MORIS never, ever forgets a face

I cannot count the number of times I’ve arrested Jesus Christ…or Bob Smith, John Smith, I Dunno, Ain’t Got No Name, or any number of other clowns who offered false names, including the ever-popular, F!#% You. And sometimes criminals refuse to provide any name at all, which is just as problematic as locking up Jesus. (You know it’s not Him, but in the back of your mind you ponder that wee tad of uncertainty while waiting for a lightning bolt to zap you on the head).

Normally, a suspect has to be held until you’re certain of his identity. After all, he just may be wanted in twenty states for who-knows-what. Well, finally, there’s a solution to this thorn-in-the-side problem for cops. And the solution is a gadget called MORIS, a hand-held iPhone-like unit.

MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System) allows officers on the street to instantly identify suspects. Also, the device allows jail officers to instantly identify prisoners, preventing an inmate from using a false ID to help him escape custody (assuming the identity of an inmate who’s scheduled for release).

Make no mistake about it, MORIS is sharp. It uses a combination of iris and facial recognition to correctly identify a person. Of course, as with other ID technology, a suspect’s information must be in the database for a match to occur.

Imagine the day when everyone is required to submit to an iris and facial scan as part of a national database. Then, with MORIS units deployed in all public places, your every move will be mapped out. That’s right, somewhere out there while you shop, eat, and…well, whatever it is that you do, you’d better do it with a smile on your face ’cause MORIS will be watching…

CSI taboos: The list

We’re all familiar with law enforcement’s obsession with acronyms, right? Well, RUVIS is one you may not have seen or heard of while watching your favorite cop show.

RUVIS (Reflective Ultraviolet Imaging System), a system of locating latent (invisible) fingerprints) without the use of powders, fumes, or chemicals, was developed by Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories and the U.S. Army. The system focuses on one specific section of shortwave ultraviolet light, the germicidal spectrum of light, which cannot be seen by the naked eye.

A particularly unique feature of RUVIS technology is that it works in both total darkness and in bright sunshine, a must for use by police investigators.

Krimesite Imager

The Krimesite Imager uses RUVIS technology to detect invisible residues from fingerprints. Those residues reflect UV light projected from the device, which immediately captures the reflections with a 60mm UV lens. A built-in scanner then converts the images to visible light, allowing the investigator to see the fingerprint. All this is done instantly, in real time. And, the detective is able to see images from up to fifteen feet away.

Once the print is located, the investigator uses the Imager to photograph it and, with the use of a micro-printer, print a copy of the desired evidence. All this without the messy powders that never seem to wash away. The KS Imager can also be used to greatly enhance prints developed using cyanoacrylate fuming (Super Glue).

Note – I doubt many of you will be picking up one of these devices for your home CSI kit. The price tag is between $15,000 and $20,000.

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Want to learn more about the Krimesite Imager and other Sirchie products? A team from Sirchie Fingerprint Labs, along with WPA instructor Dave Pauly, will be presenting a bloodstain workshop at the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy. So bring your questions. This is a unique opportunity for writers!

Remember, Sisters in Crime will pay over half of your registration. Hurry, space is now limited for this one of a kind event.

*Important WPA Announcement*

Attention WPA Attendees

Have you booked your room at the Embassy Suites? Rooms are extremely limited on the weekend of the WPA and our block is filling fast. Please secure yours today so you won’t miss out on the fun. Several activities take place at the hotel. You also won’t want to miss the delicious, free breakfast and the manager’s reception each evening.

Please tell them you’re registering for the Writers’ Police Academy when you call to receive our special discounted rate.


*Top photo – Hamilton Ohio PD Detective David Collins using Krimesite Imager




RoboCop working LA

Remember when Officer Alex Murphy, a Detroit police officer, was killed by a gang and his body was subsequently transformed into the cyborg character known as Robocop? And remember what a futuristic concept that was?

Well, the future has arrived. A portion of Robocop will be joining the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department later this year.

The BodyGuard 9XI-HD01 is a customizable glove that’s designed to quell violent situations. L.A.’s prototype is equipped with a built-in laser-guided camera, taser, and L.E.D. light. It’s also capable of housing GPS, a smartphone, biometrics, and other equipment that’s too top-secret to mention.

The glove uses a laser pointer to let suspects know that they’ve been targeted and that their actions are being video-recorded. Should the situation escalate to the point where the officer is forced to place his hands on the suspect to gain control of a a violent offender, he/she has the option at that point to activate the stun function, which, by the way, produces a menacing display of arcing electricity. Hopefully, seeing the tiny bolts of lightning shooting from the glove would cause the suspect to back down. If not, the officer has the option to place the stun electrodes against the suspect, releasing a higher voltage than the earlier light show-of-force.

