Drugs Are the Root of All Evil

Jerome, a professional thief and drug addict who was no stranger to judges, cops, and attorneys, sat on a well-worn wooden bench outside a courtroom door. His attire for the day … an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs and ankle chains and white rubber shower shoes. The tile beneath his feet was scratched and dented and dull.

If those walls could talk

The wall behind Jerome was painted a mint green color and had a row of individual greasy head-shaped stains above each of the benches lining the hallway, stains left behind by the men and women who’d committed crimes ranging from petty theft to killing and butchering other humans.

Jerome was nervous and scared. He was also once a dear friend of mine.

Our bond began when we were teammates on our school football squad. We were the meanest and nastiest linebackers around and together we were practically unbeatable. In fact, it wasn’t unusual at all for an opposing team to go scoreless against us, and part of that success was due to Jerome’s and my (mostly Jerome) hard hits at the middle of the line, along with our regular sackings of quarterbacks.

Back in the day, Jerome was big and muscular and could run as fast as a frightened deer. He also carried a high GPA. The guy was smart, witty, and popular. He didn’t smoke, nor did he drink alcohol, and he was quite outspoken when it came to condemning drug use. He had hopes of getting out of the projects and attending the University of North Carolina, and possibly a career in the NFL. Drugs and alcohol were not a part of that picture.

In those days, our football days, my friend was a bit vain, though. He spent a lot of time grooming in front of mirrors, storefront windows, or any other reflective surface capable of returning his image.

He carried an Afro pick in his back pocket and frequently pulled it out to work on his hair, and he was forever mopping and rubbing and slopping gobs of lotion on his arms and face until his molasses-colored skin shone like new money. His perfectly-aligned teeth gleamed like the white keys on a showroom Steinway. And, for a big, beefy and manly guy, he smelled a bit like lavender garnished with a hint of coconut.

There in the courthouse, though, Jerome appeared weak and sickly. He was rail thin and his complexion was muddy. The whites of his once bright eyes were the color of rotting lemons; their rims, and the edges of his nostrils, were damp, just on the edge of leaking trails of tears and mucus.

His hands shook, and his teeth, the remaining ones, were spattered with black pits of rot and decay. His breath smelled like a week-old animal carcass. His fingernails were bitten to the quick and his hair was dry, uncombed, had bits of lint and jail-blanket fuzz scattered throughout, and it was flat on one side like he’d been asleep for days without changing positions. He smelled like the combination of old sweat and the bottom of a dirty, wet ashtray.

THE HIGH

  • A private joy.
  • A warmth that filled my body like no other.
  • Sheer pleasure.

With a few minutes to kill before my first case was called, I took a seat beside Jerome, with my gun side away from him, of course. I asked him why he continued to use a drug that was ruining his life and could eventually kill him. His lips split into a faint grin and then he said, “Imagine the most intense orgasm you’ve ever had, then multiply it a thousand times. That’s how it feels just as the stuff starts winding it’s way through your system. Then it really starts to get good. So yeah, that’s why I do it.”

Heroin (r) south east asian (L) south west asian

He clasped his hands over his belly, stretched his gangly legs out in front of him, and he started talking, telling me about the first time he got high and about the last time he used, and he spoke about everything between. He told me about about the things he stole to support his habit and he told me about breaking into his own grandmother’s house to take a few of her most prized possessions, things he traded to his dealer in exchange for drugs.

Prostitution for Drugs

Jerome told me he performed oral sex on men out at the rest area beside the highway. They, the many, many nameless truckers and travelers, had given him ten dollars each time he entered one of the stalls to do the deed. He described the urine smell and how disgusted he was with himself when he felt the knees of his pants grow wet from contacting whatever was on the tile floor at the time. But whatever it took to get the next high was what he’d do.

Once, a man asked him for anal sex. He was desperate, so he agreed. Jerome said he was to earn twenty-dollars for enduring that painful and humiliating experience, all the while knowing the people in nearby stalls could hear what was going on. He said he’d read the graffiti on the wall above the toilet as a means to take his mind off the obese man behind him. When it was over the man pulled up his pants and left Jerome in the stall, crying. The man didn’t pay.

Jerome told me that he wasn’t gay—despised having sex with men is what he said, but he did it for the high, even though he often vomited afterward when recalling what he’d done. But the drug was more important. It was THE most important thing in his life.

