Cops were stamping

Long before Kendel Flaum, the genius behind Henery Press, started her world-famous Oprah and Rachael Ray-endorsed stamping empire, police officers all across the country were hard at work using their own stamping kits. Yes, stamping.

Flowers, Hearts, Butterflies, and Car Crashes!

In the 1940’s, accident and crash reconstruction experts had limited tools at their disposal. Basically, to document a crash scene officers had two choices, to hand-draw the incident details, or, they could bring out the big gun, the Forbes Handy Accident Reporting Kit.

The Forbes Kit consisted of 18 wooden stamps that depicted the most common vehicle types of the day, an ink pad, and a set of instructions (grasp stamp firmly between thumb and index finger, press onto ink pad, then press stamp onto accident report … duh).

Today, of course, modern accident reconstruction software, including crash simulation, is available to law enforcement officials.

National Law Enforcement Museum

The Forbes Kit was once one of the top five prized possessions of the National Law Enforcement Museum. It may still be. And, I just happen to know where I can put my hands on a complete kit (the kit in the above photos). My daughter Ellen sent me this one.


Crash and Burn

Fun Fact: Superstar author Lisa Gardner based her bestselling book Crash and Burn on the hands-on, behind the scenes knowledge she gained while attending the Writers’ Police Academy.

Lisa Gardner – Writers’ Police Academy … Crash and Burn research.


 Click to read more. It’s a HOT one!


Lisa and friends at the Writers Police Academy.

Lisa, two WPA/GTCC firearms instructors, author C.J. Lyons, and Kathy Reichs (Bones, the books and TV series).

 

Kathy Reichs and Lisa Gardner during a tiny break in the action.

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Homicide investigation – Writers’ Police Academy

Lisa

Writers’ Police Academy

Times sure are a-changin’. Why, I remember the days when we cops carried only our sidearms, handcuffs, a portable radio that only worked when you were near civilization, and a leather SAP or blackjack to help fight off people who wanted to do us harm.

Back “in the day” officers didn’t have the luxury of non-lethal devices. There were no Tasers. No pepper spray. No barriers between front and rear seats in patrol cars. No bullet-resistant Kevlar vests. No semi-automatic firearms. No rubber bullets. No bean bags. Instead, we relied on fast talking and sheer muscle power to get out of jams.

An Aluminum Shampoo. OUCH!

Sometimes, since we often worked alone patrolling an entire county, the only thing that kept us from getting hurt, badly, was using a flashlight to deliver a gentle “love tap” to an attacker’s thick skull (an aluminum shampoo). Of course, that’s no longer an option due to laws and/or department policies, but the tactic saved my butt more than once. Hey, you do what you have to do to survive, right?

Rechargeable flashlight mounted inside patrol car

However, things, tactics, and equipment evolved. Cops soon found available a ton of new tools to help defend themselves and to assist with making safe arrests.

We were giddy when we first received chemical sprays that actually stopped most people in their tracks. Cool! That meant less use of brute strength to gain control of combative suspects. The availability of those sprays also meant we could then bring someone into compliance without the use of striking instruments/impact weapons (blackjacks, batons, etc.). Less injuries for everyone involved—bad guys, cops, and bystanders.

They Gave Us TASERS!

A Taser delivers an electrical charge that disrupts muscle function. The devices are carried on the officer’s non-gun side, and they’re often marked with bright colors. The purpose of these two important details is to prevent officers from confusing the non-lethal Taser with their definitely lethal handgun.

Stun Cuffs

These specially designed handcuffs are capable of delivering an electrical charge to the wearer. They’re are often used when transporting prisoners, especially potentially dangerous or high-risk inmates.

Stun belts are also available, especially for use in prisons. Prison guards/corrections officers (CO’s) train with the belts and are often called on to demonstrate its effects. Officers refer to the experience as “riding the belt.”

The Gentle Grasp of the Behemoth’s Skillet-Size Hands – A True Story

Once, while arresting a very unruly man, a guy who just happened to be twice my size (and I’m not small), my future prisoner decided he was allergic to handcuffs. And, during a brief struggle to free himself from the source of his allergies, my neck somehow wound up in the gentle grasp of the behemoth’s skillet-size hands. In other words, he was choking me with every ounce of strength he could muster up. I couldn’t breathe and I knew then how it must feel to be icing inside a pastry bag, because he was squeezing so hard that I thought my eyes would pop out of their sockets at any moment.

