The FBI is for the Birds!

Did you know …

The FBI maintains an Anonymous Letter File. The file is searchable and contains images of anonymous and threatening letters. Letters may be examined and compared to those from other cases. Original documents are preserved in the manner in which they were received. They may not be folded, stamped, written on, handled excessively, or altered in any way. Avoiding these problematic issues preserves unseen evidence, such as indented writing.

Bank Robbery Notes – Like the Anonymous Letter File, the FBI also maintains a searchable file containing images of notes used in bank robberies (“Gimmie all your money,” signed I.M. Wearingamask). Notes may be compared to others used in other robberies. Original notes are preserved in the condition in which they are received. They, too, are checked for unseen evidence.

Bullet Examinations

The FBI’s Forensic Services is available to examine fired bullets. Measurements collected are – bullet weight, specific design, caliber, direction and characteristics of the grooves (rifling) carved into the bullet by the lands and grooves formed into the barrels of rifles and handguns.

Bullets collected as evidence must be packaged separately to prevent contacting other bullets and/or other objects. Bullets are generally soft and easily marred by contact.

Spy Stuff!


Coded messages are sometimes used by criminals such as terrorists, gang members, and even prison inmates. They devise the secret codes to relay messages they want to conceal from authorities and rivals/enemies.

Cryptanalysis

Knowing the content of these hush-hush communications is key to solving crimes and sometimes protecting life. Therefore, the FBI employs a team of Code Breakers whose job is to decipher the encrypted notes. They often find directives of murder, prison escape, confessions to crimes, drug activity, and more.

Collecting DNA Evidence – Bone, Tissue, Teeth

The FBI is quite specific about the evidence samples needed to complete proper testing/examination. The requirements for bone, teeth, and tissue are as follows:

  • Submit whole bones, if possible. Cutting increases the risk of contamination
  • Pick up bone and teeth using a clean gloved hand or some type of forceps
  • Teeth are to be collected in order of preference for testing
  1. molar (no dental work)
  2. premolar (no dental work)
  3. canine (no dental work)
  4. front tooth (no dental work)
  5. molar (restored)
  6. premolar (restored)
  7. canine (restored)
  8. front tooth (restored)

Tissue

Handle/pick up tissue with clean gloved hand or forceps. The ideal sample would be 1-2 cubic inches of red skeletal muscle, placed into a clean, airtight container. NO Formalin! Samples may be frozen, placed in Styrofoam containers along with dry ice and shipped overnight to the FBI lab.

This One’s For the Birds!

FBI experts are on hand to examine bird feathers. No, you didn’t imagine this. It’s very real. FBI scientists can determine species from feathers or bits of feather found on clothing, shoes, vehicles, etc. Then they compare those finds with feathers discovered at a crime scene. A positive match could place a suspect at the scene of a crime.

Feathers (evidence) are packaged in either paper or resealable plastic bags.


The FBI is far more than what we’ve seen lately in the news. I’ve worked with a number of agents over the years and they are wonderful people who’re dedicated to performing their duties as professionals. They’re very good at what they do.

So please don’t let headlines and a couple of bad apples destroy the work and credibility of the more than 35,000 employees of the agency. On the other hand, I’ve had personal dealings with one of those bad apples and those times left me feeling absolutely disgusted. Oops, I’ve come close to violating my own rule of NO POLITICS on this site. Therefore, it’s time to follow my own advice and … ZIP IT!

Available soon!

 

 

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A Cop’s Nighttime Melody: The Sounds of Graveyard Shift

Many writers have never, not once, set foot inside a police car, nor have they climbed out of bed at 11 p.m. to swap pajamas for a police uniform, Kevlar vest, gun belt, sidearm, and spit-shined shoes. And they’ve not headed out into the night to spend the next eight to twelve hours dealing with the city’s “worst of the worst,” and worse.

Most people have not left home with their family saying, “Be careful, see you when you get home,” and know they’re saying it because they worry the next time they see their loved one will be at their funeral service. “Killed in the line of duty” is what the bloggers and reporters will say.

