Are you a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels?

Are you also a fan of the REACHER Amazon Prime television series?


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet the real-life Jack Reacher, stunningly portrayed by Alan Ritchson, and to see him in action?

Another yes?

But meeting the living, breathing, and extremely muscular Jack Reacher/Alan Ritchson could never happen to me, you say …

Well, Lee Child and I anticipated the last statement, the one where you thought you could not in a million years see Alan Ritchson in person. So Lee and I, by way of the Writers’ Police Academy,  thought the proper thing to do was to make it possible for you  to meet the star of the REACHER TV series.

Alan Ritchson as REACHER

But meeting Alan Ritchson didn’t seem to be quite enough to satisfy the needs of diehard REACHER fans.

So here’s what we did …

We’re offering to one extremely lucky person the opportunity to join Lee Child on the set for Amazon’s Reacher Season Two, sometime in the fall, and (hopefully!) show up as a background extra in the show.

Now, here’s how you can be the winner of this jaw-dropping, once in a lifetime prize.

Each year the Writers’ Police Academy hosts a raffle and auction with proceeds helping to offset the whopping expenses of producing the event. This jackpot opportunity, the REACHER Prize, is available by sealed bid. You do not have to attend the Writers’ Police Academy event to enter your bid. Although, sealed bids will be accepted at the June 2-5, 2022 Writers’ Police Academy.

To submit your bid by email, please enter REACHER BID in the subject line. In the body of the email please include your bid (in U.S. dollar amount), your name, address, and phone number. Then send the email to me at

Bidding ends on June 19, 2022 at midnight EST. The winner of the REACHER Prize will be notified on June 21, 2022.

*The REACHER Prize –  “Will involve international travel to Canada (expenses paid, but winner must provide passport and any necessary paperwork) and might be canceled if Covid affects travel or local regulations. If canceled, the winning bid will be refunded.” ~ Lee Child

Lee Child bio and photo

*I’m extremely grateful to Lee Child for his overwhelming support over the years. His extreme yet humble generosity is most often unseen by you, but will always be remembered by me.


Firearms Evidence

Many of the murders that occur in the U.S. involve a firearm of some type. How and what type of evidence recovered from those weapons can have a huge impact on the subsequent criminal trials. Proper evidence collection procedures … well, they can make or break a case.

Here’s a handy top six “How To” list for the heroes of your stories to use when processing firearms evidence.

1. While wearing proper gloves and a face mask to avoid contamination of evidence, safely unload all firearms prior to submitting to property room.

Revolver nomenclature - ATF photo


If the weapon is a revolver, first make note of which chamber was in the firing position and of the type/brand/caliber of ammunition in each chamber. Also note fired and unfired cartridges and their position(s) in the cylinder.

When preparing semiautomatics or fully-automatics be sure the magazines are ejected and the chamber is empty. Make note of the safety position (on or off) and of the de-cocking lever. If there are no safeties and/or de-cocking lever, note that as well. Lock the slide to the rear and insert a plastic zip-tie into the ejection port and down through the magazine well. Then, carefully and slowly release the slide to the forward position until it rests against the plastic tie.

Semi-automatic pistol nomenclature. ATF photo


Engage the safety, if equipped. The weapon is now inoperable and safe for storage.

2. Proper collection of trace evidence from a firearm (hair, tissue, fingerprints, blood, DNA, etc.).

Again, proper gloves and face masks must be worn during this part of the process. To avoid cross-contamination, gloves must be changed with each piece of evidence handled.

*If detective are unsure or feel they can’t obtain a good, solid fingerprint, or other trace evidence, they should submit the weapon to the fingerprint lab for processing.

Gun evidence box - Sirchi photo

Gun evidence box – Sirchi photo

3. Firearms should be stored in paper-based packaging—cardboard box, manilla envelop, etc. Never in plastic! If a firearm is to be shipped it should be securely packaged inside a appropriately labeled cardboard box.

Cardboard evidence box used for packaging firearm - Sirchie product

Sirchie photo

NOTE: If a firearm is located in water it must be packaged in the same water from where it was found. The laboratory will handle testing from that point forward.

4. Bullets. Never mark or deface a bullet, and never handle with bare hands. To avoid corrosion and other moisture-related issues never package bullets in plastic or glass containers. Always store or ship in paper-type packaging.

5. Bullets found embedded in an object—wood, drywall, etc. Do not “dig out” the bullet. If possible, submit the entire item. If it’s not possible to submit the entire article (door frame, tree stump, living room wall, etc.) remove or cut away the portion of the article containing the bullet and retain.

6. When removing a bullet from a body during autopsy, care should be taken to not alter the bullet in any way. Pathologists should use fingers or rubber-tipped forceps during the process. Never an instrument with sharp edges. X-rays of the body should be taken prior bullet removal.

Firearms evidence - Post autopsy image of close contact entry wound.

Post autopsy image of a 9mm bullet wound (entry). Note the Y-incision stitching on the upper chest area of the victim.

Finally, as always, a little common sense goes a long way. The heroes of your stories should use it whenever possible. For example, it’s practically impossible to determine caliber and weapon brand/type merely by looking at a gunshot wound. To have the hero of your story say otherwise tosses his common sense, expertise, and experience out the window.

Confused as to which fingerprinting medium is right for the task at hand? Well, Investigator G. Nome has assembled the ultimate guide for the heroes of your tall tales, and he recommends keeping it within easy reach.

Heroes such as Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, D.D. Warren, Will Trent, or any of their peers, will never again fret over such details.Actually, the creators of those characters—Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Lee Child, and Karin Slaughter—attended training classes at the Writers’ Police Academy to help their protagonists enhance their crime-solving abilities.

The icing on the cake is that many fingerprinting classes at the Writers’ Police Academy are taught by the pros from Sirchie (formerly Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories). Sirchie manufactures fingerprinting powders, lifters, and a wide range of evidence testing and collection equipment and, well, the list of Sirchie’s products is practically endless. Other printing sessions are taught by CSI experts.

The Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie partnered to present the unique event, MurderCon.

Anyway, here’s the scoop on processing prints.

Investigator G. Nome’s Guide to Developing Fingerprints

Before attempting to lift a print from any surface, the savvy investigator will first determine the type of surface to be printed. In addition to surface type and texture (porous, nonporous, etc.), other factors must be considered, such as the presence of foreign matters—dust, dirt, perspiration, blood, oils, grease, and moisture, to name a few.

Lighting is important, including the use of alternate light sources and lasers. The latter two can cause the perspiration and oils in found in some prints to fluoresce, making them easy to see without further developing.

Once investigators have determined the surface type and whether obstacles exist (foreign matter) it’s time to select the proper method and materials needed to properly develop the desired prints(s).

Surface Types

As always, the first order of business is to try and see the prints using only the naked eye. Sometimes they’re quite obvious.

Porous Surfaces – first attempt the naked eye approach. If no prints are obvious, then try fluorescence by laser or alternate light source. If that doesn’t quite work, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, such as…

1. Iodine fuming

2. Ninhydrin

3. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

To learn about Iodine fuming and Ninhydrin, please click here to read my article “Ninhydrin and Iodine Fuming.

Non-Porous Surfaces – again, try the naked eye. If no prints are obvious, then try fluorescence by laser or alternate light source. If those steps do not produce results, then use the following to develop invisible prints.

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue)

2. Cyanoacrylate dye

3. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

4. Powder

To learn about developing prints using SuoerGlue, please click here to read my article “Cyanocrylate Fuming – Fingerprinting with Superglue”

Still not satisfied with your options? Okay, let’s call in the specialists …

Bloodstained Specimens—Porous Surfaces

1. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

2. Ninhydrin

3. Powder – amido black

Bloodstained Specimens—Nonporous Surfaces

1. leucocrystal violet (LCV) or amido black

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue)

3. Cyanoacrylate dye

4. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)


1. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

2. Ninhydrin

3. Silver Nitrate

Rubber Gloves—Semiporous

1. Iodine spray reagent

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming

3. Laser or alternate light source

4. Magnetic powder

5. Cyanoacrylate dye

6. Laser or alternate light source

7. Ninhydrin

Tape—Non-adhesive Side

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming

2. Cyanoacrylate dye

3. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

4. Powder

Tape—Adhesive Side

1. Sticky-side powder

2. Alternate black powder

3. Ash gray powder

4. Gentian violet

Dark-colored adhesive side of tape

1. Ash gray powder

2. Liqui-Drox

3. Gentian violet

* Should the investigator decide to use Cyanoacrylate fuming, it must be done on the nonadhesive side of tape first, then both sides can be processed with Liqui-Drox.

Photographs—Emulsion Side

1. Iodine spray reagent

2. Cyanoacrylate fuming

3. Cyanoacrylate dye

4. Vacuum metal deposition (VMD)

5. Powder

Photographs—Paper Side—Semiporous

1. Cyanoacrylate fuming

2. Magnetic powder

3. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one)

4. Ninhydrin

5. Cyanoacrylate dye

Powder and Other Developer Uses

1. Alternate Black – sticky sides of labels and other tapes.

2. Gentian Violet – adhesive side of various tapes.

3. Sticky-side powder – Duh… This one’s for use on sticky sides of tape.

4. Amido Black (methanol or water based) – prints pressed into bloody surfaces. *water based includes a blood fixative.

5. Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue) – nonporous surfaces.

