Holiday Weekend Road Trip: Writer’s Police Academy Update

It’s official! You asked for it and we delivered. The Mad Anthony Writers Conference and I have joined forces to present to first annual Writers Police Academy on April 17-18, 2009. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the workshps and faculty. There’s still more to come.

Friday – Police Department and Morgue Tours

Friday night – Murder, Mayhem, and the Macabre, a candlelight visit with Hamilton’s most infamous killers and their unfortunate victims. This night owl presentation offered by Lee Lofland is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday workshops will be taught by some of the nation’s top law enforcement experts. These police professionals are all authors, too!

The faculty (to date):
A police officer with the Matteson, Illinois Police Department for over 30 years, Sergeant Michael A. Black, has served in a variety of assignments including investigations, patrol supervisor, SWAT team leader, and plainclothes tactical officer. He is also the author of two different series and several thrillers. Out now is a re-release of Windy City Knights, the second in Mike’s award-winning Ron Shade private-eye series, and (in hardcover), Dead Ringer, the brand-new fourth adventure for Ron Shade. Mike’s newest series begins with Random Victim, introducing a male/female police detective team Francisco Leal and Olivia Hart. Mike has also co-written the recently released I Am Not A Cop with television star Richard Belzer.

Public Information Officer/Crime Prevention Officer Dave Crawford has worked in several areas within the Hamilton Police Department, including the Patrol Division, Traffic Division, as a Court Officer, Desk Officer and, as a member of the Honor Guard Unit. His current position is in the Public Affairs Section of the police department, which entails a multitude of assignments.

Officer Crawford is a member and board member of many local civic originations. He’s also a member of the Ohio Crime Prevention Association, National Public Officers Information Association, International Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Association, and MADD.

Dave proudly serves as a member of the board of directors for MADD of Southwestern Ohio Affiliate, Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc., Visitors and Convention Center, Accent Hamilton, Open Door Food Pantry Board Member, Dayton Lane Historical Society, Safe Kids Coalition, FOP Lodge 38, Washington Lodge Masons, and the High Twelve Club.

Verna Dreisbach of Dreisbach Literary Management offers professional representation for distinctive voices with a diverse range of both fiction and non-fiction interests. She is currently looking for emerging and experienced writers to build her list and desires books that present the possibility to affect change. The agency has a particular interest in books with a political, economic or social context. Verna’s first career as a law enforcement officer gives her a genuine interest and expertise in the genres of mystery, thriller and true crime. She believes in building an agency based on dedication, loyalty and trust, representing the voice behind the work, not just the writing. If you are accepted by Dreisbach Literary Management it is because Verna has faith in your abilities as a writer and feels a connection with your goals and aspirations.

Lee Lofland is the author of Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide For Writers from Writers Digest Books, a 2008 Macavity Award nominee for best non-fiction mystery. Lee is a former police detective with nearly two decades of law-enforcement and crime-solving experience. He was in charge of major felony cases, including homicide, narcotics, rape, kidnapping, ritualistic and occult crimes, fraud, and robbery.

Lee is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedure and crime-scene investigation and is a popular conference, workshop, and motivational speaker. He writes freelance articles for newspaper and magazine publications, such as The Writer and Slate magazine.

He has consulted for many bestselling authors, such as J.A. Jance, Lee Goldberg (Monk), PJ Parrish, Jeffery Deaver, Jan Burke, Stuart Kaminsky, and Allison Brennan. He’s also worked with television shows, such as Spike TV’s Murder, and a new major motion picture that’s currently in the development stages.

Lee has appeared as an expert on national television and radio shows, such as CNN’s Talk Back Live and NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and BBC Television. He writes and manages the popular blog site The Graveyard Shift.

The Graveyard Shift

His current works-in-progress are a mystery novel, a true crime book, and a children’s book co-authored with Becky Levine called Everything Kids: I Want To Be A Police Officer that’s scheduled for release in early 2009.

Lee and his wife, Dr. Denene Lofland, live in the Boston area, where he proudly serves on the board of directors for the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. He’s also a member of Sisters in Crime.

