There’s been quite a bit of recent discussion among writers about which agencies investigate crimes that occur on tribal lands. Therefore, I thought you might be interested in seeing a few of the May, 2021 indictments handed down by a federal grand jury.

This is one list, from one district, in one U.S. state—the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The list names the defendants and offers a brief description of the crime(s) for which they’re charged. In addition, contained within the descriptions are the investigating agencies. You’ll see that in most of the Indian Country cases, the investigations are conducted by multiple agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, DEA, local police and sheriff’s offices.

*To learn more about the relationships between agencies and how they interact, please read the brief section below the list of indictments.


Federal Grand Jury B Indictments Announced by Acting United States Attorney Clint Johnson

The following individuals have been charged with violations of United States law in indictments returned by the Grand Jury. The return of an indictment is a method of informing a defendant of alleged violations of federal law, which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome a defendant’s presumption of innocence.

Bryce Martin Agnew. Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Minor in Indian Country. (21-CR-224)Agnew, 77, of Bartlesville, is charged with knowingly engaging in a sexual act with a minor under the age of 12, on July 9, 2009. The FBI and Bartlesville Police Department are the investigative agencies.

David Abel Alvarado. Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-232)  Alvarado, 19, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a victim on April 26, 2021, by stabbing the victim in the chest. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Lucas Wayne Armentor. Assault of an Intimate/Dating Partner by Strangling and Suffocating in Indian Country (Count 1); Assault by Striking, Beating, and Wounding (Misdemeanor) (Counts 2 and 4); and Kidnapping in Indian Country (Count 3). (21-CR-218) Armentor, 37, of Skiatook, is charged with strangling and suffocating an intimate partner on March 27, 2021. He is further charged with striking, beating and wounding the female victim on March 27, 2021, and April 30, 2021. Finally, he is charged with kidnapping the victim on April 30, 2021. The FBI and Skiatook Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Denim Lee Blount; Hunter Lee Hobbs. Conspiracy to Carry, Use, Brandish, and Discharge a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence;Attempted Carjacking; Carrying, Using Brandishing, and Discharging a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. (21-CR-233) On May 8, 2021, at 10:29 pm, two men later identified as Hobbs and Blount approached a man who was attempting to hook up his vehicle and trailer. The victim stated that one of the defendants pointed a shotgun at him and the other pointed a rifle at him. According to court documents, the two ordered the victim to get out of his vehicle, and when the victim refused, both men allegedly shot him. The two then fled west in a dark colored SUV, leaving the victim and his vehicle behind. The victim was transported to St. Francis Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The FBI, Tulsa Police Department, and U.S. Marshals Service are the investigative agencies.

Eric Tyrone Bradford. First Degree Murder in Indian Country; Causing Death by Using and Discharging a Firearm During and in Relation to Crimes of Violence. (21-CR-234) Bradford, 44, is charged with shooting and killing Daniel Watashe on April 30, 2016. He is further charged with using and  discharging a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence- First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder in Indian country. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Travas Ramon Estrada. Assault of an Intimate/Dating Partner by Strangling and Suffocating in Indian Country; Assault Resulting in Substantial Bodily Injury to an Intimate/Dating Partner in Indian Country; Kidnapping in Indian Country. (21-CR-219) Estrada, 44, of Tulsa, is charged with strangling and suffocating his intimate partner on April 24, 2020. He is also charged with assaulting the woman repeatedly by striking her in the head and throwing her against the wall, which resulted in substantial bodily injury. Finally, the defendant is charged with kidnapping the victim between April 24, 2020, and April 29, 2020. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Jock O’Dell Gray. Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-235) Gray, 41, of Jay, is charged with assaulting a female victim with a machete on April 21, 2021. The FBI and Delaware County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Lee Owen Hallford. Assault With a Dangerous Weapon, with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country; Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. (superseding, 21-CR-23)Hallford, 39, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a male with a knife on Jan. 27, 2021. He is further charged with failing to register as a sex offender. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Weston James Hill; Rayna Shianne Parkerson. Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute. (21-CR-236) Hill, 29, of Broken Arrow, and Parkerson, 23, of Coweta, are charged with knowingly possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a methamphetamine. The two are further charged with knowingly possessing with intent to distribute heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Broken Arrow Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Arnold Dean Howell Jr.; Katherine Elaine Freeman. First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (superseding) (21-CR-121) Howell, 30, and Freeman, 33, are charged with aiding and abetting one another when killing Michael Mondier by stabbing him to death during the perpetration of a robbery on April 13, 2015. The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Creek County Sheriff’s Office, and Sapulpa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Jeffrey Arch Jones.Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child in Indian Country (counts 1 and 3); Abusive Sexual Contact of a Child in Indian Country (count 2). (superseding) (21-CR-23)Jones, 31, allegedly engaged in sex acts with a minor under 12 years of age from Sept. 29, 2015 to Sept 28, 2016. He is also charged with abusive sexual contact of a second child under the age of 12 from Oct. 9, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2016. Finally, he is charged with engaging in sex acts with the second child from Oct. 9, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2016. The Broken Arrow Police Department and FBI are the investigative agencies.