6. Cyanoacrylate Florescent Dye – used to enhance prints on non-porous surfaces. Best viewed using alternate light sources.

7. DAB (Diaminobenzidine) – developing prints found in blood. Also useful in this situation are Coomassie Brilliant Blue and Crowle’s Double Stain.

8. DFO (1,8-Diazafluoren-9-One) – porous surfaces; reacts with amino acids in perspiration

*Heating a fingerprint to 40 degrees Celcius forces amino acids to separate from a fingerprint. Add a special chemical to the sample and, with a 99% accuracy, the concentration indicates if the fingerprint belongs to either a male or female. Why? Because females have a different concentration of amino acids than males.

9. Iodine Fuming – porous surfaces containing grease or oils; turns yellowish color/stain

10. Ninhydrin – another product used on porous surfaces. Reacts with amino acids in perspiration.

11. Physical Developer – works on both porous and non-porous surfaces and is especially effective on paper currency.

12. Silver Nitrate – porous surfaces, especially paper. Stains caused by presence of Silver Nitrate cannot be removed. Also, prints developed by Silver Nitrate will totally disappear within a few hours, therefore it is imperative to photograph the prints as soon as they’re visible.

13. Sudan Black – a dye that stains sebaceous perspiration on surfaces contaminated by food items of greasy and oily varieties.

14. Vacuum Metal Deposition – non-porous or semi-porous, such as photographs and magazine pages. Use of VMD causes printed material to become extremely fragile.

15. Liqui-Drox – a fluorescent dye used to develop prints on the adhesive and non-adhesive sides of dark-colored tape.

16. MBD (Fluorescent Dye) – used on various colored surfaces.

17. Safranin O (a florescent dye) – used to enhance prints developed by Cyanoacrylate fuming (SuperGlue). Thenoyl Europium Chelate (Fluorescent Dye) is used to stain those prints. This dye can only be viewed under UV light.

More Graveyard Shift Articles about Fingerprinting





There’s still time to sign up for the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy. Please tell your friends, family, fellow writers. And please share the information to your social media. Thanks!


June 2-5, 2022

Location –  NWTC Public Safety Training Academy

Green Bay. Wi


Before I begin I’d like to point out that REACHER the TV show, like the Jack Reacher books, contains quite a bit of over the top action. There’s a fair amount of fighting and violence. That’s what makes the Reacher legacy what it is. Reacher is an over the top guy who handles his business in an over the top way using over the top tactics and techniques.

However, the show shows feature live actors portraying law enforcement officers. Obviously, in an over the top depiction of crime and crime scenes, certain liberties must be taken to fit the main character, over the top Jack Reacher. Still, much of what we see and hear regarding the police officers on this show ring fairly true—mannerisms, cop-speak, how they hold weapons, drive a patrol car, handle themselves in deadly situations, etc. So “over the top” aside, let’s take a look at REACHER: Season 1 Episode 2 – “First Dance.”

Off we go …

Part of Reacher’s character is that he sticks up for the little guy. He’s generous with his compassion for those who can’t take care of themselves, which is no surprise knowing Lee Child. Obviously, the author of the novels, who himself has a heart of gold, transferred a piece of that heart to Reacher.

Reacher’s compassion for those whose current position in life is significantly less than fortunate, part of the great layering when building the character, appeared when he encountered a dog who’s abused by its owner. Reacher fills the thirsty dog’s bowl with fresh water and then in true Reacher style let the owner know that he’s taken a keen interest in the dog’s wellbeing.

But that’s just one aspect of Jack Reacher. We continue to learn more about the character as time and dialog and mannerisms pass.

At the conclusion of episode one, we saw Finlay, Roscoe, and Reacher traveling through the countryside, where Reacher said, “Just thinking maybe my brother told me about Blind Blake for a reason. Thinking about him lying in that morgue. Thinking I’m supposed to do something about it.”

“Like what?” said Finlay.

“I guess I’ll find everybody responsible. And kill every last one of them.”

First Dance

Episode two opens in the evening, after dark, with the trio arriving back at the Margrave Police Department. Reacher gets out of the car and storms off on foot heading to the home of Paul Hubble, the likely target of the prison murder attempt. Fortunately for the slim and bookish Hubble, the attackers mistook Reacher as the intended victim. Unfortunately for the attackers, they mistook Reacher as the intended victim. The mistaken identity is confirmed in a later visit to Hubble’s home.

“Where do you think you’re going?, Finlay said to Reacher’s back as he walked away. “Reacher! Reacher, get back here!”

“Maybe give him some space,” Roscoe said.

“I don’t need 250 pounds of frontier justice tearing up this town. Follow him, make sure he doesn’t ruin our case.” said Finlay.

“Why me?”

“Outside the morgue he actually listened to you.”

“And what if he doesn’t now?”

“Shoot him.”

So Roscoe attempts to pursue Reacher, driving her patrol car at the pace of a snail heavily medicated on Valium. The scene is a great example of the mood and setting when working patrol at night.

The world looks different from inside a police car, with the various shades and colors of lights winking and blinking combined with monotone voices spewing softly from the radio speaker.

Looking out from Roscoe’s patrol car as she “followed” Reacher

Working the night shift as a patrol officer is an experience like no other. It’s a side of the city most people never see.


“Your headlights wash over the back of an alley as feral dogs and cats scramble out of the dumpster that sits like an old and tired dinosaur behind Lula Mae’s Bakery. The knot of hungry animals scatter loaves of two-day-old bread in their haste to escape the human intruder who dared to meddle with their nocturnal feeding.

A mutt with three legs and matted fur hobbles behind a rusty air conditioning unit, dragging a long, dirty paper bag half-filled with crumbled bagels that spill and leave a trail of stale nuggets in its wake. Tendrils of steam rise slowly from storm drains; ghostly, sinewy figures melting into the black sky. A train whistle moans in the distance.

The night air is damp with fog, dew, and city sweat that reeks of gasoline and sour garbage. Mannequins stare out from tombs of storefront glass, waiting for daylight to take away the flashing neon lights that reflect from their plaster skin.

You park at the rear of the alley, stopping next to a stack of flattened cardboard boxes, their labels reflecting someone’s life for the week—chicken, lettuce, disposable diapers, and cheap wine.

Four more hours. If you could only …”

To read the full article click here.

Roscoe lost sight of Reacher, so she creeps through the neighborhood with ominous horror-movie-esque music playing in the background. She’s glancing to the side, scanning the area for signs of Reacher, when he suddenly appears in front of her car. After jamming the brake pedal to the floor to avoid hitting Reacher who’s standing mere inches from the front bumper, she and Reacher have a discussion. He’s not happy that she’s following him.

Reacher – “I don’t need a babysitter and I don’t need you screwing up my investigation.”

Roscoe – “Okay, first… this is not your investigation. Second, babysitting some giant vagrant is hardly my dream assignment. I could be out there looking for who killed your brother. So stand down and let me do my job, because I’m very good at it. ”

Reacher – “If you were very good at it, you wouldn’t have been trying to follow a man on foot in a police car.”

Roscoe’s argument is valid. Following behind a pedestrian, while driving a marked police car is a goofy thing to do. But I’ve seen supposedly savvy adult law enforcement officers driving along, trying to be discreet, while following suspects who are on foot. They’re either one round short of a full magazine, or they’re lazy. No matter the reason why, it’s not a good tactic.

Totally unrelated, this reminded me of back in the day when I was a field training officer. When I had a brand new officer in the car (many old-timers will back me on this one), if we initiated a traffic stop or saw a wanted person and the subject suddenly ran, well, rest assured I sent the rookie chasing after them, on foot, while I drove like a bat out of hell to the next block, across a vacant lot, a parking lot, etc. to “cut ’em off at the pass.”

Fun Fact -After academy graduation, new officers enter into the second phase of their training, where they receive on the job training under the watchful eye and guidance of a certified Field Training Officer. When they’ve satisfactorily completed the field training program the new officers are ready to hit the streets on their own. The Field Training  program was developed in the early 1970s by the San Jose, Ca. Police Department.

After a bit of back and forth, Roscoe convinces Reacher to let her drive him to Hubble’s house.

Once Reacher is seated in the car he turns to Roscoe and said, ” I’m not a vagrant, I’m a hobo.”

Roscoe replied, “Whatever.”

Hubble’s House

  • Hubble is not at home so Roscoe and Reacher chat with with wife. The nonchalant fact-seeking banter is good, and realistic.
  • Reacher reveals to Hubble’s wife that her husband’s phone number was located in the shoe of Reacher’s deceased brother Joe.
  • Reacher notices that one of the Hubbles’ two daughters, like their father, wears glasses. This is the “aha” moment when Reacher realizes that it was Hubble, not he, who was the target of the attack at the prison.
  • Reacher asks to use the restroom, an excuse to search for clues, which he finds— a Velcro-like agrimony seed pod, commonly called a hitchhiker, found in the mudroom stuck to a lace in one of Hubble’s dress shoes.
  • Hubble’s missing. Reacher believes he’s either on the run or the villain has abducted him.

