part of her clientele, nor had she ever, not once, crossed the threshold of any tooth doctor’s office. Her breath smelled like a rotting animal carcass. She was quirky, to say the least, and she was one of the nicest people I’d ever met.

I’d gone there that particular night to see if Evelyn could offer any insight about two bodies that had been dug up in a local cemetery. The vaults had been damaged and the caskets broken open. The grave-robbers took the same thing from each coffin—bones from the lower right arms and hands.

She said she’d heard about a couple who used human bones as part of their religious rituals. Before exhuming remains, though, they had sex atop the grave sites.

The man and woman visited Miss Evelyn to ask if she knew where they could get heir hands on a fresh corpse because they needed blood prior to embalming as part of a ceremony. Well, Evelyn was having no parts of their nonsense and sent them on their way. And that was the purpose of my visit. Miss Evelyn called me the second the grave robbers left her house.

I finally caught up with the couple when I discovered their car parked near a funeral home. They were planning to break in to steal someone’s dearly departed loved one. Fortunately, we stopped them before they committed the act.

So, writers, bizarre and macabre crime does not always come in the form of murder. Nor are the macabre criminals always the odd characters who reside at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the house with the permanent thundercloud floating above it.

This particular couple, the grave robbers, were as normal as your neighbors. Both were professionals with public jobs. They lived in a typical neighborhood and drove a normal car. However, the contents of their trunk was a bit different than most—shovels, picks, tools for prying open caskets, and a few human and animal bones scattered about. Other than that, as normal as you and I. Well, perhaps you and I are not the best examples, but you get the idea …


***ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT TO SIGN UP***

Reserve Your Spot Today!

Are you searching for the proper details and the perfect words to describe a scene or character? Well, here’s the solution to your troubles. Sign up today to learn from some of the best in the business!!

 

 

www.writerspoliceacademy.online


“SEARCH DOGS, SEARCH WARRANTS, A SEARCH FOR WORDS, AND LIES”

 

When: February 27, 2021

 

This daylong live and interactive seminar features three renowned professionals who will share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.

At the end of day international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”

Instructors include Carrie Stuart Parks, Sheri Lewis Wohl, Wisconsin Judge Kevin Rathburn, and the fabulous Heather Graham Pozzessere!

Registration is officially open. Reserve your seat today!

https://writerspoliceacademy.online

FEBRUARY 27, 2021 – ONLY $99 for the full seminar!

Three renowned professionals share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.

At the end of this daylong, live and interactive seminar, international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”

Schedule (Times are EST)

10:30 – Login and Test
10:45 – Welcome

11:00 – 12:20

Search Warrants, Pursuits, and Police Use of Force

This course will describe the general legal standards for the use of force by police such as warrants, including anticipatory, knock, and No Knock, warrants and pursuits. Instructor, Kevin Rathburn

12:20 – 12:50

Break

12:50 – 2:10

More than the Nose: K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century

K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century is a journey into the world of canine search teams. What does it take to be field ready? What makes a good search dog? Learn the difference between what it looks like on TV and what it’s really like out in the field. Learn how and why it’s changing from search and rescue volunteers to unpaid professionals. Instructor Sheri Wohl

2:20 – 3:40

Don’t LIE to Me!

Law enforcement uses numerous tools to identify deception in witnesses and suspects, depending on their background and training. Learn one of the more unique skill sets in recognizing deception through language–by reviewing the written statements. Understand how the very nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words, and other clues alert detectives to deception or hidden information. Add richness and depth to your writing by utilizing and weaving content statement analysis into your manuscripts. Instructor, Carrie Stuart Parks

3:50 – 5:10

“It’s all in the Words”

A dynamic workshop on the craft of writing taught by one of the all-time great authors of suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare. Instructor, Heather Graham

5:10

Final words


Instructor Bios:

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP, and is the largest instructor of forensic art in the world. Her best-selling novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous awards including several Carols, Inspys, the Christy, Golden Scroll, Maxwell, and Wright. As a professional fine artist, she has written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.

 


Sheri Lewis Wohl is a 30-year veteran of the federal judiciary, a search and rescue K9 handler, and the author of more than fifteen novels, several of which feature search dogs. She is a field ready member of search and rescue in Eastern Washington and for the last nine years, has been a human remains detection K9 handler deployed on missions throughout Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Sheri has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Communications from Eastern Washington University and a Master’s degree in Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

 

 

 


 

Kevin Rathburn became a full-time faculty member at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in 2000 after serving as an adjunct instructor for nine years. Prior to that, Mr. Rathburn served for ten years as an Assistant District Attorney for Brown County in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 2004, Mr. Rathburn became Municipal Judge for the Village of Suamico. Mr. Rathburn holds BAs in political science and economics from St. Norbert College (1987) and a JD from Marquette University Law School (1990).

While in Law school, Mr. Rathburn served as a law clerk to several Milwaukee Circuit Court Judges handling civil and criminal matters and the appeal of cases from local boards and municipal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also completed an internship in public sector labor law with the law firm of Mulcahy and Wherry and an internship with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Insurance Company.

Mr. Rathburn is a State Certified Instructor for the Wisconsin Technical College System. He is also certified by the Department of Justice, Training and Standards Board in the areas of Child Maltreatment, Constitutional Law, Corrections Law, Courts and Jurisdiction, Criminal Law, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Domestic Violence, Ethics in Criminal Justice, Interviews and Interrogation, Juvenile Law, Report Writing, Sexual Assault and Sensitive Crimes. Mr. Rathburn recently helped create Constitutional Law and Juvenile Law Manuals and update the Criminal Law Manual for the WI. Dept. of Justice, Training and Standards Bureau.

Mr. Rathburn has been a member of the Department of Justice Legal Context Advisory Committee since 2005. He has also served as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Commission on School Violence and the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission. He is a past member of the Brown County Youth Aids Committee, Brown County Council on Child Sexual Abuse, Brown County Subcommittee on Underage Drinking, Brown County Consortium on Dysfunctional Families and St. Vincent Hospital’s Child Health Team.

