It was a Saturday morning, a day when the temperature had already reached the mid 90s and the southern air with was tightly packed with enough humidity to make it appear as if a quick rain shower had passed through. The air was so thick, in fact, that rednecks switched their pickups and jeeps over to four-wheel-drive to help plow their way to the liquor stores where they purchased ice cold PBR beer, fifths of Jack, and fistfuls of lottery tickets.

Condensation on the windows of the county jail, the red brick building that also housed our offices, was dense enough to obscure the view outside. The only means of seeing any sign of life on the outside was when a drop of water wriggled its way down the glass, leaving a temporary translucent trail in its wake. The situation frustrated the inmates who, as always, hoped to catch glimpses of female passersby so they send out obnoxious catcalls, whistles, and inappropriate comments about their desires for a quick hands-on anatomy lesson.

The trash talk didn’t faze these women, though, because they were a handful of professional teasers who enjoyed sending the incarcerated men into what my grandmother would’ve called a “tizzy.” Those women drove the prisoners into such a state that had the floors not been made of steel reinforced concrete they’d have rutted holes in them much like wild hogs plow through collard and turnip patches.

The painted ladies wearing short skirts and micro shorts and platform shoes and spiked heels with hairdos that were tall and big and caked with enough hairspray to hold in place a bumper on a ’49 “Shoebox Ford,” well, they simply drove the men KRAZY! Crazy with a “K,”by the way, is crazier than the “C” kind of nutty.

Even our brown patrol cars perspired. Moisture dripped from the leaves of the tall oaks that had lived on the courthouse lawn since the days of the Civil War. In fact, one of those trees served as the “hanging tree” back in the day. Jail inmates sat in their cells wearing nothing but sweat-soaked boxer shorts and white socks. The day was indeed on track to be a real scorcher.

I know, never start a story with the weather, but this is real life, not fiction. I’m not writing that first line, the hook, to grab your attention.  I mentioned the heat and humidity because, as is with most instances involving police, it’s important that you know that temperatures and weather conditions often play a huge role in their profession.

It’s also important that each and every word in your tales has meaning and that each one has a purpose. For me, based on personal experience, weather can be “a character” in a story and it’s sometimes as important as the hero, the villain, or the victim. I say this because …

Words Melt Everyone

“Man it’s a hot one
Like seven inches from the midday sun
Well I hear you whisper and the words melt everyone
But you stay so cool” ~ “Smooth” by Santana, featuring Rob Thomas

Weather conditions are part of the equation, just as are criminals, courts, judges, and guns, including being a part of the smallest of details of a murder scene. Winter, spring, summer, fall, snow, sun, rain, and wind all play a role in the real world of cops and robbers. It has purpose and it has meaning.

Such as the mid August day in Savannah, Ga. when heat and humidity make you practically gasp for every breath like it could be your last, and when bending over to have a look at a victim’s body at the precise moment when that lone drop of sweat reaches the tip of your nose and you absolutely must prevent its fall to stop your DNA from commingling with that of the killer.

Or when preparing to enter an abandoned warehouse to search for the armed robber who was last seen going inside. It’s 10 degrees outside and the grip of your gun is ice-cold to the touch. Your hands are nearly numb and you can’t feel your toes because you’re standing in three feet of freshly-fallen Boston snow (Snow is Boston is colder than snow in other places we’ve lived. That’s a fact. I’m sure it’s written in a book somewhere.).

The combination of fear, frigid temperatures, and freezing digits cause your hands to tremble ever so slightly. Will you be able to shoot straight and accurately if the time comes and if your very life depends upon that first shot? Will the shaking and shivering if your body and clattering of your chattering teeth give away your position?

The wind howls outside, concealing the sounds of a bad guy’s movements. Is he in front of you to the side or to the rear? You don’t know because the only thing you hear is the sound of your own heart thumping wildly against the inside of your chest wall. That and the limbs of the old hackberry tree scratching and scraping across the weathered clapboard siding with each gust of swirling air.

So yes, weather is an important aspect of police work.

Saturdays are for Fishing, Not Killing

There were only two of us assigned to patrol the county that hot day, which was not a big deal because Saturdays were typically slow. Weekend nights were the times when the action jumped off. I suppose that most trouble-makers’ daytimes were reserved for rest, fishing, lawn mowing, recuperating from hangovers, and driving out to the back forty to plink a few rounds at tin cans and discarded refrigerators and rusty clothes washers. Fun times.

Some folks visited community swimming pools and a few teens would head out to the old gravel pit to swill cheap beer and to smoke weed and for a dip in the cool water. It’a place where at least one kid drowned each summer and usually within the next day or two we’d find the bloated body tangled in the branches of fallen trees, if a state police diver wasn’t able to immediately locate the victim in the incredibly deep water.

Sometimes we’d interview a sobbing 15- or 16-year-old girl who reeked of stale beer and pot smoke, a doe-eyed kid who’d stand on the ledge and weep and point to where she last saw him, right after she’d begged him to not leap of into the water from the rocky cliff. He’s a good swimmer, she’d say, but we’d been drinking and his buddies dared him to do it. So he did. Of course, she wouldn’t notice that her top was on backward or that her shorts were on inside out.

The 911 Call

My fellow deputy and I began our shift at 0800 that Saturday and we’d decided to catch up on a bit of paperwork at the office before going our separate ways, making ourselves seen throughout the county. Nothing much happened before noon on Saturdays anyway.

It was 9:30 when a man called the dispatcher to say he’d just killed his sister-in-law and that the “911 lady” should send “the Po-leece” right away. Then he hung up.

So we each sprinted to our patrol cars and left the front of the jail with red and blue lights winking, spinning, and blinking. Throughout the city streets we blasted our sirens at intersections and when we drove up behind the Saturday morning Q-tips who were in town to do their weekly shopping—the older ladies of a certain age to get their hair styled and molded into those blueish helmet shapes, and the men who stopped in the barbershops for a snip here and there and to have the barber apply enough tonic to keep the combover in place while they visited the feed store to browse through the rows of shiny red or green mowers and tractors. Then, when enough time passed the tractor-lookers would toss their canes into the backseats of their Ramblers or Buicks and head back over to Betty’s Cut and Curl to pick up the wife so together they could do their grocery shopping and perhaps have a bite to eat at the diner (two for one on Senior Saturday) before traveling at a snail’s pace back to the farm.

They were slow drivers who never, not ever, looked into their rearview mirrors. So we’d follow behind with full lights and sirens until we caught a break in traffic so we could pass.

This day, though, we pushed the limit, zipping through town until we reached the main county road that led us in the direction of the alleged murder. The location was 30-40 minutes away when driving the speed limit. We reached scene in less than 20. As the truckers’ used to say, it was pedal to the metal all the way. We straightened curves by taking advantage of “the racing line” of the roadway.

For those of you who don’t know, a driver who follows a racing line greatly reduces the angle of a curve by entering it at a the far outside edge of the roadway and then crosses over to the inside edge, the apex. The apex is the point at which you are closest to the inside of the corner. The technique is completed by moving back to the far outside edge of the roadway. This maneuver is sometimes called “hitting the apexes.” It reduces braking and “straightens the curve” which allows the officer to drive safely through curves at a much faster speed. However, it is a must to constantly remain alert for oncoming traffic since some of the officers’ curve-straightening involves driving on the opposite side of the road.

Standing beside a mailbox at the end of a long dirt drive was a man dressed in a red and white striped shirt, white pants, and brown work boots. As we turned into the driveway I noticed what appeared to be a significant amount of blood spatter on his clothing and shoes, so I stopped. He was obviously agitated, excited, and he rambled on incessantly about that fact that he’d just arrived to earth from Mars. I handcuffed him, placed him in the seat beside me (we didn’t have rear cages), and hurried to the house.

My coworker and I raced to the door and went inside, yelling “Sheriff’s Department!”

What we found in the home, in the master bedroom, was nothing short of the stuff horror movies are made of.

Blood oozed down the painted drywall in narrow but rapidly drying convoluted trails. Dots and globs of patter of various sizes and shapes were everywhere—ceiling, walls, the floor.

A severed human hand lay next to one wall. I’d later count 13 chop marks in the hardwood next to it. Pools of rusty-red blood separated by drag marks of the same color and substance led to the body of a dead woman, a female who died a brutal death caused by the repeated blows of an ax.

The woman’s forearms were badly cut, signs that she’d attempted to stop dozens of strikes of the ax. A large gash to the right side of her head revealed the white of her skull, bone that had been hacked and chipped away, exposing brain matter. Some of which was found stuck to the ceiling and walls and scattered along the hardwood floor along with mall bits of splintered bone were scattered across the floor.

Looking back at scenes such as this one I often wonder about the former function of those bits of brain found adhered to various surfaces. Were there someone’s memories clinging to lampshades? Reasoning abilities plastered on the screen if the family television? A grandmother’s recipe hanging from a picture frame?

At the scene I mentioned above, blood spatter was also on the furniture, including a king-size bed. It’s dull brownish-red hue was in sharp contrast to the crisp white sheets. More spatter was on the faces, hands,  legs, feet, and kids’ pajamas worn by the woman’s four small children who sat huddled together on the center of the mattress. They’d witnessed the entire act, a murder that occurred for the simple reason that the killer had asked his sister-in-law for enough money to purchase a pack of cigarettes. She didn’t have it so the man walked outside to the woodpile where he picked up the ax and went back inside to kill her.

The first blow was from behind, to the head. We pieced together that at that point the woman went down but turned and held up her arms and hands to fend off the onslaught that followed.

When I questioned the killer, he claimed to have come to earth from Mars and that voices from a tower told him to kill the woman. He also said he’d cut off her hand because it kept pointing at him.

