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I’m sorry, but some people are simply not designed to be cops. There, I’ve said it. And it’s true.

Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you that it takes a special kind of person to successfully wear a gun and badge. Sure, “law dawgs” come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and from varying backgrounds. But there was one officer who shouldn’t have made it past the interview stage, and that cop was quickly nicknamed “The Little Cop Who Couldn’t.”

First of all, for the purpose of this blog we need to assign a name to the officer—a gender-neutral name. Therefore, it’ll be up to you to paint your own mental picture of him/her. And the name I choose is Pat (could go either way with this one – remember Pat on SNL?).

The story goes something like this…

Pat was a unique police officer who stood at a towering 4’10” tall, with shoes on. Not a single supply company stocked police uniforms in child sizes, so Pat’s clothing had to be specially made and ordered from the good folks who live inside trees and bake and sell cookies to support their lifestyle. Even then, a good bit of tailoring had to be done, snipping here and stitching there, to insure a proper fit. And if someone had bronzed Pat’s work shoes they’d have looked a lot like “baby’s first shoes.”

During basic training, one of the practical exercises for the class was to direct traffic at a busy city intersection. Trainees were required to be in full uniform for the exercise, including hats. Well, they just don’t make police hats that small, so Pat borrowed one from a fellow classmate, looking like a kid playing dress-up in adult clothing.

 

Anyway, the trainee who’d just completed his turn in the intersection stopped traffic from all four directions so Pat could assume the position in the middle of the street. With arms outstretched and a short blast from a whistle, Pat then sharply and crisply motioned for one lane of traffic to move forward. All was going well until Pat gave the whistle another tweet to stop the oncoming traffic, and then turned to the left to start the next lane of traffic moving. Well, Pat’s tiny head turned left, rotating inside the cap, but the too-large hat remained facing forward. The entire class erupted is laughter.

Punching Bag

Pat once responded to a shoplifting call—an 11-year-old girl swiped a candy bar from a local K-Mart—and just as Pat was about to enter the store the little kid ran outside. Pat grabbed the little darlin’ who immediately pushed Pat down to the pavement. Pat got up and grabbed the 70-ish-pound kid and it was on.

According to bystanders, who, by the way, called 911 to report an officer needing assistance, the child was absolutely beating the tar out of Pat. One witness told responding officers that Pat resembled one of those blow-up clown punching bags that pops back upright after each blow.

Then there was the time when Pat’s fellow officers responded to a large fight outside a local bar. The dispatcher cautioned that weapons were involved and several people were already injured and down. Pat was in the middle answering a domestic he-said/she-said when the call came in.

Responding officers saw the large crowd and immediately called for backup, which, at that point, meant calling in sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, since every available officer, except Pat, was already on the scene. The fight was a tough battle and officers and bad guys were basically going at it toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Officers were outnumbered 4-to-1, at least.

And then they heard it … a lone siren wailing and yelping in the distance, like the sound of a ship’s horn mournfully floating across vast salt water marshes at low tide. Soon, intermittent flashes of blue light began to reflect from brick storefronts and plate glass windows. And then, out of the darkness appeared Pat’s patrol car, bearing down on the parking lot and the fight that was well underway.

File:London Polizei-Einsatz.gif

Pat didn’t bother stopping at the curb. Instead, the tiny officer, who by the way, had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel (no, I’m not kidding), pulled the car directly into the parking lot beside the action, flung open the car door, and stepped out.

You Must Be “This” Tall

Well, stepped out … sort of. Pat’s pistol somehow had become entangled in the seat belt, which sort of reeled Pat back into the car like a Yo-Yo on the upswing. Pat’s Maglite hit the pavement, coming apart and spilling batteries in all sorts of directions. The pillow fell out of the car and slid beneath the vehicle. And the hat. Yes, the little cop wore the cop/bus driver hat, which, of course remained motionless while Pat’s softball-size head spun around like a lighthouse beacon as he/she surveyed the scene.

Suddenly, as if a magic spell had been cast, the fight stopped, with everyone turning to watch “The Pat Show” unfold. Even the bad guys chuckled at the ridiculousness before them—Pat on hands and knees retrieving lost gear and, of course, the pillow. But, at least the fight was over.

By the way, Pat’s hands were so small that the department had to purchase a pistol that’s a bit smaller than standard cop issue, but Pat’s index finger was still too short to reach the trigger. Instead, he/she learned to shoot using his/her middle finger to pull the trigger. Didn’t matter, because Pat failed to shoot a satisfactory score on the range during the first annual weapons qualification.

So I guess the true test of becoming a solid police officer is not how strong the desire or how big the heart, it’s how well the head fits the hat. And, of course, they must be “this tall” to drive a police car.

WPA melts the wall between cops

Cops are a unique breed. They dress differently. They speak differently. They’re in a class all to themselves, and it’s a “Members Only” sort of group where those on the outside looking in simply don’t understand what it is that officers do and why they do it.

Unfortunately, law enforcement is an operation that sometimes, to best protect us from harm, must do things out of public view. And that lack of understanding and wondering “what they’re up to” often leads to mistrust.