Roscoe and Reacher visit the scene where Joe Reacher was killed.

Reacher – “Gun had a silencer on it, which makes even close-range work inaccurate, but he got a kill shot.”
The addition of a silencer probably doesn’t affect the accuracy of the pistol; however, the added weight could affect the handling of the weapon—ability to hold it straight and level, etc. Those factors could affect accuracy, unless the shooter is familiar with the silencer-equipment handgun, and has practiced shooting with the suppressor attached.

  • Reacher crouched among tall weeds to get a feel for the scene from the position and eyes of Joe Reacher’s killer. This was a great detail. The tactic is one I regularly employed as a police detective. Viewing the scene from the suspect’s position can help spot crucial details you might otherwise miss.

Reacher – “This is where he hid. He enjoyed it. sniper shot from the tree line would have done the job with less risk. The shooter wanted to be close.”

Roscoe – “Maybe it was personal.”

Reacher – “Someone takes your life, it’s always personal.”

Reacher’s statement is one you can take to the bank. Killing another person is extremely personal on many levels. I hope all crime writers incorporate this detail into their work because it can turn an adequate scene and character into something/someone extremely powerful.

The conversation turns to small talk, something Reacher interprets this as Roscoe trying to illicit information to help the department’s investigation into Reacher’s possible involvement in the murders.

Reacher – “Small talk to see if I say something to help your investigation?”

Roscoe – “I’m being nice to a guy who just lost his brother. But, you know, now that you brought it up, you might as well answer my questions.”

So Reacher opened up a bit about his and Joe’s lonely childhood, that Joe was most recently employed by Homeland Security but wasn’t sure which department. Roscoe asked Reacher if he thought Joe’s murder could be linked to his job., but Reacher said they hadn’t spoken for a while so he didn’t know.

Reacher left the scene walking, on his way to find a hotel room.

The hotel parking lot. If fighting is your thing, then here’s a nice one. Quick, too.

Reacher goes into the hotel office where he checks in. On his way out he’s greeted by a group of four young men who’ve consumed a couple of six-packs of beer while waiting for Reacher to arrive. Their mission, assigned to them by the villain of the story, was to inflict bodily harm on Reacher. I’ll pause while you chuckle at the thought of those five unsuspecting men contemplating an outcome of anything short of their own pain and misery.

The cocky leader of the group of thug wannabes said to Reacher – “You’re about to get your ass kicked.”

Reacher replied, “No. I’m just gonna break the hands of three drunk kids.”

Leader – “There’s four of us here.”

Reacher – “One of you has got to drive to the hospital.”

So, the leader of the group took a swing at Reacher and Reacher quickly made good on his promise of breaking the bones of three of the dumb, dumb, dumb men.

The fourth member of the group, the one who still had two good wrists and arms, held his hands in the air and wisely said to Reacher, “Ooh… I-I know where the hospital is.”

Roscoe, who’d been watching from a distance, said to herself, about Reacher, “What the hell just rolled into Margrave?”

A dog without water

The next day, as Reacher walks by the house of the thirsty dog and sees the animal’s bowl is once again empty. So he hops the picket fence and fills it from a hose. The owner steps outside and confronts Reacher who’s squatting beside the dog.

Dog owner – “Can I help you?”

Reacher – “No. Just giving your dog some water.”

Owner – “He must’ve knocked the bowl over, ’cause I gave him water this morning.”

Reacher – “No, you didn’t. Bowl was bone-dry.”

Owner – “You calling me a liar?”

A beat passed and then Reacher said, “Yes.”

Dog owner – “Well, I suggest you leave my property.”

Reacher pats the dog. “Good boy.”

This guy, the irresponsible dog owner, is pushing all the wrong buttons, something he’ll soon regret.

By the way, there is no shortage of cops who love animals who are quick to come to their defense when they’re mistreated. Animal control officers are frequently called by police officers who witness abused and mistreated animals. This often occurs when officers enter homes while serving search warrants or responding to complaints/calls. It is when they’re inside the home or in backyards, places not typically in public view, that such appalling abuse is discovered.

Margrave police chief is brutally murdered.

Margrave police chief Morrison is stripped naked, brutally murdered, and nailed to the wall with six spikes. Part of his male anatomy was severed and subsequently forced down his throat and into his stomach. The chief’s wife is also killed. The medical examiner asks where the body part could/would be located and Reacher replied, “In his stomach. You’ll find them during the autopsy.”

Yes, it would take a bit of strength to hold a man that size a few feet off the floor while hammering spikes through his arms and legs. Reacher easily explained it by saying it took at least four to do that to a guy Morrison’s size.

  • The people Hubble worked for said they’d nail him to a wall. Nailing the chief to a wall sent a very clear message to the people within the villain’s organization—screw up and you will find yourself in the chief’s shoes, or lack thereof. Reacher thinks Hubble may already be dead.
  • Mayor Teale, as crooked as he is a dead ringer for Colonel Sanders, the king of fried chicken, appoints himself as the new police chief.

Mayor/Chief Teale

  • Reacher, Roscoe, and Finlay come to the conclusion they cannot trust anyone in the department outside of their trio. One, if not all Margrave police officers are dirty, as was the chief.
  • A man named Kliner practically owns Margrave, from the lovely town square to nearly every major business. It’s his money that allows the town to survive, and it is he who controls the police department.
  • Kliner speaks at a town meeting called by Mayor/Chief Teale, a meeting designed to calm the fears of citizens who fear a serial killer, probably Reacher, is loose in their sleepy corporate limits. Kliner tells the people, “I have faith in our police force. I have faith in Chief Detective Finlay. I have faith in our new chief of police, Mayor Teale. And I promise I will provide whatever funds, whatever resources to find whomever is responsible for these heinous acts. You have my word.”


  •  After the meeting, Teale, the newly self-appointed crooked chief of police, sends Finlay on wrong path, steering him away from the murder investigation of Reacher’s brother.
  • Finlay to Reacher, speaking of Teale –  “Just sent me off to chase my tail.”
  • An FBI agent called Picard, a former friend of Finlay, is called to assist. His job is to take Hubble’s family (Hubble is missing) to a safe place and guard them while Finlay, Reacher, and Roscoe sort out the situation. Picard once told Finlay to not take the job in Margrave.
  • Reacher takes Hubble’s car and calls Spivey, the prison guard who set up he and Hubble for the prison beat-down, to arrange a meeting. When he arrived he learns Spivey set him up for an ambush, where he’s cut during a knife fight. But, like real life police officers and soldiers, Reacher fights to win and to survive. Losing is not an option. He later told Finlay, while Roscoe closed the knife wounds on his back using Superglue, the two men who attacked him had to be special forces from South America.

Reacher – “Probably military or ex-military—South American.”

Finlay – “How could you know that?”

Reacher – “‘Cause if they weren’t I would’ve killed them within ten seconds.”

Finally – “How’d you know they were South American military?”

Reacher – “Spoke Spanish, had Glock-17s and the technique one guy used to head-butt me was from a martial art hardly anyone uses it except branches of South American special forces. Plus, if they weren’t, I would’ve killed them within ten seconds.”

Roscoe – “Why would South American military be involved in this?”

Reacher – “Don’t know. You ever see anyone like that around Margrave?”

Finlay – “Not till you showed up.”

Reacher – “Then they’re hired muscle. Not running the show.”

Later, and here’s the romance du jour, Roscoe and Reacher head out of town for a bit of R&R and to lay low. They take Roscoe’s pickup truck to a roadhouse across the border in Alabama where the pair have a beer and a belly-rubbing’, gazedeeply-and-longingly-into-your-dance-partner’s-eyes slow dance to Patsy Cline’s classic song, “Crazy.”

Roscoe – “Uh-oh. They’re playin’ Patsy. You know what that means. Means we got to dance. Practically the law.”

Reacher – “I don’t dance.”

Roscoe – “You’re telling me that your mama never taught her sons how to dance?”

Reacher – “She did, but when I ask people to dance, it usually precedes a lot of punching.”

Roscoe – “Good thing I’m doing the asking. Come on …”

It’s a rainy night, a deluge, actually, which leads to a road closure and the pair are forced to spend the night in a hotel room, together. Reacher is shirtless and sleeps on the floor. Roscoe takes the bed wearing only a t-shirt and underwear. But the magic moment was not to be. Not this night.

The next morning Roscoe and Reacher go to Roscoe’s house and find her home burgled and ransacked, complete with muddy footprints on the carpet. Roscoe enters with pistol drawn and Reacher clutching a knife and ready to do battle.

They clear the house, and yes, that is what is sounds like as officers move from room to room making sure no one is hiding. They shout, “Clear! when they’ve determined no one is under a bed, in a closet, behind a shower curtain, or behind a door, etc.