Sure, you all know what goes on during a police officer’s shift—fights, domestic calls, shootings, stabbings, drug dealers, rapists, and killers of all shapes and sizes.

But what those of you who’ve never “been there, done that” cannot honestly and accurately detail the sounds heard when someone take a shot at you. No, not the actual gunshot. Its the other noises that help bring super-cool details to your stories.

To learn about those sounds, let’s pretend we’re the officer who’s just been the target of a bad guy’s gunfire. We’re chasing the suspect through alleys and paths that wind through dark wooded areas, all while knowing the guy has a gun and he’s definitely not afraid to use it.

Can’t see your hand in front of your face, so you stop and listen. And then it happens …

That eerie calm.

It causes the hairs on the back of your neck to stand tall and straight. Goose bumps come to attention on your arms. A lone pea-sized bead of sweat worms its way down your spine, easing through the space between your pants and the bare skin of your waistline. It feels oddly cool against your fear-warmed flesh.

If this occurred in a movie there would be, of course, background music. So let’s do this right. Hit the play button, take a sip of your coffee, or tea, and then read on to learn about A Cop’s Nighttime Melody.

 

10-4, I’ll take this one …

The call came in as “Shots Fired. Suspect is armed with a handgun and caller advises he is still at the residence and is threatening to kill responding officers.”

I was working the county alone so I asked the dispatcher to request backup from a nearby city and from the state police. The trooper in our county was also working alone. Our roles differed, though. He was out on the interstate writing traffic tickets while I responded to the usual plethora of calls. Either way, we were alone when we approached whatever situation was before us, be it stopping a stolen car with dark tinted windows or heading toward a house where I knew a man was waiting to kill me.

The sound of a police radio is far different when it’s heard late at night as opposed to the same radio traffic during daylight hours. Its an unexplained phenomena. It could be that dark skies and night air create different acoustics. Or that working the graveyard shift forces dispatchers to work really hard to battle “the thing” that comes out at night to squeeze their emotions into submission. They typically lose the fight which results in a manner of speech that’s without feeling, inflection, and dynamics.

Nighttime radio traffic echoes and travels far. It’s weird and out of place among the stars and creamy moonlight. Dispatchers drone on like robots … “Robbery at …” “Wife says husband hit her …” “Lost child …” “Possible drug overdose at …” “Loud music at …” “Peeping Tom at …” “Customer refuses to pay at …” Shoplifter at …” “Dead body in river …” Dead body in park …” “Shots fired …” “Shots fired …” “Man stabbed at …” Shots fired …”

Back to the man who wanted to kill me

I acknowledged the call with a “10-4, I’m en-route.” Then I hooked the radio mic back into the metal “U-shaped” clip connected to the dashboard. Next I pushed one of the many red toggle switches mounted into the center console.

With the push of the button, a faint click occurred simultaneously with the eruption of pulsating blue light. I stepped on the gas and heard the engine come to life. Since I was miles out in the country there was no need for the siren. Not yet.

I pushed the pedal toward the floor until I was cruising along at 70 mph. Believe me, that was pretty fast considering the curvy, hilly road that was before me.

There are no streetlights in the country. It’s super dark. Blue light reflects from trees, shrubbery, houses, mailboxes, passing cars, and telephone poles. It also reflects from the white lines painted on the pavement.

Meanwhile, the radio traffic continues with updates for me and with traffic from city officers and the trooper out on the interstate … “Use caution. Driver of the vehicle is wanted for a homicide in …”

My car radio played in the background. The Oak Ridge Boys went on and on about Bobbie Sue and Elvira while I attempted to straighten the curves by hitting my marks—drive low in the curves, on both sides of the road. Never at the apex. Unless a car is coming in the opposite direction or you cannot see far enough ahead to safely do so.

The blue strobes mounted on top of the car make a clicking sound with the start of each flash. The wig-wag headlamps do the same. The roadway is very uneven with a few cracks and potholes scattered about. They cause the patrol car to dip and roll. The extra pair of handcuffs I and many other cops keep handy by hanging them from the spotlight handle that protrudes from the post between the windshield and driver’s door, sway back and forth and bang together causing a constant click, click, click noise. The sounds are out of sync.