The thug had me pinned against a wall in a position that made going for my gun (a .357 in those days) impossible. However, I finally managed to get a hand on my metal Maglite. So I starting swinging (short strokes because of the odd angle), hoping to force the guy to release his grip. Finally, after a few hard whacks to his head he let go. And, as they say, it was game on!

Smith and Wesson Model 19 (.357)

I finally got that big moose handcuffed and delivered him to the jail. But, my car was not equipped with a cage to put him in for safekeeping (none of our cars had cages back then), so I made him ride up front with me. And I made a point to let him know that my gun was in my hand with my finger on the trigger and if he so much as looked at me wrong I’d shoot him.

I was physically and mentally drained. My body was running on instinct and adrenaline. I was glad he did sit quietly because I truly didn’t feel like cleaning up the mess in my patrol car after unloading my six-shooter into the mass of muscle sitting in the passenger seat. But I was serious and he knew it, so he behaved nicely on the ride in. He didn’t like it, but the idea of me using a half-dozen lead pellets to aerate his body must not have appealed to him.

Aluminum and Plexiglass divider

We must have been a real sight when we arrived at the jail—clothes torn, badge ripped from my shirt, bloody lips, flashlight-shaped knots on his head, fingerprint-shaped bruises on my neck, and more. But that was how it was back then.

Yep, those were the good ‘ol days …


Blackjacks and SAPs

The term SAP evolvedfrom (per Wikipedia): A late 19th century type is a wooden shaft about one foot long, with a leather- or macrame-covered lead ball as the head. This weapon is referred to by some sources as a “sap” (derived from “sapling” due to its wood handle). Of course today’s SAPS and blackjacks are a bit different (see below).

It’s rare to see an officer carrying a SAP/blackjack these days. In fact, most departments banned their use because they’re capable of breaking bone and other damage/injury\.

There are various types of SAPs, slapjacks, and black jacks. In each, the ends are filled with lead. And, the lead is either …

  1. Lead powder
  2. Lead shot (similar to buckshot)
  3. Lead clay, molded to the shape of the SAP

There are different types and styles of Blackjacks/Saps/Slapjacks. They are …

  1. Round body with a flat or coiled spring in the handle. The spring provides a whip action that delivers a more forceful blow than other types. (at right in image below)
  2. Flat body with a flat or coiled spring in the handle.
  3. Round body without spring in handle.
  4. Flat body without spring in the handle. (left in image below)
  5. Sap Gloves (lead is fitted into the palm area).
  6. Palm Saps – same as above, but this one is a handheld object. Sort of like striking someone with a rock.

Each of the above are small enough to fit into an officer’s pocket.

Below are silly drawings of a slapjack and a blackjack. Each “jack” is equipped with a leather strap to prevent dropping the device when in use. The user slips their hand through the strap/loop and then grasps the handle of the jack. The strap is then positioned around the wrist. The larger area at the ends of the jacks are filled with lead.

 


Impact Weapons

Here’s a video showing and describing various types of blackjacks/impact weapons.

In 1957, University College London researcher Olof Lippold discovered that all muscles in the human body, including the vocal chords, vibrate within the frequency range of 8-12 Hz range. This vibration, of course, occurs as muscles tighten and relax.

Lippold charted these vibrations by using electrodes applied to the extensor muscle of the middle finger. Electrical activity generated by muscles was then recorded on an Electromyograph (EMG), a medical technology designed for evaluating and noting this type of activity.

Several years later, in 1972, three retired U.S. military officers—Allan D. Bell Jr., Wilson H. Ford, and Charles R. McQuiston—formed the company Dektor Counterintelligence and Security, Inc.

Shortly after, the men filed a patent for an invention—the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE)— that could analyze voice recordings. It was the world’s first Voice Stress Analyzer and it was based Lippold’s work. It was the ultimate in lie-detecting technology.

Cherry Tree Mystery Solved – George Washington Confesses!

Today, Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) technology is capable of detecting even inaudible voice stress in subjects/suspects who are undergoing questioning by police investigators.

He Didn’t Do It … Yeah, Right!