Some members of society reject any form of authority. Others distrust police officers because they’ve heard friends or family members say they don’t like cops. In some corners of cities, counties, and states, young children, even before they’re taught to read and write, are taught to hate the police. Then there are the bad apples of law enforcement who commit acts that go against the very meaning of their badge and oath.

Over time, and as a result of hatred and violence directed toward cops, police officers metaphorically circled their protective wagons in order to survive in a world populated by people who simply don’t like them. Actually, hate would be a more appropriate term in many cases. Unfortunately, the escalating hatred of police combined with the circling of those wagons transformed what was once a wedge of apprehension between citizens and the officers into a nearly impenetrable wall.

Yes, the wall is there. No doubt about it. But what many people don’t understand about the “wall” is that one of its cornerstones is fear—fear of abuse, fear of beatings, fear of racism, and even fear death. Yes, some people live their entire lives being deathly afraid of the police. And likewise, the police, too, fear injury and death.

As a detective in charge of certain operations I devoted much of my time attempting to tear down the invisible wall. I wanted people to know that police officers are human, that we do good, and that we were there FOR them, not AGAINST them. And I still try to convey that message through this blog and through my writings. I also had the same goal in mind when starting the Writers’ Police Academy several years ago.

I knew the instructors at the WPA were the best in the business at what they do, but when I received the letter below, I also knew the event had achieved far more than helping writers “get it right.”

Finally, after all these years, there was a crack in the wall. And I want to say THANK YOU to everyone involved in the WPA for merely being you. It is because you’re who you are that someone took the time to let me know the WPA had a huge and emotional impact on their life.

Here’s the letter (I’ve omitted names and locations to protect the writer’s identity and, please, if you think you recognize the author of the letter, keep the name to yourself).

Here goes…

Dear Mr. Lofland:

It’s been almost a year since I attended the Writer’s Police Academy in September and I am writing to share my experience during that weekend.

I learned about your Academy from a book on getting one’s book published (I don’t remember the title of the book) that I was skimming through in a Barnes and Noble store in early September of last year. Since I have no law enforcement background, I was looking for a way to verify that the information in the novel that I’ve been working on for some time is correct; that’s when I saw the piece on your Academy. I couldn’t believe it; especially since the Academy was being held in a few weeks. I quickly signed up and prepared to go along with my wife, my little daughter, and my mother-in-law.

The Writer’s Police Academy was a life-changing experience; but not in the way I imagined.

You see, I’ve never had a good relationship or opinion of the Police and I’ll explain why.

I was about 8 years old and it was a summer night in the mid 1970’s when suddenly I had a terrible cough just before going to bed. My mother is a praying woman and she taught us that when we’re sick God can heal us; so that night I asked her to pray for me. Quickly, the cough was gone and just before I dozed off into sleep I remember seeing the reflection of Police car lights on my bedroom wall.

The next day I awoke to find that my 16 year-old brother was missing. As my mother finished praying for me and I fell asleep, my mother saw the Police lights on the wall, too, and quickly ran to the window. Two policemen were surrounding my brother. What happened was that a car was stolen in my neighborhood and my brother was accused of being the person who stole the car.

My mother quickly ran downstairs and stood between my brother and the Police; the two men smelled of alcohol and their eyes were bloodshot. One Police officer pulled his weapon on my mother.

The owner of the car ran up to the officers and told them that his car was found by other officers and that my brother was innocent. One of the officers refused to let my brother go and wanted to take him in. My brother panicked and ran.

You see, we lived in the **** area of the **** and this was in the mid 70’s. Police abuse was rampant and crime and fires in the area were out of control. There was little trust in the Police from the community.

They shot at my brother as he ran down the park stairs and he was captured by other officers from three squad cars that suddenly appeared. They took him to the ******** and beat him to a pulp. My parents went to the precinct and were told he wasn’t there and had been released; it was a lie. Later on, the officers took him to an industrial area called *****, beat him some more and left him there in the middle of the night. My brother showed up at my house at 12 in the afternoon the next day.

Investigating officers reported that no such incident occurred and that one of the officers whom allegedly was present that night, whom my brother remembered his name and badge number, didn’t exist. An officer told my mother that she better get my brother out of the area or he would be killed by the police. She obliged.

Since then, my experiences with the Police haven’t been positive. There have been incidents in which I was treated well so I don’t want to over generalize but the bad has far outweighed the good. During the **** years, it was hell! I am of **** **** descent and although I am fair skinned, college educated and have worked all my life; I felt that I had a target on my back as I walked the streets or drove in the City. ….police brutality cases have only made me less trustful of the police. I have often wondered why I am even writing a novel related to the Police.

So, last year, when I went to your Academy, I was very uneasy. I was entering an actual Police Academy and was going to be surrounded by Police. I was nervous, apprehensive, and at times, felt like a hypocrite for even being there. But then the Academy started.

Friday morning began with a presentation on the Jaws of Life. The dedication and care for the public from the presenting officer just oozed out of him and impressed me. I then attended “Making a Lasting Impression” with Robert Skiff and David Pauly: I was blown away. The commitment from those two gentlemen to find the truth in order to protect the public blew me away. I slowly began to see that the Police weren’t necessarily out to get me but to protect me.

