The Graveyard Shift Blog

Since 2008, Lee Lofland has written over 2000 articles on his blog, The Graveyard Shift. Topics such as police procedure, forensics, criminal behavior, and what it’s like to be a cop has helped countless numbers of popular and aspiring writers.

His life’s mission – to remind writers that cordite is dead and gone. Just say no to cordite in your books!

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Dr. Denene Lofland: Microscopic Murder

What's so interesting about microbiology? Microorganisms were here before man walked the Earth, and they'll be here after we're gone. Actually, you would find it difficult to survive without them. Some bacteria, called commensals, live in and…
Drunk Drivers at the 2013 Writers' Police Academy

Velcro, A Shiny Badge, And … Elephant Poop?

Graveyard Shift---those long and often mind-numbing hours between midnight and the time your relief signs on to take over your beat. It's boring. It's exciting. It's sleep-depriving. It's eye-opening. It's getting dressed while your significant…

From Hot Breath to Big Toes … More Cop Terminology

ASCLD - American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. AFIS - Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Palmprint storage and search capabilities are also in place. ALPS - Automated Latent Print System. ASCLD/LAB - American Society…
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What is Buckshot?

Simply put, buckshot are projectiles. Unlike a single bullet fired from a handgun or rifle, shotgun shells contain a group of small balls (pellets) made of lead, steel, or a combination of other metals. When the shell is fired the individual…

A Cop’s Thanksgiving: Save a Drumstick for Me

Morning parade. Smiling faces. Squealing children. Marching bands.   Turkey. Pumpkin pie. Eggnog. Football.   Pistol. Badge. Vest. Kiss the kids, please. And save a drumstick for me. I'm almost…

Thanksgiving Eve: Lights in the Abandoned Warehouse

Graveyard Shift ... 0246 hours Thanksgiving Eve. Weather ... clear/full moon Location ... Abandoned factory Hwy 666 Victim ... Unknown/TBD Suspect ... Unknown/TBD "Caller reports seeing light, possibly flashlights, inside…
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Writing Shooting Scenes: How Hollow are Your Points?

"Hollow point bullets are designed to hit the animal they're being shot at, let's say a deer for example, and explode inside that body, correct?" - Prosecutor Thomas Binger, during questioning of defendant Kyle Rittenhouse in a Kenosha County,…
Gun shot wounds
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Gunshot Wounds: Are Your Stories Riddled with Hollow Points?

Experts are often asked what kind of entrance and exit wounds are produced by various types of ammunition. The rounds (bullets) in the photograph below are hollow point rounds similar in design to those fired from the pistol pictured above. This…

How to Write Killer Tales, and Music

Writing a realistic murder scene can and should be a bit difficult for most authors since they haven't killed anyone, I hope. So, if realism is the goal, as it should be at times, then research is of the utmost importance. I'm not in any…

Solving Murders Using Human Nature: Are Detectives Plotters or Pantsters?

As a police detective whose job was to solve murders, I found it especially helpful to immerse myself into the lives of the victims rather than merely going through the motions of filling in the blanks of police reports. I had to make it personal.…

Cops: To Do Or Not To Do … and Common Sense

Common sense is a HUGE part of police work. You know, think before you act. Don't run while holding scissors. Don't talk with your mouth full. And ... And, of course ...    

Is Your Story One Round Short of a Full Brick: STOP Racking the Slide!

Like reading a really well-written novel, it's easy to step into the fictional worlds of crime TV shows. I mean, I'm there. I can hear the sounds of the police stations. I smell the gun oil. I hear the creaking of gun leather and the jingle…

Halloween Safety Tips For Kids and Cops

The Graveyard Shift wishes everyone a Happy Halloween! Have fun, but please stay safe. If trick or treating is in your plans this year, please utilize all health and safety precautions, including proper PPE and safe social distancing ... and…
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The FBI’s Forensic Laboratory: Evidence Collection and Requests for Submissions

The FBI's forensic laboratory is one of the largest in the world, and its services and capabilities are far-reaching. You name it and they've got it. You need it and they can do it.  To sweeten the pot, their services, examinations, testings,…
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Dr. Katherine Ramsland: Cops and Cumulative PTSD

  "Officers who deal with human trauma might not recognize its toll till too late."   KEY POINTS Repeated exposure to trauma can weaken the ability to cope, resulting in cumulative PTSD (CPTSD). Since it’s not linked to…

Police Officers as Emergency Medical Responders: The Comprehensive Trauma Kit 

Police officers, especially those working patrol assignments, are typically the first officers to respond to emergency situations. Not only are they called to scenes involving criminal activities, they are often the first responders to show…

Twisted Endings and Plot Tips: When You Hear Hoofbeats, Don’t Expect a Zebra

The story begins with North Carolina farmer Paul A. Plow and his wife standing on the well-weathered front porch of their clapboard-sided home---the house they've lived in for the past forty-seven years, the dwelling that saw its last coat of…

Huck-a-Bucking for Beginners: Square-Dancing Gone Wrong

Every department has at least one officer who doesn't quite beat the same drum as the others. His, or her, rhythm is slightly off. They can't quite fit in no matter how hard they try. Sure, everyone likes this person, and they don't really do…