He’d been tucked away in a psychiatric care hospital until two weeks prior to the murder. His release came when a sympathetic judge found him competent to return to life outside, placing him in the care of his brother. Fourteen days later the brother’s wife was dead and his four kids were scarred for life.

The killer was found to be not competent to stand trial for the murder and has remained in an air-conditioned psychiatric facility since.


TOMORROW is the LAST DAY to sign up for a “Seat” at Virtual MurderCon’s interactive event, and only a few “seats” are available!

I urge you to sign up asap to reserve your spot at this unique opportunity, one that may never again be available. This is a live event, presented in realtime. Q&A is available at the end of each presentation. In addition, the final session is live panel and Q&A discussion with each of the experts. So have your questions ready, because this is the time to gather the extraordinary details that will make your book zing with realism.

Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will indeed sell out any day now.

Again, this is a rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training.

This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

Virtual MurderCon Classes and Special Presentation

This fabulous, one-of-a-kind event opens with “How to Catch a Serial Killer,” a special presentation by Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches criminal justice and serves as the assistant provost. She holds a master’s in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, a master’s in criminal justice from DeSales University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers. She has been a therapist and a consultant. Dr. Ramsland has published over 1,000 articles and 66 books.

Dr. Ramsland’s background in forensics positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and to co-write a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist.

For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on investigative forensics for The Forensic Examiner and a column on character psychology for Sisters in Crime; offers trainings for law enforcement and attorneys; and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder.


Art of Blood – Violent crimes and accidents frequently involve the interpretation of blood evidence. This class includes presumptive testing techniques of stains thought to be blood, as well as searching crime scenes for latent blood with luminol when circumstances dictate that the area was cleaned by the perpetrator.

DNA evidence collection is also a part of this detailed session taught one of the top experts in the field.

Child Abduction/Murder – Taught by the investigator who solved the high-profile case that drew national attention, this presentation follows the evidence to tell the story and will graphically show the connections which solved the crime.This child abduction/murder case involves a 12 year old girl who was kidnapped at knife point from her bedroom while enjoying a sleepover with two of her friends.

Instructor David Alford is a retired FBI Special Agent with 21 years of experience investigating violent crimes, terrorism and other cases. He was one of the founding members of the FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and conducted crimes scene searches on domestic and international violent crimes and bombings, including the Polly Klaas kidnaping and murder, the Unabomber’s cabin and the 9/11 Pentagon scene. He worked in the Denver and San Francisco field offices and completed his career at Quantico in the FBI Lab ERT Unit. During the 6 years in the FBI Lab, he was primarily responsible for overseeing and teaching basic and advanced crime scene courses throughout the US and many other countries.

In the 6 years before the FBI, David was a Forensic Serologist, Hair and Fibers Examiner and Bloodstain Pattern Analyst for the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab. After retirement, David taught crime scene courses around the world on behalf of the FBI and US State Department. David has been with Sirchie as an instructor and sales representative for Sirchie’s RUVIS and ALS products for the last 10 years. David loves teaching and allowing students to learn through hands-on training.


Drugs/Toxicology NARCAN By Noon – This session will explore drug trends and mortality of drug users, and how can they determine overdose versus foul play.

Instructor Sgt. James Yowell, a counter drug investigator who, as an undercover officer investigated international drug trafficking cases targeting Mexican organized crime.


Entomology: From The Inside Out– Bug and scavenger activity can tell a lot about a corpse. Using entomology and environmental information, a skilled investigator can determine relative time of death, if a corpse has been relocated, and many other key facts. Learn how nature works from the inside out.

Instructor Dr. Bryan Brendley’s specific areas of focus are cell biology, botany, and forensic anthropology. He has conducted years of research on the impact of insects on decomposing bodies with his students. He teaches a comprehensive forensic science program.

 

 

 


Fingerprinting: Who’s MARK – Attendees will receive instruction on developing impression evidence from dust utilizing a electrostatic dust print lifter, and on porous surfaces, including paper and cardboard utilizing chemical processes. Cyanoacrylate (“superglue”) techniques for non-porous surfaces will be addressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Jim Gocke is a graduate of West Virginia University and West Virginia College of Law. In addition, he completed a Fellowship in Forensic Medicine at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and earned a Master of Science in Forensic Sciences from The George Washington University. He was employed by Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories, Inc as Vice President/General Counsel and Director of Education and Training from January 1979 until March 2008. He was employed by Sirchie Acquisition Company, LLC as Director of Education and Training from March 2008 until his retirement in July 2015. Currently, Jim serves as an Independent Contractor to Sirchie, providing expertise in Education and Training, product development and evaluation and technical assistance.


Footwear Evidence: A Step In The Wrong Direction – Similar to fingerprints, footwear has unique and probative characteristics that are often used to track down criminals. Learn the tactics, techniques, and the one-off physiognomies that help lead investigators to the source of a crime du jour.

Shoes, Glorious Shoes: Lifting Footwear Impressions – This fascinating session provides details of the various techniques utilized to process areas conducive to footwear evidence. Instructor Andy Parker demonstrates the electromagnetic dustprint lifter, gelatin lifters, and other CSI techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Andy Parker has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology / Criminal Justice from Florida State University. He began his career in law enforcement with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. After seven years with FDLE, he worked crime scenes, analyzed latent prints and footwear evidence for the Tallahassee Police Department. In 2002 he began work with the City-County Bureau of Identification in Raleigh NC. At CCBI, he has held the position of Latent Print Examiner, Latent Print Section Supervisor, Deputy Director in charge of the Identification Division, Deputy Director in charge of the Laboratory and currently is responsible for the Investigations Division.  He is a certified Latent Print Examiner with the IAI. Andy is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy.


Forensic Geology: “Sedimental” Journey– Think rocks and soil are boring? Not when presented by one of the few forensic geologists in the country who has testified in murder trials about her examination of soil collected as evidence from murder scenes that linked killers to known locations. Certain to be one of the most unique and intriguing sessions at MurderCon 2020, this session conducted by Heather Hanna will intrigue and inform attendees about the role of a geologist in mapping different soils throughout the United States—and a global level—and how forensic geology can prove useful as a foundation for comparison soil evidence in criminal investigations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Heather Hanna is a forensic geologist specializing in the analysis of rock fragments and mineral grains in soils as trace evidence. Since 2009, she has been involved in multiple forensic investigations and has testified as an expert witness in four first degree murder trials, the first of which set a legal precedent in Wake County for using geochemical analysis of mineral grains in court. As a result of her forensic work, she has been an invited speaker at many law enforcement conferences and continuing education programs including the Conference of District Attorneys, the North Carolina Criminal Information Exchange Network, the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Association, and the North Carolina International Association for Identification. She has also presented her forensic work at national and sectional Geological Society of America meetings and as an invited speaker for the Soils Science Society of North Carolina.


Gazing Into The Cloud – No one is anonymous. Your digital footprint is wide spread and mostly out of your control. The Cloud is an ominous vapor of data that can haunt the most cautious criminal or victimize most innocent of people. What can be found in the cloud? Learn how easy it is to mine the cloud and use this data for good as well as nefarious activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Stephen Pearson combines more than 29 years of law-enforcement experience with in-depth expertise in today’s most pervasive Internet, computer, and digital device technologies. Stephen developed computer forensic tools and coursework for the US Army Military Police School, as well as served as a computer investigator with Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office (FL). As a founder of High Tech Crime Institute, he has developed and conducted courses for NATO, the Federal Government, and various law enforcement agencies. Stephen holds a B.S. in Computer Information Science as well as an MBA. He is also a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, an US Army Master Instructor, and a certified Cellebrite Trainer, in addition to holding various other certifications for digital investigation.


Homocide Or Homicide: You Decide – Have you ever wanted to spend time picking the brain of an experienced homicide detective? Well, here’s your chance. Having investigated a wide variety of murders, attendees will find this session fascinating in content due to the breadth and depth of homicides that will be discussed. Included in the “new” topic will be the discussion of why the United States suffers from over 200,000 unsolved murders. These “cold case” murders rarely get examined or investigated once they are “put to bed” due to a wide variety of causes and reasons. Learn from one of the best detectives around who has investigated several hundred murders!

Murder Case Studies – In this intriguing and highly-detailed workshop, Detective Jeff Locklear takes attendees on a behind the scenes journey into actual murder scenes. Learn the investigatory tools and tricks of the trade used by a top homicide detective as he sought and captured brutal killers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor Detective Sergeant Jeff Locklear, a 21-year veteran law enforcement officer, currently works with the Fayetteville North Carolina Police Department as a homicide police specialist and training officer.

As a homicide detective he’s been involved with over 350 homicide investigations. He’s also investigated hundreds of violent felonies including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and missing persons.

During his career he has responded to hundreds to death scenes such as suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, and natural and unexplained deaths.

Detective Locklear has conducted thousands of interviews of violent offenders, including cases featured on 48 hrs (The Kelli Bourdeaux murder), Swamp Murders, NCIS – The Cases They Can’t Forget: The Holley Wimunc Murder, Scorned Love Kills 2014, The Today Show, and numerous other news and media outlets, such as People Magazine and Time Magazine.

He’s a founding member of both the 2008 Fayetteville Police Homicide Squad and the 2016 Fayetteville Police Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT). In addition, he’s served as sheriff’s deputy , Forensic Technician, Patrol officer , Crimes against persons detective, homicide detective, gun and gang task force detective, and as a Violent Criminal Apprehension Team Detective.

Detective Locklear has presented cases workshops at a number of conferences and events, including the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Conference, North & South Carolina Arson Investigators Conference , Fayetteville State University (Criminal Justice), Fayetteville Technical Community College (Registered Nursing students), Methodist University, and more.

