Police officers are not trained to shoot to kill, nor do they shoot to wound. That, my friends, is the answer to the question. And NO, police officers do not fire warning shots into the air. Why not? Because there’s way of knowing where that round will land. Remember, what (a bullet)goes up must come down, and when it does it could strike an unsuspecting person, such as an innocent child enjoying a day at the local playground.

While we’re at it, lets address the questions and statements we all see time and time again during the aftermath of police-involved shootings—“Why didn’t he shoot the gun/knife from the bad guy’s hand?”

Or, “Shoot ’em in the knee. That’ll drop the guy like a lead balloon.”

And the ever popular, “I wish I’d have been there ’cause I’da shot the murderer in his gun hand. Then the crook couldn’t have shot anybody else and he’d still be alive to complete his dream of becoming a minister AND director of puppy petting at the local Ima Good Boy Charity and Feed the Homeless Sea Urchin Center.”

Police officers are trained to stop a threat to human life.

U.S. police officers are not soldiers and criminals are not enemy combatants. Contrary to the belief of some people, U.S. streets are not battlefields where cops shoot first and ask questions later. It cannot and does not work that way.

In a perfect world there would be no crime and we’d all be safe, all the time. But our world is FAR from perfect; therefore, cops are tasked with arresting those who break the law. Unfortunately, some bad guys choose to not be arrested and will do whatever it takes to remain free, including trying to kill police officers. They may also choose to seriously harm or kill others during the commission of their crime(s). These two scenarios force officers to resort to deadly force to stop the threat to the lives of others, and to themselves.

Back to the earlier statements—police officers are not taught to kill anyone, nor are they taught to “wound” anyone. Officers do not aim for hands, feet, knees, firearms, knives, etc. Instead, during a deadly force confrontation—when lives are at stake—officers are taught to shoot center mass, meaning the center of their intended target. If all they see is the suspect’s head, then that is their target. If they see the entire body they then aim for its center (center mass).

Why aim for center mass? Common sense answer—because it is the largest available target, which makes it the easiest area to hit when under extreme duress during an incident that sometimes happens within a fraction of a second.

The reason behind not shooting to wound is pretty simple, actually, and here’s why. Most police officers are not skilled award-winning sharpshooters. Not even close. To expect them, or anyone, to hit a fast-moving target, such as an arm or leg, while under duress, is unrealistic. Hands and arms can move across the body as quickly as 12/100th of a second. From hip to shoulder in 18/100th of a second. The time it takes a police officer to pull the trigger on one of the faster reacting trigger pulls, that of the Glock, is a slow 1/4 of a second. And that’s if the officer has already drawn his/her sidearm and has it pointed at the suspect.

New Picture (4)

Glock 17

It’s nothing short of impossible for an officer to see the threat, react appropriately, unsnap the holster, perform the required series of motions to free her weapon from the security holster (I’ll bet many of you didn’t know there was a combination/series of actions required to remove an officer’s pistol from a security-type holster), think about what she’s doing, decide whether or not the threat is real and, if so, pull the trigger. Oh yeah, she’d also have to take time to aim for the arm, hand, or leg. Impossible. No way. No how. Can’t and won’t happen, not even on her/his best day.

Another point to remember regarding how quickly shooting situations unfold—in many, many instances, there is not a single portion of a second to spare, including enough time to shout, “Drop your weapon!” Or even to yell, “Stop!” 

To give you an idea as to how quickly a shooting can occur…

Then there’s this. Suppose the officer somehow manages to hit the suspect’s arm, or hand, or foot? Well, that leaves the suspect’s free hand to continue his attempt to kill the officer or other potential target, such as a wife, husband, a bank teller, a child, and, well, you get the idea. Wounding someone, hoping that’ll stop them from killing is stuff you see on TV. It’s just not that way in real life situations.

I’ve seen bad guys continue shooting or stabbing after being struck by several rounds. Actually, I was in a shooting situation where the bad guy continued to shoot after being shot in the head once and in the center of his chest four times, and after all that he still got up and ran several yards. I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I was the detective who shot him. I was also the detective who ran him down and tackled him. So being wounded, even severely wounded, does not necessarily stop a threat to human life.