Thomas Anthony Pearce. Coercion or Enticement of a Minor; Production of Child Pornography in Indian Country; Possession of Child Pornography in Indian Country; Distribution of Marijuana. (21-CR-237) According to court documents, Pearce, 53, of Glenpool, coerced a minor to engage in sexual activity from Feb. 3-Feb 8, 2021. During the same time, Pearce also coerced the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images. Pearce is also charged with possessing and knowingly accessing child pornography. Finally, Pearce is charged with distributing marijuana to the minor. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department conducted the investigation.

Robert Ray Sheets. Accessory After the Fact to First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (21-CR-240) Sheets, 42, of Owasso, is charged with assisting Tommy Alexander Jones and Wesley Johnston in order to hinder and prevent the offenders’ apprehension after they allegedly committed first degree murder. The crime occurred in October 2018. The FBI, Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Gerald Smith. First Degree Burglary in Indian Country (count 1); Kidnapping in Indian Country (counts 2 and 3); Assault Resulting in Substantial Bodily Injury to an Intimate/Dating Partner in Indian Country (count 4); Robbery in Indian Country (count 5). (21-CR-225) On May 4, 2021, Smith, 27, of Tulsa, is alleged to have forcibly opened a locked sliding door at a former girlfriend’s apartment and entered without permission. He then threatened the victim and told her she needed to get him a hotel room. Due to previous violent acts, the victim went with the defendant, taking her young child with her. Once at the hotel, the woman attempted to escape with her child but was unable.  Smith then beat the woman, striking her in the head repeatedly which resulted in substantial bodily injury. Then the defendant allegedly drove off in the victim’s vehicle. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Louden Dewayne Swaim. Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition. (21-CR-238) Swaim, 35, of Bluejacket, is charged with being a felon in possession of a GForce Arms 12-gauge shotgun; Smith & Wesson .223 rifle; and 116 rounds of ammunition. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Craig County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Aleta Necole Thomas. False Statement to a Financial Institution (counts 1-5). (21-CR-239) Thomas, 42, of Tulsa, is charged with lying to five different banks for the purpose of securing multiple loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, which is administered by the Small Business Administration. Some of the false businesses Thomas allegedly used to apply for the loans were Lead Us Kids Home Daycare, Coming Correction Community Ministries, Coming Correct Community Ministries II, and Lead Us Kids Daycare II. The Office of Inspector General Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General; are the investigative agencies.

Clinton Kyle Veley. Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition; Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-220)Veley, 39, of Nowata, is charged with being a felon in possession of a Rock Island Armory M5 12-gauge pump action shotgun and ammunition. He is further charged with assaulting a man on Oct. 14, 2020, by using the shotgun to strike the victim in the face, causing severe lacerations. The FBI, Nowata Police Department and Cherokee Nation Marshal Service conducted the investigation.

Kevin White. First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (21-CR-222)White,62, is charged with the first degree murder of Donald Iwanski by repeatedly beating him with a metal pipe on Feb. 4, 1995. The FBI is the investigative agency.

Edgar Gene Willhite. Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in Indian Country. (21-CR-226) Willhite, 57, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a man by punching him, causing the victim to fall. The assault resulted in substantial bodily injury. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Steven Dale Worcester. Conveying False and Misleading Information Concerning an Explosive Device. (21-CR-221) Worcesteris charged with conveying false and misleading information about an explosive when he made statements to a city of Tulsa bus driver that “you better get off now and call somebody because I have a bomb.” The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.