Having spent the majority of his career investigating violent crimes, Detective Locklear has a unique and vast perspective of being the first officer on scene, the Forensic technician processing the scene, the detective investigating the crime, and the detective whose task it is to track down and capture the suspects who committed the crimes. He’s a dynamic speaker who can “escort you” to a crime scene, “walk you” through what happened, “show you” who did it, and then “lead you” to where the suspect fled after committing the offense.


Murder-Mayhem -Session covers Cause, Manner, and Mechanisms of death, Coroner vs. Medical Examiner systems, differences in legal terminology for murder, homicide, and manslaughter, as well as, the realities in death investigations that are equivocal in nature. Physical, testimonial, and circumstantial evidence as introduced into the courtroom will be applied to death investigations. A case study of a very unique and rarely scene murder by hanging, and the forensic evidence obtained from the physical autopsy will be presented. This presentation includes a discussion of psychological autopsies and when they are utilized in criminal investigations.

Instructor David Pauly retired from The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command as a Special Agent-in-Charge/Commander and Forensic Science Officer. He performed duties in over a dozen states, and frequently worked with local, state, and federal agencies. He also performed duties in Panama, South Korea, Afghanistan, Haiti, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Sinai, Egypt, Canada, Guam, and Nigeria. He holds a Master of Forensic Science degree from The George Washington University and is currently the Director of Applied Forensic Science at Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC.

David graduated the FBI National Academy (Session 195), Canadian Police College – Major Crimes Course, Miami-Dade Police Department – Bloodstain Interpretation Course, and National Fire Academy – Arson Investigation Course. He is a Fellow of The American Academy of Forensic Science, and is a current, or past member of the International Association of Identification, North Carolina Chapters of the IAI and FBINAA, International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, North Carolina Homicide Investigator’s Association, The Vidocq Society, American Investigative Society of Cold Cases (AISOCC), and various other professional law enforcement and/or forensic science associations.


The event concludes with a live, interactive Q&A panel discussion with each of the instructors. So have your questions ready!
Sign up today while there’s still time, at www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Sure, duty calls, but so does nature. And sometimes nature calls quite loudly.

In those times of great despair, it is imperative that an officer find the proper location to meet the need, especially in these dangerous times where ambushes are, sadly, a very real possibility.

So how do cops handle those “immediate needs?”

Well, deputy sheriffs are most often found patrolling rural areas; therefore …

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night …

… to “water the cacti alongside Route 66” is more often the norm than not.

Of course, if the deputy, especially a female deputy, is able to hold on until they reach the lobby of the Hotel California, well, I hear the restrooms there are nice, and they have real towels available instead of those hot blowy things mounted to the wall.

Sometimes, when stopping at hotels for “the break” hotel staff will offer a free cup of coffee and maybe a freshly-baked (microwave) cookie, if you’re lucky. But yes, roadside watering is a regular thing for those who wear the star. It’s as much a part of the job as arresting drunks and … hmm … those who urinate in public. Well, that’s awkward.

  • Go home! Yes, deputy sheriffs are fortunate because they often have the option of using the restroom in the comfort of their own homes, or the homes of family and friends.

Officers working in urban areas have to be a bit more creative. Sure, there’s always the backside of a dumpster that needs checking, or …

  • the firehouse
  • the police department
  • all-night diners
  • truck stops
  • construction site porta-johns (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)

Keep in mind, though, that bathroom concerns are:

  1. Ambush while your gun and other tools are not at your side (you have to remove the gear from around your waist—all of it).
  2. While standing in a stall, you are typically facing away from the door.
  3. While sitting in a stall you must do something with your gun belt. Hanging it on the wall or door hook makes it practically impossible to access your gun. However, it would be easy for someone to reach over the wall/door to steal the entire belt leaving you with your pants down around your ankles. And there would be nothing worse for the ego than having to chase after guy who’s stolen your gun belt, especially while your pants are dragging the ground and your bare hind parts are jiggling and wiggling around for all the world to see. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight. And you’d never live down the exposure of your strategically placed butterfly, Disney Princess, and I “Heart” Mom tattoos.

And, then there are the female officers and their bathroom needs.

Watering the desert cacti is typically not an option for female officers, with the exceptions of extreme and dire emergencies. Neither are peeing in alleys and behind dumpsters.

Gun belt placement while tending to personal needs is always a concern for female officers, and truck stops and other places of similar … well, let’s just say they’re often less than “female-friendly.” Not to mention the grunge factor.

So what are the options for female officers?

  • police department restrooms
  • home
  • businesses (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)
  • fire stations
  • construction site porta-johns (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)

And … Go Pants.


Only THREE short days remain to sign up for a “Seat” at Virtual MurderCon’s interactive event, and spots are filling quickly!

I urge you to sign up asap to reserve your spot at this unique opportunity, one that may never again be available. This is a live event, presented in realtime. Q&A is available at the end of each presentation. In addition, the final session is live panel and Q&A discussion with each of the experts. So have your questions ready, because this is the time to gather the extraordinary details that will make your book zing with realism.

Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will indeed sell out any day now.

Again, this is a rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training.

This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

 

0200 hrs.

Wispy fog.

Whirling, swirling.

Streetlight.

A lone bat,

Looping, swooping.

Night sounds.

Frogs, crickets,

Train whistle, far away.

Radio crackles,

Against still, night air.

Prowler,

Outside window.

“I’ll take it.”

“10-4.”

“Backup?”

“Negative.”

Front porch.

Yellow light.

Shadows.

Moth,

Flittering, fluttering

Yard.

Weeds,

Dried, crispy.

Breeze.

Gentle

Cool,

Leaves,

ticking and clicking

across worn porch floor.

Wooden swing.

Rusted chain,

Crooked.

Siding.

Paint,

Faded, peeling.

Door,

Loose knob.

A knock.

It opens,

Slowly.

Just a crack,

And a creak.

Tiny face,

Crinkled, by

Days long since passed.

“I heard them again, Officer.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Damp, anxious eyes.

Faded gray with time.

“They were at the window, like before.”

“I’ll check around back.”

“You’re too kind.”

“I wish my Bill was still here.”

“I know.”

“He’s been gone ten years this week.”

“A good man.”

“Thank you.”

“Coffee? It’s fresh.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Two sugars and a little cream, right?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Be right back.”

Outside.

Flashlight.

Waiting.

Neighbor’s house, dark.

Furnace, humming.

Rattles, then stops.

Quiet.

Two minutes pass.

Kitchen window,.

Brightly lit.

Darting here and there.

Full coffee pot.

Silver tray.

Cookies.

Cups.

Saucers.

Spoons.

For two.

Screen door.

Spring, squeaking.

Thump.

“Everything’s okay.”

“Yes, I do feel better now.”

“Thank you.”

Warm smells.

Vanilla.

Fresh bread.

Pumpkin spice.

“It’s just that, well, with Bill gone …”

“I know.”

A downward glance.

Wall clock

Tick-tocking.

A sigh.

A tear.

Silence.

Tick, tick, tick.

“Would you mind if I sat for a minute?”

A sniffle.

“I’m tired, and really shouldn’t drive.”

“After all, how would that look?”

“A cop asleep at the wheel.”

A smile.

Relief.

Just like last night.

And the night before.

And the night before.

At 0200,

Ten years after her Bill passed away.


Only SIX days remain to sign up for a “Seat” at Virtual MurderCon’s interactive event, and spots are filling quickly!

I urge you to sign up asap to reserve your spot at this unique opportunity, one that may never again be available. This is a live event, presented in realtime. Q&A is available at the end of each presentation. In addition, the final session is live panel and Q&A discussion with each of the experts. So have your questions ready, because this is the time to gather the extraordinary details that will make your book zing with realism.

Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will indeed sell out any day now.

Again, this is a rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training.

This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

 

Fighting Dinosaurs

Graduating from the police academy is an experience all its own. And, after many weeks of what some recruits equate to a brief period of time spent in hell on earth, receiving the paper that makes it official, that you are indeed a bona-fide law enforcement officer is nothing short of a warm and fuzzy kind of moment.

There’s a huge amount of pride attached to the actual ceremony, as well as a great sense of accomplishment. Make no mistake about it, police academy training, while fun at times, can be extremely stressful, and taxing on muscles and mind. Therefore, when you’re finally holding paper in-hand and a shiny badge tightly pinned to your shirt, all you want to do is Par-Tay! And that’s exactly what I and my fellow recruits had in mind the night of our academy graduation. Unfortunately, my celebration was to be short-lived.

My boss, a gruff, no-nonsense sheriff, attended the ceremony along with his wife, who was also a no-nonsense gruff and never-smiling person. The sheriff sat beside me during the banquet, with his charming wife to his right, and we enjoyed a very pleasant conversation between bites of some pretty tasty food. Midway through the meal, during my suave and fascinating conversation, the high-sheriff, while alternating between shoveling forkfuls of red meat meat and potatoes into the opening in his face that sat squarely between a pair of sagging jowls, turned toward me to ask, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. Which department do you work for?”

After letting his surprising comments sink in for a quick moment, I realized he had no idea that I worked for him. I was one of his deputies. The latest model, actually. Freshly trained and well-exercised, and as eager to get to work as they come.

When I explained to my new boss that he was, in fact, my boss, he half-heartedly pretended that the whole thing had been a joke. Obviously, it was not. But I didn’t intend to waste the situation. Not at all.  Nope, I had his attention and I planned to make the most of it.

In fact, II took the opportunity to discuss my future—when I’d begin my field training program (upon completion of academy training officers then receive on-the-job, hands-on training while riding with a certified field training officer), how long before I’d make detective and/or possibly the second in command of the entire department, etc.

Well, he matter-of-factly brushed aside my lofty aspirations, gulped a big ole shot of straight bourbon, and calmly retrieved a folded sheet of paper from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He then handed the paper—a copy of the patrol schedule—to me while reloading his beefy jowls with heaping forkfuls of red velvet cake.