Since 1991 Mr. Rathburn has made presentations on a wide variety of legal topics at numerous conferences including the Wisconsin Jail Association, Wisconsin Juvenile Officers and Juvenile Intake Workers, the State of Wisconsin DARE Officers Association, the Wisconsin LETAO, the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Instructors, the Wisconsin Arson Investigators and the Wisconsin Criminal Investigator’s Association. Mr. Rathburn frequently provides legal updates for law enforcement and correction agencies. He has also provided in-service training for Unified Tactical instructors, administrators, corrections officers, dispatchers and casino security staff.

Since 2007, Mr. Rathburn has been a frequent speaker for the State Supreme Court in its training of Municipal Judges and Court Clerks. Since 2012 Mr. Rathburn has provided Basic Intake Training for Juvenile Intake Workers throughout Wisconsin. He is a trainer for the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development system. Since 2016 Mr. Rathburn has been a featured presenter at the annual Writer’s Police Academy. He recently completed work with James Patterson and Maxine Paetro on a crime novel (The 17th Suspect). He has also presented to officers from England and the Caribbean Islands on multiple occasions in recent years.

In 1994, Mr. Rathburn received the Optimist Law Award for his contribution to the legal field. He also received an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2004, 2005, & 2006 from Who’s Who Among Teachers in American Universities & Colleges and from Who’s Who in Collegiate Faculty in 2007 and 2008. In 2017-18 he was included in Who’s Who in Technical College Faculty. In 2019, Mr. Rathburn received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Mr. Rathburn says his family is the most important part of his life. He spends as much time as possible with his wife, Beth, and their three sons, Sam, Jack, and Ben. He enjoys landscaping, gardening and walks with Beth and their dog Sophie. He spends many of his late evening hours reading and writing on legal topics. He also likes reading espionage or mystery novels and watching movies; especially westerns. He is an avid Packers fan and enjoys following the Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks


 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, sci-fi, young adult, and Christmas family fare.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. Heather has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is the proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master Award in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.

Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner theater raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region. She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile

Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.


 

www.writerspoliceacademy.online

 

Proper evidence collection is a must if your protagonists have any shred of hope of winning a murder case in the fictional courtrooms you’ve fabricated solely from ink and paper.

In fact, the only chance your DNA DA has is to present fact when testifying to the make-believe judges and juries you’ve concocted in those fantasy worlds that live in the far corners of your twisted minds.

So here are a scant few basics to correct the errors I’ve found lately while reading during my personal graveyard shift, otherwise known as the hours between midnight and three when insomnia pulls my eyelids wide open.

Anyway, here’s how to properly collect and store the follow items of evidence (please do not use television as a source for this stuff!):

Cigarette butts – Do not use bare hands to collect. Instead, used gloved hands or forceps. Do not submit ashes. Always air dry the butts before packaging and, to preserve DNA, do NOT package in plastic bags or other plastic containers.

Chewing gum – Collect using forceps or gloved hands. As with cigarette butts, air dry and  then place into a clean paper envelope or similar packaging. Never use plastic bags or other plastic containers. Plastic acts as an incubator for bacteria, which could degrade or destroy DNA.

Hair – Use caution to prevent damaging the the root ball. Collect gently, using clean forceps (clean, to prevent cross-contamination of DNA). If the hair is wet or damp, air dry before packaging in paper with edges folded and sealed, or place and seal in a paper envelope.

Human or animal tissue – Collect approximately two cubic inches of red muscular tissue (if possible). As with other DNA evidence collection of solid material, use clean forceps or gloves. Remember to change gloves when handling different items to avoid cross-contamination. Place the tissue in a clean, airtight container. Never use formalin or other preservatives such as formaldahyde. When shipping to a testing lab, freeze the sample and send via overnight transportation service, packed in dry ice in a styrofoam container, or hand deliver.

 

 

Bones and teeth – Use forceps and/or gloved hands for collection. Collect whole bones if possible. Place bones and teeth in paper containers with sealed edges. Store out of light and humidity, and may be frozen if samples are previously air dried.

 

 

 

 

Blood and saliva – Store out of light and humidity, and may be frozen if samples are previously air dried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Only 1 Week Remains to …

RESERVE YOUR SEAT AT THIS UNIQUE EVENT FOR WRITERS !

Are you searching for the proper details and the perfect words to describe a scene or character? Well, here’s the solution to your troubles. Sign up today to learn from some of the best in the business!!

 

 

www.writerspoliceacademy.online

 

7 ways cops spot drunk drivers

The driver who turns up a fifth of Jack Black while singing Sweet Home Alabama at the top of his little redneck lungs is obviously driving while under the influence of alcohol. But what about the driver who chugs only three or four drinks before sliding in behind the wheel? What makes a patrol officer zero in on that guy? And, what if an inebriated driver eats an onion after consuming his alcohol? Suppose he drinks a bottle of mouthwash? Will those tricks fool the officer’s breath-testing equipment?

Let’s first start with some of the signs officers look for when scanning the roads for intoxicated drivers. Here’s a few dead giveaways:

1) Stopping in the middle of the road for absolutely no reason. Believe it or not, this maneuver is often performed in front of a marked police car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Driving the wrong way on a one-way street. The drunk driver in this scenario is often seen “flipping off” approaching drivers, including patrol officers, as if they’re the ones in the wrong.

Drunk Drivers

Photos above and below ~ 2013 Writers’ Police Academy nighttime high-risk traffic stops (role play exercise). Yes, those are writers in the white vehicle.

Drunk Drivers at the 2013 Writers' Police Academy

3) Driving in the center of the road, straddling the white line(s). This maneuver, too, often occurs in front of a police car.

White line drunk driver

4) Failing to dim headlights when meeting an oncoming car.