 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is comprised of nine districts.

  • District I is located in Aberdeen, SD and covers ND, SD and NE;
  • District II is located in Muskogee, OK and covers KS, OK, and TX;
  • District III is located Phoenix, AZ and covers AZ, NV, and UT;
  • District IV is located in Albuquerque, NM and covers CO and NM;
  • District V is located in Billings, MT and covers MT and WY;
  • District VI is located in Nashville, TN and covers the entire Eastern Region;
  • District VII is located in Bloomington, MN and covers MN, IA, IL, MI, and WI;
  • District VIII is located in Vancouver, WA and covers ID, OR, WA, and AK; and
  • District IX is located in Sacramento, CA and covers the state of California.

Now that Oklahoma, in District II,  now has over five dozen Indian Casinos situated within Indian Country, there’s been a significant rise in serious crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering and illegal drug distribution. To assist District II tribal law enforcement Special Agents with investigations, they’ve implemented over one hundred Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) for cross-deputations involving county, municipal and tribal law enforcement jurisdictions.

District II does not have detention facilities or staff; therefore, they’ve contracted with county jails to house their prisoners.

*Source and images – BIA, USDOI, Department of Justice 


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MurderCon Guest of Honor

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

A Confidential Informant (CI) is a person who, while acting under the direction and control of a law enforcement handler(s), sometimes plays a participatory role in a criminal investigation. Since CIs are typically known to be involved in criminal activity or are associated with criminals, they’re in the unique position of having the means to provide solid insider information that’s extremely useful to investigators. In exchange for their services, informants generally seek something of value, such as financial gain/cash payment, or a reduction or dismissal of pending criminal charges.


NOTE – Police officers do not have the authority to reduce or dismiss criminal charges. It is the prosecutor, or Court, who has the authority to do so.


Confidential Informants (CIs) are typically used to supply probable cause for the issuance of search warrants, or to justify an arrest. Therefore, it’s an important part of policing to seek and develop criminal intelligence through the use of confidential informants.

For their safety, informants highly prefer to remain anonymous. Protecting an informant’s anonymity can pose problems for prosecutors because the 6th Amendment’s Confrontation Clause guarantees criminal defendants the opportunity to face their accuser(s) in the case(s) against them, and to dispute the witnesses’ testimony. Therefore, it’s always best to build a criminal case on evidence that doesn’t solely rely on an informant’s contribution. However, many times cases are dependent on the evidence supplied by informants. More on protecting an informant’s anonymity in a moment.

When using confidential informants officers must consider:

  • The risk that a CI could violate an individual’s rights.
  • CIs are not trained law enforcement officers, legal authorities, etc. Therefore, they may, unknowingly, intrude upon privileged communications, which could lead to a compromised investigation.
  • The character and motivation of the CI. Is he/she involved in the matter under investigation and is using his role as a CI to shift the blame.
  • Has he/she proven to be reliable? Is there a means to verify information which he/she provides.
  • There must be a means for police to control the CIs activities when he/she is acting on their behalf.
  • Is it possible to ensure that the CI’s actions are consistent with his instructions and the law?
  • Is the value of the information provided by the informant worth the reward sought by the CI?
  • When a CI acts according to instructions provided by the police, then the CI’s actions are governed by the same laws and standards was if they were a police officer. Simply put, in certain circumstances they’re an agent of the police.

The business of utilizing CIs should be well-documented. In my former departments, each CI submitted biographical and other background information, such as criminal history, known associates, etc. Also included in their file was a current photo of the CI, list of vehicles driven/owned, and a signed copy of the “Informant Conduct Agreement.”

If the CI was on probation or parole, the detective/officer  was responsible for notifying the appropriate probation or parole officer to alert them of the CI’s agreement to help the police.

The CI’s file was sealed and maintained in a secure location. To ensure anonymity, each CI was assigned a number and alias that was to be used on all records in place of their actual names. Numbers were used to identify CIs in all reports and paperwork, including affidavits for search warrants.

Itemized records were kept for all expenditures such as “buy money” and payments made to CIs. CIs were required to sign receipts/distribution of funds when receiving payment for services.