Now, back to shooting to kill. I’m not aware of any police agency in the U.S. that teaches/trains officers to kill. Not one. Besides, how many sane people would sign on with an agency if they were told they must kill people as part of their daily duties—write speeding ticket, respond to kids playing in traffic, kill the guy standing in front of the Piggly Wiggly, go on lunch break.

During a shooting situation, officers typically do not have time to aim. Instead, they revert to their training—draw, point, and shoot for the center of the target.

Shootings involving police officers most often happen in a matter of seconds or less, and usually at very short distances—a mere few feet. In fact, these close-range situations occur so often that officers train quite a bit at shooting from short distances, without taking aim. They’re taught to draw and point their weapon at the center of the target, or as close as they can get to the center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Again, even at greater distances, there’s still no time to stop, take a proper stance, draw a weapon, take careful aim, ask the offender to stand still so the officer won’t miss and hit an innocent bystander, and then fire. So officers shoot for center mass, the largest portion of the body they see. That’s it. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Keep this in mind. Rounds that strike center mass could certainly cause the death of the suspect, but death is not the intended outcome. The goal is to stop the threat. If a bad guy surrenders the moment he sees that the officer has drawn her weapon and fully intends to use it, the threat is then over and the officer must take the suspect into custody.

Stop the threat. That’s the intended outcome of the use of deadly force.


*As always, I’d love to hear your comments and questions, but please do not turn this into a debate on gun control, politics, race, or cop-bashing. Instead, let’s stick to the factual information in the article. Thanks!

Search Warrants - The Other Side of the Door

Ah, the search warrant.

Many rookie officers can’t wait to go on their first door-kicking, battering-ram-bashing, and flash-bang-tossing raid. Beats writing traffic tickets, right? After all, what good is that training and equipment if you can’t use it?

Sure, the excitement is there. The adrenaline rush is over the top. And the danger level … WHOOSH! It’s through the roof.

But there’s another side to executing a search warrant, an unpleasant side that most people don’t see. Yes, once the door is breached officers often encounter a host of unpleasantness, such as:

  1. While pawing through the kitchen drawers you (the officer) notice an abundance of tiny black pellets. There are more on the counter tops, and on the stove top, especially near a large container of rendered, congealed bacon grease. A closer look reveals hundreds of teeny-tiny footprints in the thin layer of slimy grease that’s coating the top of the range. The top of the dried bacon fat, too, along with obvious chew-marks and tooth prints in the grease and around the edges of the cardboard container. A frying pan with

Evil Roachremnants of the morning’s scrambled eggs sits on a rear burner. No, that’s not freshly-ground pepper dotting the top of the eggs. Listen closely and you can hear faint squeals coming from inside the metal walls of the grunge-crusted range. You don’t want to, but you do it anyway. You lean down. Yes, there are baby mice living inside the stove, and they’re crying for their mother.

And this is only the first room …

2. A favorite place to hide drugs is in or behind a toilet’s water storage tank. But there’s no bathroom in this house. Odd. So how do they … There’s no time, though, to contemplate the calls of nature.

So you continue the search by moving to the bedroom, if that’s what you want to call it. Four walls, a tattered mattress (no bed frame), and lots and lots of filth and dirty clothes on the floor. Chicken bones, overflowing ashtrays, empty beer cans and liquor bottles, fast food wrappers, crumpled cigarette packs, yellow-gray sheets that were probably white a few years ago, a clock radio with its guts hanging out of the broken plastic casing, dirty clothes and ROACHES, EVERYWHERE. ROACHES!! Thousands of them. All sizes, too. Skinny ones. Fat ones. Fast ones. Slow ones. On the floor, the bed, the walls, a wooden chair in the corner, the ceiling, in the closet, under your feet, and on YOUR PANTS LEGS! You shine the beam of your flashlight into a closet and suddenly it sounds like rainfall as those prehistoric insects fall to the floor from the ceiling and beneath a shelf. And they hit the ground running. Yuck times a million!