By the way, who remembers stomping the floor switch located to the left of the brake pedal to dim the headlights? Yes, folks, that’s where the dimmer switches were once located. And yes, I remember and have used those floor switches in vehicles I’ve owned.

The transition to the steering column lever switches in modern cars was a bit awkward, and many people continued to stomp the floorboard when meeting an oncoming car. By the time they’d realized the switches had  moved it was too late and the approaching irritated drivers, slightly blinded by bright lights, had already passed by.

5) Traveling well below, or above, the posted speed limit.

The exception to this rule is an old guy wearing a John Deere hat. They almost always drive well below the posted speed limit. May or may not be drunk. This one’s a coin toss.

Exception number two—four-foot-tall women over the age of eighty-four. They’re normally on the way to the doctor, the grocery store, or to a hair appointment, and they’re in no hurry to get there.

6) A car that strikes stationary objects on either side of the roadway as it passes by. Mimics the actions of the silver ball in a pinball machine.

7) My personal favorite is the “impaired” driver who stops beside a police car at a red light. First comes the casual sideways glance toward the officer, followed by a nod and the mule-eating-briars grin. Then, they just can’t help themselves—down comes the window so they can tell the officer what a fine job he’s doing and that his third cousin twice removed on his mother’s side of his daddy’s grandmother’s family was the chief of police in Doodlebunk, Kansas. Well, it’s pretty obvious this guy’s stoned out of his gourd. Of course, the bag of dope hanging out of his shirt pocket doesn’t help his case, either.

8) Finally, there are those instances where people take a drink of alcohol in front of officers and then climb behind the wheel to fire up their engines in preparation of an impaired driving experience. Obviously, the officers who observe such ignorant acts have no option other than to arrest the staggering, glassy-eyed imbibing imbeciles. Stupid, stupid, stupid move.

You Can’t Fool the Breath Test

Okay, now for the onion trick. No way. Attempting to fool breath-testing equipment is a waste of time. The machines don’t measure the amount of alcohol in the air, or in the suspect’s breath. Instead, the devices measure the ratio between the concentration of alcohol in the blood and the concentration of alcohol that’s in deep lung air, air that’s in the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs).

So, eat an onion if you like, but the only thing you’ll accomplish is to make enemies of the cellmates who’re forced to endure your bad breath.


Reserve Your Spot Today!

Are you searching for the proper details and the perfect words to describe a scene or character? Well, here’s the solution to your troubles. Sign up today to learn from some of the best in the business!!

 

 

www.writerspoliceacademy.online


“SEARCH DOGS, SEARCH WARRANTS, A SEARCH FOR WORDS, AND LIES”

 

When: February 27, 2021

 

This daylong live and interactive seminar features three renowned professionals who will share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.

At the end of day international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”

Instructors include Carrie Stuart Parks, Sheri Lewis Wohl, Wisconsin Judge Kevin Rathburn, and the fabulous Heather Graham Pozzessere!

Registration is officially open. Reserve your seat today!

https://writerspoliceacademy.online

FEBRUARY 27, 2021 – ONLY $99 for the full seminar!

Three renowned professionals share intimate knowledge of K-9 search and rescues and the recovery of human remains; laws and procedures governing search warrants, pursuits, and police use of force; how detectives use the words of suspects and witnesses—nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words—to detect deception or hidden information.

At the end of this daylong, live and interactive seminar, international bestselling author Heather Graham presents a dynamic workshop on the craft of writing titled “It’s All in the Words.”

Schedule (Times are EST)

10:30 – Login and Test
10:45 – Welcome

11:00 – 12:20

Search Warrants, Pursuits, and Police Use of Force

This course will describe the general legal standards for the use of force by police such as warrants, including anticipatory, knock, and No Knock, warrants and pursuits. Instructor, Kevin Rathburn

12:20 – 12:50

Break

12:50 – 2:10

More than the Nose: K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century

K9 Search Teams in the 21st Century is a journey into the world of canine search teams. What does it take to be field ready? What makes a good search dog? Learn the difference between what it looks like on TV and what it’s really like out in the field. Learn how and why it’s changing from search and rescue volunteers to unpaid professionals. Instructor Sheri Wohl

2:20 – 3:40

Don’t LIE to Me!

Law enforcement uses numerous tools to identify deception in witnesses and suspects, depending on their background and training. Learn one of the more unique skill sets in recognizing deception through language–by reviewing the written statements. Understand how the very nouns, pronouns, extra words, missing words, and other clues alert detectives to deception or hidden information. Add richness and depth to your writing by utilizing and weaving content statement analysis into your manuscripts. Instructor, Carrie Stuart Parks

3:50 – 5:10

“It’s all in the Words”

A dynamic workshop on the craft of writing taught by one of the all-time great authors of suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare. Instructor, Heather Graham

5:10

Final words


Instructor Bios:

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP, and is the largest instructor of forensic art in the world. Her best-selling novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous awards including several Carols, Inspys, the Christy, Golden Scroll, Maxwell, and Wright. As a professional fine artist, she has written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.

 


Sheri Lewis Wohl is a 30-year veteran of the federal judiciary, a search and rescue K9 handler, and the author of more than fifteen novels, several of which feature search dogs. She is a field ready member of search and rescue in Eastern Washington and for the last nine years, has been a human remains detection K9 handler deployed on missions throughout Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Sheri has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Communications from Eastern Washington University and a Master’s degree in Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

 

 

 


 

Kevin Rathburn became a full-time faculty member at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in 2000 after serving as an adjunct instructor for nine years. Prior to that, Mr. Rathburn served for ten years as an Assistant District Attorney for Brown County in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 2004, Mr. Rathburn became Municipal Judge for the Village of Suamico. Mr. Rathburn holds BAs in political science and economics from St. Norbert College (1987) and a JD from Marquette University Law School (1990).

While in Law school, Mr. Rathburn served as a law clerk to several Milwaukee Circuit Court Judges handling civil and criminal matters and the appeal of cases from local boards and municipal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also completed an internship in public sector labor law with the law firm of Mulcahy and Wherry and an internship with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Insurance Company.