Buy money is cash provided by the handler to CIs that’s used to purchase evidentiary items , such as illegal drugs. These purchases are called “controlled buys,” and they go something like this:

  • The CI meets with his handler and says, “Rocky’s holding a few kilos of coke and said he could let me have one for 28.” The handler calls her supervisor who agrees to the deal. He, along with a second supervisor who serves as a witness, prepares the necessary paperwork and then pulls the $28,000 from the safe. The detective signs for the cash and tells he informant to call the suspect to arrange the drug sale. The call is recorded on video and audio.
  • Cash used for drug deals is marked, meaning serial numbers are recorded. The reason police use currency with pre-recorded serial numbers is to prove that the money in the seller’s pocket at the time of his arrest later in the day is the same money police gave to the CI.
  • Detectives often equip the informant with a body wire to record audio of the transaction. Sometimes a covert camera is used to video the buy. Covert cameras can be disguised as practically any object imaginable, from a ball cap, to a pen, to a button on a shirt, and everything between. The list is nearly limitless.
  • An undercover officer may accompany the CI to the meeting with the dealer. Most of the time, though, the CI is on his own. However, officers often maintain surveillance of the area from unmarked vehicles, such as fake utility vans, delivery vehicles, etc. Undercover agents might be nearby in the event something goes wrong, or if the intention is to raid the place after the sale is complete.
  • The deal is done, and if all goes well, and it should, the informant meets detectives to hand over the recently purchase drugs. The officers again conduct searches of the CI and his vehicle.
  • If the suspect is arrested immediately after the sale, police search him to confirm that any cash discovered includes the marked money.

To protect the CI’s identity, it’s best to wait until several transactions by a variety of “customers” are witnessed at the drug house before raiding the place.

As mentioned above, when all is a said and done, the drug seller will have his day in court, and it is the 6th Amendment that guarantees criminal defendants the opportunity to face their accuser(s). Meaning that defendants have the right to confront the folks who said they committed an illegal act, such as selling cocaine.

In the case of a CI, though, there are protections in place to help preserve their anonymity.


“The identity of one providing criminal information to the prosecution is generally considered privileged, to further effective public law enforcement. Webb v. Commonwealth, 137 Va. 833, 120 S.E. 155 (1923); Roviaro v. united states, 353 U.S. 53 (1957). A defendant’s need to learn the identity of the CI must be weighed by the court against the government’s need to maintain confidentiality in the particular case, taking into account the crime charged, the relevance of the CI’s prospective testimony, and other factors. It is a case by case analysis.” ~ Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Drug Prosecution Manual


Prosecutors typically have privilege against disclosure of a CI’s identity. Still, defense attorney’s know that pressing again and again for the identity will sometimes force a prosecutor to nolle prosequi the case (basically, drop the charges) rather than “give up” the CI.’s identity. Hey, it works, sometimes, if the judge leans toward the side of the defense.

I once had a case where I used a couple of CIs to purchase cocaine from several dealers. One of those dealers was a major player who supplied large quantities of cocaine to other dealers.

She was convicted of distribution of cocaine and sentenced to serve 15 years in prison. At her sentencing hearing I was called to testify about her extensive history of maintaining a significant drug operation that included buying, transporting and selling large quantities of cocaine and other drugs. Part of my testimony included information obtained from reliable confidential informants.

On appeal, her attorneys demanded that I provide the names of the informants. The appellate court ruled that disclosure of their identities was not required because the informants were not participants in the events which led to the defendant’s convictions, but were only witnesses to previous criminal activities.

The conclusion:

Her conviction was constitutional under the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments, and the identities of the informants was not required. Conviction Affirmed.


FIREPLACES

When uses CIs in criminal cases, it’s important to understand their motivation for wanting to help police. Knowing why they do what they do helps police better manage and understand their vulnerabilities. “To address this, Ian Stanier and Jordan Nunan of CREST have developed a new mnemonic, FIREPLACES: Financial, Ideology, Revenge, Excitement, Protection, Lifestyle, Access, Coercion, Ego, and Sentence.

F — Financial: Includes the receipt of monetary reward or in-kind payment (i.e. payment of rent, tools, vehicles, phones, clothes).

I —  Ideology / Moral: Information is provided about a person or group who possess ideas or beliefs at odds with those held by the informant (i.e. drug dealing or terrorist tactics).

R — Revenge: Information is provided to harm or place another in a detrimental position (i.e. arrested) in response to a previous injury or perceived wrongdoing (i.e. as a result of an acrimonious breakup of a personal or criminal relationship).