But the search must go on …

3. What’s in the white five-gallon bucket in the corner, you wonder? There’s a dishtowel draped over it, as if they’re hiding something there. Drugs? Stolen goods, maybe? So you pull back the cloth and WHAM! You now know the location of the bathroom, and it hasn’t been emptied for days.

4. In a darkened corner of the room a malnourished skin-and-bones mixed-breed dog sits on its scrawny haunches. Most of the fur is missing from its back and around the head. Its lips are pulled back to expose a mouthful of plaque-coated teeth that are presently aimed in your direction. A low rumble comes from the animal’s throat. There’s no time to call for animal control so you pull out the pepperspray. Never mind that it rarely works on dogs, but you feel better with the can in your hand. You back out and close the door. You’ll worry about the bony canine when you’re done with the rest of the house.

5. The next bedroom is better, sort of. Five little kids there, playing with two or three broken plastic toys—a dump truck and, ironically, a battered three-wheeled police car. The oldest child, a cute little round-faced boy of about four, or so. The tiniest spattering of freckles peppered his smooth but grimy cheeks and nose.

Evil Rat“Where’s your mommy?”

Five sets of shoulders inch upward.

No shoes. Dirty pants. No shirts. Faces crusted with food and sleep and the dirt from the yard. Lint in their hair.

A rat, the size of a small squirrel walks nonchalantly across the floor near the baseboard. It disappears into a large jagged hole in the sheetrock.

Roaches crawl across the boys’ feet and legs. They scurry across a mattress like soldiers storming a beach.

A microwave on the nightstand. Another overflowing ashtray. Drinking glass half full of room-temperature tea. Aluminum foil. Plastic wrap. A glass cookie sheet covered in wax paper. A plastic bag. White powder. Baking soda. Crack cocaine.

Kind of takes the edge off the adrenaline rush, huh?

And that, my friends, is what cops often see “behind the door.” Not always, but often enough.

 

Did you know …

The FBI maintains an Anonymous Letter File. The file is searchable and contains images of anonymous and threatening letters. Letters may be examined and compared to those from other cases. Original documents are preserved in the manner in which they were received. They may not be folded, stamped, written on, handled excessively, or altered in any way. Avoiding these problematic issues preserves unseen evidence, such as indented writing.

Bank Robbery Notes – Like the Anonymous Letter File, the FBI also maintains a searchable file containing images of notes used in bank robberies (“Gimmie all your money,” signed I.M. Wearingamask). Notes may be compared to others used in other robberies. Original notes are preserved in the condition in which they are received. They, too, are checked for unseen evidence.

Bullet Examinations

The FBI’s Forensic Services is available to examine fired bullets. Measurements collected are—bullet weight, specific design, caliber, direction and characteristics of the grooves (rifling) carved into the bullet by the lands and grooves formed into the barrels of rifles and handguns.

Lands are the raised portions between the grooves inside the barrel. They’re formed after the spiral grooves are cut to produce the rifling.

Bullets collected as evidence must be packaged separately to prevent contacting other bullets and/or other objects. Bullets are generally soft and easily marred by contact.

Spy Stuff!


Coded messages are sometimes used by criminals such as terrorists, gang members, and even prison inmates. They devise the secret codes to relay messages they want to conceal from authorities and rivals/enemies.

Cryptanalysis

Knowing the content of these hush-hush communications is key to solving crimes and sometimes protecting life. Therefore, the FBI employs a team of Code Breakers whose job is to decipher the encrypted notes. They often find directives of murder, prison escape, confessions to crimes, drug activity, and more.

Collecting DNA Evidence – Bone, Tissue, Teeth

The FBI is quite specific about the evidence samples needed to complete proper testing/examination. The requirements for bone, teeth, and tissue are as follows:

  • Submit whole bones, if possible. Cutting increases the risk of contamination
  • Pick up bone and teeth using a clean gloved hand or some type of forceps
  • Teeth are to be collected in order of preference for testing
  1. molar (no dental work)
  2. premolar (no dental work)
  3. canine (no dental work)
  4. front tooth (no dental work)
  5. molar (restored)
  6. premolar (restored)
  7. canine (restored)
  8. front tooth (restored)

Tissue

Handle/pick up tissue with clean gloved hand or forceps. The ideal sample would be 1-2 cubic inches of red skeletal muscle, placed into a clean, airtight container. NO Formalin! Samples may be frozen, placed in Styrofoam containers along with dry ice and shipped overnight to the FBI lab.