I then went to “Fingerprinting” and it was awesome. Next, I attended “Cold Cases and the Realities of Investigations” by David Pauly and Dr. Ramsland; this is where things really started to change. The openness of the presenters in sharing their knowledge was incredible. I could feel their passion and dedication to getting the truth and solving murders. More importantly, I could see and feel their humanity.

Friday evening after the Night Owl Presentation, I had to go to the Bar and gather myself. My head was spinning. Not only from the information I received in the classes but my emotions were everywhere. Then McMahan sat next to me in the bar and began to talk to me; my heart was racing and my palms were sweating. A law enforcement officer was sitting next to me and talking to me man-to-man. He is truly a gentleman. I found out he’s a dedicated dad and husband and I was humbled by his humility and integrity.

We were joined by David Pauly and Dr. Ramsland; they talked to me like I was a human being. You see, Mr. Lofland, in dealing with the Police in my past, I often felt less than human. David Pauly bought me a beer (please tell him I owe him one) and the four of us talked for a while. It was great. They are great people and their knowledge and dedication just blows me away.

Not long after that, Detective Conelli joined us and we had a brief talk; he was exhausted from his trip and needed rest. I couldn’t wait for his presentation on the following morning “Anatomy of an Undercover Cop”.

Saturday came and I was seated on the floor in Detective Conelli’s classroom (the room was full to capacity). He started out by showing a picture of “His Office” which was a building in the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. My heart stopped, I went cold, and I was almost brought to tears. I had been in many buildings like the one in the picture! He then showed us a picture of him while undercover. He had no weapons and was taking a huge risk in going into those buildings. It was during the Crack epidemic and I witnessed, firsthand, how it devastated neighborhoods.

Hearing Mr. Conelli talk transformed me. I began to see the other side of what it is to be a Police Officer. I began to see them as being on my side, for me, and not against me.

On Sunday, during the debriefing panel, I was struck by the Chief’s words and his assistant. I’m sorry but I don’t remember their names. They urged the writers present to write positively about the Police profession. They said it was very easy to portray cops in a negative light but we were witnesses that weekend to the goodness found among law enforcement professionals. I take that advice to heart.

On the plane on my way home I thought about my experience. I have a coworker whose brother is a **** Captain. I decided I would reach out to him in order to not only get information for my novel but most importantly, bury some painful experiences I had been carrying for many years. I realized that the experience with my brother had colored my view of Cops and I needed to change that.

Captain **** **** so happens to be the Captain of *** homicide. When we texted each other in order to set up a meeting, he told me he worked out of the ****! The same one in which my brother was abused. But the *** **** had since moved so I thought nothing of it. It turns out that the **** has indeed moved but the original building (in which my brother was abused) is used to house Captain **** and other administrative offices.

So, on a cold December night around 11pm I went to meet Captain ****. It was surreal walking into that building. I confessed my feelings about the Police to Captain **** and told him that if he felt uncomfortable with me that it was okay if he didn’t want to share and continue our meeting. He was very gracious and understanding. He confessed that the **** doesn’t have clean hands and didn’t have clean hands during those days in the 70’s in ***** but he shared his side of things.

I made peace with a lot of things that night, Mr. Lofland. It all started with your Academy and your gracious speakers. You have a very special thing going there. My mother would call it a ministry; something God-given.

My wish is that your Academy could be duplicated throughout the country and be used as a tool not only for writers but to bridge the gap between the Police and the communities in which they serve. I would like to see young people attend your Academies and receive healing just as I did.

I would also like to see you guys do a documentary on the Police. My vision is to have several Police recruits from several Police Academies from different parts of the country be followed from just before they enter the Police Academy to about five or more years into their careers. The documentary would show their everyday lives and their struggles and maturing process. I think the public would love it and gain a lot from such a program.

As for me, I don’t know if I will ever finish my novel or have it published. I am currently working on getting a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) so that I could work in the **** Schools helping kids in the inner city; kids much like me when I was younger. I can’t attend this year’s Academy because we can’t afford it and because of my studies.

However, I will forever be grateful to you and to Mr. McMahan, Mr. Skiff, Mr. Pauly, Det. Conelli, Dr. Ramsland, and all the others who were there last fall. I’m a better man for attending and am at peace now.

I am eternally grateful to you and to your partners. May you guys have the best Writers’ Police Academy yet and may God richly bless you and yours.

Thank you,

Name withheld


Details of the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy will soon be available. 2018 marks our 10th anniversary so expect the largest and most exciting event we’ve ever produced. It’s going to be BIG!

*Sisters in Crime is a major sponsor of the WPA.

Candies, cakes, and eggnog.

Turkey, ham, and stuffing.

Pumpkin pie.

My favorite.

Family, friends, and sleeping dog on hearth.

Fireplace crackles.

Cedar logs sizzle.

Cookies and milk.

Laughter, giggles, and squeals.

Stockings and gifts.

Silent wishes and happy, hopeful dreams.

Home.

Wish I was there.