E — Excitement: Undertaking the role of an informant offers the individual a feeling of excitement, eagerness, or arousal.

P — Protection: Passing information to authorities to protect the informant from persons or networks threatening them, their criminal enterprises, or family. The cooperation aims to provide information that encourages police action to diminish this threat.

L — Lifestyle: The role played by the informant provides the individual with an enhanced lifestyle, either as a consequence of deployments and/or payments.

A — Access: The informant relationship provides an opportunity for counter-penetration to identify agency interest in offending networks and associates. This may include deliberate infiltration by criminals to understand the nature of police tasking and levels of interest in their or their competitor’s criminal enterprises.

C — Coercion: Information is provided to avoid carrying out a threat made by an official (i.e. the threat of deportation; being prevented access to or from a country; or blackmail after being caught in compromising situations).

E — Ego: Undertaking the role of an informant enhances the individual’s self-esteem or self-importance. Where this ego starts to impact the veracity of provided information, these are sometimes colloquially known as ‘Walter-Mitty’ informants.

S — Sentence: Information is shared to mitigate the length of a likely forthcoming prison sentence or release from detention.


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Confidential Informant – a person who provides information to police about criminal activity.

The FBI, of course, conducts undercover operations, as needed, and they do so when such operation appears to be an effective means of obtaining evidence. The same is true for local and state agencies.

However, the FBI, as with other federal agencies, are held to tighter control, rules, and regulations as related to UC assignments. Small and basic details, such as the use of a confidential informant requires adhering to the strict guidelines as required by the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Use of Informants and Confidential Sources. And, believe me, this document is detailed and lengthy.

Even their definition of a confidential informant is a bit wordy.

“ConfidentiaI lnformant” or “CI”‘ – any individual who provides useful and credible information  regarding felonious criminal activities, and from whom the JLEA (Justice Law Enforcement Agency) expects or intends to obtain additional useful and credible information regarding such activities in the future.”

Once a person is selected and approved (more on this below), agents may not reveal the CI’s identity at any time, unless they’re obligated to do so by law or Court order. The rule holds true even when the agent involved in the undercover operation leaves the department for whatever reason—transfer, retirement, etc. Keep in mind that law enforcement cannot guarantee that their name will not be divulged. They’ll do all they can to protect their confidentiality, but if ordered by the courts to reveal their names, they must abide.

According to the FBI, before their CI may be put to use, several factors must be examined, such as the informant’s “age, alien status, whether the person is a public official, law enforcement officer, union official, employee of a financial institution or school, member of the military services, are presentative or affiliate of the media, or a party to, or in a position to be a party to privileged communications, a member of the clergy, a physician, or a lawyer.”

In addition, the JLEA must examine “the extent to which the person would make use of his or her affiliations with legitimate organizations in order to provide information or assistance to the JLEA, and the ability of the JLEA to ensure that the person’s information or assistance is limited to criminal matters.”

Other factors of consideration include, “the extent to which the person’s information or assistance would be relevant to a present or potential investigation or prosecution and the importance of such investigation or prosecution.”

Is Becoming a CI a “Get Out of Jail Free” card?

 

And, “the nature of any relationship between the CI and the subject or target of an existing or potential investigation or prosecution, including but not limited to a current or former spousal relationship or other family tie, and any current or former employment or financial relationship; the person’s motivation in providing information or assistance, including any consideration sought from the government for this assistance; the risk that the person might adversely affect a present or potential investigation or prosecution; the extent to which the person’s information or assistance can be corroborated; the person’s reliability and truthfulness; and the person’s prior record as a witness in any proceeding.”

Furthermore, it must be first determined as to “whether or not the person has a criminal history, is reasonably believed to be the subject or target of a pending criminal investigation, is under arrest, or has been charged in a pending prosecution; whether the person is reasonably believed to pose a danger to the public or other criminal threat, or is reasonably believed to pose a risk of flight; whether the person is a substance abuser or has a history of substance abuse; whether the person is a relative of an employee of any law enforcement agency” … and on and on and on it goes.

Other factors to consider when using CIs in your tales

When making the decision to use a confidential informant, officers must consider the risk of physical harm that could occur to the person or his or her immediate family and/or friends. Nothing is worth the risk of harm to a private citizen.

