Sheriffs: Who Needs ‘Em?

Yesterday my email box was flooded with questions about sheriff’s offices. Why the sudden interest? I haven’t a clue, but the questions were mostly related to sheriff’s offices in Alaska and how they operate. The answers to those questions are quite simple, because there are no sheriff’s offices in Alaska. In fact, two other states, Hawaii and Connecticut, also function without a sheriff at the helm of county law enforcement.

Alaska doesn’t have sheriff’s offices because the state doesn’t have county governments.

King Cove Alaska Police Department

Connecticut simply grew weary of its county sheriffs and changed the state constitution, eliminating the office entirely. In its place they established a state marshal system, which basically serves the same function, but without a sheriff at the top of the chain. Now, instead of having an elected official in charge (county government has no control over an elected official) the department is run by the State Marshal Commission. The commission also hires and fires all marshals.

What are the qualifications to be a Connecticut State Marshal? Here’s what the commission says:

Marshals must be an elector in the county where the vacancy exists, speak/write/read English, have resided in Connecticut at least one year, be 21 years old, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, be free of any mental or emotional disorder that may adversely affect performance, be of good moral character, hold a valid Connecticut drivers license, not be convicted of a felony, not be convicted of certain misdemeanors within five years prior to appointment, pass a written exam, complete required training, provide a $10,000 bond, and provide evidence of personal liability insurance.

How much does a state marshal earn? Well, according to one news report (, John T. Fiorillo, a state marshal, earned more than ten times the salary of the state’s governor. In fact, Fiorillo raked in over two-million dollars serving foreclosure papers (for private firms) to people losing their homes during the economic downturn.

Wow, this system sounds much better than having a sheriff’s office…

And, then there’s Hawaii, another state without sheriffs, but they still employee deputy sheriffs who serve in the Sheriff’s Division of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

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Paul Beecroft: Extract From An English Notebook

My friend, Paul Beecroft, has spent a good deal of his life in law enforcement, in England. He’s worked Foot Patrol, Area Car, Instant Response Car and also as a Police Motorcyclist. He’s currently a coroner’s investigator and has traveled all over England, Wales, Scotland and even Germany to investigate crimes.

Paul is an avid falconer, and he’s a pretty darn good writer. Today he’s taken another page from one of his own notebooks to share with us. Please enjoy.


Frost covers the land

Minus 6

7.15 am

Christmas Day


8 – 4 shift

De-ice the windscreen

Travel to work

Roads empty

Ice covered


Arrive at Station

No one else

Skeleton staff

No pending jobs

Merry Christmas from Control Room Staff

Police vehicle

Travel home

Live on area

Hot coffee

Cooked breakfast

Open presents

Excited kids

10.15 am

“Echo Charlie One One over”

“Go ahead over”

“Sorry about this, can you attend Kings Hill, one vehicle T.A. (Traffic Accident), car overturned, not known if injury”.

“Yes on my way over”.

Roads still bad, very icy

Very little traffic as I make my way

Headlamp flash from oncoming car

A warning of something ahead.

Car sideways across road

Two occupants, standing to the side of it.

Husband and wife on their way to see relatives

Not injured but very shaken

“What happened?”

“We came over the brow back there”

“The car just went sideways and we just started rolling over and over”.

“Since we have been here other cars have lost control, it’s the ice”.

“You sure you are both okay”

“Yes, yes, just a bit shaken up”.

“I can well imagine you are”.

“Let me call this in and then get some help”.

“Echo Charlie One One over”

“Go ahead over”.

“Yes, first of all can you call the Council, I need the road gritting urgently”

“Yes understood”

“Secondly, can you call the relatives of…………………….







Over and over

Closer and closer


Slow motion



Husband and Wife


Final roll

On its wheels


No more than six inches from the front of my car

Exactly where we had been standing

Two occupants

Another married couple


Presents scattered all around inside the car

Wrench open a door

“Everyone OK?”

“I think so”

“Stay here, I will be back in a minute”

Police car

Drive to brow of hill

Park in middle of road

Blue light on

Traffic should slow now

Return to crashed vehicles

Control Room informed of situation.

Both couples chatting

No one killed

No one injured


Both cars scratched and dented

Both driveable

They are ready to leave

Warned re possible shock setting in and to look after each other

“Thanks Officer and Merry Christmas”

“And to you”

Now alone

Waiting for the Gritter

God it’s cold………..but thank you.

