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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Location, Location, Location: Are You Writing it Wrong?

Did you know that not all sheriff's deputies are police officers? How about that some sheriffs in the U.S., and their deputies, do not have any arrest authority? Is it possible that you, as writers, haven written scenes incorrectly based on…
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Mt. St. Helens: The Muse of All Muses

It was 40 years ago today when the north slope of Mt. St. Helens exploded, sending a plume of ash 15 miles high, ash that would soon enter the jet stream and travel around the world. The top 1,300 feet of the mountain was gone in a flash. Miles…

6 Methods of Tracking Crooks … and Grandma’s Settee

Working as a deputy sheriff in a rural county often presents its own set of special and sometimes unusual challenges, especially during the days before the existence of GPS, cellphones, and radio repeaters. In other words, it was pretty darned…
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Crime Scene Investigation Taboos: The Dirty Dozen

Detective I. Will Gitterdone had a spotless attendance record, never missing a day for sickness in his entire thirty-three years with the department. In fact, in all of his years of wearing a badge and toting a sidearm he refused to soil that…

MOM is the Key To a Criminal Investigation … What?

What does MOM have to do with catching bad guys? We all know our moms have super powers. They can see through walls, hear a whisper at 100 paces, and they have the unique ability to silence us with a mere glance. But could those unique qualities…

Plainclothes Officer Survival Tips: How To Stay Alive Without Really Trying

Police officers are trained to protect lives and property. They're skilled drivers, shooters, and fighters. They know how to arrest, how to testify in court, and how to collect evidence. They're calm and cool when facing danger, and they're…
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6 “No Bull” Facts About Cops

Writers, you conduct an incredible amount of research about cops, forensics, and more, and your readers deeply appreciate your efforts. Therefore, to assist with your hard work, here are six tidbits to add to your gatherings of vital information. 1.…

8 Facts About Police Detectives You’re Probably Not Getting Right

Have you ever wondered what real-life investigators think about your detective characters? Well... 1. On their days off, fictional detectives enjoy ... wait, those guys never have any down time. None. Sure, I remember working a murder case…
Command Presence

Command Presence: Avoiding The Mickey Mouse Syndrome

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 all polished definitely goes a long way toward projecting a positive image. So does wearing a clean and neatly pressed…
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Sir Alec Jeffreys and the DNA Testing of Over 5,500 Men, All to Catch a Single Killer

As the result of a DNA experiment on September 10, 1984, Alec Jeffreys discovered the technique of genetic fingerprinting. At the time, Jeffreys worked as a researcher and professor of genetics at the University of Leicester. At 9.05…
Perpetrator v. percolator
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Perpetrator or Percolator: What’s In Your Dialog?

Police jargon, or slang, is truly a language of its own. It's a collection of words that can and do vary greatly from one area of the country to another. Even neighboring counties and cities sometime have their own special slang terms that are…
I looked into the eyes of a serial killer

Twenty-Six Years Ago, I Watched a Serial Killer Die

Have you ever sat in a room designed especially for killing people, looking into the eyes of a serial murderer, watching and waiting for some sign of remorse for his crimes, wondering if he would take back what he'd done, if he could? Have…
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We’re Looking for a Few Good Stories, Because “People Are Strange”

Each year, the Writers' Police Academy hosts a wildly popular hands-on law enforcement training event for writers, readers, fans, and anyone else with an interest in police procedure and the forensics used to solve crimes. MurderCon 2020…
Transporting Prisoners

Transporting Prisoners: And Who Let the Dogs Out?

Years ago, when I first went to work for a county sheriff's office, police procedure and equipment were quite a bit different than they are today. Yes, that was back in the day when my co-workers were Flintstone and Rubble and other Bedrock…
Effects of hanging

Effects of Hanging and Strangulation: Bill Bailey Ain’t Coming Home

"Won't you come home, Bill Bailey, won't you come on home I've moaned that whole day long I'll do all the cookin' honey, I'll even pay the rent I know, that I have done you, oh so, wrong You remember…

Bleach: It’s a Killer!

Household bleach - it all began around the time of World War 1, when researchers discovered that introducing electrical current into salt water broke down the salt molecules. The end result of the process is sodium hypochlorite. Bleach,…

Is Your Story “Four Rounds Short of a Full Brick?”

Like reading a really well-written novel, it's easy to step into the world of TV cop shows where we see the inner workings inside the fictional police stations. We hear the chatter and jargon spoken among officers, the creaking of gun leather,…

Killers on the Block: James Ruppert and Timothy Bradford

Hamilton, Ohio - Easter Sunday, March 30, 1975---probably sometime near the time of day you're reading this article, James Ruppert was in the process of killing his entire family. James was an excellent marksman so there was no better way…