CVSA technology focuses on the inaudible and stress-induced aspects of the voice—muscle micro-tremors.

Many investigators and department officials find that voice stress analysis is more reliable than polygraph examinations, and the voice stress system is less expensive and requires far less training time.

 

 

How Does it Work?

To see how this process works, please click to watch the video below. Then see how quickly the hero of your story extracts a confession from the bad guy.


And the cop to the crook …

“Ain’t that what you said?

Liar
Liar, liar”

Okay, today I decided to do something different. To give your weary eyes a brief break from writing and reading, I’ve added a small bit of audio (my voice) to the blog. Please click to play the clip before moving on. Yes, that’s me and yes I’m still trying figure out how to do this. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience. You’re going to need it …  🙂

To properly and effectively AND safely apply handcuffs is a skill that must be practiced. After all, in the field it must come instinctively since officers are often required to apply handcuffs to extremely strong people. And these are usually people who have no desire whatsoever to have those cuffs snapped onto their wrists. This, too, is the reason most officers prefer to carry chain-link handcuffs. Hinged cuffs are typically used when transporting prisoners. They’re perfect for limiting wrist and hand movement.

Handcuffing is taught during the basic police academy. We, too, teach handcuffing techniques at the Writers’ Police Academy as you can see in the photos below.

2017 Writers Police Academy—Defensive Tactics

 

2017 Writers Police Academy—handcuffing

 

2017 Writers Police Academy—Defensive Tactics

*Openings are available to attend the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy.

In the days before semi-automatics took center stage in the world of law enforcement, police officers carried revolvers as their weapons of choice. Cowboys called them six-shooters and gun buffs refer to them as wheel guns. Shooting enthusiasts love them. Why, then, did police officers make the switch? The answer is simple. Law enforcement officers were being outgunned by semi-automatic-toting bad guys.

Most revolvers are capable of firing only six rounds of ammunition. Semi-automatics can pop off fifteen or sixteen rounds as fast as a shooter can pull the trigger. During a gun battle, revolver-toting officers had to reload two or three times before the crook emptied his first magazine.

Reloading a revolver has always been a problem, especially when the officer was under fire. Cops carried their spare rounds of ammunition in rectangular, leather pouches called dump pouches. Dump pouches hold six bullets and are attached upside down to the officer’s utility belt.

To access the extra bullets, officers simply unsnapped the pouch cover to “dump” the ammunition into their non-gun hand. The officer then had to feed the individual rounds into the open slots in the revolver’s rotating cylinder, one at a time. Needless to say, this is much easier said than done when someone is shooting in your direction.

Barney’s dump pouches (two pouches) are on his utility belt, to the right of his tie (his left). The two release snaps are clearly visible near the bottom of the pouches.

The answer to faster re-loading—speed loaders. Speed loaders hold six rounds of ammunition. The rounds are automatically positioned to line up with the bullet slots in a revolver’s cylinder. A twist of a knurled knob on the end of the speed loader releases all six rounds at once. Shooters could then easily and quickly re-load their revolvers in tense situations, even in the dark.

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Revolver, speed loaders, and speed loader pouches. The pouches attach to a police officer’s utility belt.

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A revolver’s cylinder is designed to swing out for reloading. The knurled button between the hammer and the wooden grip is the cylinder’s release button.

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Speed loaders position rounds so they line up perfectly with the bullet slots in the cylinder.

speed-loader-2.jpg

A twist of the knob in the officer’s right hand releases all six rounds at once.

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

 

Private conversation on your cell phone

Worried about government overreach? How about the pesky invasion of your privacy by law enforcement officials and agencies?

Does it bother you that the government has the capability to see practically every step you make and listen to nearly every word you speak? Or, does your next book need a cool high-tech twist? Yes or no, you might want to take a moment to ponder this bit of information regarding the government’s nearly insatiable quest to spy on … well, everyone.

