Weekend Road Trip: Halloween Safety Tips For Kids

The Graveyard Shift wishes everyone a Happy Halloween! Please have fun, but 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 safer than bulky masks.

– Plan the route you and your children will take well in advance. Tell someone else about those plans and what time you’ll return home.

– Stick to well-lit areas.

– Attach reflective tape to costumes.

– Use fire-resistant materials in costumes.

– Carry a flashlight or glow stick, but not a lighted candle. Candles are burn hazards.

– Trick-or-treat in groups, accompanied by at least one adult.

– Attach kid’s names, address, and phone number to their clothes in case they become separated from adults.

– Teach children to exit and enter vehicles from curbside, away from traffic.

– Stay on sidewalks as much as possible, and cross at corners. Do not walk between parked cars. Always look both ways before crossing.

– Children should not eat candy while out, until an adult examines it. Candy should not show signs of improper sealing, punctures, or holes.

– Do not allow children into apartment buildings unless accompanied by an adult, and only visit homes with outside lighting.

– Residents should remove obstacles such as tools, ladders or toys from their sidewalks, porches and front yards.

– Keep lighted jack-o-lanterns away from porches or other areas where they could ignite a low-hanging costume.

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Friday’s Heroes: RememberingThe Fallen

Detention Officer Dionicio Camacho, 51

Harris County Texas Sheriff’s Department

Officer Dronicio Camacho suffered a heart attack on October 21, 2009 during defensive tactics training. He was hospitalized on life support, but passed away on October, 23, 2009. Officer Comacho leaves behind his wife and son.

Reserve Deputy Mike Wilken, 56

Ramsey County Minnesota Sheriff’s Department

On October 24, 2009, Deputy Mike Wilken was directing traffic at an annual sheriff’s office D.A.R.E. fund raiser, a Halloween haunted house, when he was struck by a car as he walked on a crosswalk. He succumbed to his injuries the following day. Deputy Wilken leaves behind his wife, two children and three siblings.

Special Agent Forrest Leamon, 37

Special Agent Chad Michael, 30

Special Agent Michael Weston, 37

United States Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration

Agents Forrest Leamon, Chad Michael, and Michael Weston were returning from an counter-narcotics mission in Afghanistan when their military helicopter crashed, killing all three agents. The military personnel on board the aircraft also died in the crash.

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Thermal Imaging: Redux By Necessity

Lately, there’s been quite a bit of constructive argument and confusion floating around the crime-writing community about thermal imaging and it’s use in law enforcement. Some have posted comments and questions regarding the legality of thermal imaging devices, such as FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared ). Others have asked how thermal imaging works. Well, there’s no better way to learn about something than to see it in action, so here we go.

First of all, what is thermal imaging, and what is it’s role in police work?

MacMillan Dictionary offers a decent, yet quite simple definition of thermal imaging – the system by which special equipment is able to record the heat that people or buildings produce, used especially by the police and the armed forces.

FLIR is a brand name (FLIR Systems) of thermal images devices. The name is sometimes used synonymously with all thermal devices, but that’s not correct. However, we’ll be discussing FLIR in this blog because it is a popular unit used by law enforcement and the military.

Night vision and thermal imaging are NOT the same. Night vision devices (the devices that illuminate the surroundings in that eerie green color) must have some degree of light in order to operate. The devices gather and then enhance and amplify the light source, which allows the user to see things more clearly. They will not function in total darkness.

Thermal imagers, such as FLIR, actually see heat (humans, animals, cars engines, ducting in homes, etc.) from miles away. FLIR does not need any light in order to “see” its target.

There are a variety of uses for FLIR, such as volcano monitoring, tracking people and animals, and even detecting energy loss in buildings (FLIR sees the escaping heat). FLIR units have been designed for use in automobiles for the purpose of detecting deer,and other wildlife that may cross the highway in the nighttime (above image).

Here’s a short video showing the basics of a thermal imager.

This video is an actual police video showing air support using FLIR to track an armed suspect. WARNING – This video ends in the suspect’s suicide. The images are all in black and white (FLIR), but it is what it is. Notice how FLIR displays the “after effects” long after the incident has terminated. Also, pay attention to the audio of the dispatcher relaying information from the helicopter crew to the officers on the ground. Dispatchers play a huge role in police work and officer safety.

*Video deleted*

Here is a video presented by a man who’s attempting to instruct indoor marijuana growers on how to effectively beat FLIR technology, which (he thinks) prevents the detection of the heat emitted from grow lamps. I hate to be the bearer of bad news for this gentleman, but law enforcement officers have numerous other methods of grow room detection available to them.  FLIR is just one of many.

I included the video above as an introduction to the last question we’ll address – the legality of FLIR.

The police may NOT use FLIR and other thermal imagers for “fishing expeditions” into private dwellings (See, the man in the marijuana video is wasting his breath. If police are using FLIR on your home they’ve already established PC. They know what you’re doing, and they’re coming for you, dummy!).

After establishing probable cause officers may obtain a search warrant for the use of FLIR devices. A search warrant is not needed to use FLIR in public places.

I don’t normally rely on Wikipedia for this blog, but this is accurate:

Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001), held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person’s home was a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant. Because the police in this case did not have a warrant, the Court reversed Kyllo’s conviction for growing marijuana.

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Security Cameras: You’ve Been Duped!

 *Images removed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Spy cams, nanny cams, granny cams, web cams, hidden cams, traffic cams, earth cams, weather cams, red light cams, pole cams, pinhole cams, hat cams, necktie cams, alarm clock cams, nut and bolt cams, soda machine cams, sign cams, fish-eye cams, security cams… They’re everywhere! Aahhhhhhhhh!!