Mr. Rathburn is a State Certified Instructor for the Wisconsin Technical College System. He is also certified by the Department of Justice, Training and Standards Board in the areas of Child Maltreatment, Constitutional Law, Corrections Law, Courts and Jurisdiction, Criminal Law, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Domestic Violence, Ethics in Criminal Justice, Interviews and Interrogation, Juvenile Law, Report Writing, Sexual Assault and Sensitive Crimes. Mr. Rathburn recently helped create Constitutional Law and Juvenile Law Manuals and update the Criminal Law Manual for the WI. Dept. of Justice, Training and Standards Bureau.

Mr. Rathburn has been a member of the Department of Justice Legal Context Advisory Committee since 2005. He has also served as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Commission on School Violence and the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission. He is a past member of the Brown County Youth Aids Committee, Brown County Council on Child Sexual Abuse, Brown County Subcommittee on Underage Drinking, Brown County Consortium on Dysfunctional Families and St. Vincent Hospital’s Child Health Team.

Since 1991 Mr. Rathburn has made presentations on a wide variety of legal topics at numerous conferences including the Wisconsin Jail Association, Wisconsin Juvenile Officers and Juvenile Intake Workers, the State of Wisconsin DARE Officers Association, the Wisconsin LETAO, the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Instructors, the Wisconsin Arson Investigators and the Wisconsin Criminal Investigator’s Association. Mr. Rathburn frequently provides legal updates for law enforcement and correction agencies. He has also provided in-service training for Unified Tactical instructors, administrators, corrections officers, dispatchers and casino security staff.

Since 2007, Mr. Rathburn has been a frequent speaker for the State Supreme Court in its training of Municipal Judges and Court Clerks. Since 2012 Mr. Rathburn has provided Basic Intake Training for Juvenile Intake Workers throughout Wisconsin. He is a trainer for the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development system. Since 2016 Mr. Rathburn has been a featured presenter at the annual Writer’s Police Academy. He recently completed work with James Patterson and Maxine Paetro on a crime novel (The 17th Suspect). He has also presented to officers from England and the Caribbean Islands on multiple occasions in recent years.

In 1994, Mr. Rathburn received the Optimist Law Award for his contribution to the legal field. He also received an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2004, 2005, & 2006 from Who’s Who Among Teachers in American Universities & Colleges and from Who’s Who in Collegiate Faculty in 2007 and 2008. In 2017-18 he was included in Who’s Who in Technical College Faculty. In 2019, Mr. Rathburn received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Mr. Rathburn says his family is the most important part of his life. He spends as much time as possible with his wife, Beth, and their three sons, Sam, Jack, and Ben. He enjoys landscaping, gardening and walks with Beth and their dog Sophie. He spends many of his late evening hours reading and writing on legal topics. He also likes reading espionage or mystery novels and watching movies; especially westerns. He is an avid Packers fan and enjoys following the Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks


 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, sci-fi, young adult, and Christmas family fare.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels and has 60 million books in print. Heather has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work, and she is the proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master Award in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, Mystery Book Club, People and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including Today, Entertainment Tonight and local television.

Heather loves travel and anything that has to do with the water, and is a certified scuba diver. She also loves ballroom dancing. Each year she hosts a Vampire Ball and Dinner theater raising money for the Pediatric Aids Society and in 2006 she hosted the first Writers for New Orleans Workshop to benefit the stricken Gulf Region. She is also the founder of “The Slush Pile

Players,” presenting something that’s “almost like entertainment” for various conferences and benefits. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.


 

www.writerspoliceacademy.online

 

Footprints in the snow

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

The familiar phrase above is actually from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers. The phrase is also inscribed on the James Farley Post Office in New York City, and is sort of the unofficial creed of letter carriers across the country.

Another group of people who closely adhere to those words are criminals. Yes, this menagerie of lawbreakers—pickpockets, robbers, rapists, murderers, and the like—pay no attention to the weather when planning and plotting their devious acts against property and their fellow humans.

And, when the criminals do their dastardly deeds, even in bad weather such as the snowstorms we’re experiencing on the East Coast, law enforcement officers must do what it takes to bring the offenders to justice. Unfortunately, crime-solving often involves traipsing around the woods in the mud, snow, sleet, and freezing rain while trying to find a footprint or two.

One method of identifying and locating a bad guy is to do as they did back in the old west, and that’s to track the thugs back to their hideouts. Sure, following broken twigs and disturbed vegetation is one method. Finding and making castings of footprints and/or tire tracks in the dirt and dried mud is another.

But what about prints in the snow? After all, we know that casting materials generate heat, which causes snow to melt and deform the impressions left by footwear.

So how do investigators overcome the challenge of melting snow in and around footprints?

Well, our good friends at Sirchie have the perfect solution to the problem.

A squirt or two of Sirchie’s Snow Impression Wax provides an insulating medium between the heat-generating casting material and the surrounding snow. Once the spray contacts the snow it locks in the impression details while the casting material hardens.

Shake-N-Cast (center in photo below) is a kit containing a pre-measured water pouch and dental stone.

Apply pressure to break the water pouch and then shake to mix the two ingredients. No messy containers and no casting material on a detective’s shiny shoes. There’s enough material in a kit to cast an adult-size shoe up to 15″ long.

Metal casting frames are adjustable to fit all shoe sizes and most tire treads.

While we’re on the subject of impression evidence, the spray above—Dust and Dirt Hardener—is used to strengthen impression evidence (tire tracks, footwear impressions, etc.) found in loose or sandy soil.

The material keeps the soil intact under the weight of the casting material.

Finally, liquid silicone is often used for producing exact replicas of various impressions, including tire and footwear, jimmy marks, and even fingerprints.

Liquid Silicone is incredibly temperature tolerant, and can withstand cold down to -70F and heat to +500F.