Reacher believes the intruders may have been there to kill him or both of them. As they close the door they discover the words “See you soon” carved on the inside of the wooden door.

“I’m going to need a gun,” Reacher says.

Again, good cop chemistry and mannerisms from the actors, and great writing and adaptation of the books. A lot of violence? Sure. But hey, it’s Jack Reacher, a human bulldozer in a china shop.

Here’s a bit of trivia – Do you recognize this crooner who sent Paula Abdul’s heart aflutter during an early American Idol audition?


Sign up today!

When Jack Reacher stepped into our living room several days ago I knew I wanted needed to bring REACHER to this blog, and to you. There are many intricate details in the show that mirror real police officers and how they carry themselves. I’ll highlight those characteristics. I’ll also point out the things that aren’t quite realistic to help you, the writer, avoid making similar errors in your books.

Before I begin with the the second part of the review of episode one, Welcome to Margrave, I’d like to once again mention that I discussed this endeavor with Lee Child, Reacher’s creator, to make certain I had his blessing to review the show. He gave his approval without hesitation.

So, without further ado and with a hearty thanks to Lee Child, off we go. But first a disclaimer – HERE’S YOUR SPOILER ALERT!

NOTE – Part One of Welcome to Margrave was an introduction of the main characters in season one and how well the actors played the part of law enforcement officers. Part Two is an examination of the law enforcement procedure and forensics used in the episode. In addition, I’ve included a few details of interest. Welcome to Margrave is the only two-part review. After Part Two (today) I’ll post an episode review on Friday of each week.

Please keep in mind that REACHER is a television show that has less than one hour to tell a complete story and deliver nail-biting action and a bit of romance, introduce characters and setting, stimulate the emotions of viewers and, well, you get the idea. Obviously, in order to achieve the goal of having viewers want to want the show certain liberties with facts must be taken to hold our interest.

Reacher and Blind Blake

This review can’t begin without mentioning the purpose of Reacher’s visit to Margrave, his love of music,  especially the blues. During his initial interview with Detective Finlay, Reacher said he caught a bus in Tampa the previous night, traveled over 500 miles, and when the bus reached the road to Margrave he asked the driver for the favor of making an unscheduled stop to let him off.

Finlay asked why the choice to exit the bus on the main road to then walk 14 miles to Margrave.

Reacher responded, “On account of Blind Blake.”

Reacher’s answer clearly irritated Finlay. “Okay, who’s that?” he said, adding a bit of dramatic tough-guy rasp to his typically smooth but authoritative voice. For emphasis he combined the gruff tone with a slightly priggish side-to-side “oh-no-you-didn’t-go-there” head shake. Typical cop behavior.

“Blues singer,” Reacher said. “Legend has it he died in Margrave a long time ago. I figured I’d learn a bit about him.” A beat passed, then he nodded his head a couple of times and added, “I like music.”

Arthur “Blind” Blake was indeed a real person who is often referred to as ‘King of the Ragtime Guitar.’ His idiosyncratic playing style was quite complex and unique. For many years it was believed that Blake was born in Florida. However, in 2011 discovered documents proved he was born in 1896, in Newport News, Va.

Blake’s talent took him on the road playing music in southern states, including on the streets of Jacksonville, Florida. But he eventually migrated to Ohio and then Chicago where, in 1926, he landed a recording deal with Paramount Records. Paramount eventually moved their studios to Milwaukee, Wi. where Blake recorded with them until 1932. Blind Blake died in Milwaukee on Dec. 1, 1934.

A bit of fun trivia – Lee Child is blues fan. So much so that he collaborated with performing songwriter team Jen and Scott Smith, and their band Naked Blue, on the Jack Reacher inspired album “Just The Clothes On My Back.” Click here to listen to their song “Killing Floor.” As you know, “Killing Floor” is the book the first season of the REACHER television series is based upon.

Child’s music interests vary and includes country music. A few years back, while at the Writers’ Police Academy, Lee bid an extremely generous amount of money to win, at auction, a guitar signed by country stars Lady Antebellum (now Lady A), Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, and The Oak Ridge Boys.

Now, for the police procedure and forensics in Welcome to Margrave


The Diner – Reacher is seated in a corner booth, about to enjoy a forkful of what is, according to the server, “the best peach pie you ‘gone find in Georgia.” Two officers drive up to the diner with red and blue lights winking and blinking and flashing, and sirens blaring. One parks near the front the door, gets out and racks a shell into the chamber of a shotgun, all while staring at Reacher through the front plate glass window of the restaurant. The second officer fishtails his patrol car into the gravel lot like a Nascar driver after “trading paint” at the Daytona 500. Needless to say, the officers came in hot, which is not a great tactical move if you want to sneak up on a dangerous criminal, or to avoid a potential hostage situation.

The phrase ‘trading paint’ is a colloquialism for the event when 2 racing automobiles bump against one another often causing the paint from each vehicle to be transposed onto the other. – Wikipedia

Reacher sensed the highly-strung and intense officers were coming for him. His acute and highly-developed situational awareness went to work telling him to immediately scan the diner—a happy couple seated in a booth at the front window directly in front of him, their server, two playful young boys at the counter, the cook, and the woman who’d brought Reacher the slice of peach pie and coffee. Had he been the desperate murderer the cops anticipated, he’d had his pick of hostages.

It was obvious, though, that Reacher, not a killer, was concerned for the safety of the employees and diners, and that any sudden moves by him could result in innocent people being harmed. So Reacher calmly placed his hands, palms down on the table, and waited for the nerves-on-edge-officers to do exactly as he expected, rush inside with emotions high and loaded guns drawn and pointed at him. Both had a clear case of adrenaline-induced tunnel vision and were focused solely on Reacher, a very large and muscular man who they believed had brutally murdered a man just a few hours ago. The officers were so clearly fixated on Reacher that the safety of the others did not enter their minds. Not good police procedure, but this is important for writers to know because tunnel vision is a very real problem for officers who’re involved in high-stress, possible life-threatening situations. The scene was great, and provided tons of details about the two officers that would play out later in the series.

  • Both officers held their index fingers outside the trigger guards. This is proper procedure to avoid accidental discharges.
  • Not evacuating the diners and staff before having Reacher exit the booth and stand was not tactically sound. If Reacher had been an armed bad guy intent on shooting it out with police chances were great that innocent people could have been wounded or killed. Again, this was a great inside look at the mindset of the two officers, and their backstory (little experience and lack of ongoing training, which could be an issue in the real world).

This scene alone added several important and vivid layers to the setting and characters. This was the moment that showed us what to expect in the town of Margrave. It was as eye-opening as the scene in the Wizard of Oz when the movie switched from black and white to color. It also spoke quite loudly about Reacher—stoic, serene, cool under pressure, and naturally intimidating.

The Police Station – The plaques, awards, and certificates hanging on the lobby wall, along with official department photos of the five Margrave PD employees—chief, three officers, and detective—was nice attention to detail. It’s quite possible you’d see this sort of thing in small town departments. Another popular wallhanging seen in police agencies is a framed collection of patches collected from departments from around the world.






During Finlay’s interview with Reacher he said, “I was informed you were read your rights, so you know you don’t have to answer.” Wisely, Reacher maintained silence.

In the real world where actors aren’t limited to brief scenes to conduct police business, Finlay would’ve again  informed Reacher of his rights according to Miranda and had him acknowledge that he understood those rights. This is something that should be done any time there’s a break between significant periods of questioning and/or when a different officer begins a new interview session.

Again, Finlay is an actor who had mere seconds to get through the scene. The show is not an instructional guide for police officers, but this is something crime writers should know.


  • Officers should repeat the Miranda warnings during each period of questioning. For example, during questioning officers decide to take a break for the night. They come back the next day to try again. They must advise the suspect of his rights again before resuming the questioning.
  • If an officer takes over questioning for another officer, she should repeat the warnings before asking her questions.
  • If a suspect asks for an attorney, officers may not ask any questions.
  • If a suspect agrees to answer questions, but decides to stop during the session and asks for an attorney, officers must stop the questioning.
  • Suspects who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs should not be questioned. Also, anyone who exhibits signs of withdrawal symptoms should not be questioned.
  • Officers should not question people who are seriously injured or ill.
  • People who are extremely upset or hysterical should not be questioned.
  • Officers may not threaten or make promises to elicit a confession.

Subsonic Bullets – A sticking point for avid shooters, I’m sure, was when  Reacher told Finlay the shooter was someone who knows firearms well, and that the bullets were small caliber, 9mm 95 grain. “That’s subsonic,” Reacher said. “A silencer was used. He also knew enough to pick up his brass.”

The difference between subsonic and supersonic rounds is that subsonic ammunition travels slower than the speed of sound (1,100fps); therefore, it won’t break the sound barrier which produces the sonic crack most people associate with traditional supersonic gunfire. Supersonic bullets travel faster than the speed of sound.

Loading a 9mm round as subsonic with a lighter 95 gr. bullet could cause the firearm’s action/slide to not cycle, essentially allowing the pistol to fire only once without manually cycling another round into the chamber. Even 115 gr. rounds have been known to cause cycling problems.