Heroin Fentanyl pills

$1,000 per day habit

My high-school buddy’s habit cost him a thousand-dollars each day, seven days a week, unless he wasn’t able to produce the funds. Then he’d grow sick with the sickest feeling on earth. The hurt was deep, way down to his very core. Even his bones hurt. He’d sweat and he’d vomit … and vomit and vomit and vomit until the pain in his gut felt like someone inside was using a hundred power drills and another hundred jackhammers to assault his brain and lungs and emotions. His heart would slam against his chest wall like a sledgehammer pounding railroad stakes into hard-packed Georgia clay.

Then he’d drop to his knees in another restroom, or steal another something that would help make it all go away until the next time. And he’d do it over and over and over again.

Hydrocodone

Jerome was lucky. He was caught by a deputy sheriff who was passing by a house and saw Jerome climbing out—feet first—from a bedroom window.

He was awaiting arraignment the day I saw him sitting on the bench outside the courtroom door. A dozen or so other jail inmates occupied the nearby seats.

Jerome asked if I would call his grandmother to tell her he said he was sorry for all he’d done, and that he was starting to feel better and was ready to seek help as soon as he was back on the outside. I told him I’d tell her. Actually, I went one step further and stopped by her house to tell her in person.

Now, I said Jerome was lucky, and I say this because going to jail prevented him from using the drug he grown to so desperately depend upon. His body ached for it, yes, but he beat the sickness and lived.

Unfortunately, many have died because of that same ache.


Federal Sentencing Table

How much prison time (for various crimes) could someone receive in federal court? Here’s the breakdown.

Click here.


Drugs Are the Root of All Evil

Police Procedure and Investigation

Drugs, Not Money, Are the Root of All Evil – Chapter 11 of Police Procedure and Investigation


Oregon to reduce felony drug crimes to misdemeanors

The state of Oregon recently passed a bill to reduce some drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors—possession of small, usable (typically not enough to sell) quantities of methadone, oxycodone, heroin, MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine. An offender is allowed two arrests before prosecutors may up the ante and charge the suspect with a felony. Officials say the law will help addicts, and that it will help reduce the number of minorities incarcerated in jails and prisons. They say the current laws unfairly target people of color.

The bold move is also a means, officials say, to help prevent offenders/users/addicts from falling into the lifelong situation of being unable to secure decent housing, good jobs, vote (in some areas), and even an education (student loans are denied because of some drug convictions).

For those people, there is absolutely no light at the end of a lifelong tunnel. No second chances, no matter what. Many grow weary of always living at the bottom rung of the ladder without a support system of any type, working menial jobs, if they can get a job, that is, and living in crappy apartments because a background check prevented them from renting in a nicer, drug-dealer-free neighborhood. So they re-offend and back to prison they go.

Keep in mind, state law does not supersede federal law, which still squarely places the above list of illegal drugs in the felony category. Therefore, arrested for small quantities of drugs by local Oregon police = misdemeanor. Arrested by the feds, in the same location, for possession of the same quantity (any amount) = felony. However, it’s highly unlikely the FBI, ATF, or DEA are planning to kick in Daryl Dope’s front door over $12 worth of cocaine. But they could.


Drug Schedules

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:

Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:

Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are: cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin.


Felony arrest warrant served/executed by me after a stop and frisk led to guns, drugs, and cash.

 

You Will Survive: Three Words That Should Impact Your Writing

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.).

 

5 CSI Tips: Writing Believable Make-Believe

Just for you—5 tantalizing and terribly important CSI tips for the investigator in your life.
 
 
 

 

Not-so-total recall.

Murder Investigations Are So, Well … “Fly”

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.

,

BioWatch: Detecting Biological Agents in Your Town

Here’s a news flash that isn’t fake. There are people in this world who want to hurt us. Well, us and anyone else they manage to get in their sights. And, as we’ve seen all across the world, those bad folks use a variety of means to carry out their deadly missions—explosives, vehicles, gunfire, knives, etc.

While different, those instruments of death all have one thing in common—each is visible with the naked eye. Therefore, we can at least see those things. But what if we couldn’t? Suppose cars and knives and guns were all invisible and we had no means of detecting their presence? What if an invisible weapon existed, one capable of killing thousands all in a single act? Okay, and as Amazon’s Alexa would say, “Here’s your flash briefing.” There are indeed extremely powerful invisible weapons—biological agents—that can kill thousands upon thousands of people. Millions, even.

We provide extra gear for our police and military, equipment designed to keep them safe and to help conduct the arrest of armed, dangerous bad guys. We install barriers to prevent vehicle attacks on public buildings. We have radar and aircraft designed to defend the country against missile attacks. Our navy stands watch in the sea. Police and military and private citizens and corporations all train officers, agents, soldiers, family members, and employees in ways to protect against violent attack (active shooters, etc.).

