Tag Archive for: Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Writers’ Police Academy Online is officially open, with a brand new June 25, 2022 class, new website, new design, new server, and exciting new, user-friendly live/online and on-demand courses currently in development. Class formats are video, audio, and/or text, or a combination of one or more. Details about the June class are below.

In the meantime, here are a few tidbits of information.

Why do law enforcement officers train by repetition – over and over again?

Each time an officer draws their weapon they perform a series of movements—place hand on the pistol, grip the pistol, release retention devices that prevent someone from taking the officer’s sidearm, remove pistol from holster, aim the gun toward the threat, insert finger into trigger guard, place finger on trigger, and finally, fire the gun.

Because officers train repetively, performing those same actions at the firing range, over and over again, the brain builds heavy-duty motor neural conduits

At the same time, myelin, a fatty substance, forms a layer of insulation that surrounds nerve cell axons. Myelin also escalates the rate at which electrical impulses move along the axon

As a result of repetitive firearms training, shooters build a high- speed connection that provides the ability to perform the “grip, release, aim, shoot” sequence without having to direct thought resources toward the details of the movement.

Instead of losing precious fractions of a second to analyzing “what’s step one, two, three, and four” the officer reacts instinctively to a threat.


WPA Scholarships Available for Writers’ Organizations

As a way of giving back to the many writers and writers organizations within the crime-writing community who’ve supported the Writers’ Police Academy over the years, we’re pleased to offer your organization a free registration/scholarship to the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy.

For details, please ask a board member of your group to contact Lee Lofland at lofland32@msn.com. The process is simple, request a scholarship and it will be yours to award to a member of your organization.

*Scholarship covers registration fee only. Hotel, travel, and banquet are not included.


Interactive 3D Police Lineups Improve Witness Accuracy

The capability of eyewitnesses to correctly recognize a guilty suspect from someone who’s totally innocent of a crime is known as discrimination accuracy.

Since misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S., it is paramount to develop better discrimination accuracy when it comes to police lineups.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology developed new interactive police lineup software that allows witnesses to view lineup faces in 3D. Using the program, witnesses can rotate and maneuver the faces of potential suspects to various angles that most likely correspond to the orientation of the face they remember from the crime scene.

During the experimental study where over 3,000 test witnesses observed a video of a crime in progress, results were astounding. Without a doubt, accuracy improved significantly when the witnesses viewed the lineup from the same angle at which they had seen the offender commit the crime. The results were better still when witnesses rotated the lineup faces to match the angle of the culprit’s face in relation to how they saw it while the crime was in progress.


15 Survival Tips for Real and Fictional Officers

  1. Remember these three words. You will survive! Never give up no matter how many times you’ve been shot, stabbed, or battered.
  2. Carry a good, well-maintained weapon. You can’t win a gun fight if your weapon won’t fire.
  3. Carry plenty of ammunition. There’s no such thing as having too many bullets.
  4. Treat every situation as a potential ambush. You never know when or where it could happen. This is why cops don’t like to sit with their backs to a door.
  5. Practice shooting skills in every possible situation—at night, lying down, with your weak hand, etc.
  6. Wear your body armor.
  7. Always expect the unexpected.
  8. Everyone is a potential threat until it’s proven they’re not. Bad people can have attractive faces and warm smiles and say nice things, but all that can change in the blink of an eye.
  9. Know when to retreat.
  10. Stay in shape! Eat healthy. Exercise.
  11. Train, train, and train.
  12. Use common sense.
  13. Make no judgements based on a person’s lifestyle, personality, politics, race, or religion. Treat everyone fairly and equally. However, remain alert and cautious at all times.
  14. Talk to people. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. After all, it’s often a bit tougher to hurt an officer they know and trust.
  15. Talk to people. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. After all, it’s often a bit tougher to hurt an officer they know and trust.

Presented by Writers’ Police Academy Online – “Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes”

June 26, 2022

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

Registration is OPEN for this fascinating live, online seminar taught by Dr. Katherine Ramsland. Session covers staging, profiling, character development, and more!

Sign up today at writerspoliceacademy.online

While you’re there, please take a moment to sign up for the latest updates, news, tips, tactics, and announcements of upcoming courses and classes.

About Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Dr. Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 Dr. Katherine Ramslandcrime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,500 articles and 69 books, including The Forensic Science of CSI, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer, she was co-executive producer for the Wolf Entertainment/A&E documentary based on the years she spent talking with Rader. Dr. Ramsland consults on death investigations, pens a blog for Psychology Today, and is writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist.


In addition to the Writers’ Police Academy Online website moving to a new server, The Graveyard Shift is officially and finally up and running on the same server. Its new look is underway. The Writers’ Police
Academy is next to make the move and to receive an overhaul.

By the way, there’s still time to sign up for the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy!

Click here to view 2022 WPA hands-on sessions

If you’ve already registered please reserve your hotel rooms asap!