Pepper spray, handcuffs, and puking drunks.

Radios, shotguns, and TASERS.

Spouses abused.

Battered.

Black eyes and broken bones.

Not their fault.

Dealers, robbers, and sad, pitiful kids.

No toys.

Lots of drugs.

Crack pipes burning.

No place to sleep.

No food, no heat.

Gunshots and stabbings.

Car crashes and suicides.

Crying, bleeding, and dying.

Ambulances, hospitals, and morgues.

Home.

Glad I have one.

Aren’t you?


Please remember the many police officers, fire crews, rescue workers, hospital staff, and all others who work to keep us safe during the holidays.

And, thanks so much to each of you who’ve helped our daughter’s battle with cancer through donations, prayers, gifts, and healing thoughts. She’s quite ill, her hair is now gone, and the pain she endures daily is intense, but her sweet smile still lights up a room, and my heart. 

Ellen, prior to receiving chemo.

Here’s how you, too, can help Ellen (our daughter). I cannot begin to stress the importance of each and every dollar. No donation is too small. Click here to help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys are the best and I don’t know how we’d make it through this without you!

 

Cops: what's up with that look

Predatory animals watch and stalk their prey before moving in for the kill. They’re extremely patient, waiting for the right target—the weakest animal in the pack—because the battle is easier.

Criminals often exhibit similar behavior when interacting with law enforcement.  The cop who looks and acts weak—the meekest of the herd—often finds himself the target of all sorts of grief, from verbal abuse all the way to physical assault.

So what do cops do as a front line defense against all that unnecessary heartache? Well, for starters, they’re taught to have and demonstrate what’s known as Command Presence.

An officer who looks sharp, acts sharp, and is sharp, has an advantage over the officer who dresses sloppily and isn’t all that confident about their work. The latter are the officers who most often find themselves having the most difficulties on the street.

Command presence is all about being at the top of the game. Taking a few minutes to be sure your shoes, badge, and brass are polished goes a long way toward projecting a positive image. So does wearing a clean and neatly pressed uniform. And let’s don’t forget regular trips to the folks who cut hair for a living. The combination of these things help to make an officer look confident. Think about it … who would you trust more, the officer with the dirty, wrinkled clothing and shaggy hair, or the officer who looks fresh and sharp, and projects a solid air of authority?

Crooks size up officers the same way you do. They just have other things in mind when they do. They, like animals culling the herd, watch, looking for the weaker officers, and those are the officers who’ll most likely be dealing with escape attempts, lies, and other criminal tricks.

Tips for developing a better command presence.

– Be professional at all times. And that includes updated training. A cop who knows his job inside-out projects more confidence. The same is true with physical training. Stay in shape and know, trust, and practice your defensive tactics.

– Good posture is important. The officer who stands straight and tall has an advantage over the officer who slouches. Poor posture often comes across as a weakness, especially when confronting an aggressive suspect.

– Always make and maintain eye contact when speaking to someone.

– Honesty and consistency are important traits. Bad guys will quickly learn that what you say is what you mean, each and every time.

– Always treat everyone fairly and with dignity.

– First impressions only come around once, so make it your best effort. If a suspect’s first impression of you is that you’re meek and weak, well, you can expect to have a rough day.

– Size up everyone. Always be aware of who and what you’re dealing with, and stay one step ahead of the person in front of you. Remember, that person may want to kill you so be prepared to do what it takes to survive. Do this each and every time you come into contact with someone. No exceptions! You never know which person is the one who plans to do you harm.

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

Cops and Command Presence: What’s Up With That Look?

Remember, command presence is only the first step in the “stay safe” equation. Others include:

1. Be aware of your surroundings. What can the bad guy use as a weapon? Does he have a friend lurking in the shadows? Do YOU have an escape route, if needed?.

2. Officers must be prepared, without hesitation, to do what it takes to control a situation. Many times, all that’s needed to gain and maintain control is verbal instruction, and it would be wonderful if a handful of nouns and verbs were the ultimate “fix-all” tools. However, we don’t live in an always-happy world filled only with glitter, delicious chocolate, and smile factories. So, unfortunately, use of force will come into play during an officer’s career … many times.

3. Never, ever, be in the position where you’re forced to react after-the-fact to a situation you weren’t prepared to handle. If the situation is one where you absolutely must place your hands on a suspect, then be prepared to see the arrest through until the suspect is in restraints and tucked safely away in the rear compartment of your patrol car.

Hamilton One 125

4. When encountering a violent suspect, think ahead and be prepared to increase the level of force used to effectively make the arrest. The idea is not to injure anyone. Instead, the goal is to engage, arrest, and restrain without unnecessary harm to anyone. If the suspect chooses to fight until there is only one person left standing, then be certain that person is you.

Hamilton One 019

5. Effective command presence leaves no doubt as to who’s in charge of the situation, even without speaking a single word.

New Picture (2)

So wear the badge proudly, stand tall, and do what it takes to come home at night.