The patrol schedule was the monthly assignment for the law enforcement deputies within his department—the police officers. All other deputies worked in the jail, courts, serving civil process, etc.. Then, between a couple of lip-smacking chews and another swallow of liquor, he said, “You’re working midnights, starting tonight.” I was both shocked and elated to learn that I’d hit the streets so quickly.

Everyone knows that midnight shift is normally considered the kiss of death. However, to a brand new rookie, even a graveyard shift assignment is as welcome and almost as exciting as a weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy. After all, you’re absolutely itching to bust the largest criminal enterprise known to cops worldwide.

But reality set in as I glanced at the clock on the wall, noticing that it was already nearly 10 p.m., and I hadn’t had any sleep. Didn’t matter, though. I was excited. Then the sheriff delivered even more “good” news. I’d be working the entire county, alone. A.L.O.N.E.

“What about my field training?” I said.

“No time. I’m short-handed,” he said. “If you run into any trouble call the state police. They’ll help out. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

The sheriff then stood, shook my hand, looked toward Mrs. Sheriff and nodded at the door. In another second they were gone, leaving me standing there holding the schedule in my hand. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be celebrating with my friends, but excited about going to work. But mostly, though, I was as nervous as a June bug at a chicken convention.

Two hours later I stood before a group of midnight shift dispatchers, jailers, and office staff. In all their years working there they’d never seen a “kid” fresh out of the academy hit the streets alone his first night out. I saw the fear in their eyes. I sensed the trepidation. I was flattered, of course, thinking they were worried about me, until I realized their concern was actually for the citizens of the county. I was their only defense against the evils of the world. And, as the sheriff’s office chain of command structure went, the ranking patrol deputy was in charge of the entire shift, jail included.

So yeah, I, on the job for only a matter of minutes, was in charge.

So I bid farewell to each of them and headed out into the dark and stormy night. Actually, it was a nice and bright late summer night. To me, though, it seemed as if I were a character in a bad novel with a really bad opening hook. “The deputy pushed open the door, determined to rid his county of evil zombies, mobsters, werewolves, and serial killers. Yes, he alone would save the world from death, doom, and destruction.”

My excitement was brimming over as I cruised the lonely, dark county roads, occasionally driving through well-lit parking lots, waving to night-shift clerks. I stopped in a few places to chat with employees and customers, but mostly my goal was to allow people to see me in my brand new uniform while driving my brand new patrol car with a brand new badge and name tag pinned to my chest. It was fun. I even played with the lights and siren a few times when I was on long, deserted stretches of roadway where I was sure no one was around to see or hear.

Then it happened. Two hours into my first shift, just when I felt as if I was riding on a cloud, I received my first call. “Fight in progress at Tommy Terrible’s Truck Stop. Weapons involved.” The fun melted from my face as quickly as a Kardashian can post an image to Instagram. It was lights and siren time for real.

So, as they say, I activated my emergency equipment (lights and siren) for real and soon turned into the truck stop parking lot where I saw what appeared (to me) to be two rather large dinosaurs going at it—fists swinging from every angle possible, and connecting with what appeared to be the force of the pile drivers used to construct bridges.

I sat there for a second with the engine idling, re-living the past several weeks of training. Hostage situation…check. Robberies…check. Kidnapping…check. Pursuit driving…check. Shooting range…check. Stepping between two monsters who’re engaged in the worst fight I’ve ever seen. Hmm … no class for that one.

I decided to drive my car as close to the pair as I could get, after calling the state police for assistance. (The closest trooper was twenty minutes away). Then I let off a nice blast from my siren. It worked. They stopped fighting and looked my way, so I stepped out of my car on legs that were quivering like a heaping mound of Jello during a California earthquake.

I attempted to talk to the two gentlemen since, at this point in my hours-long career, I had no clue if I should, or even could arrest either of them. So, and to protect my body from receiving a large number of painful injuries, I did the next best thing. I let one go inside the truck stop to have a cup of coffee, and I drove the other guy home.

On the way, I learned that it was his birthday and that he’d had a little too much to drink (duh). Being the quick thinker that I am, I jumped on the opportunity and told him that I’d let him off this time only because it was his birthday. However, the next time, well, I’d have to take him to jail. Sounded good to me, right? He didn’t need to know I was winging my way through this thing.

When I pulled up in front of the man’s modest trailer home, he shook my hand (his right hand, the equivalent of a giant oven mitt made of steel, gristle, and rhino hide, easily wrapped around mine) and thanked me for the ride and for not making him spend his birthday night in jail.

I waited as he worked his way around a variety of obstacles—rusted bicycles, an engine from a car that was nowhere to seen, home made plywood yard ornaments—a chubby woman bending over in the garden, a duck in a pole whose wings spun wildly in the wind, a life-size silhouette of a cowboy smoking a pipe—, an engine from a car that was nowhere to be seen, and a three-legged mixed breed dog attached to the mobile home by a logging chain.

He, the man, not the dog, used the back of a meaty fist to pound on the aluminum front door until the porch light, a yellow anti-bug lamp, switched on. A woman wearing a three-sizes-too-big NASCAR RULES t-shirt pushed open the door and immediately began to curse, between, of course, puffs on the unfiltered cigarette that dangled from her lips. I was amazed at how the cigarette clung to her lower lip even as she opened her mouth to yell. Finally, he gave her a slight shove and they both disappeared inside the metal box they called home. I exhaled, and then spent the next few hours patrolling the county while thinking of various defensive tactics techniques and drawing the mace container from my gun belt.

Probably not the prettiest conclusion to my first call, but it was a solution that actually paid off for me many times in the years to follow. You see, the guy I took home (I didn’t know it at the time) was an exceptionally good street fighter, a sort of legend in that area among the local police because it normally took four or five officers to handcuff and arrest him. At the time, I did not know how lucky I’d been.

Since that night, I’d been called to numerous fight scenes where this fellow had pummeled his opponents, smashing their bloody faces into barroom floors, walls, and tables all across the county and city. He’d sent a few police officers to the emergency room for various cuts, bruises, and broken body parts. He’d even tossed one rather large bouncer through a glass door. But, whenever I showed up he simply stopped fighting and walked to my car where he’d have a seat, ready for the drive to the county jail.

I guess the big man felt as if he owed me for not arresting him on his birthday. However, those easy-going feelings later changed, and that night, when he decided quite forcefully to not allow me to arrest him, was the night I introduced his forehead to my metal flashlight.

So that was my first night on the job. How was yours?

A Taser delivers an electrical charge that disrupts muscle function. The devices are carried on the officer’s non-gun side and they’re often made of brightly colored material. The purpose of these two important details is to prevent officers from confusing the non-lethal Taser with their definitely lethal handgun.

There are also handcuffs available that are capable of delivering an electrical charge to the wearer. These cuffs (stun cuffs) are often used when transporting jail or prison inmates, especially potentially dangerous or high-risk prisoners.

Stun belts are also available, especially for use in prisons. Prison guards/corrections officers (CO’s) train with the belts and are often called on to demonstrate its effects. Officers refer to the experience as “riding the belt.”

You know, many years ago officers didn’t have the luxury of non-lethal devices, such as Tasers, pepper spray, cages in police cars, rubber bullets, bean bags, etc. Instead, we had to rely on fast talking and sheer muscle power to get out of jams.

Sometimes, the only thing that kept us from getting hurt, badly, was using a heavy metal flashlight to deliver a gentle “love tap” to an attacker’s thick skull (an aluminum shampoo). Of course, that’s no longer an option, but the tactic saved my butt more than once. And there’s one such event will forever stand out in my mind.

Rechargeable flashlight

While arresting an unruly man, a guy who just happened to be twice my size (and I’m not small), my future prisoner who was already madder than a mosquito in a mannequin factory, decided he was allergic to handcuffs. And, during a brief struggle, my neck somehow wound up in the gentle grasp of the behemoth’s skillet-size hands. In other words, he was choking me with every ounce of strength he could muster. I couldn’t breathe, and I knew then how it must feel to be the icing inside a pastry bag, because he was squeezing so hard that I thought my eyes would squirt from their sockets at any moment.

The thug had me pinned against a wall in a position that made going for my gun (a .357 in those days) impossible. However, I finally managed to get a hand on my metal Maglite. So I starting swinging (short strokes because of the odd angle), hoping to force the guy to release his grip. Finally, after several hard thwacks and whacks to his head, he let go. And, as they say, it was game on! I went at him like a duck on a June bug.

I finally got that enormous moose handcuffed. However, my car was not equipped with a cage to put him in for safekeeping (none of our cars had cages back then), so I made him ride up front with me. And I made a point to let him know that my gun was in my hand with my finger on the trigger, and if he so much as looked at me wrong I’d shoot him. He behaved nicely on the ride in.

Aluminum and Plexiglass divider that we did not have but wished we did.     ——————->

My prisoner and I must have been a real sight when we arrived at the jail—clothes torn, badge ripped from my shirt, bloody lips, flashlight-shaped knots on his head, fingerprint-shaped bruises on my neck, and more. But that was how it was back then.

Yep, those were the good ‘ol days …

Aluminum and Plexiglass divider that we did not have but wished we did.



“Seats” for Virtual MurderCon interactive event are filling quickly!

I urge you to sign up asap to reserve your spot at this unique opportunity, one that may never again be available. This is a live event, presented in realtime. Q&A is available at the end of each presentation. In addition, the final session is live panel and Q&A discussion with each of the experts. So have your questions ready, because this is the time to gather the extraordinary details that will make your book zing with realism.

Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will soon be sold out. Again, this is a rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training. This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

The 2020 stellar cadre of instructors include (to name a few) David Alford, a retired FBI Special Agent with 21 years of experience investigating violent crimes, terrorism and other cases. He was one of the founding members of the FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and conducted crimes scene searches on domestic and international violent crimes and bombings, including the Polly Klaas kidnaping and murder, the Unabomber’s cabin, and the 9/11 Pentagon scene. He worked in the Denver and San Francisco field offices and completed his career at Quantico in the FBI Lab ERT Unit. During the 6 years in the FBI Lab, he was primarily responsible for overseeing and teaching basic and advanced crime scene courses throughout the US and many other countries.

In the 6 years before the FBI, David was a Forensic Serologist, Hair and Fibers Examiner and Bloodstain Pattern Analyst for the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab. After retirement, David taught crime scene courses around the world on behalf of the FBI and US State Department. David has been with Sirchie as an instructor and sales representative for Sirchie’s RUVIS and ALS products for the last 10 years. David loves teaching and allowing students to learn through hands-on training.



Heather Hanna is a forensic geologist specializing in the analysis of rock fragments and mineral grains in soils as trace evidence. Since 2009, she has been involved in multiple forensic investigations and has testified as an expert witness in four first degree murder trials, the first of which set a legal precedent in Wake County for using geochemical analysis of mineral grains in court. As a result of her forensic work, she has been an invited speaker at many law enforcement conferences and continuing education programs including the Conference of District Attorneys, the North Carolina Criminal Information Exchange Network, the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Association, and the North Carolina International Association for Identification. She has also presented her forensic work at national and sectional Geological Society of America meetings and as an invited speaker for the Soils Science Society of North Carolina.



Detective Sergeant Jeff Locklear, a 21-year veteran law enforcement officer, currently works with the Fayetteville North Carolina Police Department as a homicide police specialist and training officer.

As a homicide detective he’s been involved with over 350 homicide investigations. He’s also investigated hundreds of violent felonies including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and missing persons.

During his career he has responded to hundreds to death scenes such as suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, and natural and unexplained deaths.

Detective Locklear has conducted thousands of interviews of violent offenders, including cases featured on 48 hrs (The Kelli Bourdeaux murder), Swamp Murders, NCIS – The Cases They Can’t Forget: The Holley Wimunc Murder, Scorned Love Kills 2014, The Today Show, and numerous other news and media outlets, such as People Magazine and Time Magazine.

He’s a founding member of both the 2008 Fayetteville Police Homicide Squad and the 2016 Fayetteville Police Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT). In addition, he’s served as sheriff’s deputy , Forensic Technician, Patrol officer , Crimes against persons detective, homicide detective, gun and gang task force detective, and as a Violent Criminal Apprehension Team Detective.

Detective Locklear has presented cases workshops at a number of conferences and events, including the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Conference, North & South Carolina Arson Investigators Conference , Fayetteville State University (Criminal Justice), Fayetteville Technical Community College (Registered Nursing students), Methodist University, and more.

Having spent the majority of his career investigating violent crimes, Detective Locklear has a unique and vast perspective of being the first officer on scene, the Forensic technician processing the scene, the detective investigating the crime, and the detective whose task it is to track down and capture the suspects who committed the crimes. He’s a dynamic speaker who can “escort you” to a crime scene, “walk you” through what happened, “show you” who did it, and then “lead you” to where the suspect fled after committing the offense.

Murder: the unlawful killing of one human by another.

Kill: to deprive of life.

Humans have always killed other humans. Some have done so during wartime, while others found lesser reason(s), such as out of anger, fear, jealousy, or out of pure greed and hunger for money. Humans have killed over drugs, over material possessions, and in self-defense or the defense of others. But it is the murderers, those who kill illegally, that were the focus of a study conducted by Northwestern Medicine researcher Robert Hanlon.

Hanlon learned that people who kill out of anger/rage are both psychologically and intellectually different than those who carefully plan/premeditate murder.

The impulsive killer was found to be more mentally impaired, particularly cognitively impaired, while the predatory killer (those who carefully plan and premeditate) did not exhibit any significant cognitive or intellectual impairments. However, many of “the planners” were found to have some sort of psychiatric disorder. And, when compared to the impulse murderer, the planners were twice as likely to suffer from a psychiatric disorder.

Interestingly, nearly all of the impulse killers—well over 90%—have a history of substance abuse, or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time they committed murder. Approximately 3/4 of the planners used/abused drugs or alcohol.

For writers, this knowledge of the mental make-up of those who kill certainly helps create a nicely layered character, instead of the mindless killing machines we often see in slasher films.

Sure, fictional villains are evil and often will stop at nothing to reach their goal, but they are human (at least in most mysteries and thrillers) and must have personality, good or bad. Their human qualities absolutely must be available to the reader who uses that knowledge to either like or dislike the character.

You know, I honestly didn’t need to see the results of this study to know the outcome. And I believe most investigators will probably agree with me when I tell you that drug and alcohol use and abuse plays a huge role in murder and other crimes.

In fact, I dare say that many crimes would never have been committed had the offender not been under the influence of some sort of substance. That’s why I believe it is so important to focus on the root of the problem—drugs and alcohol—instead of locking up everybody and his brother for minor drug crimes. Help the drug and alcohol abuser and you’ll see the crime rate go down. Incarceration is not always the best answer.

Maybe now you’ll understand why one of the chapter titles in my book on police procedure is, Drugs, Not Money, Are The Root Of All Evil.

Speaking of murderers …



This two full-day event opens Thursday morning at 10 a.m. with a warm welcome from Dyer Bennett of Sirchie and Lee Lofland of the Writers’ Police Academy. Immediately following the opening remarks is a fascinating session presented by renowned expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

“How to Catch a Serial Killer”

Special Presentation by Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland forensic

Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches criminal justice and serves as the assistant provost. She holds a master’s in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, a master’s in criminal justice from DeSales University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers. She has been a therapist and a consultant. Dr. Ramsland has published over 1,000 articles and 66 books.

Dr. Ramsland’s background in forensics positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and to co-write a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist.

For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on investigative forensics for The Forensic Examiner and a column on character psychology for Sisters in Crime; offers trainings for law enforcement and attorneys; and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder.



Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will soon be sold out. This is a phenomenal, rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training. This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

Hurry! Sign up while you still can. The opportunity to learn from this group of esteemed crime scene investigation instructors may never again be possible. The depth and level of their knowledge and experience is beyond astounding!

 

 

 

Police officers, because of the nature of their business are creatures of habit, and their routines are sometimes quite obvious. Here’s how to tell if the person you’re currently spending time with is, or once was, a cop.

1. Your new love interest takes you to the most exclusive restaurant in town, and when the host leads the two of you to a nice table in the center of the room your date declines and requests the minuscule table beside the wall next to the kitchen doors. It’s a horrible out-of-the-way table where the rumps of servers constantly bump and thump against the seat backs of diners’ chairs as they hustle to and from the kitchen. Yet, your dinner companion seems extremely pleased at the opportunity to sit facing the front of the room and other exits and entrances, with their back planted firmly against the greasy wall as their eyes constantly dart back and forth and up and down, scanning the room and other diners for who knows what.

2. You’re in a bar and you catch your date eyeing every female who passes, paying especially close attention to the areas around two specific areas of their bodies—torso and ankles. What a creep, right? Well, he knows no shame because he’s doing the same to other guys. Is your new man an over-sexed bisexual? Of course not. He’s a cop who’s merely looking for concealed weapons, and once he’s decided there are no immediate threats he’ll turn his attention to your arsenal of concealed attributes.

3. If you and your date arrive at the party and she stands to the side of the front entryway while simulataneously producing a huge Maglite from her purse, which she promptly uses to deliver a few loud, hard knocks to door, well, you might be dating a cop.

4. If the person you’re out with unbuckles their seatbelt 30 seconds before stopping the car, you might be dating a cop.

5. During the end-of-evening embrace you feel the slight touch of your date’s hands at the mid point between your shoulder blades. Odd, but no real problem, right? Then you notice the touch moving downward, slowly tracing the length of your spine, stopping at your waist. Still no problem. Kind of sexy, actually. And you were definitely surprised when you felt the hand gently and slowly slide into that area where your legs meet. After all, you’ve been dating for a while now and the next level has been on your mind. However, when she slipped on a pair of latex gloves and then squatted down to cup both hands around first one leg and then other, running those hands down each leg … Yeah, you’re dating a cop.

6. If your date rides with the car window down, even when it’s 20 degrees outside, and reads aloud the license plates of passing cars—“Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, Seven, Four Eight.” Yep, you’re definitely dating a cop.

7. Your new guy intimidates people. For example, he often takes shortcuts through the most dangerous sections of town. While passing through at 5 mph you notice that as soon as your beau makes eye contact with two very shady characters hanging out on the sidewalk (and your sweetie definitely makes a point to make eye contact) they each look down, or away, before backing into the darkness of door frames and alleyways. Yes, you’re dating a cop.

8. When meeting your friends and family, your date stands a bit sideways with his dominant hand positioned at his waist, near his pocket (you later learn that the dominant hand is the gun hand). Fortunately, there’s no shootout, but your friends avoid the two of you for the rest of the night, and quite possibly for as long as you’re with this kooky badge-wearer.

9. Your parents, after meeting your special friend for the first time, say, “Please come back to see us.” If the response of your lover is, “10-4,” you might be dating a cop.

10. If your new girlfriend addresses all of her close friends by their last names names—Smith, Jenkins, Williams, etc.—, you might be dating a cop. “Smith, come over here and meet my new boyfriend, Jones.”

Bonus:

If you show up unannounced at the home of your new boyfriend and find him mowing the lawn while wearing shorts, a gun on his side, and a bulletproof vest beneath a crisp new police academy t-shirt, well, you’re dating a rookie.

You know, the best part of dating a fledgling cop is that you can order him to do things—an unlimited number of push ups, shine shoes, clean something, run as far as you tell him to, etc., and he will.