And …

  • What’s the CIs motive? Perhaps revenge for an act committed against them? If so, is it likely the CI may fabricate or plant evidence?
  • Is the CI a truthful person? Yes, even crooks tell the truth at times. Simply because they sell drugs doesn’t meant they’ll lie about it when asked. Hey, it happens.
  • Serving as a CI does not grant them the authority to engage in illegal activity.
  • They are not considered as employees of the government or local agency.

Finally, a word about entrapment.

Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer implants an idea into the mind of a person who would typically not otherwise commit the offense, and then encourage the commission of that offense in order to prosecute the individual.

By the way, it’s Probable Cause, NOT Probably Cause. Yes, I see and hear this (probably cause) quite often.

*Coming Monday May 24, 2021 – “Informants: Who’s in Your Fireplace?”


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Police officers are not trained to shoot to kill, nor do they shoot to wound. Again, officers are not taught to kill. I know, the recent death of George Floyd was extremely disturbing, but the actions of the officers involved are NOT the result of police training. I’m fairly confident that their actions, for whatever reasons, were not taught in any U.S. police academy. Nor were they necessary, proper, or even humane. But more on this in tomorrow’s article.

For now, let’s dive into another topic that, too, is often confusing to some people. And I understand how and why the subject matter is a bit perplexing so I’ll try my best to clarify. The topic … do police officers shoot to kill, or do they shoot to wound?

While we’re at it, we’ll also address the questions and statements we all see time and time again, most typically during the aftermath of police-involved shootings.

“Why didn’t he shoot the gun from the bad guy’s hand?”

“Shoot the bastard in the shoulder. Cain’t shoot anybody when his shoulder’s all shot up.”

Or, “Shoot ’em in the leg. That’ll stop ’em.”

Police officers are trained to stop a threat to human life

U.S. police officers are not soldiers and criminals are not enemy combatants. Contrary to the beliefs of some, U.S. streets are not battlefields where cops shoot first and ask questions later. It cannot and does not work that way. Yes, the current rioting and mob violence (not the peaceful protests), unfortunately requires a heavier than usual approach, but this is not the norm. Still, police are not taught to kill anyone.

In a perfect world there would be no crime and we’d all be safe, all the time. But our world is FAR from perfect; therefore, cops are tasked with arresting those who break the law. They don’t make the laws, just enforce them.

Unfortunately, some bad guys choose to not be arrested and will do whatever it takes to remain free, including trying to kill police officers. They may also choose to seriously harm or kill others during the commission of their crime(s). These two scenarios are the cause of officers having to use deadly force to stop the threat to the lives of others, and to themselves.

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

Center Mass

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

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

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

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

Here’s a video of an actual shooting scenario that occurred during a traffic stop. Watch how quickly the shooting unfolds.

Then there’s this. Suppose an officer is engaged in an intense shootout, and they are intense, believe me (been there, done that), and while returning fire as bullets zing and zip past, they somehow miraculously hit the suspect’s arm, or hand, or foot? Some people believe that once a person is shot they automatically drop to the ground and surrender. This is NOT always the case.

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

Besides, a shot to the arm leaves the suspect’s free hand to continue his attempt to kill the officer or other potential targets, such as a wife, husband, a bank teller, a child, and, well, you get the idea. A shot in the leg leaves both hands free to continue firing at officers. Wounding someone, hoping that’ll stop them from killing is stuff you see on TV. It’s just not that way in real life situations.

In addition, a bullet wound to the leg can be just as deadly as one to the chest. A shot that severs a femoral artery could cause the person to bleed death within a matter of a couple of minutes, or less.

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Keep this in mind. Rounds that strike center mass could certainly cause the death of the suspect, but death is not the intended outcome. The goal is to stop the threat and to do so the greatest chance of hitting the target is to aim for the largest portion (center of the torso). If a bad guy surrenders the moment he sees that the officer has drawn their weapon and fully intends to use it, the threat is then over and the officer must switch fro ma deadly force situation to one taking the suspect into custody. That’s always the goal, to make the arrest, not to take a life.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

There it is, the word sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in the movie “Mary Poppins.” Now, say it out loud. Or, if you prefer, say it in reverse – dociousaliexpilisticfragicalirupes. Either way, it takes us somewhere between one and two seconds for it to roll off our tongues, give or take a tenth of a second or two. That’s pretty quick, yes?