  • Homeland Security and the Justice Department have spent nearly $100 million on secret cellphone tracking technology. Together, the two agencies own more than 400 cell-site simulators that can be used to zero in covertly on the locations of cellphones. Covertly = the phone user has no idea that someone is secretly listening to their calls, and/or the same “spy” knows the location of each cell phone.
  • The FBI has 194 cell-site simulators (see below for descriptions of cell-site simulators).
  • The U.S. Marshals Service has 70.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has 59.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has 33.
  • The  Drug Enforcement Administration has 33.
  • U.S. Secret Service has 32.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has 13.
  • The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations division has two.
  •  The Treasury inspector general has one.
  • Some of the devices are small enough to use in vehicles, meaning that as the “spy” drives through a neighborhood, he can collect phone data from every user he passes.
  • Nearly $2 million in grant money has been awarded to local law enforcement agencies specifically for the purpose of purchasing cell-site simulators.
  • Currently, federal policy requires that all federal law enforcement officials obtain a warrant prior to utilizing a cell-site simulator. However, the rule does not apply to local police, who may freely use these devices.
  • Current law requires nondisclosure agreements that require prosecutors to abandon criminal charges rather than disclose local police use of cell-site simulators. A bipartisan reports indicates a need to eliminate this nondisclosure agreement.
  • A bill has been introduced to mandate that all law enforcement agencies, including local police, obtain a warrant prior to utilizing a cell-site simulator.

The costs of these devices range between a few thousand to $800,000, each.

1. Cellbrite Battlefield Recovery – a portable handheld device used to suck a device/phone dry of its data. Extracts photos, text messages, videos, and call logs. You could purchase this cool thingamajig for $9,920, plus a 1 year fee of $900 to cover support and maintenance.

2. Raven – used to interrogate and geolocate target phones. *To interrogate a phone means to trick the target phone into sending its identifiers. Geolocate is to determine the location of a target phone. The Raven can be utilized from fixed wing aircraft or on the ground. The Raven price tag is a modest $800,000.

3. Blackfin – for listening in on calls and viewing text messages. For the low, low fee of $75,000, you, too, can own one these little darlings.

4. DRT (aka “dirt box”) – targets and locates up to 10,000 devices (phones) and tricks them into “thinking” the DRT is a cell tower. DRT then collects and analyzes data, including voice data. Can be used from aircraft or ground. DRT, a soup-up version of the Stingray, has the capability of capturing data from up to 10,000 devices during a single flight/operation. DRT = $100,000. Stingray = $134,952.

5. Stargrazer III – locates devices, captures their data, and jams their signals preventing users from making and receiving calls.

6. Thoracic – handheld cell phone tracking device. Pinpoints location of target phones. $7,500.

*It is believed (it’s true, but you didn’t hear from me) that devices such as the Stingray and DRT are capable of intercepting private conversations by using the person’s cell phone as a “bug.” Simply use the phone’s firmware remotely and it’s like becoming the “fly on the wall.” Some of you may remember the old party-lines where you could pick up your receiver and listen in on the conversations of your neighbors? Yeah, it’s like that.

Spies Are Listening!

If our law enforcement agencies are using these devices, well, foreign spies are most likely using them too. If so (and I’m 99.999999% sure they are), foreign governments are intercepting and listening to U.S. cell phone calls and text-type messages.

Party Lines

Isn’t it funny how we’ve traveled full circle, from people wanting to move away from party line phones because they weren’t private, to sophisticated cell phone technology that requires expensive high-tech equipment and resources to transform our newfangled and complicated gadgets back into party line phones.


*By the way, there’s practically no end to the surveillance citizens are subjected to each day. For example, We-Vibe, the sex toy maker, has agreed to pay customers up to $7,600 each for selling them a “smart vibrator.” Not a big deal you say? Well, these “toys” tracked the customers’ sexual habits without their knowledge.

The device comes with an app-enabled function that allows the “item” to be remotely activated and controlled. However, security flaws within the app allowed anyone within Bluetooth range to gain control of the device. The app also collected information such as the temperature of the device, the vibration intensity, the number of times it was in use, etc. This extremely personal data was immediately sent to the manufacturer.

So yeah, “they” are watching and listening.

Are we ever truly alone?

 

While sitting at my desk trying super hard to come up with a new blog topic for the day, I heard the sound of a whistle blowing outside. The sharp but distant tweetings were coming from a nearby soccer field, signaling that what was likely an exciting game was currently underway. And then it hit me, I once wrote an article about, of all things, police whistles. So, without further adieu, I present to you … a Saturday “tweet.”