Bonus #2:

If you find loose bullets in the bottom of her kitchen “junk drawer,” you might be dating a cop.

Bonus #3:

If your annual family vacation is a whirlwind tour of the Cleveland Police Museum, Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, New York City Police Museum, and the Los Angeles Police Museum, well, take some comfort in knowing that mandatory retirement of police officers is usually somewhere around the age 55. Only thirty years to go. Thirty looooong years.

Bonus #4:

If the hair you find on your significant other’s clothes belongs to a bloodhound and not the hunky guy at the gym, well …

FBI_agent_with_police_dog


ATTENTION***ATTENTION***ATTENTION

Registration for the live, interactive 2020 Virtual MurderCon is now OPEN! You couldn’t come to us so we’re bringing the event directly to your home!

“Seats” at this unique event are extremely limited and are available on a first come-first served basis.

The time to sign up is NOW!!

https://writerspoliceacademy.com

 

You couldn’t come to us so we’re bringing the event directly to your home!

Featuring special presentation by Dr. Katherine Ramsland – “How to Catch a Serial Killer.” Interactive classes taught by FBI, Sirchie’s renowned experts, entomologist, forensic geologist, fingerprinting, blood, and footwear evidence experts, homicide detectives, & many more, including a live Q&A with all instructors. Over a dozen sessions!

“Seats” at this spectacular event are extremely limited and are available on a first come-first served basis.

Again, the time to sign up is NOW!!

Hurry! Only a few spots remain available. We anticipate a sold out event.

https://writerspoliceacademy.com

 

Graveyard shift—those eight long and often mind-numbing hours between midnight and the time your relief signs on to take over your beat. It’s boring. It’s exciting. It’s sleep-depriving. And it’s getting dressed while everyone else in your household is undressing, putting on pajamas, and crawling between the sheets for a good night’s rest in a set and toasty-warm bed.

Speaking of getting dressed … there’s a daily ritual for cops—shower and shave, slip on underwear and t-shirt—rookies will quickly learn that it’s best to put on their socks at this point. You’ll see why in a moment. It’s also important to note that not all officers shave as part of the daily routine. Some simply don’t need to. For example, my wife, if she’d chosen to become a police officer instead of a scientist, would have the luxury of skipping this step.

Next comes the vest. You’ve left the upper Velcro straps in place to allow you to slip the entire contraption over your head like a 7lb sweater. So over the head it goes, followed by pulling the side straps taut and securing them in place. Of course, you never get it right the first time, so you riiiiipp the Velcro loose and do it again and again until the fit is just right.

The shirt is a process all to itself—pinning on the badge and other shiny do-dads in their appropriate places (sort of like decorating a polyester Christmas tree), and inserting a couple of ink pens in the sewn-in pen slot beside the breast pocket. After a quick check to be sure your name tag is not upside down, you slip on the pre-adorned shirt, pulling and twisting to make it lay properly over the vest.

Time for the pants. Out of necessity, you’ve placed them in a spot that doesn’t doesn’t require bending too far, because the vest has already limited your movements just a bit. Now, tuck the tails of the vest inside the waist band of the pants and thread a belt through the loops so your pants won’t fall down. Goodness knows, once you’re fully dressed it would require a huge effort to reach ALL the way to your ankles to pull your pants up again (now do you understand the socks issue?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Front and rear vest panels. The top two straps on the rear panel are often left attached to the front panel to allow slipping the entire vest over the head like a sweater, or t-shirt. The material at the bottom of each panel is tucked into the pants like a shirt tail. Obviously, the front panel (with the “U” shaped cutout) is for the “convenience” of male wearers during a trip to the restroom. Use your imaginations to determine the need for the opening in the material.

Shoes … They’re shiny and squeaky clean because that’s how you roll. Look sharp. Act sharp. Be sharp. One last, quick swipe with a cloth just in case a speck of dust has landed on the toes.

Next comes the duty belt/utility belt, with all its bells and whistles already in place. And yes, it’s heavy. Imagine strapping a bowling ball to your waist each day prior to heading off to work.

 

Securely connect the buckle hooks/clasps/snaps and then loop a few belt keepers around the duty belt and the belt holding up your pants. The last step is IMPORTANT. 

 

 

Belt Keepers

Without belt keepers, the thin straps made of leather or nylon with snap closures, the duty belt would easily and quickly fall down to your ankles, especially when running/chasing someone through a dark alley. Embarrassing, right?

Hamilton One 046

 

Hamilton One 094

Two belt keepers positioned between handcuff cases

Time to go to work, and by now everyone in the house is already asleep. So you tip-toe to the back door, with leather squeaking, keys jingling, and Velcro crackling all the way.

Outside, the neighborhood is pitch-dark, and still with the exceptions of a lone cricket chirping in the backyard and the owl who hooty-hoots at random times throughout the night.

The only lights on are a streetlamp at the corner and the sliver of yellow slicing through the narrow opening of the curtains at the front window in the house across the street, where you know the widow Jones is peeking outside. Tomorrow morning she’ll be there again so she can report to the rest of the neighborhood what time you went to work and what time you returned home. After all, they pay your salary and Mrs. Jones is not at all shy about reminding you of it, either.

Time to get into the car so you unlock the door, open it quietly, and then gently slide into the seat. I say gently, because if there’s even a tiny bit of love handle at your waist, that soft, floppy flesh will be severely pinched between the bottom edge of the Kevlar vest and the top edge of the duty belt somewhere near the pepper spray canister or your sidearm—a real eye-opening, tear-inducing way to start the shift.

You take care to gently close the door. Again, I say gently but this time it’s because  without fail, the sound of the door slamming shut causes the eruption of a cacophonous symphony of varying tones and pitches of yips, yaps, and howls from dozens of hyper-alert dogs, all from within a three block radius.

Thirty minutes later, at your first call of the night, you find yourself rolling around in the smelliest mud you’ve ever encountered, trying to handcuff two burglars who’d decided to lead you on a foot chase through the fairgrounds where, by the way, you realized the circus is in town and that what you’re rolling around in is not mud. Instead, it’s what elephants, horses, and other animals left behind while waiting for their time under the big top.

New Picture

And so it goes … night after night after night.

Look sharp. Act sharp. Be sharp.

Yeah, right …

 

The recent officer-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe has ignited another flame in the fervent calls against police brutality and reform.

At the heart of the situation is the use of the well-known electric control device (ECD) known as TASER.

It was during the arrest of Mr. Brooks for DUI when he decided to escape custody by struggling with the two officers at the scene, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. During Brooks’ violent attempt to flee, he and the two officers fell to the ground where the struggle continued. Brooks was able to overpower the officers and even punched one of the officers in the face.

Brosnan, who was the first officer to respond, attempted to use a TASER on Brooks in an attempt to gain control. This was a justifiable action by Bronson, to use a level of force that was necessary to overcome Brooks’ physical resistance to arrest. But Brooks gained control of Brosnan’s TASER, taking it from him before fleeing on foot.

How much force is reasonable?

Law enforcement officers should use only the amount of force necessary to gain control of an incident, to make an arrest, or protect themselves or others from injury. But they should always use the amount of force necessary to make the arrest. Nothing more and nothing less. In most cases, though, this amounts to nothing more than an officer asking or telling a subject to place their hands behind their back for handcuffing.

The levels of force police use include basic verbal commands, physical restraint which sometimes involve pain compliance techniques/tactics, TASERS, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, pepper spray, batons, etc. And lastly, lethal force when there’s threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officers or others.

Was the Rayshard Brooks incident similar to that of George Floyd?

The Brooks incident was wholly different than what occurred in the George Floyd case. We saw no resistance from Floyd during the time Chauvin and  other officers applied pressure to his body, slowly draining the life from Floyd as the world watched precious seconds tick by.

In the Atlanta case, Brooks absolutely physically resisted a lawful arrest, assaulted an officer, and then forcibly took/stole Bronson’s TASER, and fled. Then, during a brief foot pursuit Brooks turned slightly toward Officer Garrett Rolfe and pointed and fired the stolen TASER at the officer.

A Deadly Weapon?

There’s a debate about whether or not a TASER is a deadly weapon and, if not, was the officer justified in shooting Brooks. On the other hand, if a TASER is indeed a deadly weapon as some are saying, then obviously the use of deadly force against Brooks, or anyone, fits the criteria and is justified.

Earlier this month, Fulton County, Georgia  District Attorney Paul Howard charged six Atlanta police officers with using excessive force in pulling two college students out of a car during a protest. When announcing charges against some of the officers, Howard said a Taser is considered a deadly weapon under Georgia law. Here he is, on video, making the statement during a press conference earlier this month. He made the statement when announcing that he was charging police officers with using excessive force when using  a TASER while arresting college students during a protest.

However, in the Brooks case, just a few days after incident with the college students, DA Howard had apparently decided that a TASER is not a deadly weapon when it is forcibly stolen from a police officer and then deployed against another police officer. He charged Rolfe with felony murder.

By the way, to take something from someone by force or intimidation is considered robbery, a felony.

Either way, there’s a wrinkle in the case and that’s that Officer Rolfe shot Brooks in the back. But there are details that are extremely important. Such as …

The incident was caught on video and we clearly see Rolfe chasing behind Brooks. Each of the two men are clutching a TASER in their right hands. Keep in mind that this all occurred within mere seconds.

While fleeing from the officers, with the stolen TASER in his right hand, Brooks turned/twisted his upper body slightly to his right, looking back over his shoulder toward Rolfe. He aimed the TASER at Rolfe as a portion of his back is visible to Rolfe. His hips and legs still faced forward and he’s still running away from the officers.