Reserve Your Room

Hilton Appleton Hotel Paper Valley
333 W College Ave, Appleton, Wi. 54911 – Phone: 920-733-8000
When calling, request reservations for the Writers Police Academy Block or, if reserving online, select dates of stay and enter group code 0622WRPA.

Online Reservations


Writers’ Police Academy Merch

Writers’ Police Academy merchandise is available through our Zazzle store, including the 2022 t-shirts in a variety of colors.

Click here to view the selections. 


Together we can better the world of crime fiction, one scene at a time.

Putrefaction is the destruction of the soft tissue caused by two things, bacteria and enzymes.

As bacteria and enzymes do their jobs, the body immediately begins to discolor, and it slowly transform into liquids and gases. The odd thing about the bacteria that destroys the tissue at death is that much of it has been living in the respiratory and intestinal tracts all along. Of course, if the deceased had contracted a bacterial infection prior to death, bacteria, such as septicemia (blood poisoning), would aid in increasing the rate of decomposition.

Temperature also plays an important part in decomposition. 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal range for bacteria and enzymes to do what they do best, while lower temperatures slow the process. Therefore, and obviously, a body will decompose faster during the sweltering days of summertime.

A blood-filled circulatory system acts as a super-highway for those organisms that destroy the body after death. Without blood the process of putrefaction is slowed.

Therefore, a murder victim whose body bled out will decompose at a slower rate than someone who died of natural causes.

People who were overweight at the time of their deaths decompose faster than skinny people. People who suffered from excessive fluid build up decompose faster than those who were dehydrated. And people with massive infections and congestive heart failure will also decompose at a more rapid rate than those without those conditions.

Bodies adorned in thick, heavy clothing (the material retains heat) decompose more rapidly than the norm. Electric blankets also speed up decomposition.

A body that’s buried in warm soil may decompose faster than one that’s buried during the dead of winter.

The type of soil that surrounds the body also has an effect on the rate of decomposition. For example, the soil in North Carolina is normally a reddish type of clay. Its density can greatly retard the decomposition process because it reduces the circulation of air that’s found in a less compacted, more sandy-type of earth.

Adult bodies buried in a well drained soil will typically become skeletonized in approximately 10 years. A child’s body in about five years.

The rule of thumb for the decomposition of a body is, (if at the same temperature) 8 weeks in well-drained soil equals two weeks in the water, or one week exposed to the air.

Now, hold on to your breakfast…

The first sign of decomposition under average conditions is a greenish discoloration of the skin at the abdomen. This is apparent at 36-72 hours.

Next – Small vessels in the skin become visible (marbling).

Marbling is followed by glistening skin, skin slippage, purplish skin, blisters, distended abdomen (after one week—caused by gases), blood-stained fluid oozing from body openings (nose, mouth, etc.), swelling of tissue and the presence of foul gaseous odor, greenish-purple face, swollen eyelids and pouting lips, swollen face, protruding tongue, hair pulls out easily, fingernails come off easily, skin from hands pulls off (gloving), body swells and appears greatly obese.

Internally, the body is decomposing and breaking down. The heart has become flabby and soft. The liver has honeycombed, and the kidneys are like wet sponges. The brain is nearly liquid, and the lungs may be a bit brittle.

Hmm … Flabby hearts and liquid brains. Sounds like a couple of my former employers.


Are you registered or plan to register to attend the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy? If so, you could receive an exciting offer from Writers’ Police Academy – a $50 rebate and FREE registration to a special live Writers’ Police Academy Online seminar taught by renowned expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

Dr. Ramsland’s Writers’ Police Academy Online session, “Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes.”
Class description – Crime scenes always tell a story, which shows up most clearly in behavioral clues. This can mean anything from signatures that link crimes to indicators of staged crimes to predictors of dangerous future behavior. This session shows writers how to spot and interpret behavioral clues during criminal profiling, crime reconstruction, or psychological autopsy. 

To qualify for this amazing deal, you must register or already be registered to attend the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy. That’s step one. Step two – have a friend sign up to attend. It’s that easy! If your friend brings a friend then they, too, receive the same bonus opportunity.

Of course, you and your friend must attend the Writers’ Police Academy event in June to receive the rebate and free seminar registration. There is no limit as to how many rebates you may receive. If you refer ten friends and they each attend the WPA, well, you’ll receive $50 for each one. Twenty friends equal a rebate of $1,000! And so on.

Participants must notify Lee Lofland at lofland32@msn.com when referring a friend. The person you refer must be.a new registrant, not someone whose already signed up to attend. Rebates to be mailed in mid-June, after the conclusion of the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy. The date of Dr. Ramsland’s “Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes” seminar is June 25, 2022. Session time – 11:00-12:30 EST.

 

We can’t wait to see you at the WPA in June!

Register to attend at the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy at www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Click here to see the list and descriptions of the 2022 classes.

Click here to read about the 2022 WPA instructors and presenters.


About Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Dr. Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,500 articles and 69 books, including The Forensic Science of CSI, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer, she was co-executive producer for the Wolf Entertainment/A&E documentary based on the years she spent talking with Rader. Dr. Ramsland consults on death investigations, pens a blog for Psychology Today, and is writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist.