FYI – Back in the day, I loaded my SIG Sauer (duty weapon) with subsonic 9mm 147gr. Hydra Shot Plus P  ammo.

Perp – Reacher, to Finlay, after Reacher was released from the holding cell. “Outside. Uncuffed. Treating me like a person instead of a perp?”

Not many police officers use the shortened form of the word perpetrator. Instead, they use the more common terms, suspect, actor, or ***hole. Listen to police scanners and you’ll rarely, if ever, hear an officer say, “We apprehended the perp at 0100 hours.” Typically, it’s, “We apprehended the suspect/subject at 0100 hours.”

Perp is generally a specific, regional term. I’ve heard it used more in the New York and Boston areas more than any other location, especially the south. Still, it’s not used by all officers. TV and film writers use it without shame.

FYI – the term perpetrator is NOT to be confused with the closely-sounding “percolator.” Confusing the two could prove to be quite embarrassing.

Yes, I once saw the perpetrator/percolator faux pas in a manuscript. Imagine reading a book written by your favorite author and you see this on page 47 – “10-4, Captain, the percolator who robbed the hot dog stand was bald, short, and stocky.

By the way, you’ll probably not hear the other, more colorful term “a**hole” used on the police radio. It and other profanity are not supposed to be spoken on the air, but when the adrenaline is high and the bullets are flying, well, you just might hear anything.

“The a**hole just fired two rounds at me! Send &*%@ing backup. NOW!!”

Reacher in prison – The local PD doesn’t have an onsite holding cell designed for housing prisoners overnight, so the decision was made to ship Reacher and Paul Hubble, a person who falsely confessed to killing the same person police accused Reacher of slaying, are hauled, by bus, to the local prison to spend the weekend. The villain’s plan (yes, this story has a villain) was to have a group of prisoner “take care” of Reacher and Hubble. Hubble, by the way, was forced to help the villain and his ring of bad guy henchmen with their financial scheme. The bad guys promised to torture and kill Hubble and his family if he didn’t do as they demanded. The plan to “take care” of tReacher and Hubble, thanks to Reacher, didn’t go as planned, though. More on this in a moment.

Back to the bus ride to prison – The complete occupancy of the bus included Reacher, Hubble, and the bus driver. Reacher and Hubble were cuffed to a chain attached to the seat-back in front of them. An actual transport to prison, though, involves a bit more security than a lone bus driver with prisoners accused of murder seated behind them. Often, there’s an armed officer stationed in a secure cage at the rear of the bus, and an unarmed officer, or two, in the front. However it’s done, it’s never just a bus driver and prisoners. But this is a TV show and extras cost dollars.

When the bus arrived at the prison, the driver drove it into the sally port. He stopped the bus, opened the door, and Reacher stepped outside followed by Hubble. Officer Spivey, a scrawny corrections officer, met the two prisoners as they exited the bus. It was he who booked the two men and assigned them their prison clothing, and it was he who ordered the men to strip to allow him to search for contraband.

Reacher refused the strip search, saying blanket searches are unconstitutional. However, since Reacher and Hubble were both arrested for murder, a violent crime, they, in the real world, would be required too submit to a strip search. Safety and security is a priority.

Sourse – Georgia Sheriff’s Association











Prison fights – Yes, inmates do indeed size up the newcomers, and those who are a bit timid and of slight stature often don’t fare very well unless, of course, they can prove themselves valuable in some way other than serving physical wants and needs. Or, unless they have a Hulk-like friend who’s capable of bashing the faces of the top dog, the shot caller, and his entourage. Reacher, Hubble’s Hulk-like cellie aptly handles the first inmate who came calling for Hubble. Good fight scene. Brief, but good.

Next, the shower/restroom fight scene where Reacher finds himself surrounded by five burly inmates who are there to, as they’d say in the south, “stomp a mud hole in his a**.” One of the five is armed with a shank.

Reacher, calm and cool as always, said, “If you boys knew what’s about to happen to you, you’d leave now. So I’ll give you to the count of three. One—”

Using the tactical advantage of skipping the anticipated numbers two and three, Reacher took out four of the hitmen and then used his thumb to gouge an eye of the fifth, the guy with the shank. This is a fight scene that would do any crime fiction novel proud. Despite the fights being choreographed, the tactics used were sound.

The Eye Gouge

The rest of the show

  • When Reacher and Hubble are released from prison after the failed attempt to kill them, Roscoe is waiting outside to offer Reacher a ride. She takes him from the prison to a thrift store to purchase “new” clothes. She again asks why he decided to visit Margrave.

“‘Im here because of Blind Blake, but actually it’s on account of Chauncey.”

“Who’s Chauncey?”

“A couple days ago,” Reacher said, “I go to Chauncey’s Bar & Grill in Tampa. Guy there was playing “Police Dog Blues” by Blind Blake. I remembered a conversation I had with my brother Joe a while back. Read some article about Blake, said he played his last show in Margrave, and that’s where he died. So I got on a bus.”


  • Reacher’s pension is wired to him each month via Western Union.
  • Reacher heard the sound of Mississippi Fred McDowell ‘s blues music coming from inside Mr. Mosley’s barber shop, so he went inside for a shave. The two men chat about the legend of Blind Blake and then the conversation shifts to the Kilner family, the people villains who control the town.
  • Reacher walks to the police station where he learns a second body has been found, forty yards from the first. The victim was shot in the back of the head.
  • Reacher travels to the morgue with Finlay and Roscoe where he learns the victim is his brother, Joe.

A few minutes later, Reacher and Finlay exchange a few heated words. Roscoe intervenes before things get out of hand. Reacher, though, seems determined to punch Finlay into next week. And, despite the tremendous size difference and that one of Reacher’s upper arms is the size of Finlay’s waist, Finlay doesn’t back down. This is a characteristic seen in most real life cops. They don’t shy away from anyone when it comes to taking a suspect to jail. It’s part of the job and they’ll worry about the bruises another time.

Finlay is the real deal.

Roscoe pointed to Finlay’s unmarked police car and said, “Okay, this isn’t gonna happen. Reacher, sit in the back. Hey. I know you’re not the kind of guy to beat up on somebody half your size without good reason.”

He’s giving me a reason,” said Reacher.

“Yeah? Well, I know people.,” said Roscoe. “And you’ve got kind eyes. Do what I say, Reacher. Please.”

The trio are next seen traveling through the countryside. They’re quiet and Reacher is staring out the window.

Roscoe said, “You okay, Reacher?”

Reacher replied, “Just thinking maybe my brother told me about Blind Blake for a reason. Thinking about him lying in that morgue. Thinking I’m supposed to do something about it.”

“Like what?” said Finlay.

“I guess I’ll find everybody responsible. And kill every last one of them.”

The scene switched to …

… and then faded away to the music of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

NOTE – This review and the others that follow in the coming weeks are solely for the purpose of pointing out proper police procedure and forensics, and the inaccuracies, if any of either. Again, this is to help writers learn what real and what’s not. Yes, I know it’s a TV show and not a documentary or police training film.

As always, keep in mind that TV is visual and certain liberties must be taken to capture and hold the attention of viewers within the brief timespan of a single episode. Authors, on the other hand, must activate a readers senses and take their fans on a journey using nothing more than written words. TV audiences tend to be more forgiving when characters perform actions that aren’t quite believable than are readers of books.

Since readers move through a story at a much slower pace than viewers of TV and film,  they have far more time to detect and analyze things that aren’t quite accurate. Therefore, the need for an explanation, even one that’s totally fabricated in the author’s mind, about why the neighbor’s recliner has the ability to travel through time is more important than merely seeing it happen on TV. We’re used to seeing wacky, nonsensical stuff on television, but not in books without reading an explanation as to why something happened (My neighbor invented a way to have fruit trees grow upside side so people can pick apples, peaches, and cherries without having to use a ladder. The only drawback is that over ripe fruit now falls up, instead of down. As a result, gravity is a bit wonky, but Newton says we’ll adapt).

That’s all it takes to convince your readers, a reason to believe.

Not since CASTLE and SOUTHLAND have I found a cop-type television series that stirred in me the desire to once again examine the police procedures and forensics used by TV officers … until now. Well, there was BOSCH, which is a wonderful series, but it came along when time was not on my side.

But Jack Reacher stepped into our living room several days ago and it was after watching for only a couple of minutes that I knew I wanted needed to bring REACHER to this blog, and to you. There are many intricate details in the show that mirror real police officers and how they carry themselves, and like the reviews of CASTLE and SOUTHLAND, I’ll pick apart those characteristics. I’ll also point out the things that aren’t quite realistic to help you, the writer, avoid making similar errors in your books.

Before I begin with the review of episode one, Welcome to Margrave, I’d like to mention that I discussed this endeavor with Lee Child, Reacher’s creator, to make certain I had his blessing to review the show. He gave his approval without hesitation.

So, without further ado and with a hearty thanks to Lee Child, off we go. But first a disclaimer – HERE’S YOUR SPOILER ALERT!