Sirchie Silicone Casting Kit

The material sets within three to five minutes.

So there you go. Now your fictional CSI team need not worry about collecting evidence in the snow, or mud. Well, as long as they keep a can Sirchie’s Snow Impression Wax handy.

America first heard the soulful sound of bagpipes over one hundred and fifty years ago when Scottish immigrants brought their instruments to America.

It was the time when the great potato famine caused a massive arrival of immigrants to the East Coast of the United States. As a result of the sudden increase in population, jobs were hard to find. So the immigrants took whatever work was available, which were typically positions that were dirty and/or dangerous. Firefighting and police work were two of the professions that no one wanted.

It’s a centuries-old tradition that Celtic people play bagpipes at funerals, weddings, wakes, and other events. Therefore, it stood to reason that when one of their own was killed in the line of duty, bagpipes were played at the funeral. The haunting tones provided a comforting touch of home and familiarity. The same is true today. The solemn sounds of bagpipe music at the funeral of a fallen first responder often sets in motion a flood of emotion and remembrance.

Today, bagpipes are a part of many funerals for the men and women of law enforcement who’ve died in the line of duty.

Riderless Horses

The tradition of a riderless horse, also called a caparisoned horse, leading police and military funerals is a centuries-old practice. A pair of backward-facing boots in the stirrups represents a fallen hero looking back towards the living/his or her troops for the last time.

Abraham Lincoln was the first President to be officially honored by a caparisoned horse. The animal, Old Bob, was  President Lincoln’s personal horse. George Washington’s personal horse was led in the funeral with the president’s saddle, holsters and pistols in place, but no boots.

A Morgan/American Quarter Horse cross called Blackjack was the caparisoned horse in more than 1,000 Armed Forces Full Honor Funerals, as well as the funerals of presidents John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Army General Douglas MacArthur. When Black Jack passed away he was buried with full U.S. Military Honors, is one of only two horses in U.S. history to receive such honors in recognition of his loyal service.


Line of Duty Deaths

Since 1786, more than 22,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty.

2021 – 26 line of duty deaths. 12 due to COVID.

2020 – 328 line of duty deaths. 210 due to COVID. 45 by gunfire.

2019 – 148 line of duty deaths. 50 by gunfire.

2018 – 185 line of duty deaths. 52 by gunfire.

2017 – 185 line of duty deaths. 45 by gunfire.

 

The transition from working the streets as a patrol officer to the coat and tie sleuthing of a police detective can be somewhat of an eye-opener. While definitely closely related, the two jobs differ.

Patrol officers are typically responsible for responding to crimes that have either recently occurred or are in progress. Detectives are usually called upon to investigate crimes and crime scenes, those encountered by patrol officers, and sometimes medical examiners or coroners. Of course, it’s not at all unusual for cases to arise from reports by citizens, or as the result of information gained while investigating an altogether different crime.

For example, while collecting evidence at the murder scene of a low level drug dealer, detectives discover a large stash of stolen guns, and cash stained with the red dye used by banks to help track bank robbers. Fingerprints on many of the guns belong to four known criminals, two of which have served time for bank robberies. As a result, detectives are able to solve a couple of major cases in addition to the homicide, the original case.

As a patrol officer, much of the initial work is conducted in a rush due to the immediate need to focus on and react to action-based events as they unfold—the then and now. Detectives, on the other hand, examine a much broader perspective once the “heat of the moment” has cooled to a slower pace. Ordinarily, investigators have the time to map out a solid plan of action and to organize that process.

This, the sudden shift from patrol to investigations, can sometimes be a bit difficult. It’s tough to slow your pace when all you’ve known is to work at a rapid, adrenaline-fueled clip day-in and day-out. It’s lights and sirens and speed and struggling with combative suspects, car chases, and shootouts, to an immediate slowdown. It’s a shock to the mind and body.

No more rushing to he-said she-said calls. No more traffic summons to write. No more barking dogs or loud music complaints. And No More Graveyard Shifts!

Even the paperwork involved in the two duties differs. Patrol officers complete many simple “fill in the blanks” forms—speeding tickets, breath tests, incident reports, etc.—and perhaps anywhere from a brief paragraph to a page or two of narrative explaining the details of the calls to which they’ve responded during their shifts. And, of course, the notes they’ll use for court testimony and to brief detectives who’ll further investigate major crimes.

In contrast, the amount of paperwork required of detectives can sometimes involve case notes chronicling criminal activity and evidence for periods of a year or more. Detectives are also responsible for composing affidavits and search warrants.

A savvy detective examines ALL pertinent evidence. They’ll brainstorm with other detectives. They’ll question everyone who may be able to shed even a sliver of light on the case. And they document EVERYTHING, and then check and double-check to be sure that no stone is left unturned.

Little by little detectives chisel and whittle away at a case until all the unnecessary and irrelevant bits are out of the way. Then, all that remains is the name of the perpetrator. It’s sort of like pouring all evidence into a large funnel where it swirls and twirls around until it reaches the bottom where out pops your suspect, ready for handcuffing. Obviously crime-solving is not that simple, but the analogy sort of fits.

 

 

My publisher once posted an excerpt from my book about police procedure. The segment is about my thoughts on becoming an investigator, the intro to the chapter devoted to detectives.

I thought it might be fun to share it with those of you who haven’t read the book. Those of you who have read the book, well, we can chat about something else while the others are reading.

From Chapter Four:

Detectives usually begin their careers as uniformed police officers who work their way up the chain of command, striving to obtain either the position of a uniformed supervisor or move into what some officers think of as the ultimate police job – a detective.

How an officer becomes a detective varies with each individual department. Some departments offer the position as a promotion. These departments post the vacant position and officers apply and test for the job, and the most qualified person receives the advancement. Promotions, or assignments to a detective division, aren’t normally awarded to officers until they’ve completed at least five years of service. Other departments take the rivalry between uniformed officers and the plainclothes detectives into account and simply assign officers to a detective’s position on a rotating basis, which allows every officer a turn as an investigator.