But what about the invisible killers, the things capable killing entire populations—every single man, woman, child, and animal—of towns, cities, counties, and possibly an entire state and beyond? What have we done to safeguard against something as deadly as a bioterrorism attack?

Not an actual street and not a real “Secret Sniffer.”

Fortunately, there’s BioWatch, the early-warning detection system that constantly “sniffs” the air to detect the release of biological agents. Managed by the Office of Health Affairs/Department of Homeland Security, BioWatch, a network of over 30 jurisdictions across the U.S., receives support from other federal agencies, scientists, laboratory techs, public health officials, state and local authorities, and emergency managers.

Air sensors/monitors/collectors are positioned in various locations throughout the 30+ jurisdictions (these jurisdictions are made up of numerous towns, cities, and counties within a specific area). Scientists monitor the collectors, and they collect and analyze samples collected in the filters.

BioWatch collectors are positioned on sidewalks (attached to utility poles and other stationary items). They’re also in airports, bus stations, sporting areas, and other such areas.

Should a biological agent be detected at one of the sensors, the alert system is activated and authorities are immediately notified. Life-saving measures are then to be set in motion, such as supplying each citizen with a proper antidote.

Painting the town, one nose and one brick at a time.

 

Edged Weapon Attacks: Stabbings Are Not Fun

There’s a common sentiment among cops and other people whose business sometimes forces them to “place their hands” on another person. And that opinion is generally that they’d rather be shot than stabbed or cut. I, too, agree. And here’s why.

Bullet wounds are normally quick and they’re inflicted from a bit distance. But wounds caused by edged weapons are sometimes prolonged by an attacker’s repeated strikes. In these types of truly nasty assaults, the attacker is always close enough for the victim’s senses to become involved, making the experience extremely personal.

When a victim is stabbed they often feel the blade as it first punctures the skin. And, since I’ve been stabbed a couple of times, I can relate. You know the sensation you experience when opening a package of meat (chicken, hamburger, etc.)—the “pop” that occurs when the material first yields to the pressure that’s used to tear the plastic wrap? Yep, that’s sort of what it feels like.

And then there’s the interaction with the attacker. He’s often close enough that his victims are able to detect his personal odors, such the lingering smells of cologne, shampoo, soap, his breath (onions, tuna, stale beer, etc.).

Edged weapon attacks are up close and personal.

He may grunt as he stabs and slashes at the victim. He may even talk or mumble to his prey as he inflicts the wounds.

A stabbing victim’s natural reaction is to hold up their hands, attempting to block the incoming blade. That’s why victims of edged weapon attacks are often found with wounds (defensive wounds) on their palms and forearms.

Civilian stabbing victims (those people who are untrained in defensive tactics) often give up after receiving only one, or a couple of wounds. Cops and people trained in martial arts, or even street fighters, probably will no give up as easily. Actually, their survival training would most likely kick in. Therefore, they’d fight even harder at that point. That’s if they even realize they’d been wounded. In fact, the will to live and to do the job that they’re trained to do is what keeps many officers alive.

I was once dispatched to a bar where the owner called to say that two bikers were fighting and had pretty-much wrecked his establishment. Once inside, it was clear that one of the behemoths was getting the best of his opponent. So, dummy me, I grabbed the one who was winning the fight. As I did, he pulled out a knife and lashed out at me.

Not the actual biker

Long story short, as I was handcuffing him—he was face down on the hardwood floor at that point—I saw quite a bit of blood spattered all around him. I figured he’d fallen on his knife, so I helped him to his feet (bouncers had the other guy under control), called for EMS, and then begin to search for his wound(s). That’s when someone in the crowd pointed out that it was I who was dripping blood, and lots of it, too.

Apparently, as I reached for and took control of his knife hand, the biker had slashed my right palm, from the tip of my thumb to the middle of my little finger. And the cut was to the bone. In fact, the flesh of my middle finger could be pulled over the tip of the bone at the end of the digit, like a small glove. I never felt it. Well, that is, I never felt it until I saw it. Then it hurt like all get out.

It was the heat of the moment, the will to survive, and the training I’d received, both in the police academy and during the many years of martial arts, that kept me fighting to arrest the thug. But that’s not an isolated incident. That’s what cops do. Many have been wounded far worse than I was, and they continued fight until either the job was done, or until they could no longer go on.