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from The Graveyard Shift!

* We’re visiting family during the holidays. We’ll return on Monday, December 28, 2009.

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A Cop’s Christmas Eve: Page 250 Of My Spiral Notebooks

Candies, cakes, and eggnog.

Turkey, ham, and stuffing.

Pumpkin pie

My favorite.

Family, friends, and sleeping dog on hearth.

Fireplace crackles

Cedar logs sizzle.

Cookies and milk.

Laughter, giggles, and squeals.

Stockings, gifts, and dreams.


Wish I was there.

Pepper spray, handcuffs, and puking drunks.

Radios, shotguns, and Tasers.

Spouses abused

Not their fault.

Dealers, robbers, and sad, pitiful kids.

Crack pipes burning.

No place to sleep.

No food, no heat.

Crying, bleeding, and dying.

Ambulances, hospitals, and morgues.


Glad I have one.

Aren’t you?

*Please remember the many police officers, firemen, rescue workers, and all others who work to keep us safe during the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

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Jonathan Hayes: My Life In Blood

Jonathan Hayes ( is a senior forensic pathologist in the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, and author of PRECIOUS BLOOD (Harper 2007) and A HARD DEATH (Harper, 2009). Jonathan is also a special guest speaker for the 2010 Writers Police Academy.

(Warning! Graphic images below)

My life In Blood
I was never squeamish. I remember, as a child, feeling contempt for the delicacy of a family friend who got woozy at the sight of blood (and my delight when she was somehow persuaded to stuff the Christmas turkey, slipped a hand into the body cavity and promptly fainted).

But I wasn’t particularly drawn to the bloody or grotesque, either, so it’s odd to think that I’ve now devoted 20 years of my life to investigating violent death as a forensic pathologist in New York City and Florida.

On my first day at St Thomas’s Medical School in London, we kicked off with dissection; I remember my excitement at the prospect of cutting a real human body. Ultimately, though, it was a bit anticlimactic. They prepare bodies for dissection by embalming them with formaldehyde solution; this stops decay during the 10 weeks or so it takes to formally dissect an arm or a leg. Embalming leaches blood from the body, the formalin stiffening the tissues and fading them dull grey. We dissected with bare hands, the raw smell of formalin searing our nostrils, our fingers slippery with subcutaneous fat. After the first couple of incisions, I knew I’d be OK: the mud grey flesh seemed something other than human; the inert, rubbery tissue something other than real.

It wasn’t until we started surgery that I had my first encounters with real blood. Bright operating theatre lights washed the skin white, blanching the thin ribbon of blood that tracked the scalpel across the skin almost to blue. The wound filled with blood, which was quickly wiped with gauze or staunched by the registrar. Deeper in the body, we exposed larger vessels and saw the subtle pulsing of an intact artery, the thin, rhythmic spurt of something cut. I began in vascular surgery, where there were sometimes geysers of blood; after one long operation, I removed my boots to find each filled with a pint or so of blood clot. I suddenly understood why everyone else had worn their scrub trousers on the outsides of their boots, instead of tucking them in as I had.

After medical school, I moved to the US and trained in pathology. Pathologists make diagnoses by examining specimens taken from patients – a blood smear, for example, or a biopsy of a peculiar mole. I found it incredibly dull, and began to hang out with the medical examiners, who shared our building. Don’t get me wrong: surgical pathology is vitally important, highly skilled work that is intellectually demanding. But with medical examiner cases, to borrow an expression from Damon Runyon, “a story goes with it”. And I loved forensics immediately.

I flew down to Miami, then the best medical examiner’s office in the country, to apply for a training position. The chief, Joe Davis, drove me through the city in his big maroon Cadillac. He was an exceptional tour guide, a connoisseur of the city’s mayhem, quick to point out the site of a decapitation here or a bombing there. We ate lunch in a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana. Dr Davis slid the menu across the glass-topped table to me and uttered some of the truest words I’ve ever heard: “Jonathan, the Cubans have a way with pork…”

That year, in the medical examiner’s autopsy room in Miami, in the city’s homes and streets, its construction sites and strip malls, its vacant lots and canals, I got an education in how we live, as seen through the fish-eye lens of how we die. It was hallucinatory and intense. Catapulted out of the placid gentility of life in Boston, I suddenly found myself squatting over a mangled body, explaining to sweaty cops that the victim had been hacked to death with a machete, not hit by a truck, as they were claiming.