A detective is responsible for the investigation of both misdemeanor and felony crimes. How each department carries out these investigations depends upon the size of the department. Some departments are large enough to have detectives who specialize in certain areas such as credit card fraud, homicide, juvenile crime, arson, narcotics, rape, vice, etc. (We’ll look at some of these areas in greater detail later in the chapter.) Detectives sometimes work in several specialized areas before finding one they like. Once they do, they usually make that area their permanent assignment.

Other departments have only a couple of detectives for the entire agency – if any. In some rural departments where manpower is limited, patrol officers serve as first responders, evidence technicians, and investigators. There are advantages to each situation. The specialized detective becomes very skilled at his particular craft, whereas a detective or patrol officer in a smaller department has the opportunity, out of necessity, to work all kinds of cases.

No matter what the assignment, the duties are the same. Detectives are investigators who gather facts and collect evidence in criminal cases. They conduct interviews and interrogations, examine records and documents, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in and conduct raids or arrests. A detective is usually charged with applying for and obtaining search warrants. To accomplish these tasks effectively, detectives are trained with a more diverse approach than patrol officers.

Both detectives and patrol officers are required to attend, at minimum, semiannual in-service training to stay abreast of new laws and procedures. In addition to the in-service training, a detective’s education must be endlessly updated, and his base of knowledge must be constantly expanded. Criminals are continually developing new ideas and methods to get around the law, and the detective has to make every effort to stay one step ahead of them.

Modern criminals are more highly educated than offenders of the past, and today’s crooks rehearse and practice every aspect of their craft, like actors studying for a Broadway production. The thugs even hone their shooting skills. I was once searching the trunk of a drug dealer’s vehicle and found an automatic weapon, several rounds of ammunition, and a police silhouette target. The center of the target was filled with bullet holes, and Lee Lofland was written above the head. That was an eye-opener.

There are many new ways to fight crime in today’s computer and technology age, but nothing can compare to the old-fashioned method of the detective getting out and beating the streets for information and clues.

The image of the detective has changed as well. It has evolved from the trench-coat-wearing sleuth to a more stylishly dressed investigator. That image possibly reflects a larger clothing allowance than was once provided by departments. I think, years ago, I wore the long coat not because I was cold, but to cover my outdated cheap suits. All my sport coats had torn linings from years of friction caused by my gun’s hammer constantly rubbing against the fabric. When I began my career, the pay was around 8,400 dollars annually, with no clothing allowance. Also in those days, we had to buy our own guns, handcuffs, flashlights, raincoats, ticket books, and shoes. Oh yeah, and bullets. If we thought we might need them, we purchased a handful of those as well.

Today, all expenses are paid by the officer’s department, including clothing allowances for undercover officers who sometimes must wear really unusual clothing in order to blend in with their working environment.

A case begins with the commission of a crime. Uniformed patrol officers are often the first officers on the scene, and they gather the pertinent information-the who, what, where, why, when, and how, if available. It’s the duty of the uniformed patrol officer to secure the scene until a detective or the officer in charge relieves him. The officer who gathers the information later passes it on to the detective assigned to the case. Cases are usually assigned on a rotating basis, or a detective can be assigned to a particular case based on her particular knowledge and skills that relate to the offense. Once assigned to a case, a detective will follow it through until the case has been solved and the suspect is tried and convicted. The detective may use other officers to assist in the investigation, but the case will remain in her charge.

Fact gathering is a must in police work. Detectives can only relate specific details in a court of law and may not offer opinion, as a rule, for testimony. However, during the investigation, gut feelings and instinct play a large role in the detective’s search for information. Years of experience can be, and often are, the most formidable tool in the detective’s arsenal.

IN THE LINE OF DUTY: ON BECOMING A DETECTIVE

Note: These In The Line Of Duty headings appear a few times throughout the book. They’re my real-life reflections of something that actually happened to me while I was on the job.

When I raised my right hand to take the oath to serve my state and my country, I felt a lump rise in my throat. It was such an honor and a thrill to finally be sworn in as a police officer. The feeling of putting on a uniform and pinning a shiny, silver badge to my chest was one of the greatest moments of my life. When the day finally arrived, though, to transition from a uniformed officer to a plainclothes detective, I couldn’t wait to trade the uniform for a new suit and to hook a new, gold badge on my belt. After all, my childhood dream was to become an investigator, and I could finally wear cotton again instead of double-knit polyester shirts with fake buttons that zipped up the front and pants that retained enough heat to bake bread. (Of course, that cool stripe down the leg offset all negatives!)

I turned in my marked patrol vehicle and received my first department-issued, unmarked car. It was an old, beat-up Chevrolet Caprice, a car I write about fondly in my books and stories. The car was midnight blue, several years old, and would reach its top speed of eighty-five miles per hour only after going downhill for about three miles. I didn’t care. It was mine. I washed it, cleaned the tires and wheels, and put my things-a fishing-tackle box filled with fingerprint equipment, a shotgun with an eighteen-inch barrel, extra ammo, hand cleaner, paper towels, and a roll of crime scene tape-into the trunk. I’d get more tools later as I figured out what I needed. For now, I was ready for my first case.

In my early days as a patrol officer, I looked on with envy as the detectives came in and took over my cases after I’d done the dirty work. They were the guys getting their pictures in the newspapers and getting all the glory for doing nothing … or so I thought. It took just a few months of being a detective to dream of an eight-hour shift, like the old days, instead of a twenty-hour day, and of not being called out in the middle of the night, every night! The thought had never occurred to me that it would be irritating to have newspaper reporters snapping photos of me while I struggled to hold in my lunch at a gruesome homicide scene, or that reporters would write things in the paper I didn’t say or leave out the important things I did say.