NOTE – This first installment of REACHER Reviews, Part One of Welcome to Margrave, is an introduction of the main characters in season one and how well the actors played the part of law enforcement officers. In Part Two of the review I’ll delve into the police procedure and forensics used in the episode. Welcome to Margrave is the only two-part review. After Part Two I’ll post an episode review each week.

REACHER: Welcome to Margrave – A Review of Police Procedure and Forensics, Part One

The series opened on a dark night with fittingly ominous music setting the mood. An assassin, using a pistol and silencer, shot Jack Reacher’s brother from behind as he ran through tall weeds. Once the prey was down the killer repeatedly kicked and stomped the victim, an obvious act of rage, and then covered the body with a sheet of cardboard.

The scene then faded to black as the menacing music grew louder, heading toward a nail-biting crescendo. At its peak, the driving beat suddenly switched to the sound of pouring rain and thunder, and then the screen filled with …

The much-anticipated show began and we were about to see Child’s character and stories come to life.

Fans of Lee Child’s novels know the protagonist, Jack Reacher, is big, strong, not much of a talker, and whose main mode of transportation is walking, and that’s how Reacher entered his Amazon Original debut.

Reacher, more than adequately played by Alan Ritchson (Titans, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Smallville as Aquaman, 90210, CSI: Miami) stepped off a bus in the middle of nowhere, in the pouring rain, and set out on foot (cue the blues music) with his boots clomping a steady cadence toward the southern town of Margrave, Georgia.

Then, as he approached the entrance to the Margrave Diner, he encountered a bully in the act of vocally abusing his girlfriend about the tip she left inside for their server. The abuse, in fact, teetered on the edge of becoming physical. Reacher, in true Reacher style, intervened and resolved the conflict using nothing more than his stature, a hard look, and without saying a single word. The bully, clearly intimidated by Reacher’s behavior, even apologized for his conduct, promising it wouldn’t happen again.

Reacher’s demeanor was a classic example of Command Presence, an important part of police work.

Tips for developing a better command presence

  • Be professional, and this includes updated training when available. A cop who knows his job inside-out projects more confidence. The same is true with physical training. Stay in shape and know, trust, and practice defensive tactics.
  • Good posture is important. The officer who stands straight and tall has an advantage over the officer who slouches. Poor posture often shows as weakness, especially when confronting an aggressive suspect.
  • Always make and maintain eye contact when speaking to someone.
  • Honesty and consistency are important traits. Bad guys will quickly learn that what you say is what you mean, every time.
  • Always treat everyone fairly and with dignity.
  • First impressions only come around once, so make it your best effort. If a suspect’s first impression of you is that you’re meek and weak, well, you can expect to have a rough day.
  • Size up everyone before interacting. Always be aware of who and what you’re dealing with and stay one step ahead of the person in front of you. Remember, the person standing before you may want to kill you, so be prepared to do what it takes to survive. Do this each time you encounter someone. No exceptions! You never know which person is the one who plans to do you harm.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. Have confidence in what you do and who you are. All the training and firepower in the world will not help you if you’re playing make believe. Bad guys will see through that in a heartbeat.

An officer who looks sharp, acts sharp, and is sharp helps an officer appear and feel confident.

Crooks size up officers and, like animals culling the herd, look for the weakest, and those are the officers who’ll most likely be dealing with escape attempts, lies, assaults, and other criminal tricks.

The above material could’ve easily been used as part of Reacher’s character development because Reacher’s entire being centers around Command Presence.

Ironically, I once wrote an article about police and the importance of command presence. In the article I also mentioned, “Civilians in authoritative positions should also exhibit a command presence, and many do so instinctively. Command presence also applies to public speakers, including writers when appearing at conferences and book signings and readings. One of the best in the business at the command presence game is author Lee Child. The moment Child enters a room you know he’s confident, poised, and in full control of each word spoken. He looks sharp, acts sharp, and, well, he is sharp. And it shows.”

So it’s perfectly understandable that Reacher shares mannerisms with his creator.

Back to the Margrave Diner

Inside, Reacher settles into a booth to enjoy a cup of black coffee (a staple of Lee Child’s diet) and a slice of “Georgia’s best” peach pie. But, before the first bite two Margrave officers enter the diner, one pointing a shotgun at Reacher and the other doing the same with a pistol. It’s important to note that both officers held their index fingers outside the trigger guards. This is proper procedure to avoid accidental discharges.

Reacher was then arrested for murder, restrained, and taken to the local police department for processing by Officer Roscoe Conklin.

Actor Willa Fitzgerald (Wall Street, Gotham, Scream, the TV series, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, The Fall of the House of Usher), does an exceptional job of accurately portraying a police officer, from the habit of resting her hands on her duty belt to absolutely oozing command presence.

Resting hands on the duty belt serves two purposes. One, it gives the officer something to do with their hands other than leaving them hanging and flopping in the breeze. Besides, all the do-dads on the belt cause the wearer to hold their arms up and out to avoid rubbing at the flesh on the insides of their forearms. It’s simply more comfortable to rest the hands and arms on the belt. Two, resting their hands near the tools they need to perform their duties has a logical and tactical purpose—having the hands near a firearm is especially important in case the unexpected happens.

Reacher’s arresting officers force him through the front doors of the department, still at gunpoint, where Conklin stands behind a lobby counter which also serves as a booking station.

“Sir, if you step over here, I can process you,” she said to Reacher, whose wrists are bound with a single zip tie because, according to one of the officers, “Cuffs didn’t fit ’em.”

Reacher didn’t immediately respond so Conklin continued. “I’m not asking, sir, I’m telling. But don’t worry, I won’t kick your ass unless you make me.” Her comment was directed to Jack Reacher, a hulk with biceps and triceps that look like two sledge hammers welded together. So yeah, Conklin, who stands at barely a whisper over five-feet-tall, wrote a whupass check to Reacher that she was prepared to at least attempt to cash. That’s command presence.

Conklin uses what appears to be an older Crossmatch fingerprinting terminal, or one similar, to record and enter Reacher’s prints into the system. Chief Edward Morrison, played by Peter Skagen (Lonesome Dove, Wynonna Earp, Heartland, Tin Star) jumps into the scene spouting off a series of rapid-fire who, what, and why questions about Reacher’s reasons for showing up in Margrave. Without missing a beat he threatened to stuff Reacher into a holding cell until he was ready to talk, and talking is something Reacher had yet to do, for well over six minutes into the show. Not a word. That span of six minutes let viewers know who Reacher was and what he was about—a man of few words and no nonsense. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant writing and acting.

Detective Oskar Finlay is the next of the main characters to enter the scene. Finlay, a former Bostonian, came to Margrave to leave behind a painful memory. When Reacher strolled into town, though, Finlay quickly realized he’d stepped into a chaotic, violent world where Reacher, not the local police, guides the narrative and attracts enough trouble to make Finlay utter a few curse words, something he never did.

It was actor Malcolm Goodwin, (The Fugitive, iZombie, True Blood, House of Cards, Elementary, CSI, Law and Order: Criminal Intent), who brought us Oskar Finlay’s quirky personality, mannerisms, and style of investigating. He’s sharp, intuitive, thoughtful, methodical, and a by-the-book cop. Well, that’s the way he preferred to work. However, Finlay quickly learned to adapt to Reacher’s “bulldozer in a china shop” approach to resolving issues.

As a real life detective, I’d have been extremely pleased to have either Finlay or Conklin as a partner, as backup, or by my side during a door-kicking explosive entry into a building occupied by armed bad guys.

Producer/writer Nick Santora and Lee Child certainly delivered a television series that is certain to become one of the all-time top crime dramas, and it has it all—gun battles, muscles, romance, investigations, bad guys, bad cops, explosions, fight scenes, action, great characters, great story, great writing, humor, and more muscles and romance.

In a matter of minutes, Lee Child’s book, The Killing Floor exploded to life and never slowed down until Jack Reacher killed all the bad guys, and maybe a few extras in case, well, in case they needed killing. By the way, the “they needed killing” line was spoken by Jacker Reacher during his murder trial, a trial resulting from the time when I personally arrested Reacher and later testified in his trial. More on this in a later review.

NOTE – This review and the others that follow in the coming weeks are solely for the purpose of pointing out proper police procedure and forensics, and the inaccuracies, if any of either. Again, this is to help writers learn what real and what’s not. Yes, I know it’s a TV show and not a documentary or police training film.

As always, keep in mind that TV is visual and certain liberties must be taken to capture and hold the attention of viewers within the brief timespan of a single episode. Authors, on the other hand, must activate a readers senses and take their fans on a journey using nothing more than written words. TV audiences tend to be more forgiving when characters perform actions that aren’t quite believable than are readers of books.

Since readers move through a story at a much slower pace than viewers of TV and film,  they have far more time to detect and analyze things that aren’t quite accurate. Therefore, the need for an explanation, even one that’s totally fabricated in the author’s mind, about why the neighbor’s recliner has the ability to travel through time is more important than merely seeing it happen on TV. We’re used to seeing wacky, nonsensical stuff on television, but not in books without reading an explanation as to why something happened (My neighbor spent three years converting his ratty old recliner into a time machine, using things he retrieved while dumpster diving. And it works! Just last week I tagged along on a trip to Woodstock. We arrived minutes ahead of Jimi’s performance, just as he was testing his Vox Wah pedal). 