Becoming a forensic pathologist felt like stepping into a role on a TV show. I don’t know whether detectives talk like detectives because that’s how they talk, or because they’ve learnt from TV how detectives talk. Expectations for the role of “forensic pathologist” are not as clearly sketched out; I made it up as I went along. The identity I forged was much influenced by the fact that I was English – immigrants to the US bring an intensely romantic notion of what America is, and I was no exception. I moved to Miami Beach, then still a fairly seedy, gay-leaning Art Deco neighbourhood. I ate Cuban food, and briefly dated a Cuban aerobics instructor. I bought a small black car, and had a ridiculously huge bass speaker installed in the boot (this was, after all, the era of the Miami bass sound).

It was an absurd life. I’d find myself driving home at 4am after examining a body dumped out in the swamps of the Everglades, flashing my badge at the highway toll booth as my tiny car boomed out Maggotron’s “The Bass That Ate Miami”. Then over the causeway, into Miami Beach, where blonde models in bikinis rollerbladed down Ocean Drive in the moonlight and the neon, high on cocaine. Even as I lived it, my life felt unreal.

My work, on the other hand, was all too real. The city had one of the highest homicide rates in the country, as the cocaine wars ended and the crack epidemic began. Cocaine poured into the country through Miami; we saw many cocaine mules, poor South Americans who’d swallow over a hundred packets of cocaine then board a flight to the US, only to die in some downtown fleapit when a packet ruptured inside them. The other factor Miamians blamed for the killings was the Mariel Boatlift, when Fidel Castro opened the jails of his country and encouraged their inhabitants to start a new life in the US. (Brian De Palma’s 1983 film Scarface follows the adventures of the fictional Tony Montana, who became a cocaine dealer in Miami after leaving Cuba on the boat from Mariel harbour).

For someone coming up in the field, it was an amazing experience. I was young then, and the whole thing – crime scenes, murder, the autopsy room, working with the cops, testifying in court – had a delirious sense of Hollywood adventure. I was emotionally detached from the work, which is critical: you can’t let yourself get busted up by every death you investigate. My work felt like watching a film. I think people watch violent movies to see their nightmares play out, and then to walk away from them unscathed. You don’t just watch a slasher film, you survive it.

Forensic pathologists are gate-keepers of death, chronicling the human experience from a highly specialised perspective. For a long time I thought of death as something that happened to other people – it seemed like that should be part of the bargain. When a prominent medical examiner in his fifties was found dead beside his microscope, it seemed wrong to me, like some kind of cosmic misfire. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that I finally realised I’d been mistaken all along – death wasn’t an abstraction, and no one in my line of work gets left unscathed.

But that’s another story. At the start, everything I was doing and seeing fascinated me, and one of the most fascinating discoveries of all was the central role blood played in medicolegal death investigation.

Blood is at the heart of existence. Jewish belief, for example, holds that the soul of an animal resides in its blood, so birds and animals to be consumed by an observant Jew must have their throats cut and their blood drained. I don’t think that belief extends to humans, but as part of honouring the dead, Jewish lore rejects any interference with the body after death. Autopsy is prohibited, as it is by Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, the Amish and the Hmong, among other groups.

In New York, when an observant Jew is murdered, we still need to do an autopsy, but we modify our procedure. The body is placed in a body bag, so that all blood and tissue remain together. I’ll usually have a rabbi by my side, blotting up every drop of blood I spill. When I finish, the rabbi gathers all my scalpel blades and the blood-stained paper towels, and puts them into the bag so the body can be buried in as intact a state as possible. Similarly, after a bombing in Israel, you’ll see men in day-glo yellow vests combing through the wreckage, gathering limbs and tissue fragments and wiping up blood; these are the ZAKA, whose mission is to assist in identification and recovery. I’ve heard that when a member of one of New York’s Orthodox Jewish sects (the Satmar and the Lubavitchers) is murdered on the street, their friends descend on the site with pick-axes to collect the blood-stained concrete; I’ve not seen that myself.