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Police officers use whistles to attract the attention of motorists and pedestrians, and to call for assistance from fellow officers.

Prior to the use of whistles, officers used hand rattles to summon back up. Radios eventually took the place of whistles; however, the shrill-sounding devices are still used when directing traffic or for signaling pedestrians.

Types of police whistles.

(Wikipedia photo)

The model 300, a solid brass, nickel-plated whistle, comes with a water-resistant cork ball. This high-quality piece of police equipment can even be imprinted with a logo of choice.

Finger whistles are equipped with an adjustable finger band.

Whistles are available in various colors, such as those pictured below. They’re made of molded plastic.

Whistle with lanyard and rubber safety tip.

Rubber safety tips in assorted colors.

Whistle hook (pins to uniform shirt).

20″ snake chain with button hook (attaches to shirt button and whistle).

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 9.48.04 AM

Civilian Safety Packs contain a whistle for blowing when in danger, and a key ring that can be used as a weapon of self-defense. The manufacturer advertises this pack as being ideal for people who live alone, college students, women, and senior citizens.

24K gold-plated whistles are sometimes presented as awards. They come in velvet-lined walnut cases.

And, just for fun, the number one song on this day in 1966.

 

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Pistol (semi-automatic)

The term “Pistol” means a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having:

  • a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s);
  • and a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Pistol nomenclature (below)

Revolver

The term “Revolver” means a projectile weapon of the pistol type, having a breechloading chambered cylinder so arranged that the cocking of the hammer or movement of the trigger rotates it and brings the next cartridge in line with the barrel for firing.

Revolver nomenclature (below)

*All of the above (text and images) are from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). Thanks to the folks at ATF for allowing the reproduction and use.

For Writers: Semi-autos and fully automatic (machine guns) automatically eject spent cartridges. Revolvers DO NOT. Therefore, writers, chances are slim and mostly none of finding empty revolver cartridges at a crime scene. Please remember this when writing the “aha” moment in your WIP.

 

If only police wore body cameras…

“Body cameras will reduce violence.”

“Wear a camera and assaults against officers will decrease.”

“There will be less incidents of force by officers if they’re forced to wear body cameras.”

Those were just some of the comments we heard when the issue of police body cameras first began to emerge. So yes, police officers across the U.S. have begun to wear cameras as part of their duty gear, but the results of their use are a bit surprising.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge worked with eight police forces across the UK and US—West Midlands, Cambridgeshire and Northern Ireland’s PSNI, as well as Ventura, California and Rialto, California. The research (a large study involving 2,122 officers, 2.2 million officer-hours, and interaction with 2 million citizens) was comprised of ten randomized-controlled trials where officers either wore body cameras that were switched on the entire time of their shifts, did not wear body cameras, or they wore cameras but were permitted to switch them on or off at the officers’ discretion.

The results:

  • Use of force incidents by officers wearing cameras fell by 37% (suspects readily complied with officer commands).
  • Use of force rose by 71% among officers who were permitted to switch cameras on and off at their discretion.
  • The rate of assaults against officers wearing cameras increased by 15% as opposed to non-camera-wearing officers.
  • Assaults against officers were greater in number when the officer told a suspect they were being recorded or when they announced they were switching on their cameras.
  • Officers wearing cameras reported more assaults against them as opposed to the officers who were not wearing cameras. It’s thought that officers wearing cameras felt they could report assaults because they had video proof of the incidents.

Further study is needed to determine if wearing a body camera causes officers to feel less confident/self-assured which could result in being more vulnerable and susceptible to assault. This could be the cause for the increase in number of attacks against camera-wearing officers.

An odd thing about the study is that it showed the results varied from one area to another, meaning that camera use in one location within a city may produce a different reaction in another. For example, the presence of a body camera could be welcomed in the south side of AnyTown, but in the north side the presence of a body camera they might anger those residents. The same is true from town to town. Town A citizens might love seeing their officers wearing cameras. However, Town B citizens may feel resentment or enticed to use violence against the officers who’re recording their actions.

My take on the study results – body cameras may or may not be a good thing, and whether they are or are not is controlled by a number of influences over both the police and citizens, including human judgement, human error, and even human emotion—fear, shame, pride, etc. So, like anything else where split second decisions are made…it depends. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it…maybe.