This One’s For the Birds!

FBI experts are on hand to examine bird feathers. No, you didn’t imagine this. It’s very real. FBI scientists can determine species from feathers or bits of feather found on clothing, shoes, vehicles, etc. Then they compare those finds with feathers discovered at a crime scene. A positive match could place a suspect at the scene of a crime.

Feathers (evidence) are packaged in either paper or resealable plastic bags.


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The Exclusionary Rule keeps police officers in check while conducting searches. It prevents prosecutors from presenting illegally obtained evidence.

The rule states that any evidence siezed during an improper search cannot be used, no matter how incriminating it may be (see Fruit of the Poisonous Tree below).

And, if this improper evidence the key piece to the entire case—the smoking gun—the prosecution may be forced to drop the case, sending a very guilty crook back on the street. The defendant may also have grounds for a civil suit against the officers involved, as well as the police department and the city.

The Exclusionary Rule is basically the Supreme Court keeping watch over search-warrant-serving cops.

There are exceptions to the exclusionary rule, such as:

When officers rely on a warrant that later turns out to be invalid. For example, officers search a house and find a large cache of illegal weapons along with a guy who’s in the process of grinding off serial numbers from an AK-47. Later, the court learns that the address on the warrant was incorrect because the detective accidentally typed River Avenue instead of River Road. Or, the landmarks used to identify the property to be searched were improperly, but accidentally, recorded.

“I meant the blue house on River Road, the first one on the right past the old oak tree, not the first one on the left. It was an honest mistake. Oops!”

In such cases, warrants may still be ruled valid and the seizure of evidence may still be legal. Or, the warrant may be ruled invalid but the seizure of the evidence could possibly stand. This is so because the officers were acting in good faith, believing they were on the property based on a constitutionally sound warrant (This is a weak example, but you get the idea).

However, if a police officer lies to the judge or magistrate, or if the judge or magistrate showed bias toward the officers when issuing the search warrant, the warrant is invalid and the exclusionary rule is in effect. The evidence recovered by the police may not be used. In fact, it will be tossed out of court, and possibly the officer, too.


Did you know??

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against a defendant. Evidence illegally obtained is “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.”

 


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Crooks say the darndest things, especially when operating their mouth parts while under the influence of alcohol, coke, and/or meth.

Here are some (only a few) of the things the little darlings said to me over the years. Use your imaginations to determine my response(s).

1. “Pepper spray me. Go ahead, I dare you. Spray me. That hot stuff don’t bother me.”

Okay, you asked for it …

2. “I’ll kill your family.”

3. “I know where you live.”

4. “You think you’re man enough? Well, you’re not. And your backup’s not so tough either. Bring it on …”

Sharp-dressed cops

5. “I’m not getting out of my car, and you can’t make me.”

6. “I’ve got a gun.”

7. “You’re not big enough or man enough to put me in that police car.”

8. “Don’t put your hands on me.”

9. “You won’t live long enough to put those handcuffs on me.”

10. As he rips off his shirt and flexes, while backing up … “You don’t want none of this.”

Why is it that even the smallest of the small think they’re toughest of all when they’re intoxicated?

11. “If I ever catch you out of uniform …”

12. “Does your dog bite?”

13. “If you think that fancy nightstick will stop me, think aga … OUCH!”

14. “Yeah, what are you going to do if you catch me?”

15. “You’re going to have to come in and get me.”

16. “I’m not scared of you or your police dog. I don’t care if it is a rottweiler.”

Police K-9

17. “You can’t arrest me. I play golf with your boss.”

18. “You can’t prove none of that.”

19. “I’m glad you’re the one who caught me. We’re friends, right? Want a chicken?”