I switched off my lights a ways before reaching the scene—didn’t want to shooter to know  I was there—and stopped my car on the shoulder, a bit down the road from the driveway. I called the dispatcher on the phone to let her know I’d arrived. The use of the phone was in case the bad guy was listening to a scanner. I turned down the volume on my police radio. Way down. Remember, the sound travels far. I wished backup didn’t have to do the same (travel far).

I opened my car door slowly to avoid making any noise. The interior light was not operational—disconnected in police cars to prevent illuminating the officer and/or blinding them to goings-on outside the vehicle.

As I slid from the seat my leather gun belt creaked and squeaked and groaned, as leather does when rubbed against other leather or similar material. To me, the sound was as loud as fourth of July fireworks. My car keys (in my pants pocket) jingled slightly with each step. So I used a hand to hold them against my leg. The other hand was on my pistol.

I walked up to the house to peek into a window before knocking on the door. I wanted to see if I could, well, see anything. But, as I closed in on the side the house a large mixed breed dog stepped into view, showing its teeth and upper gums. The animal with matted-hair and a crooked tail growled one of those slow, easy rumbles that comes from somewhere deep inside. I held out a hand for it to sniff. It backed into the shadows.

A quick peek inside revealed a family of five. A woman with two black eyes and three crying children. Two girls, not quite teenagers, but close, probably, and a wiggling and squirming baby. A man stood near a tattered recliner and tall floor lamp. He held a pump shotgun in his right hand. At the moment, the barrel was aimed toward the floor. He yelled a few obscenities and started to pace. Then he looked straight at me, or at least it seemed like he looked at me.

My heart pounded against the inside of my chest. It bumped so hard I could hear the sound it made with each beat.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

From somewhere deep in the shadows.

Grrrr …….. Growl …..

From inside the home.

A baby crying.

A woman pleads and sobs.

A young girl. “Please, Daddy. No more!”

Sirens wail in the distance, beyond the black tree line that connects sky with earth. Sounds travel further at night, right?

The air-conditioning unit beneath the window snaps on. Its compressor humming and fan whirring. The metal casing rattles slightly. Probably missing a screw or two.

A Cop’s Nighttime Melody Approaches the Finale

I knew what I had to do and started toward the door with my leather shoes and gun belt squeaking and keys jingling and heart thumping. As I reached for the knob I took a deep breath.

The expansion of my chest pulled at the Velcro that held my vest tightly against my torso.

Crackle. Crackle. Crackle.

Right behind me now.

Grrr …. Growl …

Crying.

Screaming. 

Whir.

Thump. Thump. Thump!

Jingle

Squeak.

The door.

Turn and push.

“Drop the gun!”

BANG!

BANG!

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Crying.

And crying.

“10-4. Send the coroner.”

So, my friends, those are the sounds of working the graveyard shift … A Cop’s Nighttime Melody.

 

 

 

Can’t Find a Fingerprint? Well, Here’s Why …

Sometimes, no matter how experienced and how hard investigators try, they’re simply unable to find a fingerprint.

They dust and they dust and they twirl and whirl and spin animal hair brushes and brushes made from stork feathers, and nylon. They use dark powers, white powders, powders of all colors of the rainbow and more. Iodine and SuperGlue. But NOTHING works!

It could be that the crook wore gloves. Or, it could be …

And the Cop Said, “I Gave Chase and Pursued Said Subject”

I don’t know when it started, but it did and it is puzzling. After all, when did, “I got out of my car” become “I exited my vehicle.” And how is it that, “Are those donuts for Ralph and me?” is sometimes spoken as, “Are those donuts for myself and Ralph?” 

Cop Speak is a unique language that we’ve all heard from time to time, especially on television and film. We also hear officers speak in that unusual manner during courtroom testimony, particularly when the officer who’s doing the testifying is in the early stages of their career.