Nobody teaches you how alienated you become from your old co-workers, the boys in blue, once you become a detective. Uniformed officers sometimes feel a bit of jealousy toward detectives, and detectives sometimes experience a bit of an unjustified superiority complex toward uniformed officers. It’s a rivalry that’s always been in place and probably always will be.

Nobody explains the many hours you’ll spend sitting in the woods, or in the bushes, with hungry mosquitoes and spiders and snakes, or in the rain or snow, watching suspects in your attempts to build cases. Nobody tells you how it feels to work undercover and to walk into the middle of a drug deal, unarmed and without a radio. Nobody describes how it feels to be shot at, spit on, beat up, kicked, scratched, stabbed, cut, knocked down, punched, and pepper sprayed (with your own pepper
spray), all the while wearing a suit.

Yes, I was finally a detective and it was absolutely … glorious!

So you want to be a detective?

Many people secretly long to clip a badge to their belts and then set out on the never-ending quest to save, well, everyone. But, there are a few things you should think about before you give up your day job to begin the hunt for your first serial killer. I’m betting you just might change your mind once you know that …

Don’t Shake Their Hands!

1. Bad guys and gals are rarely as attractive and well-groomed as those you see on TV. Instead, they often have poor hygiene and smell like really old gym socks.

Some love to flirt with detectives, batting their long eyelashes (male and female) and blowing kisses through breath laced with last night’s vodka and onion dip. Many do really disgusting things when you’re not looking. Like the guy who, when left alone in the interview room, stuck his hands down the front of his pants, rummaging around down there for a few seconds. Then, when the detective came back inside to continue the questioning, the little darling wanted to shake hands and be all “touchy-feely.” Thank goodness for video cameras. And you were wondering why cops don’t shake hands with suspects? Well, now you know.

Roaches and Mice

2. Detectives spend a great deal of their time inside the homes of witnesses and those of criminals and victims of various crimes. Many of those residences should have been condemned by the health department years ago. It’s not unusual, while questioning someone, to see roaches suddenly and almost magically appear on your clothing. You then look around to see if you can locate the source of the unexpected attack of creepy-crawlers, and to your horror the walls, ceilings, countertops, and furniture seem to be undulating with a huge sea of brown, antenna-twitching roaches.

Mice, not wanting to be excluded from the party, peek out from behind a stove topped with a mound of dirty pots and pans. And, lucky you, the mother of the little darling you think just killed someone, has offered you a nice, cold glass of iced tea, straight from the refrigerator that’s speckled with tons of roach crap. The bad part of the tea offering is that, for a moment, you actually considered accepting it because the house has no air-conditioning and it is nearly 100 degrees inside that sweet little abode. But the heat doesn’t stop eight bony, underfed cats from running, playing, puking, spraying, and defecating on the furniture and well-worn linoleum floors.

Stray Body Parts

3. Investigators are the lucky folks who have the pleasure of enjoying a nice dinner at home with the spouse and kids, and minutes later find themselves standing in a room where some poor soul’s brains drip from his bedroom ceiling. All because the victim didn’t have the decency to sleep with a man’s wife somewhere other than the married couple’s bed. And the wife, well, she’s blubbering “I’m sorrys” all over the place while her husband is escorted, in handcuffs, to a waiting patrol car.

Meanwhile, detectives have the pleasure of bagging and tagging evidence in the bloody bedroom, taking care not to step on bits of the victim’s skull, teeth, and a left ear. After all, even for you, an experienced homicide detective, it’s still a bit disgusting to get home at 4 a.m. and find a murder victim’s blood on your shirt sleeve, or a piece of the guy’s head stuck to your shoe. Better yet, your spouse makes the gruesome discovery the next day while tidying up.

Puke

4. One of the perks of becoming a detective is that you no longer have to deal with drunks, the little darlings who can be a real pain in the keister, right?

Unfortunately, a large number of criminals are intoxicated on cheap wine or beer, or both, or high on something that promotes the undeniable urge to eat a human face, when they commit their little illegal faux pas. Unfortunately, they’re often in the same condition when detectives pick them up for questioning. So, combine a lot of drinking and drug use with fear and nervousness and what do you get? Yep, last night’s chili dogs, fries, pickled pigs feet, and chocolate ice cream all over your brand new suit. Not to mention the overflow that spatters your desktop and case files.

Fighting in a Suit

5. Ever try fighting while wearing a suit and shiny shoes? How about wrestling with a 300 lb. angry woman while attempting to get a pair of handcuffs on her, all while rolling around in a muddy driveway? Then, as always, junior and three sisters jump on the pile, trying to stop you from taking dear old mom into custody. After all, all she did was kill dear old dad with a meat cleaver.

I’ll be the first to say this … never underestimate the strength of women. They will slap you three ways into Sunday, if you’re not careful.

My jaw still aches today from the times when …

Cars Without Guts

6. Detectives drive really cool cars, like my old dark blue Chevrolet Caprice, the one that would only reach 80 mph when I held the accelerator to the floor on a three-mile downhill grade. It’s not cool to be in pursuit of a wanted suspect, a guy running from you, and have every patrol car in the area pass you as if you were sitting still.

Investigators often get hand-me-down cars, like old patrol cars minus the markings—the cars that are no longer good enough for the streets. Knobs, buttons, and dials are often missing. Radios don’t work. The carpets and seats are stained with urine and puke, so much so that the cloth now feels like dirty canvas. Glamorous, wouldn’t you say?

So, there’s six reasons why it’s really cool to be a detective. And you thought all they did was sit around all day shining those pretty gold badges. Sure, they wipe them down, regularly, but not for the reasons you thought. Nope, they’re actually cleaning off vomit, roach dung, and blood.

Nice day at the office, huh?


*** A fantastic and unique opportunity! ***

On January 23, 2021, Writers’ Police Academy Online will once again offer an exciting and unique daylong live and interactive seminar. This course, “Criminal Investigations: Writing Believable Make-Believe,” features three of the country’s top investigators and forensics experts who will present detailed sessions on cybercrimes and security, 3D crime-scene mapping using drones and lasers, and an in-depth, behind the scenes chronicling of what happens when a victim of sexual assault seeks care in a hospital setting.