20. While working undercover narcotics. “You have to tell the truth when I ask if you’re a cop, right?”

21. If you think my dog will let you take me out of this house, well, think again, Barney Fife. Sic ’em, Blue!”

Finally …

The list, my friends, is endless. As is the stupidity.


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2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes, into actual murder cases where you’ll learn intricate crime-solving details, including the nitty-gritty about the instruments of death used by killers, such as poisons, a favorite means seen in countless numbers of books.

To help gather “poisonous” fodder for your next book, JOHN HARRIS TRESTRAIL, the renowned Forensic Toxicologist who’s known as worldwide as The Poison Detective, is scheduled to present “Forensic Toxicology: Poisoners Throughout History. This thought-provoking session is an entertaining and educational discussion of the history of homicidal poisoning from the days of early man, down to the present, with case discussions of real poisoners drawn from criminal history. Also discussed will be the psychology of the poisoner, and poisons used by writers in their fictional works.”

Other MurderCon classes include forensic botany, entomology, cold cases, case studies of the FBI, and much more.

I strongly urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn details not typically available for non-law enforcement.

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The language of cops and crime scene investigators is certainly something that can be incorporated into works of fiction for an added layer of realism. Of course, the writer’s work shouldn’t read like a law enforcement dictionary, but the use of proper terminology, when appropriate, is definitely a nice touch to any crime novel. Dialog between law enforcement characters is the perfect spot for the use of such terms.

Here are a few terms you may find useful to your works-in-progress.

ABFO scales.

ABFO scales. Image courtesy Sirchie 

ABFO scales (often referred to as “scales”): “L” shaped plastic pieces used in crime scene photography. The scales are often marked in millimeters for size comparison(s). Circles, black, white, and gray bars on the scales are there to provide exposure determination, and to assist in distortion compensation. AFBO = American Board of Forensic Odontology.

Alternate Light Source

Alternate Light Source. Image courtesy Sirchie 

ALS (Alternate Light Source): Lighting equipment used to enhance/visualize potential evidence.

Case File: Collection of documents pertaining to a specific investigation. The case file specific to a particular homicide investigation is sometimes called the “murder book.”

Case Identifiers: Specific numbers or alphabetic characters assigned to a specific case for the purpose of identification. For example – Case #ABC-123 or #987ZYX

Chase: Empty space inside a wall, floor, or ceiling that’s used for plumbing, electrical, and/or HVAC ductwork. A chase is a common hiding spot for illegal contraband and/or evidence (murder weapons, narcotics, stolen items, etc.).

Chain of Custody: Legal process of documenting the chronological history of pieces of evidence. The documentation includes the signature/initials of each person who at some time or another had possession of a particular piece of evidence. Dates and times of possession are also recorded.

Chain of Custody labels

Pre-printed chain of custody label. Image courtesy Sirchie 

It is not unheard of for each person in “the chain” to be summoned to court to testify that they indeed had possession of a particular piece of evidence at the time documented. And, they’re often asked to explain their purpose of having and handling the evidence.

For example, a laboratory scientist may be in the chain of custody for a suspected marijuana case. Her purpose of possessing the item on, for example, January 12, 2013 was to conduct scientific testing to determine the identity of a green, leafy, plantlike material found inside a wall chase in the bedroom of a suspected drug dealer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dying Declaration: Statement about a crime made by a person who is about to die.

20170309_075556 copy

Electrostatic Dust Lifter: Device that electrically charges a piece of plastic film that’s placed over a print made in dust (a shoe or palm print, for example), which in turn causes the dust to adhere to the film. The result is a perfectly captured print that’s ready for photographing.

electrostatic dust lifter

Author Donna Andrews moves in for a closeup shot of an electrostatic dust lifter at the 2012 Writers’ Police Academy.

Gunpowder Particle Test Kit: Used for the collection of gunpowder residue from , for example, hands and clothing.

Gunpowder particle test kit

Gunpowder particle test kit – Sirchie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latent Print: Print that’s not readily visible to the human eye.

Outsole: The portion of shoes or other footwear that contacts the ground.