Typically, the cop-speak eventually fades away quite a bit as time passes and as officers mellow with age and experience. It also tends to disappear as officers move on to other duties, such as those performed by detectives, CSIs, etc. However, until cops somehow manage to bite their tongues and begin speaking in a a language understood by all, well, juries, judges, attorneys, and TV news-watchers will continue to mutter the universally-understood phrase, “WTF did he say?”

Again, I don’t have a clue how or when cops started speaking like robots from outer space. but they do and here’s a small sample of it along with accompanying translations.

  1. “I exited my vehicle.” Translation – I got out of my car.
  2. “I gave chase and pursued…” Translation – I ran after …
  3. “Be advised.” Translation – Listen to what I have to say.
  4. “I contacted the driver of the car.” Translation – I walked up to the car and spoke with the driver.
  5. “I detected the odor of …” Translation – I smelled pot and/or liquor, beer, dynamite, funky feet, flatulence (feel free to insert your favorite scent) in his car.
  6. “I surveilled said subject.” Translation – I watched that guy.
  7. “Myself and Officer Ralph Alsotalksfunny ascertained his location.” Translation – Ralph and I found the bad guy’s hideout.

Before moving on, let’s imagine for a moment that the officer who spoke the above phrases is in court testifying before a judge and jury, where he says …

“I surveilled said subject for one hour. I observed said subject stop his vehicle beside an unknown male subject at the corner of Syringe Street and BagoDope Boulevard. Said subject exchanged what appeared to be U.S. paper currency for a clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance, at which time I activated my emergency equipment and effected a traffic stop.

I exited my vehicle and contacted the driver, Mr. I Didntdonuffin, a white male. I immediately detected the odor of an intoxicating substance. Based on my academy training in narcotics recognition, I believed the source of the odor to be marijuana.

I asked Mr. Didntdonuffin to exit his vehicle. Upon exiting his vehicle, a two-door red convertible with Florida plates, number Ida, Ida, X-ray, Paul, David, 666, he fled the scene on foot. I gave chase and pursued said subject to the parking lot of Peggy Jean’s Cut and Curl and Pig’s Feet Emporium where I caught and restrained him using pain compliance techniques and two baton strikes to said subject’s right thigh area. I immediately notified dispatch and my supervisor of the situation. My radio traffic at the time went like this – ‘Be advised that I have said subject in custody at this time. Send rescue and a shift supervisor. Myself and said subject need medical attention. Ten-four?'”

Translation…

“I saw Mr. I. Didntdonuffin stop his car at the corner of Syringe Street and BagoDope Boulevard. A man walked up to his window and handed him a plastic bag containing what appeared to be marijuana. In return, Mr. Didntdonuffinthen handed the man some cash. I immediately switched on my blue lights and initiated a traffic stop.

When I walked up to Mr. Didntdonuffin’s car I smelled the odor of marijuana. I asked him to step out of the car so I could conduct an investigation. When he got out he ran away, but I was able to catch him when he tripped and fell in the parking lot of Peggy Jean’s Cut and Curl and Pig’s Feet Emporium. He began punching and kicking me so I used my baton to help gain control and then I applied handcuffs to his wrists. We’d both received a few cuts and bruises during the scuffle so I called for an ambulance crew and for my supervisor.”

Again, I don’t know how the odd cop speak started, or why, but it really should stop. Officers don’t talk like this when they’re engaged in normal conversation, so why switch to the weird stuff when in court or in front of a camera?

Anyway, here are a few additional words and phrases often used by cops.

  • Open Mic – Not to be confused with talent night at the local watering hole. A sometimes horrifyingly embarrassing experience that occurs when the button on an officer’s walk-talkie (“portable”) is accidentally keyed and sticks in the “talk” position, such as when the officer unsuspectingly leans against a seat belt buckle. LOTS of incriminating things are heard during these moments … “Yeah, I heard about the chief and the new dispatcher. Better than that I saw his car parked at the Sleazebucket Inn last night, and hers was parked across the street.”

Cell phone rings. “Hey, you’ve got an open mic.”

A pause.

“Oh, s**t!”

Captain Jim’s Open Mic … it’s a hot one!