Officer Idu Thebestican feels as if he faces a no-win situation each day he puts on his uniform, and he stopped by today to tell why he feels that way. Here’s what the officer had to say …

Today I found a lost grandmother. She has Alzheimer’s and wandered off into a wooded area near a rocky and steep ravine. I sat with her and held her hand until her family arrived to take her home. You didn’t see that.

I got pretty banged up while breaking up a nasty fight between two large men. They were angry over a ref’s call at a kid’s soccer game. You didn’t see that.

A convenience store was robbed by two masked men carrying handguns. I caught one of the robbers after a five-block foot pursuit. He fired a shot at me but missed. Luckily I was able to wrestle the gun from his hand. You didn’t see that.

You didn’t see that!

Two cars crashed head-on, killing everyone inside. I helped remove the bodies, including one of a tiny baby. You didn’t see that.

A bloody face and a broken arm on an eight-year-old girl. Her intoxicated father did that to her and I was there in time to stop him from killing his daughter. I took the punches that were intended for her. You didn’t see that.

I was stabbed and cut in the side by a woman trying to stop me from arresting the husband who’d just beaten her until she was black and blue. It took 30 stitches to close the wound. You didn’t see that.

A drunk man was trapped in a burning house. I ran in and pulled him out. Burned my hands and face a bit, but the man survived. You didn’t see that.

I changed a flat tire for two elderly woman who were on their way to Florida. You didn’t see that.

I worked three straight shifts without sleep or meals while trying to catch a guy who’d raped and murdered a teenager. You didn’t see that.

I bought a meal for a homeless man, and then joined him for lunch. He’d served in the military and suffers from severe PTSD. You didn’t see that.

I stopped to throw a few footballs with some young boys. You didn’t see that.

#HeStoleMyPopTart

(click the link above to see Officer Norman at work play)

I adopted a needy family at Christmas time and bought them gifts, and my wife and I delivered a holiday meal to them. You didn’t see that.

But you chose to see me when I responded to 911 call in your neighborhood, with all of your friends standing around, and you closed in on my personal space with your face just inches from mine to shout, “Murderer!” even though I’ve never killed anyone.

You threw rocks at me while I patrolled your street, trying to keep you safe from robbers, burglars, and killers.

You spit on me while I was arresting a guy in your neighborhood. It didn’t matter to you that he’d just committed an armed robbery of an old lady and that he’d roughed her up a bit in the process. To you, though, I was the bad guy. “F*** You! All cops are murderers!” you screamed at me while impressionable little children looked on. Those kids had no way of knowing that I’d never pulled my gun from its holster other than to clean it or qualify at the range.

A police officer a thousand miles away did something to dishonor HIS badge, yet you blame me. Why? I didn’t come to arrest you when I caught your friend climbing in that lady’s bedroom window. I don’t run out to punch a random doctor in the face simply because a physician somewhere in Maine botches a surgery on a cop I don’t know personally. It’s not supposed to work that way in a civilized society. Besides you’ll never catch me defending a cop who knowingly breaks the law.

From A Cop’s Perspective: What You Didn’t See

Here’s what it’s like from my point of view.

When I’m off duty and our kids are on the field playing sports, or we’re both sitting side-by-side at a community picnic and it’s as if we’re best buddies. But the moment I put on the uniform I’m suddenly the enemy. Your enemy. And it’s for no reason—your transformation—other than my clothing and something I didn’t do, that your hatred for me begins to fester and boil over.

Believe me, I don’t change. But you do.

And I see it.

 

You. Will. Survive. Three of the most important words I heard during my entire time attending the basic police academy.

Several years later it was I who was drilling the phrase into the minds of hundreds of recruits. After all, thoughts of my survival speech, and many others like it in academies across the country, could be the catalyst that gives the much-needed shove after an officer is badly wounded and is teetering between giving up and pushing on to live another day. Indeed, three very important words to remember.

You. Will. Survive.

Sure, rookies know it all, or think they do. They’re fresh out of a lengthy and grueling training period that prepares them for whatever could come their way. Well, almost everything. The world still toss out surprises.

But there they are, shiny faces and short hair. Ill-fitting uniforms and new scratch-free equipment on their brand new duty belts that still smell of freshly-dyed leather and oil. New information fills their brains (“Do this. Don’t do that. Watch this and look for that.”).

The’ve just completed Hell Week (defensive tactics where pain rules the day) so arrest techniques are fresh in their minds. Their shooting and driving skills are sharp. They are nothing short of walking, talking, hyper-vigilant cop machines who can run fives miles while drinking protein shakes, cleaning their sidearms, and reciting Black’s Law Dictionary in reverse order, from ZZZZ BEST to A FORTIORI.

The point is, rookies are probably far more alert than the officer who’s been on the job for several years.

Why is it that more experienced officers have a strong tendency to become—here it comes, the dreaded “C” word—complacent?

Well, like other professions, doing the same thing over and over and over again becomes a bit tiresome, especially when that same-old, same-old involves the same two people time and time again (“He hit me.” “No, he hit ME!”). Unfortunately, it’s often the 300th time you respond to Junior, Jr.’s trailer out on Route 5 that he decides to shoot a cop. It could be the meth or the Jack talking, but dead is dead. There “ain’t” no coming back from that mistake.