Interestingly, the device was concocted by a Hollywood cameraman, editor and producer. I wonder, though, how quickly the glove could be deployed. Would the officer have to ask the violent suspect for a brief timeout while he opened the truck to retrieve it and then slip it over his uniform sleeve? Or, would he wear it as part of his uniform, resting it on the windowsill of the car in that cool cop-type lean/posture as they drive through the city. I do, however, foresee a lot of cops who’ll suddenly have the nickname of “Sparky.”

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1. The Don Knotts Golden Donut short story contest is open.

2. The early bird registration rate closes tomorrow. Reserve your spot today!

3. Remember to secure your hotel room now. The block is going fast.

4. We would still love to include your books and other items in our raffle. Proceeds benefit the criminal justice foundation at our host academy. The funds are used for training police officers. Please contact me for details.

5. Sisters in Crime will pay over half of your registration fee. What a deal!!


Seeing crooks through my dogs eyes

As leader of a high-risk entry team, I always found it a little daunting not knowing what was on the other side of the door I was about to breach. Were there armed suspects waiting to shoot it out with police? Were there small children that would be in harm’s way? Was it a trap…a set up? Would we have to shoot someone? Yes, it could definitely be an unnerving experience.

The same was true when I worked with my canine partner. Sending him into a building or wooded area to locate a dangerous criminal created a level of anxiety that was similar to how I felt when I sent my daughter off to kindergarten for the first time. It wasn’t a good feeling (sending the dog – the story of my daughter going off to school is a topic for another day), and I recall thinking, “If only I could see what he sees.”

Well, thanks to technology, officers are able to see what’s on the other side of the door. They’re also able to see exactly what Rover’s seeing. And, they’ll see it in real time.

For example, this dog-mounted camera works extremely well, even in low-light situations. It uses an enhanced infrared technology that not only records images, it also sends them back to the handler and his/her team.

To see what’s beyond the door, all the officer needs to do is slide an under-the-door camera through the space between the bottom of the door and the floor. (I won’t mention that the officer has his automatic weapon pointed at his partner’s head).

The device uses a variety of prisms and mirrors to send a wide-view image of the interior back to the monitor.

The video gun sight features an infrared point of impact locator which provides maximum accuracy…pinpoint accuracy.


* Tactical Electronics images

Want to learn more about tactical entry? Well, the Writers’ Police Academy is the place for you! We have some of the best instructors in the business. Lt. Randy Shepherd will be teaching the in’s and out’s of serving high-risk search warrants. Lt. Shepherd is also a renowned marksman and police sniper.

We’ve just added a wonderful search and rescue team to the lineup, and they’ll be conducting an exciting demo on Friday.

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Sisters in Crime will pay most of your registration fee!

Sisters in Crime members can attend the Writers’ Police Academy, to be held Sept. 23 to 25, 2011 near Greensboro, North Carolina, for a deeply-discounted registration fee of $100. SinC national will pay the balance of members’ $255 registration.

Act quickly to take advantage of this offer, which is in effect until June 15, 2011.

If you’re not a Sisters in Crime member, you can sign up for a SinC membership to receive the discount. The annual membership fee for a SinC professional membership is $40.


Baa Baa Black Sheep

Body armor is a life-saver. No doubt about it. But let’s face it, many cops complain about having to wear it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s bulky. It’s confining. And it’s HOT! Imagine wrapping a few layers of thick, dense clay around your body while sitting in the hot sunshine for several hours. That’s sort of what it’s like to wear a vest, especially for a newcomer. Sure, you get used to it after a while, but getting used to wearing a vest doesn’t make it any cooler inside those little Kevlar ovens. I know, I know. It’s worth a little discomfort in order to be safe and go home at night. But that doesn’t stop the bellyaching.

Another problem with body armor is that the material deteriorates and becomes less effective when exposed to water. Kevlar, for example, has been found to be approximately 20% less effective when wet. Actually, it’s recommended that body armor be replaced after five years of use due to constant exposure to moisture – sweat and humidity. But with the lack of even the day-to-day funds to operate police departments, replacing every $600 – $800 vest at the five year mark just isn’t going to happen. In fact, most departments NEVER replace their vests. And I’m willing to bet that there are still some police officers out there who’ve never worn one as part of their regular uniform.