Click here to read about Captain Jim, sex in a patrol car, and an open mic.

  • Wants – Outstanding warrants. “Any wants on that guy?”
  • Negative – No. “Negative. The agent said my work was crap and that I should burn the manuscript, toss my computer into a fiery pit, and then drink a gallon of rat poison should I EVER think of trying to write again.”
  • Crotch Rocket – Lightweight motorcycle featuring the “leaned-over/hunched-over” seating style. These are the bikes often seen on YouTube videos where their riders are performing stunts and outrunning the police at super-high speeds while dangerously weaving in and out of traffic. “You’ve got a crotch rocket heading your way. I picked him up doing 140 when he passed me.”
  • Slick-top – A patrol car without a light bar on top. Typically, supervisor’s car. “There’s a slick-top parked in the alley beside Billy Buck’s Barber Shop and Snack Bar. I think he’s watching to see if we’re working or goofing off.”
  • Light Up – This one used to refer solely to activating emergency lights when initiating a traffic stop. Now it also applies to TASER use. Traffic stop – “Light ’em up as soon as he turns the next corner.”  TASER – “Stop hitting me in the head with that sledgehammer or I’m going light you up.”
  • Keyholder – Someone who’s responsible for a business. “Call the keyholder and ask them to come down to switch off the alarm. They’ll also need to take a look around to see what’s missing.”
  • Mopes – Stupid bad guys. Worthless lowlifes. “There are a couple of mopes hanging out behind the dumpster in the alley between Zippy’s Lunch and Frankie’s Wholesale Lizard Outlet. I think they’re smoking crack while figuring out how they can buy more.”
  • Hinky – Something’s not quite right. “I don’t know, man. I feel really hinky about this one.”
  • Alley Apple – Objects used to throw at police—bricks, rocks, metal, etc. “Watch out, they’re tossing alley apples from the roof of Tom Peeper’s Binoculars, Trench Coat, and Periscope Plaza.”
  • Ditch Doctor – An EMT or other ambulance crew member. “Looks like those arms and that leg belong to the guy over there. The ears, well, I’m not sure. The ditch doctors’ll sort it out while we direct traffic.”

Stephon Clark: Did Police Fire Too Many Rounds?

Stephon Clark, 22, was fatally shot by two Sacramento, Ca. police officers.

The officers fired twenty rounds during the incident. Of the twenty rounds, eight struck Clark—three in the lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck, once under an armpit, and one round in a leg. The round to the neck came from the side, while the shot to the leg hit Clark in the front. The doctor who performed the autopsy (an independent autopsy requested by the family) stated the leg wound appeared to have been fired after Clark was already falling to the ground.

Clark was unarmed. A cell phone, the object officers thought was a gun, was found next to his body.

The story – Police received a 911 call about a man breaking car and house windows while trespassing through backyards and climbing over fences to go from yard to yard.

Two patrol officers responded. A police helicopter also arrived on-scene and hovered above the area, filming the activity below. Their video shows a man moving through backyards, peering into the window of a vehicle, and then climbing a fence. Next we see the officers running toward the man.

Police body cam footage shows the officers, from their POV, running after the man. They’re using flashlights. It is difficult to see anything other than what the narrow beams of light illuminate. They see the man in the corner of a backyard and one officers calls for him to show his hands and, in practically the same breath, he yells, “Gun, gun, gun!

The next thing we see is gunfire. One round after another after another. Clark was pronounced dead at the scene.

Protesters, activists, and Clark’s family (and attorney) have all said the police, in addition to shooting an unarmed man, fired too many rounds.

First let’s address the unarmed part of this unfortunate incident. To do so, I ask that you click over to read what I had to say about the topic in an earlier post titled DEADLY FORCE: YES, AN UNARMED TEEN COULD KILL YOU.

Next, “too many rounds.”

Do Officers Count The Numbers of Rounds They Fire?