So, when writing your story about shootouts, car chases, and explosives, remember, it’s the edged weapon that make most cops cringe. However, they’ll still dive into a pile of fighting bad guys to do their job. That’s why they’re a “cut” above the rest …

,

O-R3, the Amazing Real-Life Crime-Fighting Robot

Possibly a distant cousin to R2-D2 or C-3PO, this crime-fighting robot’s name is O-R3.

Capable of instantly recognizing wanted criminals and possible criminal activity, O-R3, a real-life superhero who identifies as a police car, even carries a secret weapon in case a suspect flees or escapes custody.

O-R3

For example, a crook hops a fence and attempts to get away from officers by crossing a creek and running through the woods to freedom. If that scenario, or one similar, were to happen, O-R3 leaps into action, flipping open a rear compartment to launch its onboard drone. The remotely-controlled aircraft assumes the chase by following the bad guy from above. Cameras positioned on the drone send video feed to authorities on the ground.

While on patrol, O-R3 sends constant video feed to to the police department.

Also part of O-R3’s arsenal are an array of electronics that include biometric software and other scanners that can instantly analyze suspicious objects, such as abandoned bags and backpacks.

O-R3 uses sensor fusion technology that’s capable of crunching data at warp speeds, which allows the 4-wheeled car-like robot to instantly avoid obstacles and to immediately react to things as they occur. And, O-R3 never takes a vacation, it’s never sick, and it’s never late for work.

In addition, O-R3 onboard equipment includes:

  • 2D and 3D laser scanners
  • thermal vision
  • license plate scanner/recognition
  • stereo photography
  • IMU sensors (Inertial Measurement Units—a self-contained system that measures linear and angular motion usually with an assortment of gyroscopes and accelerometers).

O-R3 is brought to you by the same folks who designed and manufacture:

  • Double – personal robots for those times when you can’t be there in person but absolutely MUST be there. This is cool!
  • SpinTable, a self-service restaurant booking app.
  • FIV – a driver’s service booking app that assists with finding drivers/chauffeurs.
  • SwitchBee – a home management device that makes your home a smart home (controlled by your cellphone) in just 90 minutes.

Here’s O3R “in person.” By the way, the Dubai Police Force already utilizes the driverless and cop-less O-R3s as part of their fleet of police vehicles.

In a related story, anonymous unnamed sources who were not authorized to say a single word but did so anyway all while knowing the reporter totally fabricated the source and the entire story …

Wait, what was talking about? Oh … the story. Now, this is to be kept between us because we don’t want any of those pesky leaks occurring on our watch, right? So lean in and feast your ears on this juicy bit of news.

Insiders close to O-R3 say he’s been seen cozying up to sexpot Rosie the Maid.

Rosie the Maid

In fact, they were seen together last Saturday night at the Nuts and Bolts Bar, THE hotspot for all famous robots. George Jetson has tried to intervene but Rosie refuses any and all suggestions that she needs rehab for an opioid addiction. Jetson told police he has no control over her. He also told the officers he believes Rosie may be working as a prostitute or selling highly addictive illegal cogs and sprockets. He believes this to be true because he sees a lot of strange robots coming and going at all hours of the night.

Back to the sighting at the Nuts and Bolts Bar. Joining the battery-powered couple for high-octane cocktails were The Robot (who’s no longer Lost in Space), and Futurama’s Bender who, by the way was indeed on a bender (we hear he’s at risk of losing his job due to his excessive consumption of Penzoil’s high-end 30w oil. Since his retirement from Star Trek, Data has worked as a bartender at Nuts and Bolts and the drinks have never been more precisely mixed.

By the way, thanks to Major Mechanical for stopping by today to help out with the robot facts. Couldn’t have done it without him.

Major Mechanical

 

Aw, It’s Your First Day in Jail: Welcome to Paradise

It’s not been your day. First, the wife called to say the toilet won’t flush, the dog dug up the neighbor’s prized rose bush, and the principal suspended your oldest kid for drinking a beer in the restroom.

On your way home you stop at a buddy’s house to shoot the breeze and maybe pick up a small bag of pot to help shed the day’s troubles from your mind. Then, just as your pal pulls a quarter ounce from his 42-pound stash, the police kick in the front door. It’s a raid and you’re handcuffed and hauled downtown. Who knew your friend had been on the narcotics cops’ radar for the better part of a year?

Stick cuffs

One of the officers, McColdhands, according to his nametag, was a nice enough guy. He didn’t push or shove and he spoke to you in a nice way. No yelling or cursing. But he did snap the cuffs around your wrists, and he didn’t read you your rights (you later learned that’s not necessary because he didn’t ask any questions about your involvement in illegal activity).