So what’s being done to help with the heat, the moisture, the costs, and the comfort? One word…Sheep. After all, those walking army blankets don’t seem to mind water, so what if…

That’s right, researchers from RMIT’s School of Fashion and Textiles have discovered that by blending 20-25% wool with 70-75% Kevlar, the material actually works even better when it’s wet. And it’s cheaper to make than a vest made of all Kevlar (Kevlar cost about $70 per kilogram compared to $12 for wool). And, by replacing a portion of the Kevlar with wool, the vest also weighs less.

So help is on the way, folks. And not just for the little boy who lives down the lane…


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And, just an FYI. Here’s an image of a bullet fired by the Taliban that struck a soldier’s body armor.

And this is the result of that same bullet being deflected by the soldier’s body armor.  The soldier was knocked to the ground by the hit, but he’s alive.

A New, Safe Method of Applying and Removing Handcuffs

How many times have you been punched in the face while removing the cuffs from your prisoner? I know, once was enough, right? Well, the folks over at Cuffsafe Industries have come up with a handy solution to the problem—the Cuffsafe Device.

The Cuffsafe Device is specifically designed to assist law enforcement and corrections officers with the safe removal of handcuffs from prisoners. It also works when applying cuffs.

Cuffsafe provides a physical barrier between the officer and the suspect, which provides a safety zone.

Cuffs are securely locked into the device, allowing the officer to safely search the suspect. Even with only one hand cuffed and locked, it makes it impossible to use the cuffs as a weapon.

It only takes one time of having a prisoner hook you in the face with an open cuff to know you’ll never want to experience that again. Imagine the “hook” catching the cheek, or an eye.


The Cuffsafe jaws are adaptable to either chain-link or hinged cuffs. The keyed lock deadbolts the cuffs in place. There’s no getting out of this thing!

*Cuffsafe images





Planting bugs inside bugs

The pentagon has gotten serious about the spy game. And it looks like the goofy glasses and fake mustaches may be on their way out.

Yep, shoe phones and the cone of silence may also soon be a thing of the past. So move over Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. Step aside Spy v. Spy. James Bond, open the window for…The Hummingbird.

Weighing less than a AA battery, this tiny spy drone is capable of flying in all directions, rotate, and climb and descend. And the best part is that it can do all that while a miniature camera records all it “sees.” Oh, I guess I should mention that the hummingbird’s flight is propelled solely by flapping it’s wings.


A California company, AeroVironment, developed the “bird” at a cost of $4 million over a period of 5 years. But it’s not their first attempt at creating this sort of thing. Not at all. They’ve also developed a flying reptile that’s been around for a while now.

And then there’s that whirling maple leaf seed (the whirly bird) developed by Lockheed Martin. At .07 ounces, this tiny spy plane is packed full of imaging and navigation equipment.

And it doesn’t stop there. The US government’s research group, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA) has plans to implant live insects with video cameras or sensors during their metamorphosis stage and then control them by applying electrical stimulation to their wings. Now that’s a bug!

I guess it’s just a matter of time before insects begin to play a vital role in law enforcement intelligence gathering…


Son Of Sam

In 1953, a woman named Betty Falcoand had an affair with Joseph Kleinman, a married man. Betty soon became pregnant and gave birth to a son, David, whom she immediately put up for adoption. A couple from the Bronx, Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz, were more than happy to give the baby boy a home, and a last name.

Young David grew to be a hyperactive child with a violent streak. He was a bully who didn’t take his mother’s death well. Not at all. David joined the military—the army— after his mother’s death and, while serving, took an interest in shooting and became an expert marksman.

After his discharge from service in the mid-1970’s, David began setting fires, nearly 1,500 of them. He also began to hear the voices of demons inside his head. Those demons eventually ordered him to stab a woman, and he did. But the woman started  to scream so he ran away. During his retreat he bumped into a 15-year-old girl and stabbed her six times. And this was only the beginning. The Son of Sam had begun his reign of terror.

Although, David Berkowitz began his killing spree using a knife as his preferred weapon, he was also known as the .44 Caliber Killer. He made the switch from edged weapon to firearm in 1976 when he found a young couple sitting in a parked car and shot them to death with a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog Pug.

Interestingly, the Bulldog, a revolver designed to fire a large, slow-moving bullet, was one of the original weapons issued to the Federal Air Marshals (Sky Marshals).

The marshals needed a gun that was capable of firing a slow-traveling bullet and the Bulldog (less than 30,000 of these revolvers were made) fit the requirement, nicely. The Bulldog revolvers carried by the air marshals were loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs, which further reduced the possibility of over-penetration and ricochet. Can’t poke holes in airplanes, right?