Dr. Ramsland is a Special Guest Speaker at the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy, where she’ll present “Conversations with the B.T.K. Killer, Dennis Rader.” The class focuses on the immersive process of interviewing a serial killer, the challenges of the prison system for such work, and the experience of co-producing the documentary. After hundreds of hours spent inside the mind of this serial killer, the B.T.K. Killer, Dennis Rader, in the context of many other killers Dr. Ramsland studied, she offers multiple insights for crime and mystery writing.


 

Sign up today!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com


 

Below are excerpts From Katherine Ramsland’s Writers’ Police Academy Online presentation – “Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides.”

Pettler’s Staging Typology

The Cleaner: This is more alteration than staging, because this person cleans the scene to remove evidence

The Concealer: Hides or destroys items related to the incident to prevent discovery

The Creator: Adds items to the scene, or rearranges for a specific effect

The Fabricator: Relies on ability to verbally deceive as a means of deflection

The Inflictor: Might include self in incident, with self-wounding, or might claim self-defense

The Planner: spends considerable time preparing the incident to appear as something else instead of reacting, post-incident.

*Laura Pettler, PhD, CSCSA (Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst) is the owner of Carolina Forensics, vice president of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, and was co-founder/director of North Carolina Prosecutorial District 20-A’s 2006-2010 Crime Scene Reconstruction and Behavioral Analysis Program, its Cold Case Task Force, and its 2009 International Forensic Institute. Pettler is a scholar-practitioner focusing on cold case homicide, crime scene staging, intimate partner homicide, and crime reconstruction. ~ bio, Evidence Technology Magazine.

Tips from The Psychology of Death Investigations, by Katherine Ramsland

 

Tips for Investigators to Evaluate for Staging

  • Beware of personal assumptions, especially those that attract investigative shortcuts.
  • Remember that the majority of stagers (except for suicides) had a relationship with the decedent.
  • The relationship is most likely intimate, past or present.
  • Stagers often discover the body or report the person missing.
  • The reason a body discoverer is at the scene should be legitimate.
  • Stagers might inject themselves into an investigation to “be helpful.”
  • Stagers often “find” a suicide note or other evidence they want police to see.
  • 911 calls from stagers will have unique elements common to “guilty” vs. “innocent” callers.
  • Besides manipulating the scene, stagers will reinforce it with verbal manipulation.
  • Their efforts to deflect might include an explanation for the incident.
  • The staging will probably feature mistaken notions about how such incidents occur, such as suicide notes that have more non-genuine indicators than genuine.
  • Learn the items that characterize genuine notes, rather than make assumptions.
  • Look for items that copy media reports or narratives.
  • Look for scene behavior uncharacteristic of decedent.
  • If a suicide note mentions a close associate, consider them a person of interest.
  • Stagers are most likely to be male.
  • Staging a suicide most often involves firearms.
  • Suspicious indicators are weapons positioned too perfectly, or positions do not match where blood spatter or shell casings are found.
  • Staged scenes are most often in a place familiar to the decedent, such as their home.
  • Watch for unexpected behaviors during interviews.
  • Match narratives about the incident against evidence.
  • Develop competing hypothesis to help highlight issues of concern.

Resources:

Ellis, T. M. (2008, July 18). CSI-like suicide ruled in death of Red Lobster exec Thomas Hickman. Dallas Morning News.

Ferguson, C. E. (2014). Staged crime scenes: Literature and types. In W. Petherick (Ed.), Serial crime: Theoretical and Practical Issues in Behavioural Profiling, 3rd ed., (pp. 141-164). Boston, MA: Andersen.

Ferguson, C. E., & Petherick, W. (2016). Getting away with murder: An examination of detected homicides stages as suicides. Homicide Studies, 20(1), 3-24.

Geberth, V. (1996). The staged crime scene. Law and Order Magazine, 44(2), 45-49.

Geberth, V. Practical Homicide Investigation. CRC Press.

Geberth, V. Sex-related Homicide and Death Investigations. CRC Press.

Greenwood, E. (2016). Playing dead: A journey through the world of death fraud. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Harpster, T., & Adams, S. (2016). Analyzing 911 homicide calls: Practical aspects and applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Harpster, T., Adams, S., & Jarvis, J. P. (2009). Analyzing 911 homicide calls for indicators of guilt or innocence: An exploratory analysis. Homicide Studies, 13(1), 69-93.

Pettler, L. (2016). Crime Scene Staging Dynamics in Homicide Cases. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Schlesinger, L., Gardenier, A., Jarvis, J., & Sheehan-Cook, J. (2014). Crime scene staging in homicide. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 29(1), 44-51.


Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,000 articles and 68 books, including How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and The Mind of a Murderer, she spent five years working with Dennis Rader on his autobiography, Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer. Dr. Ramsland currently pens the “Shadow-boxing” blog at Psychology Today and teaches seminars to law enforcement.