Special Agent Rick McMahan has worked in federal law enforcement for over sixteen years. During the first six years of his career, Rick worked as a civilian Special Agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations where he worked a wide range of person and property crimes. For the last ten years, as a Special Agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) Rick has investigated federal firearms and explosives violations, including conducting investigations into violent street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs. He has served as an on-the-job trainer for new agents and is firearms instructor. Rick’s short stories have appeared in anthologies such as Techno Noire, Low Down & Derby, and the Mystery Writer’s of America Death Do Us Part, edited by Harlan Coben.

Sheila L. Stephens was the first female Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) special agent in the state of Alabama and one of the first in the nation. She recently graduated from Boston University with a master’s degree in criminal justice. After leaving the ATF due to injury, Ms. Stephens opened a private investigation/security business. She is a criminal justice professor at Andrew Jackson University and a contributing writer and associate editor of The Agent, the newsletter of the National Association of Federal Agents (NAFA). Ms. Stephens lives in Bessemer, AL.

Sheila is the author of Everything Private Investigation Book from Adams Media.

Lieutenant David Swords (ret.) is a thirty year veteran of the Springfield, Ohio Police Department. Nearly half of Lt. Swords’ police career was spent as an investigator, working on cases ranging from simple vandalisms to armed robberies and murders.

David is the author of a novel, “Shadows on the Soul.” He and his family live near Springfield.

Saturday sessions. Many of these workshops are hands-on classes.

Writing Realistic Fight Scenes Interview & Interogation
Rick McMahan & Staff David Swords
Arrest Tech & Handcuffs Writing Compeling Villians
Rick McMahan & Staff Lee Lofland
Police Tools & Equipment Technology & Crime
Dave Crawford & Rick McMahan Sheila Stephens
SWAT I Primer of Handguns
Mike Black Rick McMahan
Nonlethal Weapons Hostage Negotiations
Sheila Stephens Mike Black
Prison & Jail, Slang & Gangs Fingerprinting
til 5:10 Verna Dreisbach Crawford, McMahan, & Swords
5:20-6pm High Rish Traffic Stop Kenesics: Human Lie Detecting
Crawford & Staff Lee Lofland

We’ll be back on schedule on Tuesday. Stay tuned for a surprise for writers later in the week!

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

Officer Timothy A. Haley, 42

Columbus Ohio Division of Police

Officer Haley suffered a ruptured blood vessel in the brain during a SWAT training exercise. He succumbed to the injury on August 26, 2008. He leaves behind a wife and three children. He is also survived by his mother, a brother, and sisters.

Trpooer Evan F. Schneider, 29

Montana Highway Patrol

Trooper Schneider was killed on August 26, 2008 in a head-on automobile accident. He leaves behind a wife, and a brother who is also a trooper.

Officer Melvin Dyer, 67

Duxbury Massachusetts Police Department

Officer Dyer was struck by a car while directing traffic. He succumbed to his injuries on August 25, 2008, nine days after the accident.

Officer Thomas Raji, 31

Perth Amboy New Jersey Police department

Officer Raji was killed on August 22, 2008 when his patrol car was struck by a drunk driver. He leaves behind an expectant wife who is also a police officer.

Officer Kathy Ann Cox, 50

Gordon County Georgia Sheriffs Office

Officer Cox was killed on August 21, 2008 when her department vehicle was struck head on by an oncoming armored car that had swerved into her lane while trying to avoid a stopped vehicle. The officer is survived by her husband, two daughters, and a son. She also leaves behind her mother, a brother, and two grandchildren.

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Maybe The Grass Isn’t Greener Over There

Each day, either by email or telephone, I talk to lots of law enforcement officers from all over the country. I like to stay abreast with what’s current in the world of cop and robbers so I can pass along that information to my friends in the world of books, radio, television, and film.

I provide this information in various ways. I write articles for an assortment of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters. I manage and write The Graveyard Shift. I speak at several writers conferences each year. And I receive, and answer, hundreds of emails each and every day, seven days a week.

My life is usually a whirlwind of travel, conferences, library and school talks, consulting, writing and managing this blog (The Graveyard Shift has indeed become somewhat of a monster, receiving well over 22,000 hits each day from 120 countries) and writing books (in my spare time).