Complacency kills cops!

So remain alert, even after you’ve been on the job for 30 years. Charm and your good looks will only get you so far. Not everyone thinks it’s adorable that your spare tire loops over your gun belt in several places.

Watch the Hands!

Always watch the hands!

Sure, the eyes are sometimes telling and they telegraph intentions, but it’s the hands that kill, not the eyes. Watch the hands. If you cannot see them then it is imperative that officers consider the person to be armed.

Clues

A suspect’s actions and even clothing are often strong indicators of their intentions. I know, the “action” part is self-explanatory, but how could a person’s dress be an indication of future intent to commit a crime, or to assault an officer? Picture a man wearing a long coat in the middle of August, in Atlanta. That’s an indicator that the man, or woman, could be armed and are using the coat to hide the weapon. Or, suppose a person refuses to show his hands? He may not be armed but there’s no way an officer could know until the hands are seen.

Officer line of duty deaths in 2017 are currently up 8% over this time last year. Deaths by gunfire are up 4%. Of those gunfire deaths, if the past is any indication, there’s a strong possibility that at least some, if not most of the officers didn’t have their weapons unholstered at the time they were shot. Those who didn’t have their weapons drawn were most likely approaching a house, a suspect, or a vehicle to make initial contact. Remember complacency? Happens to the best of us.

Never relax too soon!

When is the time to relax and let down your guard? Easy answer. When the call is complete and you’re safely away from the scene.

Time

There’s an old saying that goes something like this (I apologize if the wording is off), “Waiting buys time. Distance buys time. Time buys survival.” I’m not sure where or when I first heard the phrase, but it’s stuck with me for many years, and I imagine the words, as sparse as they are, saved my rear end a few times over the years.

So …

  • Call for backup. And then wait for them to arrive!
  • Never rush into a scene. Assess it first. Be certain it’s safe to enter.
  • Until backup arrives, if possible, it’s imperative that the officer maintain a safe distance from a suspect (I know, this is not always possible). Remember, you cannot be stabbed from a distance and chances are the bad guy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when firing a gun (however, he might be an expert), so keeping your distance and finding cover are vital.
  • Maintain focus. Thinking about your kids ballet recital is nice, but save those tutu thoughts for after the shootout. FOCUS!
  • Keep your back to the wall! By this I mean to never allow anyone to move out of your sight, especially behind you.
  • When conducting traffic stops at night, if alone, circle behind the patrol car and approach the suspect vehicle on the passenger’s side. Doing so gives the advantage of surprise because the driver is typically watching to see the officer in his side mirror and then at his window. This slight advantage allows the officer time to see what, if anything, the driver is holding, hiding, reaching for, etc. Passing behind her patrol car prevents the officer from becoming illuminated by headlights, making her an easy target should someone in the car have bad intentions.
  • Political correctness. I’m sorry but a citizen’s inconvenience is not as important as the lives of people, including that of the officer. Sure, it’s irritating to be the subject of a traffic stop and to have the officer ask that you keep your hands where he can see them, but it’s more important to the officer that they live another day. He/she doesn’t know you or your intentions. And you don’t know that the officer received a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for a car description matching yours, telling him it was involved in an armed robbery of the Piggly Wiggly in your neighborhood, the reason he stopped you.

Think about that for a moment. The officer stopped a car, believing the driver was armed and wasn’t afraid to use his gun. He stopped that driver fully aware that he was placing himself in danger to protect the lives of others, yet the driver complains because the officer asked to see his hands.

Keep in mind that it was political correctness that contributed to the shooting deaths of five Dallas officers and the wounding of nine others. The shootings occurred during a protest where officers were ordered to not wear protective gear because some people thought it appeared too scary and militaristic. So those lives were taken and the others affected for the rest of their time on this earth because leaders didn’t want to offend someone. The lives of the officers obviously meant nothing to politicians. So no, officers are not keen on political correctness when it compromises their well-being and the safety of citizens, and the very people handing down these stupid orders.

Spare tire

To sum up, officers should remain alert, take nothing for granted, assume nothing, trust no strangers (and some friends), watch everyones’ hands, stand with their backs to a wall, any wall, all while calling for backup, unholstering their weapons when necessary, clearing their minds of everything other than the scene before them, running toward gunfire to save the lives of others, and remembering that …

You. Will. Survive!

*To learn more about officer survival click the highlighted link above (You. Will. Survive.).

 

Homicide investigations are the crème de la crème of all investigations.

To solve a murder investigators use all available resources. No-holds barred. No sparing of the horses. No waiting for the obese lady to start her song. Sometimes it’s a race to catch the killer before he strikes again. But detectives must still use caution and care when evaluating and examining all evidence, including the crime scene.

To maintain order, and to prevent disaster in court, detectives and other crime-scene investigators follow a mental checklist of things to do at a murder scene. Some use an actual written guideline. The list is actually a series of common sense questions that need to be answered before moving to the next stage of the investigation.

Crime Scene Dos and Don’ts – Click here.

Investigators should always determine what, if anything, has changed since the first responders arrived. Did the officers turn lights on or off? Did they move the body to check for signs of life? Did anyone else enter or leave the scene?