That’s all it takes to convince your readers, a reason to believe.




Writers’ Police Academy
June 2-5, 2022
Green Bay, WI



Would you like to receive a $50 bonus from Writers’ Police Academy, AND free registration to a special WPA Online seminar?
The seminar, taught by Dr. Katherine Ramsland, is “Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes,” and covers staging, profiling, character development, and more!
Details about this incredible opportunity to be announced very soon.

All officers hear those familiar words, and they’re likely repeated many, many times each and every day all across this great land of ours.

It’s a phrase spoken by the wisest of the wise—the soothsayers of the legal world. They’re the top legal minds of street corners, sour mash guzzling patrons of back road honky-tonk juke joints, and professional crack and meth smokers everywhere. It’s forcefully uttered by masked basement keyboard warriors who’re out for their weekly brick-throwing adventures, and by pickup truck cowboys out hee-hawing it up after a night of two-stepping at Myrtle Mae’s Bar and Grill in the strip mall next to the Sizzler that closed some six years ago.

That famous line is typically presented in a sing-songish manner—gently and soothingly, almost like a lullaby.

More times than I care to count, the person delivering the line is a scrawny, wiry sort of guy who prefers to go shirtless, exposing a set of bony ribs that could replace any xylophone in any symphony in the world. They’re the hoodlum wannabes who guzzle three six-packs of Natural Light followed by six shots of Jack Black as a warmup before they start their serious drinking. Of course, members of all sexes/genders dive in to offer their own spectacular versions of the diatribe and, like the aforementioned folks, they, too, come in all shapes and sizes and from varied backgrounds.

Lately, though, the famous words have been adopted by the likes of soccer moms, college students, sovereign citizens, kids, grocers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.

But no matter from whose lips they cross, the message is the same, and it’s shouted and screamed and yelled into the faces of law enforcement officers. It is …

“I. Know. My. Rights, you fat dumbass son of a whore doughnut-eating pig! I’m gonna have your job. You gotta let me go ’cause you didn’t read me my rights! Now take off these cuffs … NOW … afore I open a can of whupass on you like you ain’t never seen!!!!”

Well, Mr. Canary-Chest TinyPants, your legal analysis is incorrect, and your threats of violence against  well-armed and well-trained officers do very little to intimidate them. Especially when you’ve shown the world the physical attributes you have to back up those strong promises of ass-whuppins.

So let’s examine TinyPants’ claim regarding Miranda and when it’s required.


When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings?

I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?

Television shows often have officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. And yes, words were spoken once I managed to get to my feet, but “Miranda” wasn’t one of them. Too many letters, if you know what I mean. Words consisting of only four letters seemed to flow quite easily at that point.

When Is Miranda Required?

Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply. The suspect must be in custody and he must be undergoing interrogation.

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

The fellow wearing the handcuffs in the photo below is not free to leave. Therefore, should the officer wish to question him he must advise him of his right to remain silent, etc. However, if the officer decides to not ask questions/interrogate, then Miranda is not required.


I’ve arrested criminals, many of them, in fact, and never advised them of their rights. Not ever. And that’s because I didn’t ask them any questions.

Sometimes officers receive a stack of outstanding arrest warrants for a variety of cases and it’s their job that day to go out and round up those folks. Those officers have no clue as to the circumstances of the crime or case details, therefore they’d not know the appropriate questions to ask. All they know is that the boss handed them a pile of warrants and told them to fetch. This, by the way, is often one of the mundane duties assigned to rookie officers, along with directing traffic and writing parking tickets.

So, the warrant-serving officers locate the person named on the warrant and haul them to the station, or jail, for processing/booking. The officer who had the warrant issued may or may not question the arrested person at a later time. But the arresting officer, the one who played hide and seek with the crook for a few hours on a Monday morning is most likely out of the picture from that point onward. So no questioning = no Miranda.


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

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

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

Miranda facts:

Officers should repeat the Miranda warnings during each period of questioning. For example, during questioning officers decide to take a break for the night. They come back the next day to try again. They must advise the suspect of his rights again before resuming the questioning.

If an officer takes over questioning for another officer, she should repeat the warnings before asking her questions.

If a suspect asks for an attorney, officers may not ask any questions.

If a suspect agrees to answer questions, but decides to stop during the session and asks for an attorney, officers must stop the questioning.

Suspects who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs should not be questioned. Also, anyone who exhibits signs of withdrawl symptoms should not be questioned.

Officers should not question people who are seriously injured or ill.

People who are extremely upset or hysterical should not be questioned.

Officers may not threaten or make promises to elicit a confession.

Many officers carry a pre-printed Miranda warning card in their wallets. A National Sheriff’s Association membership card (same design and feel of a credit card) has the warnings printed on the reverse side.

Fact: The Miranda warning requirement stemmed from a case involving a man named Ernesto Miranda.  Miranda killed a young woman in Arizona and was arrested for the crime. During questioning Miranda confessed to the slaying, but the police had failed to tell him he had the right to silence and that he could have an attorney present during the questioning. Miranda’s confession was ruled inadmissible; however, the court convicted him based on other evidence.

Miranda was released from prison after he served his sentence. Not long after his release he was killed during a bar fight.

His killer was advised of his rights according to the precedent setting case of Miranda v. Arizona. He chose to remain silent.

*Some individual department/location policies requires their officers to advise of Miranda at the point of arrest. However, the law does not require them to do so.

Writers’ Police Academy
June 2-5, 2022
Green Bay, WI

The 2022 Writers’ Police Academy offers a unique opportunity for attendees to participate in many of the same hands-on training classes—basic and advanced—taught to Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Corrections personnel. These incredibly exciting cutting-edge sessions are typically reserved only for professionals. Until now.

Four days of exciting hands-on training. at a renowned public safety training academy. Real police equipment and vehicles. Over 30 certified instructors and top law enforcement and forensics experts.

Attendees of the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy earn continuing education credit and a certificate from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Sign up today to reserver your spot at this one of a kind event!

On February 23, 2022, Officer Alex Wanish of the Green Bay, WI police department, responded to a rather grisly call after a woman called to report the discovery of her son’s severed head in a plastic bucket.

During their investigation, law enforcement officials learned that Taylor D. Schabusiness, 24, was likely the last person seen with the 25-year-old victim. Police found found Schabusiness at a home in another part of the city. She had dried blood on her clothing and, inside her vehicle, on the rear passenger seat, they saw a crock pot box containing human legs and other body parts.

After obtaining a search warrant for the victim’s home police discovered additional body parts, including a torso inside a storage tote, and various knives. Further examination of the bucket, which was found in the basement of the home, revealed a male organ, body fluid, and a two knives.

Schabusiness told police that she and the victim had smoked meth the night of the killing, and they’d engaged in strangulation as part of mutual sexual activity.

In addition to first-degree intentional homicide, Schabusiness is charged with mutilating a corpse, and third-degree sexual assault. The sexual assault charge stemmed from acts she committed after the victim died.

Taylor Schabusiness looking out from inside a Brown County cell.


Victim’s home – The Crime Scene




Below is a copy of the criminal complaint filed by STATE OF WISCONSIN Plaintiff, vs.TAYLOR DENISE SCHABUSINESS – Assigned ADA: Caleb J Saunders, Complainant

*Click the arrows at the lower left of the document to advance to the next page, or to go to previous pages.



For comparison, below is a copy off the criminal complaint from the Jeffrey Dahmer case. Again, DETAILS ARE GRAPHIC.


Yes, this brutal crime occurred in the home city of the Writers’ Police Academy. Yes, Taylor Schabusiness is currently held at a jail where some Writers’ Police Academy instructors are employed. Yes, one of the lead investigators in the Jeffrey Dahmer case, Steven Spingola, is a special guest presenter at the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy.

And yes, you should sign up today to attend the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy.

By the way, I have some super BIG WPA news to announce very soon!

*Thanks to Bob Mueller for the idea for today’s article. The case is gruesome, yes, but some of the details and procedures could greatly assist with a crime writer’s journey to reaching the twisted ending of their next book.

“Hey, Sarge,” said Officer Trevor “Curly” Barnes. “Would you do me a favor and see if you can get a clear set of prints from this guy? I’ve tried three times and all I get are smudges. I must be out of practice, or something.”

“You rookies are all alike,” said Sergeant Imin Charge. “Always wantin’ somebody to do the dirty work for you.”


Sgt. Charge dropped his fat, leaky ballpoint pen on a mound of open file folders. “But nothing,” he said. “All you “boots” want to do is bust up fights and harass the whores.”

The portly “three-striper” pushed his lopsided rolling chair away from his desk and placed a bear-paw-size hand on each knee. Then with a push and a grunt, he stood. The sounds of bone-on-bone poppings and cracklings coming from his arthritic knees were louder than the Buck Owens song—I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail-–that spewed from the portable radio on his desk.