Still running away from the officers, with Rolfe in somewhat close pursuit, Brooks fired the TASER at Rolfe. As the weapon was deployed it emitted a brilliant flash of light that’s quite similar to a muzzle flash of a handgun that can be clearly seen, especially so at night. It’s similar to a camera flash that hinders vision for a moment or two. It’s a quick burst of bright light.

 

After discharging the TASER Brooks continued his escape from custody.

 

At the time Brooks fired the TASER setting off the flash of bright light, Rolfe tossed his TASER and drew his service weapon. He then fired three rounds at Brooks.

Many say that shooting someone in the back is illegal. Well, it depends on the circumstances and, in a nutshell, it boils down to whether the officer reasonably believed at the point he pulled the trigger, that the use of deadly force was needed in order to prevent great bodily injury to himself or to others. Not a second before the trigger is pulled, but at that precise moment.

In that precise moment when an officer must make the “blink of an eye” decision as to whether or not someone’s life is in danger, including their own, if they should return fire, are there bystanders, is a dangerous criminal going to escape and go on to harm someone else, is the fleeing subject wanted for a serious offense (why else would they have assaulted two officers and then fled the scene), and, and, what-if, what-if. This, all within the blink of an eye.

Remember, a police officer’s quickest reaction time (based on a study of 46 trained officers), when they already know the threat is there, AND, with their finger already on the trigger, is 0.365 seconds. That’s certainly not enough time to take aim, yell a bunch of commands, check for passersby, look for accomplices, and, well, you get the idea.

To add to the zillion thoughts to process, this is what the officer sees and to what they must react. You tell me, is this fleeing person firing a handgun or a TASER? The flash from either could easily prevent any reasonable person from taking the distinction, especially during a highly stressful situation. It’s even more difficult to process when the incident occurs at night.

And, the image above clearly shows how and why sometimes fleeing criminals wind up with bullet wounds to the back.


For your information, and to help you better understand the charges brought against the former officers involved in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, here are a few applicable Georgia criminal code sections.

Actually, I’m not at all certain that Georgia law supports the charges.

Officer Rolfe was charged with felony murder for shooting Brooks. This is a crime where the deliberate intention to kill must be present. Or, if the person is actively involved in the commission of felony when a person is killed, such as when a bank robber accidentally fires a weapon inside the bank and the round strikes a teller and he dies. That’s felony murder. Plotting to kill someone and you do. That’s felony murder. Beating an elderly woman to death because she wouldn’t smile at you. That’s felony murder.

This case doesn’t meet those requirements. The DA may have slightly overcharged. Perhaps he should have waited until the investigation had concluded and perhaps he should have consulted with the state investigators before charging Rolfe and Bronson. That’s typically how it works.

In Georgia, felony murder is:

ARTICLE 1 – HOMICIDE
§ 16-5-1 – Murder; felony murder

O.C.G.A. 16-5-1 (2010)
16-5-1. Murder; felony murder

(a) A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

(b) Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

(c) A person also commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

(d) A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life.


Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-10-33

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “firearm” shall include stun guns and tasers. A stun gun or taser is any device that is powered by electrical charging units such as batteries and emits an electrical charge in excess of 20,000 volts or is otherwise capable of incapacitating a person by an electrical charge.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to remove or attempt to remove a firearm, chemical spray, or baton from the possession of another person if:

(1) The other person is lawfully acting within the course and scope of employment;  and

(2) The person has knowledge or reason to know that the other person is employed as:

(A) A peace officer as defined in paragraph (8) of Code Section 35-8-2 ;


Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-11-106

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “firearm” shall include stun guns and tasers. A stun gun or taser is any device that is powered by electrical charging units such as batteries and emits an electrical charge in excess of 20,000 volts or is otherwise capable of incapacitating a person by an electrical charge.

(b) Any person who shall have on or within arm’s reach of his or her person a firearm or a knife having a blade of three or more inches in length during the commission of, or the attempt to commit:

(1) Any crime against or involving the person of another;

(2) The unlawful entry into a building or vehicle;

(3) A theft from a building or theft of a vehicle;

(4) Any crime involving the possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, dispensing, administering, selling, or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance or marijuana as provided in Code Section 16-13-30 , any counterfeit substance as defined in Code Section 16-13-21 , or any noncontrolled substance as provided in Code Section 16-13-30.1 ; or

(5) Any crime involving the trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, or illegal drugs as provided in Code Section 16-13-31 ,

and which crime is a felony, commits a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by confinement for a period of five years, such sentence to run consecutively to any other sentence which the person has received.

(c) Upon the second or subsequent conviction of a person under this Code section, the person shall be punished by confinement for a period of ten years. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the sentence of any person which is imposed for violating this Code section a second or subsequent time shall not be suspended by the court and probationary sentence imposed in lieu thereof.

(d) The punishment prescribed for the violation of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall not be reducible to misdemeanor punishment as is provided by Code Section 17-10-5 .

(e) Any crime committed in violation of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall be considered a separate offense.


Is a TASER deadly?

In 2019, Reuters reported documenting at least 1,081 U.S. deaths involving TASER use by police. These deaths occurred since police began routinely using the electronics control devices in the early 2000s.

In 2009, these people died as a result of TASER deployment by police. Many had underlying health conditions and/or drug use/abuse that contributed to their deaths.

1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17

Martinsville, Virginia

Initial complaint – Police were called to Jones’ home because of a loud noise complaint from neighbors. Jones died in his home after being shot with a police Taser.

2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31

Bakersfield, California

Initial complaint – Family members called police because Rodolfo was exhibiting odd and bizarre behavior. Lepe died at the hospital after being shot with a police Taser.

3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52

Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

Initial complaint – unknown

4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45

Stockton, California

Initial complaint – unknown

5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28

San Jose, California

Initial complaint – unknown

6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37

Thomasville, Georgia

Initial complaint – Byrd had been in an auto accident and was disoriented. He was also bleeding from several lacerations. The responding police officer found cocaine at the scene and attempted to arrest Byrd, who then became combative. The officer deployed his Taser, attempting to stop the threat. Byrd stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43

Iberia, Louisiana

Unknown

8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32

Los Angeles, California

Unknown

9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40

Conroe, Texas

Unknown

10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15

Bay City, Michigan

Unknown

11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40

Freeport, Illinois

Moore, a wanted fugitive, fought with police when they attempted to apprehend him. Officers deployed their Tasers to help effect the arrest and Moore soon began to complain of shortness of breath. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48

Tamarac, Florida

Unknown

13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41

Fresno, California

Unknown

14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16

Detroit, Michigan

Mitchell, who weighed 110 pounds and stood 5’2″ tall at the time of arrest, was in custody and undergoing a pat down search by police when a struggle began. The officer deployed his Taser and the boy died. Autopsy results revealed the boy had a heart condition that, when aggravated by the Taser blast, caused the death.

15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38

Modesto, California

Prescott, a jail inmate, struggled with deputies who deployed Tasers. The coroner ruled that it was the physical exertion from the struggle that killed Prescott, not the Taser.

16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker,

Tuscon, Arizona

Initial complaint – loud noise

17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24

Fort Worth, Texas

Initial complaint – Parents called police to assist with controlling their mentally impaired son.

18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35

Lumberton, Texas

Initial complaint – DUI traffic stop. LaDay ran and was shot with a Taser.

19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53

Holbrook, Arizona

Unknown

20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27

La Marque, Texas

Police found Valentine rolling in a ditch. They deployed their Tasers and the subject died. Autopsy revealed a controlled substance in Valentine’s system.

21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37

Salem, Oregon

Initial complaint – trespassing.

22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32

Hurricane, Utah

Cardell’s wife called 911 asking for help with her husband who was experiencing a psychotic episode. Cardell was being treated and medicated for his condition. Here’s the wife’s 911 call.

This is actual police audio from the scene. It begins with the officer saying, “I’m 23…” That’s short for 10-23, meaning he has arrived on the scene. Listen as he fires his Taser at the man who is clearly distraught. Then you’ll hear the officers begin to notice that the man is not breathing and has no pulse.

23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48

Bel Air, Maryland

Initial complaint – Homeless man knocking on doors looking for a friend.

24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36

South Windsor, Connecticut

Unknown

25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37

Fontana, California

Unknown

26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25

Bakersfield, California

Unknown

27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35

Simi Valley, California

Unknown

28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27

Riverside County, California

Unknown

29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52

Moreno Valley, California

Unknown

30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53

Greenville, South Carolina

Initial complaint – Ridlehuber’s family reported him as a missing person.

31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Unknown

32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38

Greensboro, North Carolina

Scuffle with deputies inside the local jail.

33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36

Mesa, Arizona

Unknown

34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37

Arizona City, Arizona

Unknown

35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27

Los Angeles, California

Unknown

36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27

Modesto, California

Dent swallowed a bag of methamphetamine to prevent police officers from retrieving it as evidence. An officer then placed a Taser in direct contact with Dent’s skin and fired. Dent died hours later, but autopsy results indicated that the meth he’d ingested was the cause of death, not the Taser blast.

37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38

Aurora, Colorado

38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45

Modesto, California

Initial complaint – Home invasion/robbery. Ham became combative with jailers so they used a Taser to get him under control. He died immediately after being shot. Autopsy results indicated that Ham had an enlarged heart.

39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21

Brooklyn, Ohio

Unknown

40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44

Laredo, Texas

Initial complaint – Burglary in progress. Battistata was confronted by police as a burglary suspect. The officer deployed her Taser and the suspect died on the scene. Autopsy results indicated that the suspect died as a result of a cocaine overdose.

41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38

Bradenton, Florida

Initial complaint – Officer stopped Humbert for riding a bicycle after dark without a headlight.

42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38

Panama City, Florida

Initial complaint – Possession of cocaine

43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36

Ukiah, California

Unknown

44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19

San Bernadino, California

Initial complaint – Fight call

45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33

Gallatin, Tennessee

Unknown

46. Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58

Corpus Christi, Texas

Initial complaint – Man riding a bicycle against the flow of traffic.

47. Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43

Coram, New York

Initial Complaint – Bain’s brother called police asking for help because Bain was high on cocaine.

48. Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30

East Grand Rapids, Michigan

Initial complaint – Bolick’s father called police because he was concerned about his son’s odd behavior.


Again, the law is clear. If a police officer reasonably believes that someone is about to use deadly force on him,  the police officer is permitted to use deadly force to protect himself. We, the armchair quarterbacks, are not permitted make the determination of what was on the police officer’s mind at the moment the action took place. Besides, the determination is not based on what a reasonable civilian would do, but what a reasonable police officer would do.

“Shots fired!”

“I’m hit”

“He’s running.”

“I need backup.”

“In the alley behind Joe’s Pawn Shop.”

“He’s shooting again.”

Silence.

Then, “Man down! Send paramedics … NOW!”

And then it starts. The looky-loos come out of the woodwork with cellphones and cameras in hand. The cop-haters who’re looking for an excuse to lob a few rocks and bricks and circle around the officer who’s bleeding, and scared and upset, with a million zillion images bouncing around inside his skull. And the “what-ifs” ricochet among those images. It’s a devastating experience, realizing you’ve just shot someone.

The cop’s adrenaline is in crash mode and his emotions are speeding to places they’ve not been before. Time is in full herky-jerky mode, speeding up to catch up to realtime after its abrupt switch to slow motion when the action first fired-up its engines. Sound returns slowly after a bout of “tunnel hearing.”

“If I Only Had a Brain” ~ The Scarecrow, from The Wizard of Oz

Each of us, hopefully, has a functioning brain (there are exceptions for politicians) and it’s that mass that fills the space between our ears that controls everything we do. It’s also in charge of our emotions. More specifically, it’s the amygdala section of the brain that’s assigned charge of emotional responses. The amygdala typically works and plays well with the other parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex that, by the way, controls complex decision-making.

However, when the brain perceives danger, the typically smooth-running operation inside our skulls goes a bit wonky because the moment danger is detected a major dam located in the adrenal glands is breached. This sudden discord sends out adrenaline to flood our systems.

Adrenaline, the hormone that boosts  blood circulation, increases breathing rate and metabolism and causes our muscles to rise up and prepare for battle. Then all hell breaks lose.

The amygdala section of the brain decides it wants to be in charge and leads a successful coup against the prefrontal cortex, taking control of the making of decisions. Since the amygdala has not been properly schooled in decision-making skills, the results are kaleidoscopic and slightly out of whack responses to various situations. It distorts and narrows our visual and auditory senses to the point where we often focus our attentions on a single point, skipping over other often important things taking place around us.

Fellow author, friend, and police psychologist Ellen Kirshman summed up the experience as it relates to police officers as, and I don’t recall her exact words, but were something like, “Police officers are called upon to do the unnatural. They run toward danger, not away from it.”  I read her quote in an article a while back about the deputy in Florida who failed to act during the horrific school shooting that occurred there. She also said something similar to what I’ve said here on this blog time and time and time again … no one but the officer who’s at the scene at the precise moment the danger takes place knows exactly what happened. (Ellen, I apologize if I’ve misquoted you, but I couldn’t locate the article).

In other words …

Monday Morning Quarterbacks Lack the Touch, Taste, Smell, and Motion to Know with 100% Certainty What Took Place

It’s easy for the public to render judgement regarding an officer’s actions, or lack of action, by switching on the TV or their computers to view a video recording of an event. Commentators often offer slow-motion replays, rewinds, zoom views, and various angles, and their opinions as to what happened and/or should have or shouldn’t have happened.

The officer on the scene, however, views the situation in real time, within a time period of a split second or two, while their brain is sending adrenaline throughout their system, with parts of the mind taking charge over other parts that typically supply reason based upon well-thought-out decisions, decisions that take time and energy before an action is performed.

The body of an officer involved in an intense shootout is undergoing many changes all at once. There’s the whole adrenaline thing, of course, while the brain is rapidly switching back and forth between tunnel vision to tunnel hearing, meaning that during the times they’re visually surveying a scene the volume of their auditory functions is greatly reduced, or nonexistent. They cannot use both tunnel vision and tunnel hearing at the same time. The brain does not allow it during times of extreme stress.

Furthermore, during times of extreme stress, the brain may completely shut off auditory functions which is the reason that in post shooting interviews some officers report not hearing the sounds of shots being fired.

I, for one, am a perfect example. During a bank robbery shootout, I saw puffs of smoke (in slow motion) rise from the robber’s handgun, but never heard a single sound. Not even when I returned fire. Actually, from the moment the situation turned violent until I chased the wounded man and tackled him, I don’t recall hearing anything until I rolled him over and then heard the “click, click, clicks” as he pointed his gun at me and repeatedly pulled the trigger. I’ll never forget those sounds. Not ever.

Thankfully, he’d fired the last round before making his final charge. But until that point, it’s like we were in a vacuum.

This experience and others like it explain why so often police officers simply do not recall hearing a specific number of shots fired. In the world of neuroscience this total shutdown of hearing is called auditory exclusion.

A police officer’s overall situational awareness can become dulled to the point of totally blocking out things going on in their periphery, which presents a huge problem for them if the field of danger extends beyond the point of their focus/attention, and it often does—more than one attacker, threat, etc.

Filling In the Blanks

Officers are human, a fact which seems to escape some people. And being human prompts the desire for them to believe they “should have” both heard and seen the action as it unfolded. Therefore, their very human minds attempt to supply the missing information—the sound of gunfire or seeing the man with a gun standing to the side.

To fill in these voids the brain creates a memory by drawing on context and even experience (“I know that’s what a gunshot sounds like therefore I must’ve heard that sound today”).

The same is true in reverse. The officer who’s incapable of remembering a crucial bit of information that occurred during a stressful event, while their attention was distracted, actually may not believe it happened, despite clear and concrete evidence to the contrary.

This, the brain creating “fill in the blank” memories is one reason why so many Monday morning quarterbacks immediately jump to the unfounded conclusion that an officer must be lying or attempting to cover up a misdeed. But it’s just not so. Sure, sometimes people lie. I won’t discount that fact. But in the vast majority of stressful encounters, law enforcement or otherwise, the amygdala section of the human brain is the culprit.

Anyway, the only true means to judge any situation is in real time surrounded by all the sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions that come with it, along with access to the officer’s thoughts and emotions as the event unfolded. Attempting to do so on Monday morning while watching a replay of video is not the same.

Not even close.

Nor is it possible.


OMG! Death of Person Killed By Cops Ruled a HOMICIDE!

Please, don’t let those click-bait headlines get your unmentionables all bunched up, because ALL, and I repeat, ALL killings of human beings by other humans are homicides. And certain homicides are absolutely legal.

That’s right, L.E.G.A.L., legal.

New Picture

Yes, each time prison officials pull the switch, inject “the stuff,” or whatever means they use to execute a condemned prisoner, they commit homicide. All people who kill attackers while saving a loved one from harm have committed homicide. And all cops who kill while defending their lives or the lives of others have committed homicide. These instances are not a crime.

It’s when a death is caused illegally—murder or manslaughter—that makes it a criminal offense.

Murder is an illegal homicide.

For example, in Virginia:

§ 18.2-32. First and second degree murder defined; punishment.

Murder, other than capital murder, by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary or abduction, except as provided in § 18.2-31, is murder of the first degree, punishable as a Class 2 felony.

All murder other than capital murder and murder in the first degree is murder of the second degree and is punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than forty years.

Therefore, those seemingly dramatic headlines that read “Shooting By Cop Ruled a Homicide,” well, they’re often nothing more than words used to affect people’s emotions, induce a reaction, or to encourage people to click over to their website, which, by the way, is how many “news” outlets pay the bills.

So please, un-wad those unmentionables and don’t be a victim of media sensationalism.


Yet another “Please”

Please don’t rely solely on news and social media as a basis for rendering judgement on any incident. Those reports are all over the place, and many are extremely inaccurate. They’re often uneducated speculations, wishes, dreams, etc. of “reporters” hoping to get the first scoop and to stir the emotions of readers and viewers. It’s always best to wait until all facts surface before making a final determination. Unless, of course, there’s a credible video such as the one seen by the world where the officer held his knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck.

The Atlanta officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of a person, but the circumstances involved were far different. Sure, there was video, but what we saw occur on this particular video is not as clear cut as the one recorded in Minneapolis.


Remember, the law says we’re not allowed to play Monday morning armchair quarterback. Instead, we must base our decisions on the reasonableness of a particular use of force from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene. Not the opinion of @I.B. Lion, the guy in his mom’s basement who pumps out dozens of false media reports on social media sites.

From Tennessee v. Garner

“The use of deadly force is not justifiable . . . unless (i) the arrest is for a felony; and (ii) the person effecting the arrest is authorized to act as a peace officer or is assisting a person whom he believes to be authorized to act as a peace officer; and (iii) the actor believes that the force employed creates no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons; and (iv) the actor believes that (1) the crime for which the arrest is made involved conduct including the use or threatened use of deadly force; or (2) there is a substantial risk that the person to be arrested will cause death or serious bodily harm if his apprehension is delayed.”


The Supreme Court said in the Graham v. Connor decision, “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”


*This post is not a political statement, nor is it a defense of any officer’s actions.

I was not at the location where the man was shot and killed by police in Atlanta so it would be impossible for me to know exact details. I will never know the precise thoughts going through the officers’ mind and/or the state of their emotions and perceptions at the time of the shooting. No one could.

Again, I’m not pointing fingers or offering an opinion as to right or wrong. Just the facts.