I currently have two works-in-progress, along with a kids book that’s scheduled for release next spring. I partnered with Becky Levine to write that one. One of my current projects is a novel I’ve just completed that’s now in the proofreading stage. The other is a true-crime book that my hard working agent, Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary Management, is shopping around to various publishers.

One of the publications I write for on a regular basis is InSinC, the national newsletter of Sisters in Crime. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sisters in Crime you should be. It’s a wonderful organization. In fact, SinC president, Roberta Isleib, will be a guest blogger on The Graveyard Shift in a couple weeks.

Anyway, last month I wrote an article for the Sisters in Crime newsletter called Maybe The Grass Isn’t Greener Over There.

That little story has such an important meaning to me (only me) that I’d like to share it here on the blog. Here goes:

Maybe The Grass Isn’t Greener Over There

I’ve recently put together a proposal for a true-crime book about a grisly homicide that occurred in the Midwest. The story is exceptionally fascinating. It’s a convoluted and compelling tale with enough twists to make it seem fictional. A real imagination stretcher.

I knew that researching a true crime would be a daunting task. It was not something I was looking forward to, especially since I had made a promise to myself to never again write nonfiction. I must be a glutton for punishment because I sharpened a couple of pencils, grabbed a handful of notepads and my camera, and traveled to the city where the crime took place.

I spent time with the detectives who worked the case, the attorney who prosecuted the killer, and the coroner who performed the autopsy. I visited the crime scenes and interviewed the family and friends of the victim and killer. I even spent a few minutes at the victim’s grave site.

I became more and more interested in the case as details unfolded. I even began to feel a strange connection to the victim, a young woman I’d never met. It didn’t take long for the case to become a part of me, consuming my energy and thoughts. At the end of each day, though, something always seemed to be missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what, so I shrugged it off and moved on.

It’s been over a decade since I’ve investigated a murder, but as soon as I set foot in the Ohio police department for my initial meeting with the lead homicide detective, I felt it again. I don’t know if it found me because I was again surrounded by patrol officers with all their creaking leather gun belts and jingling, jangling keys, or if sitting in a briefing room listening in on secret meetings allowed it to return. The cause might have been the familiar smell of Hoppes gun oil, or maybe it was the behind-the-scenes joking and kidding that’s never seen by the general public. I don’t know what brought it back into my life, but one thing was certain, it was back.

Sure, I felt comfortable inside the police department. After all, I’d been in the business for over twenty years, solving crimes and arresting bad guys. I’d ten-foured with the best of them. I knew the case I was researching was closed and that the killer had been found guilty of his crimes and was now safely tucked away in a maximum security prison. Still, I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that an important element was missing in this case, and I was going crazy trying to figure out what, or who, eluded me.

During my trip, I spent hour after hour riding in police cars, pushing my way through overgrown brush, wading through mud and water, sorting through and reading court documents, pawing through newspaper archives, examining evidence, and taking notes and photos. I also ate quick, on-the-run meals with law-enforcement officials in tiny, greasy-spoon diners.

I got very little sleep and felt really overworked. Just like the good old days. Still, lurking around in the back of my mind was the sense that something was missing. The feeling was beginning to really nag me, like a relentless mosquito that buzzes around your ear. The feeling grew worse with each passing day. Man, was it ever annoying!

By the last day of my research trip I was totally exhausted, but I sensed a fulfillment I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. I’d discovered things in the case that had never before been uncovered, and I’d found out things about the killer and the victim that the police hadn’t discovered during the initial investigation. It was exciting.

At midnight of the last night of my research trip, I was sitting in front of my laptop, transferring notes to my computer, when I finally realized what had been bothering me for so long. I knew what was missing in the case, what the mosquito was in my ear. It was me. I was the missing piece of the puzzle.

Twelve years after I left police work, and I’d just learned that I actually missed it. I missed grabbing meals on the run, working long hours, falling asleep at my desk after a marathon work session, the lonely, solitary working conditions, and tons of pressure to succeed.