“Well,” said the sergeant. “Paperwork and processing evidence, including fingerprinting people, comes with the job too. You might as well get it in your head right now that police work is not all about flashy blue lights, driving fast cars, and chasing after badge bunnies.

“I’m serious, Sarge. I can’t get a good print. I think the guy’s messing with me, or something.”

Charge sighed and rolled his deep-set piggy eyes. Everyone in he department knew the eye roll as Charge’s trademark “I don’t want to, but will” expression.

“All right,” said Charge. “Go finish up the paperwork and I’ll take care of the prints and mugshot. But hurry up and get your ass back down to booking. I get off in thirty minutes and I’ve got plans. There’s a documentary on tonight about how they made the Smoky and the Bandit movies, and I don’t aim to miss it.”

“That’s right, it’s Thursday night, huh?” said Officer Barnes. “What was it last week, The Best of Swamp People?”

“Real funny, you are. No, it was the last part of that series about those beavers that suddenly showed up over in England after being extinct for over 400 years. It was real interesting, it was. Me and Betty Lou never miss those specials. You should check it out. Never hurts to learn something new. Yep, every Thursday nights at 8:00, a pan of peanut butter fudge, and our behinds planted on the sofa. You can set your watch by it. Now, get to working on those reports if you ever want to see day shift again, and you’d better be back here in fifteen minutes to take this slimeball off my hands.”

The sergeant reached over and grabbed the suspect’s right hand, pulling it toward the ten-print card. “Relax, fella’, and let me do the work,” he said while pressing the pad of the man’s index finger onto the ink pad and then rolling it from left to right in the appropriate box on the card.

Twenty minutes later, Sergeant Charge was on the phone with Captain Gruffntuff, the shift commander. “That’s right, Captain. The guy doesn’t have any prints. Not a single ridge or whorl. Nothing.”

A pause while Charge listened. Officer Barnes, back from completing the incident report, leaned toward his boss, trying to hear the other side of the conversation. The sergeant waved him away as if swatting away an annoying fly or mosquito. “No, sir. Not even as much as a pimple.”

Another pause.

“Nope, not on either finger.” Charge leaned back in his chair. “All as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Beats everything I’ve ever seen.”

“Yes, sir. I checked his toes, too. Nothing there either. Slick as a freshly buffed hospital floor.”

Sergeant Charge opened a pouch of Redman and dug out a golfball-size hunk of shredded black tobacco leaves.

“Nope. He’s not from around here. Says he’s from Sweden. Says his whole family’s like that. Not a one of them has any prints. Says it’s a condition called adermatoglyphia. I had him spell it for me.”

Charge shoved the “chew” inside of his mouth, maneuvering it with his tongue until it came to rest between his teeth and cheek.

“Looks like a hamster with a mouth full of sunflower seeds,” Barnes mumbled to himself.

“Yes, sir. Beats everything I’ve ever seen,” Sergeant Charge said into the phone’s mouthpiece. “Will do, sir.

A beat passed, then he said, “Yes, sir. I’ll stay to see it through.”

Another beat.

“Right, sir.”

Sergeant Charge placed the phone receiver back in its cradle without saying goodbye. His typical pinkish cheeks were the color of a shiny new fire truck. He sat silent for a second, thinking.

“Won’t be watching the television tonight, I guess,” he said.

The man from Switzerland, the prisoner, sighed, knowing it was going to be a long night. He’d been through this many times.

“Better call the little woman,” said Sergeant Imin Charge as he reached for the phone to give her the bad news. “And she ain’t going to be happy. No, sir. I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut that she’s already made a dozen or so of those little meatball sandwiches that I like so much. Probably has an ice cold can of Blue Ribbon waiting for me too. And the fudge, well, it’ll have to wait.”

After a few “Sorry, dears,” Charge returned the receiver back to its resting spot and then turned to the prisoner who sat handcuffed to a wooden bench with the back of his head against the mint green wall. Another grease stain added to the collection, thought Charge.

“Okay,” he said to the man who’d been arrested for breaking into home of an Hazel Lucas, an elderly woman who’d whacked the intruder with a rolling pin as he climbed through a kitchen window. “Lemme see those fingers, again.”

The burglar held up his hands and said to the sergeant, “Good luck.”

Photo Credit: Nousbeck et al., The American Journal of Human Genetics (2011)

Adermatoglyphia, or “immigration delay disease” as it’s also known, is an extremely rare and unique condition found in members of only four Swiss families. What’s so unique about the condition? For starters, people with adermatoglyphia produce far less hand sweat than the average person. But, perhaps the most startling characteristic is that people with adermatoglyphia do not have fingerprints.

In one instance, a female member of one of the affected families traveled to the U.S. but was delayed by border agents because they couldn’t confirm her identity. Why? No prints to compare.

The cause of adermatoglyphia has, until recently, been a mystery. Now, however, scientists have learned that the affected members of the Swiss families all had a mutation in the gene called Smarcad1. And this mutation is in a version of the gene that is only expressed in skin.

So yes, for that added twist to your tales, there are people who do not have fingerprints.

By the way, no one knows how or why that family of beavers mysteriously showed up in the the Otter River in Devon, southwest England. They’re doing well, though, and they are the only beavers in England after being hunted to extinction 400 years ago.

The name of the river where they live is a bit ironic since no otters live there.

See, like Sergeant Charge and his wife Betty Lou, some of you learned something new.


There’s still time to sign up!

In the film Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood’s character Inspector Harry Callahan engaged in a shootout with armed bank robbers. When the shooting stopped, and there was lots of it, Harry approached a wounded robber who locked eyes with Harry while slowly reaching for a shotgun.

Harry aimed his sidearm at the crook and said one of the most famous movie lines of all time, “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

What’s Luck Got to do With It?

Aside from Clint Eastwood’s fictional world of cops and robbers, in the real world of street violence, most victims of non fatal shootings are likely fortunate beneficiaries of lucky mistakes—a little to the left, or to the right, or a bit higher or lower, and it’s showtime for the grim reaper. Shooters in those instances are cold-blooded attempted murderers who merely failed to achieve their goals of becoming actual killers.

When shots are fired between gun-toting criminals there’s a narrow line between who lives and who dies. However, if bad shooters, the killer wannabes who couldn’t hit the broad side of a liquor store if they tried, fire enough rounds at their targets, it’s probable they will eventually get the job done and send someone to an early grave.

Attempted murders are failed homicides.

Chicago – At the end of 2021, the city totaled 3561 shootings, 300 more than were recorded in 2020, and 1,415 more than in 2019. The rising number of shootings in this city is staggering.

Focusing on Chicago’s 2021 stats, of the 3,561 people shot, 797 died. The remaining 2,764 were fortunate beneficiaries of lucky mistakes—at least 2,764 (+/-) shooters missed their marks. Many more, I’m certain, failed to to strike their intended targets at all, sending wild, errant rounds zinging and bouncing off walls, street lamps, storefronts, or grandma’s porch swing before coming to a stop who knows where.

In the same year, in Philadelphia,  2332 people were shot. 486 people died, while 1846 survived the poor shooting abilities of people who likely tried to kill each of the 1846 survivors.

This alarming story of violence in our country’s largest cities repeats from coast to coast and from top to bottom.

A Vicious Circle

The lucky break for many who survive a blast from a firearm often results in an unlucky occurrence for the shooters of poor aim fame. This is so because victims of the aim-challenged and/or their friends frequently retaliate by shooting the shooters. And those who miss the first time are apt to try and try again until they successfully “pop a cap” into the body of their nemesis. After all, street shootings are like potato chips to the hardcore offenders—one person shot is never enough. There must be more.

The Solution

Devoting more time to catching the poor shooters, the failed murderers, would no doubt result in less homicides, because removing poor-aimers and their guns from the streets would decrease the overall number of shots-fired. Less shots fired would obviously decrease the overall number of people killed by gunfire.

Fewer shots fired = fewer people wounded or killed = safer communities = more time for officers to devote to other matters, including proactive policing as opposed to reactionary policing = even safer communities = less illegal guns in the hands of potential shooters.

Catching the people who attempt to kill but fail is a tactic that attacks the source of the overall problem. It’s a plan that would/could prevent more deaths, instead of reactively wading through a pile of bodies at the morgue (after the fact), hoping to find clues that lead back to a murderer.

The ideal situation would be to have two teams of skilled investigators working simultaneously, one tracking down and arresting the failed shooters, and the other solving homicides. Eventually, the two would meet in the middle at a point where both stats—failed and successful murders—are greatly decreased.


Unfortunately, most departments struggle to fund the number of officers and equipment they currently have in place. Defunding the police has, of course, exacerbated the problem. It takes people-power to make an out-of-control situation, more manageable, such as the aforementioned shootings. When control is finally achieved, it must be maintained by proactively sending officers out into the streets to interact with citizens on a personal basis.

Without the proper number of available officers and investigators, though, the path to reducing homicides and attempted murders is a long and rocky road.