In Israel, a ZAKA operative wipes blood after an attack

Blood is every bit as important in many other religions, particularly Christianity. That Christ was killed and died bloodily was critically meaningful to early Christians, both because it proved his suffering and his humanity, and because his blood washed away the sins of man.

A Durer portrait of Christ suffering

Medieval depictions of the death of Christ are often enthusiastically gory, some showing angels gathering with golden chalices to catch the sprays of blood spurting from his wounds; and drinking the blood of Christ in Communion provides an ecstatic bond with God.

A Cranach crucifixion – Christ’s blood anointing the faithful

Spilling one’s own blood remains popular among the faithful; some devout Filipinos have themselves crucified on Good Friday, with real nails driven through their palms, and on the Day of Ashura, some Shia Muslims beat and cut themselves until the blood flows freely (other modern Shia have moved away from the spectacle, channeling their sacrifice instead into blood donation).

A devout Filipino being crucified on Good Friday

Shi’a Muslims marking the Day of Ashura; others sacrifice by donating blood

Animal sacrifice is still surprisingly common in parts of the US, particularly where there’s a strong Latin or Afro-Caribbean community. In Miami, there’s plenty of santeria – Christian symbolism grafted onto pagan spiritualism to create powerful magic; less commonly, we’d see traces of palo mayombe – santeria’s dark twin. While santeros, the priests of santeria, sacrifice chickens, the palero uses human blood and bones for black magic. At some murder scenes (frequently involving drug dealers, who out of personal belief or a desire to intimidate are fond of palo), we’d find an nganga, an iron cauldron packed with rotting blood, bone and other symbolic objects – big iron nails, copper pennies etc, the specific elements indicating the cauldron’s particular spell. In New York, I once examined a bucket containing an enormous donkey penis with fistfuls of maraschino cherries and pennies; I don’t know if it was santeria, palo or just someone freestyling, but it certainly made an impression on the cops.

An nganga, a cauldron filled with mystically significant metal, wood and leather objects, and blood, and, here, a human skull. For practitioners of palo mayombe, the dark form of the syncretic Caribbean religion of santeria, the nganga is the ritual equivalent of an altar.

Technicians clean up an nganga discovered in New York City, ritual markings on the wall. In Miami, when we encountered santeria or brujeria (palo) artefacts, the cops would scoff at them, but most would refuse to touch them.

In the carnage of a violent crime scene, it’s easy to lose sight of just how perfect a fluid blood is. It is more viscous than water; a blood droplet has an invisible skin created by its surface tension, and falls through the air just like a drop of water, which is to say as a perfect sphere – the teardrop shape artists use to depict rain is wrong.

A skilled forensic scientist reads the blood spatter around a murder victim as if the droplets were word bubbles floating above a comic strip head. Shape and size are critical: blood falling vertically onto a smooth surface leaves a circular dot, but with uneven surfaces, the shape is a sunburst, little spikes of blood splashing away from the centre. If the bleeding person is running, the bloodstains have an elongated shape, like teardrops pointing in the direction of movement. From the drop’s proportions, criminalists can calculate the angle at which it struck; strings or lasers are used to recreate droplet trajectories; and if there are enough drops, the point of origin of the blood spray can be identified.

In practice, you can usually get a rough sense of how the assault unfolded based on quick pattern recognition – the groupings of the droplets, their location, their height above the floor, and so on. Blood from a severed artery creates a distinctive pattern of rivulets on a surface, while pale ghost outlines may reflect someone standing between the victim and the wall, absorbing spatter.

There is, of course, a learning curve. At one of my first murder scenes, the victim, whose throat had been cut, lay stretched in front of the TV. I knelt to examine the body and within seconds my legs were soaked with blood hidden in the dark carpet. I also quickly learnt to look up when entering a bloody death scene. In a stabbing or beating, blood from the weapon can be flicked up onto the ceiling (this is particularly common with hammers, which have considerable angular velocity). Gunshot wounds spray out a superfine mist of blood; if the victim is close enough to the gun, blood can be recovered from the barrel, which makes it extremely useful in this age of DNA. The Holy Grail of crime scene evidence is the killer’s fingerprint in the victim’s blood.