Police are taught to shoot to stop a threat. Then, when the threat ceases to exist the use of deadly force must stop. This could mean one round or one hundred. Whatever it takes. But, in the heat of the moment when you feel that your life is in danger, that you could DIE at any second, a person typically doesn’t have the time or presence of mind to count the number of times they’ve pulled the trigger. Believe me, to be involved in a shooting is a scary situation.

In fact, even when a shooting is staged for training purposes and you’re firing lasers at a pretend target, well, see for yourself in the video below. This is why officers often tend to fire a lot of rounds and not have a clue as to the number they fired.

This recording from the Writers’ Police Academy is an eye-opener. The videos that follow are the officer’s body cam video during the shooting of Stephon Clark (warning, the video shows the shooting and the body afterward), and the footage from the helicopter.

When you’ve watched all videos, please take a moment to reflect and to place yourself in the shoes of officers everywhere who have to make these decisions within the blink of an eye. Then imagine what it’s like to live with taking the life of another human. It ain’t pretty.

From the Writers’ Police Academy – More than she thought?

 

 
Sacramento officer’s body cam …

 
Helicopter footage …

FREEZE! I’m the Police, Animal Control, Garbage Collector, and … Meter Reader?

Police officers in large cities become highly specialized in their areas of expertise. Patrol officers there are often assigned to section of the city, a precinct, and they know that area like the back of their hand.  They’re on a first name basis with every drug dealer, hooker, and numbers runner. Detectives in those areas are normally assigned to a particular duty, such as homicide investigations, narcotics cases, and cyber crimes. There are full-time units in place to handle CSI, cold cases, SWAT, canines, bicycle patrol, and community policing, to name just a few.

However, in less-populated jurisdictions—mid-size to small—where manpower and funding are precious commodities, officers sometimes have to serve double, or even triple duty. They wear many hats.

Patrol officers everywhere are the front line defense against crime. They’re the men and women who answer the never-ending stream of calls, ranging from homicides to people who think aliens have just landed in their back yard.

In small agencies, though, a patrol officer may also be a member of the SWAT team. That officer would probably keep his/her SWAT gear in the trunk of their patrol car, ready to suit-up in a flash. They may also serve as a member of the high-risk entry team, or as a bike patrol officer, swapping a cruiser for a bicycle to finish out the remainder of their shift.

Some detectives also serve as members of scuba dive teams. Many do their own evidence collection and crime scene photography. There are no CSI units in many, many departments across the country. In fact, many departments don’t have detectives. Patrol officers in those departments investigate criminal cases from beginning to end. Needless to say, this stretches manpower to the breaking point.

In even smaller police departments, where there are three or four officers (maybe the chief is the only officer) duties may branch out further still. For example, a tiny town of a few hundred citizens may expect their officer(s) to read the town water meters as part of their regular patrol. Yes, I do know of a town where this system was and may still be in place.

Another town police chief has an office inside a country store. His “office” is actually nothing more than a metal desk positioned in the corner near the lottery ticket machine, and the town’s highest ranking law enforcement officer only has access to his work space during the store’s normal business hours. He is also required to handle the town’s animal control duties. Once each week, this town’s top and only cop swaps his patrol car for a pickup truck and utility trailer so that he can collect the garbage set out on the curbs by the town’s residents.

So if you’re ever worried that your story seems a little off where police procedures are concerned, well, fear not because the truth about law enforcement is much more farfetched. In fact, the only thing consistent about police work is its inconsistencies.

To Preserve and Collect

To Protect and Collect

Trapping the Trappers: Police Integrity Tests

Integrity tests are designed to watch and evaluate an officer’s conduct in various situations.

The purpose of these exercises to determine if an officer’s conduct is appropriate. A few departments incorporate these evaluations into their regular daily operations.

The operations/stings are simple. An official from internal affairs, or similar office, plants a “drop item,” such as a wallet containing money, in a location where the officer can easily discover it.

Then, while under surveillance, the officer is judged by how he handles the “find.” Does he turn the wallet and contents over to the department?

Lincoln’s watching!

Does he attempt to locate the owner? Or, does he keep the cash and simply toss the wallet into a nearby garbage can? It’s a test of the officer’s integrity/honesty.

