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!

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…

Homicide Investigations: Solving the Murder Puzzle

A homicide case is a puzzle, and it's the job of the investigator to put the pieces together until they see a picture emerge. They may not always complete an entire image, but there should be enough there to clearly know that a crime was indeed…

Contraband: Finally, No More Cakes and Pies Containing Saws and Files!

Smuggling narcotics and other illegal items into prisons has been a problem since at least 1809, when the first files and saws entered a prison ship's lockup by way of gingerbread cakes. The problem continued in 1899, in Maryland, when four…
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Why Officer Sam and Officer Pam Recall Things Differently

For the the purpose of this brief peek into the minds of police officers who enter into stressful situations such as a violent riot, or a gun battle with bullets whizzing by their heads, we'll use Officer Sam as our guinea pig. Joining…
barney-fife-itis

Writing Small Town Cops: Do You Have Barney-Fife-itis?

What is Barney-Fife-itis, you ask? Well, lots of writers suffer from it, and it's a horrible disease. Nasty, in fact. The best way to describe it is to take you to a small town somewhere deep inside your imaginations, where this stuff lives…

Have You Visited the Writers’ Police Academy’s Online Store?

Yes, we've opened a store where you can find all sorts of WPA items, and here's why ... In 2022, the Writers' Police Academy (WPA) will enter its 14th year of presenting exciting, hands-on training for writers. Those of you who've attended…
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FBI v. Local Police: Are You Guilty of Recycling Clichés?

If I had a quarter for every time I've heard or read a tired old cliché about the FBI v. local police departments, well, I'd be the proud owner of all my wants and desires (material things) with the entire kit and caboodle paid for in coins.…
Labor Day: while you're enjoying the day off

Labor Day: While You’re Enjoying The Day Off

While we gather with friends and family to enjoy backyard barbecues ... well, this ...

Evelyn (“Ev”) E. Dense: A Guide To Crime Scene Investigation

Officer Willie Findem was hot on the trail of two armed robbers, running as fast as his flat feet could carry him, when he heard a woman screaming for help as he raced past a row of shotgun houses in a section of town the locals call Murder…

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

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…
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Writing Believable Make-Believe Begins With Knowledge, Not Guesswork

It's the year 2021. Since last year we've all endured COVID, working from home, quarantine, wildfires, flooding, more COVID, lockdowns, shutdowns, layoffs, tornados, earthquakes, masks, vaccines, the loss of loved ones, riots, a mess overseas…

Nursery Rhymes for Cops: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Catch a Robber By the Toe, When He Hollers …

Every job has its difficulties. Police work is no different. In fact, I don't believe there's another job in the entire world that offers more opportunities to screw up than a career in law enforcement. Think about it. What other business provides…
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Murder: The Night Was Dark, But Not Stormy – When Real Life Contradicts Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard's rules of writing are, of course, excellent guidelines. Never open a book with weather. Avoid prologues. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said"…he admonished…

Academy Instructor Detective Sergeant Dilly Pickle: Homicide Crime Scenes

Good morning, cadets. My name is Detective Sergeant Dilly Pickle. I'm your instructor today and my topic is Introduction of Homicide Crime Scenes. Before we begin I want you to totally scrub your minds clean of everything you've seen about…
Takin' Bacon

Takin’ Bacon: The Big Investigation – A True Story

Last weekend at MurderCon, one of the classes wound up in a lively discussion about the crime of beastiality (having sex with animals). The presenter, an experienced and entertaining homicide detective from the south, waded into the topic like…

6 Ways to Transform a Boring Crime Scene into Fascinating Factual Fiction

There's nothing more boring than to read a book where the author lists a bunch of facts without any means whatsoever for us, the readers, to visualize how the crime is solved. You know the ones of which I speak ... The cop, Detective Sergeant…
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Renowned Toxicologist Dr. M. Fredric Rieders Joins 2021 MurderCon Lineup!

We are pleased to announce that renowned toxicologist Dr. M. Fredric Rieders has joined the 2021 MurderCon stellar lineup. This is an unbelievable opportunity to learn from one of the world's leading toxicology experts! His session, "Forensic…