I suppose I could stop here and let you go about the remainder of your day with this ear worm digging its way into your brain:

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay

Um diddle, diddle diddle, um diddle ay…

But let’s stick with the time it takes to say that word. For me it’s somewhere between 1.01 seconds and 1.22 seconds, depending upon how quickly I start after clicking the button on the stopwatch.

Now, imagine that you’re a police officer who’s responded to a call where a suspect used a baseball bat to beat his spouse and children. You arrive at the scene and hear yelling, screams, and children crying from inside the home. You knock. No answer. Still more screaming. You force open the door and rush inside where you’re immediately faced with a man pointing a handgun at a badly battered woman. He begins to turn toward you. How do you respond to the threat, and how long does it take to do so?

Well, your body and brain must first of all figure out what’s going on (perception). Then the brain instructs the body to stand by while it analyzes the scenario (okay, he has a gun and I think I’m about to be shot). Next, while the body is still on hold, the brain begins to formulate a plan (I’ve got to do something, and I’d better do it asap). Finally, the brain pokes the body and tells it to go for what it was trained to do—draw pistol, point the business end of it at the threat, insert finger into trigger guard, squeeze trigger.

To give you an idea as to how long it takes a trained police officer to accomplish those steps, let’s revisit Mary Poppins and Bert the chimney sweep, and that wacky word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Remember, it takes us a little over one second to say the entire word. Try it. You’ll see.

New Picture (3)

To put this scenario into perspective, 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 far less than half the very brief time it takes Bert to sing that famous word, and certainly not enough time to stop, draw a weapon from its holster, take aim, yell a bunch of commands, check for passersby, look for accomplices, and, well, you get the idea.

So, when confronted with a potential deadly force situation, officers must perceive/identify the threat, evaluate the situation, develop a plan of action, and then set that plan in motion, and they must do so in the time it takes to say “supercali.” Not even the entire word—about the time it takes to blink.

Go ahead, try it. Blink one time and then think about all the cool things you could accomplish during the time it took to quickly close and open your eyes.

Blink.

During a traffic stop in Arkansas, a passenger in a vehicle shot at officers, killing one. The man fired the first round at the face of one officer. That shot occurred in less than supercali. Actually, it was more like, su-BANG!

The suspect then continued to fire at the other officers on scene, shooting several rounds during our imaginary supercalifragilisticexpialidocious timeframe. The officers were not able to return fire.

How about you? Are you able to make extremely complex decisions in less than a second? How about decisions that involve life or death?

Blink. A suspect just fired a round at you.

I dare say that many of us can’t decide what to select from a fast food menu within that scant time frame.

Blink. Round number two. Have you managed to draw your pistol yet?

Sure, it’s super easy to look back at deadly force incidents and offer opinions as to how they should, or should not have been handled. But only the people who were there at the precise moment the trigger was pulled know the real story. They alone know how they perceived and reacted to the threat to them and/or others.

Again, officers often have less than a second to react, and a lifetime to deal with the decision, if the officer survives the encounter.

SU …

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Tomorrow, more about the arrest of former police officer Darek Chauvin. We’ll also discuss the cause(s) of George Floyd’s death, and that a second video confirmed my early predictions.


By the way, our internet is finally back in service. For a solid week, Verizon worked on the lines in front of neighbor’s home. He’d called to report his service was out and they eventually arrived a couple of days later. Once they’d repaired whatever was wrong with the neighbor’s line they packed up and left. Within an hour of the line of five trucks leaving, our internet shut down.

After several calls and online chat sessions with support, rebooting, testing lines and devices, they finally answered my pleas to have someone come out … three days later.

Of course, I’d already told them about the earlier work in the neighborhood, but they dismissed my theory that the crew did something to cause our outage. Instead, they insisted that something was wrong inside our house, and they went through a checklist – kids playing, and breaking the equipment, dogs or cats or mice or hamsters or lions or tigers or bears possibly chewing through a line? Is your power on? Did you unplug the router and forget to plug it back into the receptacle? Etc. I explained to the man that we have no kids living with us. We have no pets. There had been no power outages. Mice understand that to enter our home is to die. So they remain outdoors along with the lions, tigers, and bears.