Random Testing

Integrity tests are conducted randomly, unless officials suspect an officer of dishonesty. Then he/she becomes a target of the test. Otherwise, the goal is to ensure that law enforcement officers do not abuse the powers granted to them by local governments.

Officers who fail these tests are fired and sometimes prosecuted, if warranted.

But is this a form of entrapment?

Entrapment

Black’s Law Dictionary defines entrapment as “the act of officers or agents of the government in inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him/her for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him/her. Typically entrapment only applies to overbearing official conduct seen in the form of flattery, pressure, harassment and fraud.”

To avoid entrapment investigators must address the threshold question courts consider when examining this point—was the individual pre-disposed to commit the crime?

Therefore, the tests must be conducted randomly, or the department must have credible information regarding a target’s criminal activity.

The basis for the entrapment law/rules is this:

A 1992 Supreme Court ruling, Jacobson v. United States, stipulated that police “may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the government may prosecute.” The Court went a step further further in Jacobson, stating that, “When the governments’ quest for convictions leads to the apprehension of an otherwise law abiding citizen who, if left to his own devices, likely would never run afoul of the law, the Court should intervene.ii

You Can’t Make Me!

So yes, the Court was quite specific—police officers may not induce a crime and then arrest someone for the idea/act they initiated. The same holds true when investigating police officers who run afoul of the law.

I know, if an officer does nothing wrong then he/she has nothing to worry about. Simply pick up the wallet and turn in to lost and found, with the contents still in place. Easy, right?

Well, sure it is. But the idea that one’s own department has people running around planting items all over the city in an attempt to catch an officer, any officer, doing something wrong is horrible for morale, especially among the 99.9% (I made up this number, but it’s super high) who’d never in a million years do anything wrong, on purpose. Therefore, sometimes it’s best to call on an outside agency, such as the FBI, to assist with the sting/integrity testing. Doing so eliminates the distrust of fellow officers, and to help ease the problem of low morale caused by these often thought of as distasteful operations.

But, as long as there are officers who pocket ill-gotten gains, there will be another officer lurking in the shadows waiting to catch them. It’s the nature of the beast.

“The Beast”

You Can’t Arrest Me ‘Cause I’m a Woman: Here’s Your Chicken

Crooks say the darndest things, especially when operating their mouth parts while under the influence of alcohol, coke, and/or meth.

Here are some (only a few) of the things the little darlings said to me over the years. Use your imaginations to determine my response(s).

1. “Pepper spray me. Go ahead, I dare you. Spray me.”

You asked for it …

2. “I’ll kill your family.”

3. “I know where you live.”

4. “You think you’re man enough? Well, you’re not. And your backup’s not so tough either. Bring it on …”

Sharp-dressed cops

5. “I’m not getting out of my car, and you can’t make me.”

6. “I’ve got a gun.”

7. “You’re not big enough to put me in that police car.”

8. “Don’t put your hands on me.”

9. “You won’t live long enough to put those handcuffs on me.”

10. As he rips off his shirt and flexes, while backing up … “You don’t want none of this.”

Why is it that even the smallest of the small think they’re toughest of all … when they intoxicated?

11. “If I ever catch you out of uniform …”

12. “Does your dog bite?”

13. “If you think that fancy nightstick will stop me, think aga … OUCH!”

14. “Yeah, what are you going to do if you catch me?”

15. “You’re going to have to come in and get me.”

16. “I’m not scared of you or your police dog. I don’t care if it is a rottweiler.”

Police K-9

17. “You can’t arrest me. I play golf with your boss.”

18. “You can’t prove none of that.”

19. “I’m glad you’re the one who caught me. We’re friends, right? Want a chicken?”

20. While working undercover narcotics. “You have to tell the truth when I ask if you’re a cop, right?”

21. If you think my dog will let you take me out of this house, well, think again, Barney Fife. Sic ’em, Blue!”

Finally …

The list, my friends, is endless. As is stupidity.

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Murder Scene Checklist: It’s a Killer!