Crime Scenes … Watch Your Step!

Did the patrol guys open or close windows and doors? Did they walk through blood or other body fluids?

Crime-scene searches must be methodical and quite thorough. Every single surface, nook, and cranny must be examined for evidence, including ceilings, walls, doors, light switches, thermostats, door knobs, etc. Not only are they searching for clues and evidence, they’re looking for things that aren’t there, such as a missing knife, jewelry, or even the family car. Did the suspect take anything that could be traced back to the victim? Where would the killer take the items? To a pawn shop? Home? Toss them in a nearby dumpster?

Investigators must determine if the body has been moved by the suspect. Are there drag marks? Smeared body fluids? Transfer prints? Is there any blood in other areas of the scene? Is fixed lividity on the wrong side of the body, indicating that it had been moved after death

Does the victim exhibit signs of a struggle? Are there defensive wounds present on the palms of the hands and forearms?

Is there significant blood spatter? Is there high-velocity spatter? Did flies cause false spatter?

What is the point of impact? Where was the shooter standing when he delivered the fatal blow, or shot

False spatter – “Hey, it’s what I do,” said the fly.

Once the detective is satisfied that all the checklist questions have been answered she can then move on to the next phase of the murder investigation, collecting physical evidence.

Thursday at the Writers’ Police Academy promises to be an exciting and wildly fun opening day, starting with renowned drone expert Bill Bongle’s fascinating presentation on … all things drones. Bill will discuss (and demonstrate):

  • Drone basics and the fundamentals of unmanned flight
  • Overview of current technology, capabilities, emerging technologies and trends
  • Brief overview of drone laws and regulations
  • Case studies of high profile incidents involving drones and how these cases are shaping the regulatory environment
  • Privacy issues and case law regarding surveillance from the air
  • Practical applications for village/municipal government, police, fire, rescue and emergency government
  • The emergence of civilian Search and Rescue Groups

Next up is the Kooky Cop Carnival, an event that will surely leave attendees with a better knowledge and understanding of the special challenges officers face daily.

Run, don’t walk, to the Kooky Cop Carnival!

You know, things like (we are not explaining this stuff prior to the event because we want you to experience the surprises officers encounter when responding to calls):

–  Setting a live trap

–  Handcuffing Cuff Man (and he really doesn’t want you to apply those pesky cuffs)

–  Using a “Come-a-long around a stuffed K-9

 

–  Interesting “Duty Belt Techniques”

–  Animal Control

–  21-Foot-Drill

–  Drawing (from the holster) and firing the SIRT gun

–  Drug ID (test your knowledge of common street drugs, and more).

–  Animal ID – Identify the types of animals officers often encounter

And much, much more, including lots of surprises. This hands-on Kooky Cop Carnival is going to be a real hoot!

Immediately following the carnival is sign-in/registration (4-5:30 p.m.), and then comes the laugh-fest we call orientation. Sure, we spill details such as classroom numbers, where restrooms are located, what to expect in each session, what time the pool closes, schedule changes and updates (if any), etc., but this is the time when you should be prepared to let down your hair and enjoy the laughs … and the much-needed information, of course.

6:30 p.m. marks the official opening of the event, and this I believe is a first for any writers conference anywhere—the blessing of the Writers’ Police Academy/Opening Ceremonies. This spectacular ceremony is presented by the Oneida Tribal Dancers, elders, Miss Oneida, and more. Please do feel free to photograph and/or record video (this ceremony is only time during the weekend when video recording is permitted). Remember, the WPA takes place on the Oneida Indian Reservation. Our event hotel is also situated on tribal land.

To wrap up day one of the 2017 WPA, the star of the Thursday night festivities … Thomas B. Sawyer,  head writer/showrunner of the hit TV show Murder, She Wrote.

Thomas B. Sawyer


Thursday night at 8:30 p.m., Tom presents …

“How Jessica Fletcher and Murder, She Wrote Made Homicide Fun – Without Science, Crazy People, or Gore.”

In this entertaining and informative session, one of this classic 12-year TV series’ original group of writers, Tom Sawyer, lays out the early history of Murder, She Wrote, from the casting of its star and its subsequent effect on one of Broadway’s megahit Musicals, to Dashiell Hammett’s influence on the show, the show’s influence on Tom’s career both as Showrunner/writer, and – inadvertently – as a lyricist – and much, much more.


Tom also returns to the spotlight twice during the weekend.


Friday at 12:45 p.m.

CINEMATIC WRITING TECHNIQUES THAT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER STORYTELLER ~ Tom Sawyer

THINK Picture/THINK Action/THINK Dialogue

An Approach to Both Screen-and-Narrative Writing

Techniques I learned in TV & Film. From that Super-Critical Opening Grabber, to creating enigmatic bad guys, to “writing to the money,” and more – stuff every writer should have in the bank.


Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

PACKAGING YOUR BABY FOR HOLLYWOOD

How to write loglines, Movie treatments, synopses and TV series pitches with the Sizzle that’ll convince them they’ve got to seriously consider putting your novel, story or concept on the screen.