Visually, murder scenes are often extremely dramatic – police always overestimate the amount of blood at a scene because even a small amount (a cupful, say), spilled over bathroom tiles, makes the place look like a slaughterhouse. We learn in childhood to associate bleeding with injury and pain; it’s said that merely looking at the colour red makes the heart beat faster.

Bloody crime scenes play well on the big screen, upping the stakes by underscoring the reality of the violence. In movie and TV murders, I’m usually struck by how “off” the blood is: blood is a dynamic material, changing over time in colour and consistency, from the electric crimson sheen of fresh blood, through glossy purple-maroon clot, to the flaking brown of dried blood. At night, blood looks darker: one of the things I loved about the vampires-in-Alaska movie 30 Days of Night was the oily brown/black colour of the blood at night. On Dexter, a show about a serial killer who’s a police blood spatter analyst, they usually get the colour right, but screw up the spatter patterns.

Criminalists are often derisive about forensics in movies and TV, but I like it. Shows like CSI Miami aren’t meant to be forensic science: they’re forensic science fiction, distilling the coolest parts of criminalistics to their coolest essence. That said, I like crime fiction to be accurate; after you’ve seen a killer’s pathetic attempt to write in his victim’s blood at a crime scene, you just can’t accept a book where the psycho covers the walls with vast screeds in blood. In my own novels, first in Precious Blood and now in A Hard Death, I write about extreme events, but always ground them in real forensic science; I need to believe the stories, my own included.

This has led to peculiar situations. I had to convince my editor that it can take a long time to kill someone with a knife – humans are surprisingly unfragile. In one serial killer case in which I was involved, the murderer used to leave after strangling his victims until they stopped moving. Movie and TV strangulations last just a few seconds, but in real life a fatal strangulation takes a long time: with my case, the killer was caught when two of his victims regained consciousness after he’d left, and described him to the cops. No matter how it looks in the movies, strangling people is hard work.

We give supernatural films free rein with realism. I like vampire movies because they conflate notions of blood and sex – vampires are dead, but are animated by drinking the blood of the living (at one time exclusively the blood of virgins, but as with many religious traditions, prey criteria have relaxed considerably). Vampire feeding is pure sexual metaphor: it’s all about the penetration. In True Blood, there’s no pretence at separating vampires and sex: we want them to get naked and shag, we want them to get naked and drink blood. And they oblige with abandon – True Blood is refreshing in part because it revels openly in its sex and blood, spraying it all over the place with orgasmic glee. (Last year I had dinner with Charlaine Harris, who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse books on which HBO’s True Blood is based; a lovely Southern lady, Charlaine seems both a little shocked and quite delighted with the way Alan Ball, the series creator, infuses explicit sex into her work.)

The first Twilight movie saw the vampire not just neutered, but sitting in the corner cordoned off behind plastic safety cones. With the pallor and smouldering glances of a Twenties matinée idol, Edward Cullen is the ultimate adolescent romantic hero: soulful, tortured and chaste. No wonder he’s tortured. His relationship with Bella must never be consummated: she must not touch him, and he must not drink her blood, or he will lose control. The relationship is all about satisfaction infinitely delayed, a teenage liebestod to a girly indie rock soundtrack. And just as there’s no sex in Twilight, there’s almost no blood: Edward keeps his fangs in his mouth, and his tadger firmly in his pants. The highlight comes when he finally reveals his true form to Bella; he is golden and glittering, with the appearance, and sexual threat, of a My Little Pony.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be seeing Twilight: New Moon. I’m a sucker for doomed romance. Besides, I gather that in New Moon, the focus shifts to werewolves; you’d think that with werewolves (the cognitive opposite of vampires – no broody struggle against one’s killer instinct, just pure unleashed primal urge), there’d be a lot more blood. But then, as I said, I’ve never been squeamish.

*     *     *

Writers’ Police Academy

Jonathan Hayes is a special guest speaker for the Writers’ Police Academy.

Registration is open and I’m pleased with the number of people who’re taking advantage of the low early registration rate. Please, please, please book your hotel room early. Space is limited. The hotel will not bill your card until check in.

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Castle: Vampire Weekend and The Sing Off

This week’s episode was another repeat. I can’t say I was disappointed because the break allowed me to watch the final show of The Sing Off. Did you guys watch this? It was great! A capella groups competed for a top prize of $100,000 and a Sony recording contract. It was amazing to hear what these singers could do with their voices alone, without using a single musical instrument! The videos below are of the two finalists, Nota and The Beelzebubs. The overall winner of the competition was Nota. Remember, no musical instruments.