The first hours of a murder investigation are crucial to solving the crime. I say this because  as time passes memories fade, evidence can become lost or destroyed, people have the opportunity to develop excuses, stories, and alibis, and the bad guys have the time to escape arrest.

Here’s a handy list to keep on hand that could help solve the cases investigated by the detectives in your stories. Keep in mind that time is of the utmost importance! So, in no real order, off we go …

Serving a search warrant. Knock, knock!

Investigators start the search at the scene and then extend the search area as needed.

Police Public Information Officers (PIO) are the direct line of communication between departments and the public.

It’s important to keep the bosses informed. They do not like to be blindsided with questions they can’t answer.

And then it’s time for …

*Remember, no list is all inclusive since no two crimes are exactly the same. And, no two detectives operate in the exact same manner.

 

 

 

Miranda and Lying Cops: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Those of you who’ve visited this site over the years know that cordite is a big NO and that cops are NOT required to spout off Miranda rights the second they apply handcuffs to the wrists of an offender. You do remember those two points, right?

For the newcomers, here’s a quick refresher on the reading of rights (click the above link to read more about cordite).

Miranda

When is a police officer required to advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it’s not like we see on television. Surprised?

Television shows officers spouting off Miranda warnings the second they have someone in cuffs. Not so. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I chased a suspect, caught him, he resisted, and then we wound up on the ground fighting like street thugs while I struggled to apply handcuffs to his wrists. I can promise you I had a few words to say after I pulled the scuz to his feet, but Miranda wasn’t one of them. Too many letters. At that point, I could only think of words of the four letter variety.

Custodial Interrogation

Two elements must be in place for the Miranda warning requirement to apply.

  • The suspect must be in custody
  • He must be undergoing interrogation (advisement of Miranda comes prior to questioning, while in custody).

A suspect is in police custody if he’s under formal arrest or if his freedom has been restrained or denied to the extent that he feels as if he’s no longer free to leave.

This fellow is not free to leave.

arrest-take-down.jpg

Interrogation is not only asking questions, but any actions, words, or gestures used by an officer to elicit an incriminating response can be considered as an interrogation.

If these two elements are in place officers must advise a suspect of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. If not, statements made by the suspect may not be used in court. The absence of Miranda doesn’t mean the arrest isn’t good, just that his statements aren’t admissible.

Officers are not required to advise anyone of their rights if they’re not going to ask questions. Defendants are convicted all the time without ever hearing that sing-songy police officer’s poem,  You have the right to …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deception and Lying: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

We all know that it’s illegal to lie to the FBI. And we all know what can happen if you do. That’s right, you go to federal prison where you’ll join the elite Martha Stewart Club.

Making false statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is a federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code. This is the law that prohibits knowingly and willfully telling fibs to the cops.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine for the cops to lie to you. Seems fair.

Police detectives/officers are legally permitted to “stretch the truth  lie in order to solve criminal cases. The case law that permits the officers to fib to suspects is Frazier v. Cupp (1969).

In Frazier, the police falsely told murder suspect Martin E. Frazier that his cousin, Jerry Lee Rawls, had implicated him in the crime (the two were together at the time). He then confessed but later claimed that police shouldn’t be permitted to lie because otherwise he wouldn’t have admitted guilt. The Supreme Court agreed with the police and they’ve been legally fibbing to crooks every day since.

Police investigators use a variety of deceptive tactics, such as:

  • Displaying false sympathy and/or claiming to understand the situation
  • Minimizing the seriousness of the offense and the offenders role
  • Falsely stating there is hard evidence to support a conviction
  • Confession from an accomplice that implicates the suspect
  • And the ever popular, “We have an eyewitness who saw you there.” 

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal went a bit further by limiting just how far the  police can go when stretching the truth. In Florida v. Cayward (1989), the court ruled that it’s perfectly okay to tell fibs (orally) but they may not fabricate evidence in order to deceive suspects. Cayward claimed the police fabricated laboratory reports as a trick to induce a confession. It worked and he spilled the beans. However, the court said police crossed the line and ruled in Cayward’s favor and suppressed the confession.

To sum up – Don’t lie to the cops, and …