Just think, this only the first day, BEFORE the actual event begins!! So, are you ready for an extremely thrilling and fun weekend? Yes, we still have a few spots left open. Hurry!

Writers’ Police Academy

By the way, we’ll soon be announcing details regarding how you can have a chance to get your hands on a Murder, She Wrote script signed by Tom Sawyer!

You’ve all read the headlines, the super-real but often “Fake News” stories posted to Facebook and other social media. After all, if it’s posted on Facebook it’s got to be true, right? For example, here are a few headlines and stories I found this this morning …

  1. Court orders princess to stop pea-ing her bed after prince files formal complaint.
  2. The family of the Ugly Duckling successfully sued the estate of Hans Christian Anderson for the years of body-shaming endured by the abused duck.

    Ugly duckling.

  3. In a startling disclosure, The Beast announced today that he, too, identifies as a Beauty.
  4. The bodies of a local mean woman and her three ugly, lumpy, and clumsy young daughters were discovered late last night in their home. Each had a burning cinder lodged in their throat. Authorities have released a grainy surveillance photo of what appears to be a large pumpkin fleeing the scene. A police spokesperson believes the alleged pumpkin was used as a getaway vehicle. Missing from the home were two glass slippers and a fancy ball gown. There are no suspects at this time.
  5. Police have arrested 23-year-old Goldilocks (no last name). According to anonymous unnamed sources, the woman is charged with various crimes after breaking into the Bear family home on Pudding Street. A photo posted to Facebook clearly shows the sex offender in a bed with one of the bears. It is believed she used porridge in varying degrees of warmth to gain the trust of the bears, one of whom was a baby. Additional charges are pending, including destruction of property (a stool).
  6. The defendants, teens Hansel and Gretel, were sentenced to death for the brutal murder of Witch Hazel, the kind old woman who made homes for the needy from bits of leftover Halloween candy.
  7. The Three Little Pigs named to host the all-new HGTV show, Blowing Down Tiny Houses. Their first guest is a Wolf from a nearby village.
  8. Breaking News! Alice charged with trespassing in Wonderland. She’s currently in hiding, possibly behind the looking glass.
  9. The dish ran away with the spoon. The spoon’s parents called the police and the dish was charged with abduction. He was recently sentenced to hard time in Old Mother’s Cupboard.
  10. Chicken Little Now Identifies as Turkey Lurkey. Henny Penny Sues for Divorce.
  11. Three Blind Mice Pass California Driver’s License Exam.
  12. Hickory Dickory “Doc” Arrested for Over-Prescribing Oxycontin to Actors and Musicians.
  13. Georgie Porgy Kissed the Girls and Spent Six Months in Sex Rehab with Anthony Weiner.
  14. The House that Jack Built Seized by Courts After Cops Find Large Marijuana Grow Operation Inside.
  15. Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall and Was Arrested for peeping through the widow’s window .
  16. Jack and Jill Went Up a Hill. Jogger Finds Jill’s Body Two Weeks Later.
  17. Little Bo Beep Jailed as Leader of Sheep Tail Smuggling Ring.
  18. Little Jack Horner Arrested for Murder of Miss Muffett After Thumbprint Discovered on Muffet’s Tuffett.
  19. Tommy Tittle Mouse Arrested for Trespassing in Other Men’s Ditches. Will Serve 60 Days in Old Woman’s Shoe.
  20. Man in the Moon to Welcome Americans Who Left Earth After 2016 Election.
  21. Teacher Arrested for Having Sex with Mary’s Little Lamb. 22-Year-Old Educator Did Not Reply to Reporter’s Messages.
  22. 2,200 Pounds of Cocaine Discovered on Michael’s Boat as He Attempted to Row it Ashore on the Florida Keys.
  23. Italian Restaurants Ordered to Install Shields on Buffet Tables After Man Sneezes Meatball Onto Floor and Out the Door.
  24. Police Pursuit Takes Officers Over the River and Through the Woods. Ends at Grandma’s House Where They Discover Illegal Edible Marijuana Operation—Pot-Infused Puddings and Pumpkin Pies.
  25. Mary Mary Quite Contrary Burns Mouth on McMother Cupboard’s Hot Pease Porridge. Sues Fast Food Giant for 100 Million.
  26. Man Pops Weasel. Sentenced to 5 Years For Public Sex Display.

    Weasel popping

  27. Same Sex Couple Sues Baker for Refusing to Pat Their Cakes.
  28. Rub-a-Dub-Dub Three Men in a Tub Becomes Legal in North Carolina.
  29. Simon No Longer to be Called Simple Says University President. More Safe Spaces Needed. The Word “Pie” To Be Banned from Campus Conversations.
  30. Skipping Deemed Offensive on Many College Campuses. Lou Organizes Massive Protest.
  31. To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Size-Challegend Pig.
  32. Wee Willie Winkie Charged as Pedophile for Peeping Into Windows of Children While Wearing Nightgown.
  33. Yankee Doodle Charged with Fraud After Attempting to Pass a Feather as Macaroni.

What could children learn from Nursery Rhymes? Click here to find out.