After sitting and thinking for a while, missing my old police car with its seat molded to fit my rear and my suit coats with their linings torn from rubbing against the hammer on my service weapon, another stark realization hit me. All the things I missed could be found in my new life as a writer. The only real difference was that, as an investigator, I started a case with a puzzle to unravel. As a writer I begin my work with the solution and then work in reverse to develop the mystery.

After carefully weighing the two options, I think I’ll stick with the latter profession. It’s much safer. Haven’t had to dodge a single bullet since I started writing.

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Lt. Josh Moulin: Cellular Phone Evidence

Lieutenant Josh Moulin supervises the Central Point Police Department’s Technical Services Bureau and is the Commander of the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force. He is one of approximately 470 Certified Forensic Computer Examiner’s worldwide and has been trained by a variety of organizations in digital evidence forensics. Lt. Moulin has also been qualified as an expert witness in the area of computer forensics and frequently teaches law enforcement, prosecutors, and university students about digital evidence.

Beginning his public safety career in 1993, Josh started in the Fire/EMS field working an assortment of assignments including fire suppression, fire prevention, transport ambulance, and supervision. After eight years Josh left the fire service with the rank of Lieutenant and began his law enforcement career. As a Police Officer Josh has had the opportunity to work as a patrol officer, field training officer, officer in charge, arson investigator, detective, and sergeant.

For further information about the Central Point Police Department please visit, and for the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force visit To reach Lt. Moulin you can e-mail him at

Cellular Phone Evidence

When cell phones were first introduced criminals wasted no time putting them to use for their criminal enterprises. A favorite tool of drug dealers, having a cell phone eliminated the need to find the neighborhood phone booth to make all their dope calls. Law enforcement would seize these early cell phones and manually go through the information available, which at that time were a phonebook and a call log if they were lucky.

As the years went by cell phones progressed to being able to store large contact lists including phone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses and names, call logs that kept history of incoming, outgoing and missed calls, and special ring tones provided by the manufacturer. In many criminal cases investigators are interested in who the phone owner called, who called them and who their associates were. With cell phone forensics not available yet, most investigators would hand write all of the information from the phone, a slow yet effective way to get what was needed.

Speed up to 2008; cell phones are now nothing less than small personal computers. Cell phones have the ability to store contacts, call logs, music, pictures, videos, e-mails, text messages, documents, spreadsheets, ring tones and even have built-in color still and video cameras. The amount of evidence that can potentially reside in the memory of a cell phone is mind-boggling.

As cell phones continue to act more like computers, the days of the on-scene investigator “browsing” the contents of a phone is quickly coming to an end. If a police officer browses the contents of a phone in a non-forensic manner there is the potential of changing or destroying evidence, which could damage the case and certainly call the officer’s action into question in court.

With cellular phone forensic training and equipment available to law enforcement for the past few years, an investigator can send a cellular phone off to a forensic lab and generally get back a large amount of data. In our lab it is very common to recover pictures and videos taken by the cell phone, which clearly show criminal activity and can become crucial in a case. I can’t count the number of times I have examined cell phones for a narcotics case just to find pictures of the suspect possessing, manufacturing, or using drugs. I have also had several sex abuse cases where the suspect actually videotaped committing the sex crime with the cell phone.

Since there is no standard when it comes to how cell phones are manufactured, there is no “catch-all” forensic software suite or tools that will examine all phones. Forensic labs that do cell phone examinations often have several different software applications and dozens, if not hundreds of data cables to interface with all the phones on the market. Cell phone forensics is a quickly evolving field that can be expensive to stay in.

In addition to the internal phone memory, many cell phones are equipped with a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card. This SIM card, which is about the size of a postage stamp, contains information about the phone, which allows it to authenticate on the network, as well as other data. SIM cards can contain contact information, last numbers dialed, text messages, deleted text messages, and more.

Compiled with all the evidence located on the actual phone itself and a SIM card (if present), getting information from the cellular service provider can give investigators enormous insight into a case. After serving sufficient legal process on the cell provider information such as tower locations, call logs and subscriber information are made available to law enforcement. It is possible in many cases to use GPS coordinates and tower locations given by the provider to track the movements of a cell phone. In a case where police are trying to place a suspect at the scene of a crime, this can be invaluable.

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