Yep, someone is watching someone, somewhere, every single minute of the day. But were you aware that not all of those hulking metal boxes with their black, shark-eye covers are functional? Did you know that you may have been duped into thinking that you were being watched when you entered that spooky parking garage. That no one was looking when you walked down aisle 47 in the long john section of Mountain Mama’s Huntin’ and Fishin’ Emporium?

It’s true. Not all surveillance cameras are real. That’s a relief, huh? Well, not so much. Sure, there are tons of fake cameras in use all over the world, but you never know which ones are actually working and which ones are merely hollow shells.

The faux cameras are simple metal, or plastic boxes that normally contain AA, C, or D batteries. The batteries power a small red light on the front of the device. The light is there to make people think the camera is in operation.

Why do people use fake cameras? Simple. They’re cheap, and they force would-be crooks to stop and think before committing a crime.

Here are a few examples. Can you tell the difference between these cams and the real thing?

• Measures: 7 1/8 x 2 1/8 x 2 1/4″ (excluding mounting bracket).

• Operates on one “C” battery (not included). Will operate for approximately six months on one battery.

• Features authentic video cable, durable metal housing and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Price $26.00

• Flashing Red LED Light
• A Real Video Cable
• Weatherproof Aluminum Housing
• Fully Adjustable Bracket

• Measures 10 3/4″ long (rain shield extends 2 more inches) x 4″ round (excluding mounting bracket).

• Operates on 2 “AA” batteries (not included).
Price: $26.00

• This camera contains a flashing red LED light which draws extra attention to the camera particularly at night.

• Base measures 4 1/2″ across and the dome is 2 3/4″ high.

• Operates on 2 “AA” batteries (not included).
Price $16.00

*     *     *

* Since I’ve been receiving an enormous amount of response to my reviews of the TV show Castle, I thought I’d better clarify a few things (I’m receiving hundreds of emails – not all of them are pleasant – and I actually had to pay for more bandwidth on my site due to the huge volume of traffic that rolls in on Monday night/Tuesday morning after the episodes airs).

Okay, to set the record straight:

– I do the review so writers won’t make the mistake of using incorrect police procedure/forensics, and CSI in their books. Not because I dislike the show, or any of the actors, writers, or crew.

It never fails, as soon as some wacky and bizarre procedure airs on a cool TV show we’ll see it in a book a few months later. The next thing you know, an editor starts believing it because she read it in a competitor’s book, and, well, then you have tons of cordite smelling up the place.

Next, a jury member reads the goofy stuff that the editor insisted go into her client’s new bestseller. Then, along comes the acquittal of a real-life rapist because the M.E. couldn’t magically find evidence like the psychic Lanie Parrish on Castle manages to dream up. Whew, long sentence, but you get the idea.

I’m serious about this. This is how the whole CSI effect began. It’s real, and it’s not cool.

– Anyway, I actually like the show. I think Castle and Beckett are wonderful characters. Perfect for the series.

– Yes, I do realize Castle is written for entertainment. The show is fun.

– No, I don’t think Nathan Fillion is anything but male. Nor do I think Stana Katic is anything but female.

– The two supporting detectives seem like nice gentlemen. No, I don’t hate them. How could I? I’ve never met either of them.

– No, I don’t dislike the woman who plays the medical examiner. I do think her character is awful, horrible, and a terrible representation of the profession, but for goodness sake, I don’t know her personally. I’m sure she’s a fine woman. Sure, I think she should slap the person who writes her lines, but hey, she’s taking the checks to the bank every week.

– I hope the show is a success. I don’t want it to fail. Actually, I want to see my book on Castle’s office bookshelf.

– No, I’ve never written to any of the cast members to complain about their acting skills. I’m not an actor, director, drama teacher, or producer. How would I know if their methods and actions are proper?

– Lastly, if my reviews are offensive to you,  please don’t read them. They’re not going to get any better because I’m only looking for the bad stuff. Remember, I’m not writing a true review of the show. I’m pointing out incorrect procedure to help writers. That’s it. Nothing more.

But, if you still insist upon reading these weekly reviews, even if they make you ill, and you still feel the need to write me to complain that I’m being unfair to certain cast members, and that I’m ruining Nathan Fillion’s life (like he reads this blog), then I guess I need to advise you to not run with scissors, don’t poke your eyes with sticks and other sharp objects, and when it’s raining you should probably go inside.

*If anyone knows any of the Castle cast members please give them a heads up about the Writers Police Academy. I’d like to extend an invitation to them.  Here’s a preview of the event. Registration opens soon!

Writers Police Academy

Sweat Now, So Your Manuscript Doesn’t Bleed Red Ink Later

September 24-26, 2010

Guilford Technical Community College


Public Safety Training Academy

Jamestown, N.C.

Train like the pros

Bring your writing to life

Real police academy instructors

Something for all genres

Train with real police, fire, and EMS equipment

An onsite working fire station and EMS equipment

Workshops include:


FATS (Firearms Training Simulator)

Arson investigation

Homicide investigation

Crime lab training in a real crime lab

Developing prints in a fuming chamber

Impression evidence – making molds and castings



DUI Investigation

Fire department and EMS response

Jail and prison searches

(We have real jail cells on site)

Patrol cars



Handcuffing and arrest techniques

Defensive tactics

(learn striking techniques against live attackers)

Pepper spray




High-risk traffic stops

Building entry and searches

Police tools and equipment

(Touch, feel, hold, see, and wear actual police equipment)

Accident reconstruction

Evidence collection and preservation

Writing realistic fight scenes

Undercover operations

Concealed weapons

(See how the experts conceal their firearms)

Live demos by local police agencies

And much, much more…!

We are constantly adding workshops based on your requests.

Keynote Speaker

Jeffery Deaver

With special guest

NYC Medical Examiner Jonathan Hayes


(online soon!)

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