Glaser Safety Slugs contain small shot inside a copper jacket that’re sealed with a blue plastic ball, creating a round nosed bullet.

David Berkowitz used the Bulldog revolver for his entire shooting spree. The Federal Air Marshals, however, switched to the Sig Sauer P-225 and eventually to the P-228

I still say that I’m alive today because of the P-228 I carried both on and off-duty.


* David Berkowitz remains in prison, serving his 365 years. He’s a model prisoner who says he’s a born again Christian. Berkowitz writes and maintains the ariseandshine website.

* The Federal Air Marshals are also strong and doing well. You can visit and learn more about them here.

Please, no biting or spitting

Close your eyes for a moment, and then picture this…

You’re hard at work doing whatever it is you do. No, wait. Let’s say you’re a NY Times bestselling author (since many of you are) and you’re at a huge book signing where lots of people stand before you in a line that stretches as far as the eye can see. In their hands are copies of your latest mega-hit. You’re very happy because you love your job and you just know everyone loves you.

Well, you’ve scrawled your name dozens of times  in that flaring style that’s so familiar to your devoted fans, when suddenly a guy walks up to your table and says, “I hate your work,” and then spits squarely in your face.

That would be a horrifying experience, right? But it would, if ever, probably happen only once in a lifetime—an oddity. Right? Well, imagine if it happened on a regular basis, or at least the threat of it occurring was there every single day of your life.

Unfortunately, that’s a threat that cops and jail and prison employees must deal with all the time, especially when transporting prisoners to and from various locations. But, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent being on the receiving end of an unwanted saliva shower.

The Spit Net – This handy-dandy device fits over a prisoner’s head to guard against spitting and biting.

Making its way onto the prisoner fashion scene is the Tranzport Hood, an over-the-head device featuring a bacteria-filtering fabric designed to trap contaminants. The Hood is also designed to prevent unauthorized removal while allowing a full range of  vision.

And while we’re on the subject of unruly prisoners…how about the scratchers and the lock pickers? Yep, there’s something for them, too. The Cuff Aid is a pouch that fits over the hands and cuffed wrists. No way to use those pesky, roaming fingers now! The pouch is also fitted with loops for securing the hands to a waist chain.

Having a hard time re-creating accurate bloodstain patterns from a crime scene? Can’t quite figure out what kind of weapon your suspect used to bash in the skull of your victim? What? None of your friends are willing to let you try various clubs, hammers, and crowbars on their heads for comparison?

No problem. BludgeonHead is always more than happy to let you bash in his skull. So swing a Louisville Slugger at the forehead of this guy and learn where your killer was standing when he delivered his fatal blow.

BludgeonHead is filled with pig’s blood.

* Also available as Gunshot Head.

Handcuffs: What's in your case?

The two main types of handcuffs used by law enforcement are chain-link cuffs and hinged cuffs. The top image is of a pair of chain-linked handcuffs. Most police officers prefer to carry and use chain-linked cuffs because the chain connecting the two cuffs swivels, making the restraint flexible and easier to apply to the wrists of combative suspects.

The lower image is of a pair of hinged cuffs. These are more commonly used when transporting prison or jail inmates. However, some officers do prefer to carry the hinged cuffs as part of their regular duty/street gear. Hinged cuffs are not flexible (the hinge between the two bracelets does not swivel) which greatly reduces wrist and hand movement. This type cuff is difficult to apply to the wrists during a scuffle, but the lack of flexibility helps prevent lock picking and other furtive movements by prisoners.

Both style cuffs operate using a ratchet and pawl locking system. Both are equipped with a second lock (double-locking) to prevent any further tightening of the ratchet which can injure the wrists of the cuffed suspect. The second lock also prevents prisoners from picking the lock.

The standard handcuff key is pictured above. The L-shaped end of the key is used for unlocking the cuffs, while the prong on the opposite end of the key (at the O, which is used to grip the key between the fingers) is used for double-locking the restraints. To double-lock, the officer inserts the prong into the round holes at the base of the cuff (one on each cuff).

Handcuffs are normally carried in a case (the officer above carries two sets of cuffs) at the center of the small of the back to allow for easy access with either hand.

* This post is in response the questions we received last week regarding the officer’s gun belt. This is actually a re-do of the very first post on The Graveyard Shift, over three years ago.

* Author Melanie Atkins will be joining us tomorrow as a special guest reviewer of this week’s episode of Castle. Melanie is one of Castle’s most devoted fans, so it’ll be fun to hear her take on the show. Of course, I’ll still have my say. Will we butt heads? We’ll see.