Paper Evidence Bags: Used for packaging wet evidence (items containing blood, semen, saliva, etc.). Cardboard boxes and paper envelopes, too. Paper is porous, allowing the material to breathe and not breed harmful bacteria.

20170309_095148

Patent Print: A fingerprint that’s easily seen/visible with the naked eye, without the use of powders and/or chemical or other enhancements.

20170309_081829 copy

Plastic Evidence Bags – Used for packaging dry evidence. Plastic bags are excellent incubators for bacteria, and bacteria can and does destroy or degrade DNA evidence.

So no wet evidence in plastic bags, unless the goal is to make a home for this guy …

plastic evidence bags

Plastic bags/containers can serve as incubators for DNA-destroying bacteria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projectile Trajectory Analysis: The process used to determine the path traveled by a high-speed object (bullets, arrows, etc.).

Trace Evidence: Small bits of evidence, such as fibers, hairs, glass fragments, gunshot residue, etc.

Evidence vacuum

Evidence vacuum for the collection of small/trace evidence – Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Other classes include forensic botany, entomology, poisons/toxicology, cold cases, and much more.

I strongly urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn details not typically available for non-law enforcement.

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Those of you who’ve visited this site over the years know that cordite is a big NO and that cops are NOT required to spout off Miranda rights the second they apply handcuffs to the wrists of an offender. You do remember those two points, right?

For the newcomers, here’s a quick refresher on the reading of rights (click the above link to read more about cordite).

Miranda

When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?

Television shows officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. I can promise you I had a few words to say after I pulled the scuz to his feet, but Miranda wasn’t one of them. Too many letters. At that point, I could only think of words of the four letter variety.

Custodial Interrogation

Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply.

  • The suspect must be in custody
  • They must be undergoing interrogation (advisement of Miranda comes prior to questioning, while in custody).

A suspect is in police custody if he’s under formal arrest or if his freedom has been restrained or denied to the extent that he feels as if he’s no longer free to leave.

This fellow is not free to leave.

arrest-take-down.jpg

Interrogation is not only asking questions, but any actions, words, or gestures used by an officer to elicit an incriminating response can be considered as an interrogation.

If these two elements are in place officers must advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. If not, statements made by the suspect may not be used in court. The absence of Miranda doesn’t mean the arrest isn’t good, just that his statements aren’t admissible.

Officers are not required to advise anyone of their rights if they’re not going to ask questions. Defendants are convicted all the time without ever hearing that sing-songy police officer’s poem,  “You have the right to …”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deception and Lying: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

We all know that it’s illegal to lie to the FBI. And we all know what can happen if you do. That’s right, you go to federal prison where you’ll join the elite Stewart/Huffman/Loughlin Club.

Making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is a federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code. This is the law that prohibits knowingly and willfully telling fibs to the cops.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine for the cops to lie to you. Seems fair.

Police detectives/officers are legally permitted to “stretch the truth  lie in order to solve criminal cases. The case law that permits the officers to fib to suspects is Frazier v. Cupp (1969).

In Frazier, the police falsely told murder suspect Martin E. Frazier that his cousin, Jerry Lee Rawls, had implicated him in the crime (the two were together at the time). He then confessed but later claimed that police shouldn’t be permitted to lie because otherwise he wouldn’t have admitted guilt. The Supreme Court agreed with the police and they’ve been legally fibbing to crooks every day since.

Police investigators use a variety of deceptive tactics, such as:

  • Displaying false sympathy and/or claiming to understand the situation
  • Minimizing the seriousness of the offense and the offenders role
  • Falsely stating there is hard evidence to support a conviction
  • Confession from an accomplice that implicates the suspect
  • And the ever popular, “We have an eyewitness who saw you there.” 

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal went a bit further by limiting just how far the  police can go when stretching the truth. In Florida v. Cayward (1989), the court ruled that it’s perfectly okay to tell fibs (orally) but they may not fabricate evidence in order to deceive suspects. Cayward claimed the police fabricated laboratory reports as a trick to induce a confession. It worked and he spilled the beans. However, the court said police crossed the line and ruled in Cayward’s favor and suppressed the confession.

To sum up – Don’t lie to the cops, and …


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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