As a bonus, USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author Lisa Regan details how to use the elements of fiction to craft a gripping crime novel.

Sign up today to reserve your seat!

Everyone likes to think their hometowns are the quintessential storybook villages from days long ago, back when we left our front doors unlocked and the car keys in the ignitions of the cars parked in our driveways. The times when kids walked to school, unafraid of perverts perusing the neighborhood. The days when the TV repairman came to your house to fix your set while you were away at work. He let himself in and locked up when he left.

Those were the days before school shootings and prior to the epidemic of human trafficking we see today. They were also the days way back when police recruits thought their towns and counties and states belonged to the Sweet-As-Apple-Pie Club, an organization consisting of towns and cities whose residents are clueless about the goings-on in their beloved “AnyTowns, USA.”

Drug dealers? In our town? No way! Murderers, rapists, robbers, and terrorists? Abso-freakin’-lutely no way! Not in our town.

Sure, we read the paper, but the bad guys who broke into old man Johnson’s house and killed him and stole all his prized collectible Elvis plates, well, they must’ve traveled here from another town.

However, it doesn’t take the police recruits—rookies—very long at all to learn that their sweet little towns are often hotbeds of rampant crime. Why, there are actual drug dealers who live down the street from dear innocent Aunt Ida. The hoodlums sell their wares—crack cocaine, meth, and weed—smack dab in the middle of the street. They shoot guns and they stab people and they rob and rape and steal.

There’s even a couple of gangs who rule most of the west side of town, and another on the east. The emergency room is busy with overdoses, wounded druggies, and cab drivers who were robbed at knifepoint. Gunshot victims and victims of sexual assaults. Shooting victims. Battered children and spouses. All of this from the onset of darkness until the sun returns to push away the night.

A rookie’s first few shifts are eye-openers. Who knew Mr. Perkins, the bank president, drank moonshine and beat on Erline, his loving wife of 30 years. And Mrs. Listickenpick, a chronic shoplifter? Why? She and her husband have more money than all the gold in Fort Knox. Then there are the drug addicts. Went to school with half of them. Embezzlers, nurses addicted to pills, doctors who prescribe drugs for their friends. Fights and arson and drunk drivers. Cop haters and school shooters. Pedophiles and stalkers. Killers who have no respect for human life. Baby beaters. Animal abusers.

Yes, these folks live in our towns. Our sleepy little villages where, in our naïve minds, crime doesn’t exist. But it does. They, the bad guys, simply walk the streets at times other than when you’re out. They’re the second shift. They punch the clock, signing on to work as we go to bed.

They come out in the darkness and, like roaches, scatter when an officer’s flashlight beam strikes their flesh. They crawl through windows to feast upon the property of others. They hunt and stalk prey, hoping to catch unsuspecting victims off-guard. They attack without warning. They beat and they steal and they bruise and they kill.

You may think your town is a card-carrying member of the Sweet-As-Apple-Pie Club, but the officers in your towns know differently. And even they, at times, are surprised by things they see out there in the darkness. Things that are sometimes the makings of a good nightmare.

It is the patrol officer who stands between us and them. That’s the line, our only line of defense against those things we don’t and/or choose not to see.

 


ATTENTION!!!

Special Event

Presents

Criminal Investigations: Writing Believable Make-Believe

A live and interactive virtual seminar

January 23, 2021

10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EST)

featuring:

 

Joshua Moulin, Senior Vice President and Deputy of Operations and Security Services (OSS)

Josh Moulin serves as Senior Vice President and Deputy of Operations and Security Services (OSS) at CIS. In this role, Moulin provides executive leadership for OSS while focusing on the mission of improving the cybersecurity posture of state, local, tribal, and territorial government organizations. Moulin is responsible for planning, developing, and executing OSS products and services, some of which include the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), US Cyber Challenge, security operations, incident response, and the cyber research program.

Moulin has been working in the cybersecurity field since 2004. Prior to CIS, he was an Executive Partner at Gartner where he advised senior executives in the U.S. federal civilian government and Department of Defense to shape organizational strategy, improve executive leadership, change culture, drive innovation, maintain information security and assurance, and implement technology using best practices and Gartner’s research. Before Gartner, Moulin spent five years at the Nevada National Security Site, part of the Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons enterprise. Moulin served in a variety of roles including as the Chief Information Security Officer and Chief Information Officer, responsible for all aspects of classified and unclassified IT and cybersecurity for this global national security organization.

Joshua Moulin will present “Cyber Crimes and Investigations.”


Karmen Harris, BSN, RN, SANE-A – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Richmond & Moore County Medical Examiner

Karmen is a native to the coast of North Carolina and is a Registered Nurse board-certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for adult and adolescent populations as well as an appointed NC Medical Examiner for two counties. As a forensic nurse consultant, Karmen provides expertise in matters of sexual assault, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. Karmen’s educational background includes graduating from East Carolina University in 2009 where she studied Anthropology and Forensic Science, an Associate Degree in Nursing from Carteret Community College in 2014, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University in 2020.

Karmen Harris will present “Sexual Assault: When a Victim Seeks Care in a Hospital Setting.”


RJ Beam, Author and Forensics/Crime Scene Investigations Expert

RJ Beam has worked as both a police officer and firefighter. During his career he served as patrol supervisor, field training officer, evidence technician, firefighter II, fire department engineer, and fire/arson investigator. He is currently the Department Chair of the Forensic Science Program at a college in the U.S.

RJ Beam will present “Using 3D Laser Scanners and Drones to Document Crime Scenes.”

 

 


Lisa Regan, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.

Lisa Regan wraps up this fabulous live, interactive seminar with her her presentation “Creating Dynamic Crime Fiction: How to Use the Elements of Fiction to Craft a Gripping Crime Novel.”