The Graveyard Shift Blog

Since 2008, Lee Lofland has written over 2000 articles on his blog, The Graveyard Shift. Topics such as police procedure, forensics, criminal behavior, and what it’s like to be a cop has helped countless numbers of popular and aspiring writers.

His life’s mission – to remind writers that cordite is dead and gone. Just say no to cordite in your books!

Cop's Thanksgiving

A Cop's Thanksgiving: Save a Drumstick for Me

  Morning parade Smiling faces Squealing children Marching bands Turkey Pumpkin pie Eggnog Football Pistol. Badge. Vest. Kiss the kids, please And save a drumstick for me I'm almost home. Family Traveling Smiling…
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Building Characters Using Everyday Items Found Around the House

The Professor is here today to share a few tips on developing well-rounded and layered characters. As in his last tip, Interviewing Your Characters, The Professor believes that police investigators have what it takes to concoct believable fictional…

Tire Impressions: Follow That Car!

When we began our 9th house hunting ordeal (the first four or five were fun, after that it became more of a chore), we were looking for a home in the countryside or on the water. I prefer acreage, but my wife prefers a smaller lot where you…

Cops: To Do Or Not To Do ... and Common Sense

Common sense is a HUGE part of police work. You know, think before you act. Don't run with scissors. And for goodness sake, don't talk with your mouth full. And ... And, of course ...  

On a Red Eye, Because I Can't Fix Cancer

It's just after 1 a.m. and I'm sitting on a plane heading to North Carolina where I, as a father, will be forced to hand over the safety and well-being of my daughter, Ellen, to a surgeon I've never met. I understand a robot will also have a…
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Cops Use Mosquitos to Solve Murders: Bandit Bagged By Bug

A Murder. No known suspect. Evidence collection. Let's run down our checklist to be certain we've gathered everything because, as you all know, the crime-solving clock is ticking nonstop and valuable time is slipping away, and so is…

From Hot Breath to Big Toes ... More Cop Terminology

ASCLD - American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. AFIS - Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Palmprint storage and search capabilities are also in place. ALPS - Automated Latent Print System. ASCLD/LAB - American Society…
Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween Safety Tips For All - You, Your Kids, and Police Officers

The Graveyard Shift wishes everyone a Happy Halloween! Have fun, but please stay safe. Halloween Safety Tips For Kids - Avoid costumes that greatly reduce visibility or are too dark for motorists to see. Apply face paint instead. It's…

Twisted Endings and Plot Tips: When You Hear Hoofbeats, Don’t Expect a Zebra

The story begins with North Carolina farmer Paul A. Plow, and his wife, standing on the well-weathered front porch of their clapboard-sided home---the house they've lived in for the past forty-seven years, the dwelling that saw its last coat…
Cops: what's up with that look

Cops and Command Presence: What's Up With That Look?

Predatory animals watch and stalk their prey before moving in for the kill. They're extremely patient, waiting for the right target---the weakest animal in the pack---because the battle is easier. Criminals often exhibit similar behavior…

Friday's Heroes: Remembering the Fallen - 10/27/17

Officer Marcus Anthony McNeil, 29 New Orleans Louisiana Police Department October 13, 2017 - Officer Marcus McNeil was shot and killed during a struggle with a suspect. He attempted to use his TASER to gain control of the offender but…

Erika Mailman: Before There was Crime Scene Tape ... and Lizzie Borden

In 1892, the small mill town of Fall River, Massachusetts, was shaken to its core by the hatchet murders of a prominent citizen, Andrew Borden, and his wife Abby. His daughter (Abby's stepdaughter) Lizzie Borden was accused of the murders and…
Informants: Gotta love-em

Informants: Working the System

It was an extremely difficult and odd case, busting a woman whose brother had snitched on her to protect his own skin. Yep, threw his own flesh and blood under the bus the second the cuffs touched his wrists. It started when I'd decided to…

When Words Fail: More Cop Terminology

Ambient Light - Light that occurs naturally (sunlight, moonlight, etc.). Angle of Impact - The angle at which a blood drop strikes a surface. Associative evidence - Evidence that links a person or an item to the scene of a crime. Ballistics…

The Death Penalty: Do We Kill Innocent People?

The death penalty has long been a subject of controversy. Some of those against it argue that it's not our place to take the life of another human, no matter how heinous the crime. Others say the process amounts to cruelty akin to torture. And,…

Fingerprints Know and See Everything ... and They're Gonna Tell!

What if police could learn the habits, lifestyles, and even which type of shampoos, deodorants, drugs and the foods consumed by criminals? Would that sort of information be useful in a criminal investigation? Well, duh ... Certainly it could…
He's areal cool dude

He's a Cool Dude: Postmortem Changes In Body Temperature

While we're alive our body temperatures are determined by metabolism. It's a different ballgame, though, once the bucket is kicked. After death, the body's core temperature remains fairly constant for a couple of hours. Then it begins to…
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Are Rifles Really the Weapon of Choice Among Murderers?

In 2016, the number of murders in the U.S. rose by 8.6% over the 2015 tally. Overall, violent crime increased over 4%. Since there's a lot of talk about assault rifles being a favored weapon of choice among killers, let's take a moment to…