Despite his cordial demeanor, you still hate his a** with a passion. After all, he just took away your freedom, right? Yeah, sure, it’s his fault, along with the other officers who busied themselves digging through drawers and closets and the refrigerator and the toilet tank.

Handcuffed eyes

But who knew good old Billy Buck, your friend since high school, had so much dope in the house? And all that cash? One of the cops said there was at least a hundred-thousand. Still …

After waiting in the backseat of a locked police car for what seemed like an eternity, Officer McColdhands slipped in behind the wheel, said some sort of gobbledygook into a radio microphone, and off you went to, well …

Welcome to jail.

Points to note:

  • You have no right to privacy while in jail.
  • Showering and shaving times and days are limited in most jails.
  • Telephone calls may be monitored and/or recorded.
  • Watching television is a privilege, not a right.
  • Visitation is a privilege, not a right.
  • Telephone use is a privilege, not a right.
  • Some jails charge inmates a modest daily housing fee.
  • Some jails charge a small fee for medical care.
  • Most jails and prisons have libraries, and some of the books there are YOURS!
  • Jail and prison are not the same.

Corridor inside an old county jail

A jail is typically operated by a county or city government. Jails house:

  • People who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or sentencing.
  • People who have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense and are serving a sentence of (typically) less than 1 year.
  • People who have been sentenced to prison—a sentence of one year or more—and are awaiting transfer to a state facility (prison).

*As always, laws and policies in your area my differ from those in another part of the country. For example, see Gina’s comment below.

 

5 Ways Officers Can Avoid the Dreaded Pucker Factor

Pucker Factor. Two simple words that, when spoken separately, have truly harmless meanings.

1. Pucker: a rounded shape by folding or wrinkling, such as puckering your lips.

2. Factor: an element contributing to a result.

But, when those two words are combined into a single phrase they take on a whole new meaning, a meaning that now refers to the instant tightening of a particular southerly body part.

It’s odd, but when you consider the usual function of that persnickety body part, things like “early warning system,” “saving lives,” and “draw your weapon,” don’t normally come to mind. Actually, even in a puckered state one wouldn’t normally associate those things with that tiny muscle. No sir, not at all.

“Drawing” a service weapon

However, ask a cop his first reaction to the instant puckering of the factor muscle and he’ll probably tell you that he’d draw his service weapon, prepare to fight, or do whatever it took to stay alive because danger is present.

Yes, the Pucker Factor is indeed a cop’s early warning system. It causes rapid heart rate, sweating and, hopefully, an immediate reflex action that causes the officer to revert to his/her training, because reasoning skills are greatly diminished during a Pucker Factor incident.

The “pucker factor” sometimes causes strange reactions.

For police officers, the Pucker Factor can be triggered by a number of events, usually all danger-related. For example, a traffic stop at night where the suspect reaches for a firearm in the glove compartment, or while searching a vacant building for a wanted person the crazed suspect pops out of a closet and charges the officer with knife in hand. Even a radio call directing an officer to the scene of a shots-fired call can bring on an onset of PF.

So what can an officer do to reduce the possibility of encountering PF-inducing situations? Here are 5 ways to decrease the dreaded PF’s.

1. Wear your seat belts, and SLOW DOWN! Losing control of a patrol car while responding to an in-progress call is one of the top causes of PF. Remember the first time you “fishtailed” at 85mph? How about rounding a curve at 90 during a pursuit and meeting a car driving on the wrong side of the road?

Both 9’s on the PF scale.

2. Never assume that people see your blue lights and heard the siren. This happens all the time … officers, while running lights and siren to answer an emergency call, pull over to pass a car and suddenly the vehicle in front drifts over into the passing lane to make a left turn. They didn’t have a clue that the police car was there because the driver was (a) talking on a cell phone, (b) drunk, (c) daydreaming, (d) were playing their radio at peak volume and never looked in the rear-view mirror, etc. And, let’s not forget the person who slams on brakes when they realize a police car is behind them.

Vehicle suddenly pulls in front of you or slams on brakes.

PF score of 7.

3. Patience. Take the time to assess the possibilities that could occur during a traffic stop or while answering a call. Is the suspect wanted? Did you run the plates through NCIC to see if the car was stolen? Is the guy sitting on the couch agitated? On drugs? Why is he sweating profusely? Where are his hands? Run all the checks before diving in any situation!