So a tech showed up Sunday morning at 9 a.m. He checked the equipment mounted to the outside of our house and says to me, “There’s no service coming to your device.” The thought that went through my mind was … Well, duh.

So off he goes out to the street where, from inside his truck, he begins to glance up to the tops of telephone poles, one after the next. He did this for nearly an hour. Then he returns to the pole in front of my neighbor’s house, the place where the crew had perched for a week while working on the lines. The pole that I’d said over and over was most likely where they’d find the trouble. It was self-inflicted, I’d said. Thy caused a problem where no problem existed..

The tech called me to say a part was missing from one of the boxes at the top of that pole. Of course, he didn’t have the part with him, which meant that a different crew member/technician would need to come out to replace the missing do-dad. But he couldn’t do the work that day. Instead, he would come the next afternoon.

Anyway, on the forth day there was internet, and the world was once again whole.

Oh, and a new water heater was installed an hour or so prior to the return of Verizon service. Yep, the old one conked out the morning of the day the Verizon service shut down. It was that kind of weekend.


As always … Please, no politics, religion, gun rights or wrongs, or other hot button topics/comments. This blog is strictly for delivering fact. If, on the rare occasion I decide to offer an opinion I make sure that it’s clearly stated that I’ve done a dumb thing by swerving to the outside edge of where fact meets opinion.

This article is not one of those times. Nor is it any attempt to poke a stick into Joe Biden’s eye for his recent comment about training officers to shoot bad guys in the leg instead of center mass. However, the former vice president’s comment was indeed the prompt for today’s information. I wanted to let you know some of the the reasons why officers are not trained to shoot arms and legs. The simple answer is that doing so could be a death sentence for the officer.

Anyone who’s attended the Writers’ Police Academy’s firearms simulation training knows how quickly deadly situations erupt, and that many times there’s barely time to think or blink before the bad guy fires off a round in your direction. There is no time to take aim, particularly at a moving leg or arm.

Finally, speaking of the Writers’ Police Academy, there’s still time to sign up for a spot at MurderCon!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Picture (4)

Glock 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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


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

Search Warrants - The Other Side of the Door

Ah, the search warrant.

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

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

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

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

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

And this is only the first room …

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

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

But the search must go on …

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

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

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

Evil Rat“Where’s your mommy?”

Five sets of shoulders inch upward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Did you know …

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

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

Bullet Examinations

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

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

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

Spy Stuff!


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

Cryptanalysis

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

Collecting DNA Evidence – Bone, Tissue, Teeth

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

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

Tissue

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

This One’s For the Birds!

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

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


MURDERCON 2021

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes, into places not typically traveled by anyone other than law enforcement and forensics experts.

I urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity. It may not pass your way again.

MurderCon is a “killer” event!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Seats at this unique event for writers are LIMITED!

 

 

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

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

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

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

There are exceptions to the exclusionary rule, such as:

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

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

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

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


Did you know??

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

 


MURDERCON

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes, into places not typically traveled by anyone other than law enforcement and forensics experts.

I urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity. It may not pass your way again.

MurderCon is a “killer” event!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Seats at this unique event for writers are LIMITED!

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

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

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

Okay, you asked for it …

2. “I’ll kill your family.”

3. “I know where you live.”

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

Sharp-dressed cops

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

6. “I’ve got a gun.”

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

8. “Don’t put your hands on me.”

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

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

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

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

12. “Does your dog bite?”

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

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

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

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

Police K-9

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

18. “You can’t prove none of that.”

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

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

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

Finally …

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


MURDERCON

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Seats at this unique event for writers are LIMITED!

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

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

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

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

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

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

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

ABFO scales.

ABFO scales. Image courtesy Sirchie 

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

Alternate Light Source

Alternate Light Source. Image courtesy Sirchie 

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

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

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

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

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

Chain of Custody labels

Pre-printed chain of custody label. Image courtesy Sirchie 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

electrostatic dust lifter

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

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

Gunpowder particle test kit

Gunpowder particle test kit – Sirchie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

plastic evidence bags

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Evidence vacuum

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes in actual murder cases, including a high-profile case investigated by FBI Special Agent David Alford. Yes, Agent Alford (ret.) is indeed the instructor for this captivating session. Actual crime scene photos and information!

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

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

www.writerspoliceacademy.com