You’re in a hurry because your shift ends in fifteen minutes, so you skip running the guy through the system. Result? He’s wanted for armed robbery and decides killing you is better than going to prison. He pulls a gun from his waistband. PF score of 10.

4. Never operate on the assumption that everyone will do the right thing or obey your commands. Not everyone respects the badge and your authority. So keep your guard up and be prepared to use force every single time you respond to a call. That pretty young woman in the mini-skirt, or the handsome man in the business suit? They can fight, shoot, stab, and cut as well as anyone.

Pretty girl who catches you by surprise by pulling a gun from her purse while yours is still holstered because she had gorgeous eyes and really long legs … PF score 8. Stupid score = 10.

5. No ambush. No ambush. No ambush! Always plan an escape route!

You get a call at 3 am. It’s a “female needs assistance” call. She’s in an alley that has only one way in. You wave off backup and head in thinking it’s “only a girl.” Suddenly, a car pulls in behind you and shots are fired. The girl’s boyfriend is a cop-hater you arrested a year ago. He served nine months in the county jail and spent 8 of those months planning his revenge.

PF score 10.

Police officers are human and they, like most people, want to see the good in others. Unfortunately, that “good” is becoming more and more scarce with each passing day, while PF instances are constantly on the rise. I guess the real trick to reducing pucker factor instances is using commonsense, not taking chances, and attending regular training.

Remember officers (both real and fictional) – Always watch the hands!

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A List That’s NOT Fake News! – Rapid DNA, Hidden Cobras, REDDI, and ISMI-Catchers

Here’s a list of 6 important very real details that should/could be of interest to writers who want to go the extra mile when delivering believable make-believe.

  1. North Korea has launched a malicious cyber activity known as Hidden Cobra. According to Homeland Security and the FBI (this information comes via legitimate outlets, not through a web of anonymous and unnamed sources and leakers), Hidden Cobra works by capturing sensitive information, and by disrupting day-to-day operations. The Department of Homeland Security urges everyone, especially organizations of sensitive natures (banks, law enforcement, etc.) to upgrade to the latest editions of Adobe Flash Player, Hangul Word Processor, and Silverlight, and to review and block all IP addresses listed in the “indicators of compromise” list they provide. For full details, please visit the DHS site here, or the Hidden Cobra link above.
  2. Rapid DNA has been successfully tested in matching families with victims in mass casualties. The process greatly reduces the time it takes to (per the DHS) “reunify families and mass-casualty victims.”

Here’s a fairly recent video of Sen. Hatch questioning AG Sessions about the importance of Rapid DNA use in law enforcement and the need to approve it’s use.

3. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with ILC Dover and West Virginia University helped develop the Resilient Tunnel Plug. This gigantic balloon-like inflatable device is designed to prevent flooding and chemical and gas attacks to a various tunnels, such as railway and automotive passageways. It’s sort of like a puffer fish in that when danger is sensed, the plug, like the puffer fish, inflates to ward off the trouble. When deployed (automatically or manually), the plug  falls from it’s storage compartment and inflates until it snugly fills and seals the tunnel opening. I understand that until the device is approved and in place and ready to work, puffer fish volunteers, among other portly swimming future-filets, are on the way to major waterside cities to assume the roles of temporary tunnel-pluggers.

4. Cell-site simulators—IMSI-catchers—are used by law enforcement, and others (bad guys), for the purpose of capturing cellphone conversations, pinpointing the exact location of a targeted phone, and even for the distribution of spam. The use of these devices by criminals has become more prevalent and, as a result, researchers at the University of Washington developed Sea Glass, a system designed to detect unusual activity in the cellular landscape. In other words, Sea Glass knows when it’s near an IMSI-catcher and it signals to its user when they’re close to one.

During a lengthy testing period in two major U.S. cities, 15 ride-share vehicles were equipped with Sea glass devices. The results indicated a pattern consistent with activity of several ISMI-catchers (also called Stargazers, among a few other names) positioned within the cities.

5. REDDI is the Department of Homeland Security’s latest program for training explosive detection K-9s. The purpose of this new training—to expose K-9 teams to current real-world conditions—is to further enhance the dogs’ ability to detect the presence of bombs/explosives. As you can see (right), the animals selected for the program are extremely smart, fearless, and well-schooled.

6. The Office of Naval Research awarded Dr. Nitin Agarwal a $1,530,778 grant to study sources of false information on the Internet and how it’s spread through social media. The study will also focus on how people and groups use this faux information to conduct cyber propaganda campaigns. Dr. Agarwal is the chair and a professor of information science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.