Okay, on with Castle…

This week’s episode was yet another repeat…

Goodness, where do I start with this fiasco titled Vampire Weekend? It’s always best to begin with something positive, so I’ll say this…I’m positive this was absolutely the worst episode of Castle that’s aired so far. Honestly, it was painful to watch.

I was optimistic about the show this week, because last week’s episode was just so darn good. I’m guessing the difference is in the writing. Well, that and you know who (the M.E.) was back. That woman single-handedly destroyed this episode. What a freakin’ train wreck! But in all fairness, she’s not writing her own lines. However, the M.E. last week was really good and I doubt he was doing improv.

Thankfully, I have a ruptured disc in my lower back and the pain medication prescribed by my doctor helped me sit through what I can only describe as garbage TV.

Nathan Fillion was great, as always. And Stana Katic (Beckett) just gets better and better. Her portrayal of a tough as nails cop is well-played. She also cleans up quite nicely. And she can be funny as well. Fillion’s charm and wit along with the great chemistry between him and Beckett are the only things keeping this series from sinking to the bottom of the septic tank.

Let’s take this one step at a time, starting with a comment made by Beckett as she and Castle walked through a cemetery heading to the first murder scene. She said that Halloween week is one of the worst weeks for cops. That statement was on the money. Halloween does seem to bring out the real crazies, like the people who raid graves searching for souvenirs (yep, I once worked a case where that happened). Of course, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Flag Day, Father’s Day, National Bird Day, Bean Day, and Fruitcake Toss Day all have their own special crazies.

And speaking of crazies, let’s get it over with. Enter the medical examiner. Shoot me now…please.

The pathologist is seen sitting beside the dead body of a young man. A wooden stake had been driven through his heart. M.E. Parrish is taking notes and says to Beckett, “Looks like he struggled.” How did she know this? Were there defensive wounds/splinters in his hands? Did he look tired? Worn out? Did he have that “freshly struggled” look on his face?

– Her next words of wisdom were, “He was hit on the head before he was stabbed.” Again, how would she know this prior to autopsy?

– She found hair on the body and said it was synthetic, and came from a wig. There’s no way she could know this without lab testing, which, by the way, the M.E. doesn’t do in the morgue. That’s a job for scientists and techs in another department, or maybe even another facility. And she certainly wouldn’t know the results of that testing so soon. Of course, she could offer her opinion, but this woman has super-forensic powers and doesn’t need scientific testing equipment.

– Parrish says the victim had two avulsions (flesh that’s torn away) near the femoral arteries. Later she says they were puncture wounds. The wounds were inflicted by an admitted female vampire who was merely drinking blood from the victim prior to his death (this was a consensual act and had nothing to do with the murder) caused the wounds by drinking/sucking blood. Therefore, I’d assume the wounds were punctures, not true avulsions. After all, she wasn’t eating the flesh.

– Parrish says that in order to break the ribcage with the wooden stake the killer would have had to use a rock to drive it in. Why not a hammer, or something similar? Why would it have to be a rock?

– Beckett tells the M.E. to “run” the stake for prints. Without a doubt, the M.E. would send the stake out for  examination. The police would want it tested for many things, such as prints, DNA, and trace. But medical examiners don’t generally fingerprint items themselves as we’ve seen this one do in the past. Apparently she runs a one-stop operation. Besides, Beckett isn’t her boss.

– I have to give credit where credit is due. Detective Kevin Ryan, played by Seamus Dever, gets better every week. He’s actually beginning to act and sound like a real cop. His partner, Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) is also rising above rookie status. I noticed his sidearm, badge, spare magazines, and handcuffs were positioned properly this week.

-Beckett enters a dark room to search for a suspect. She holds her flashlight against her gun, in front of her body. This is not something that’s normally taught during police training. Close, but not quite. The manner in which Beckett held the light made her a target if the suspect had been armed and fired at the light source.

– A crazed suspect jumps on Castle, attacking him. Beckett, along with Larry and Curly, danced around the struggling duo while aiming their semi-autos at the pair of fighters. Real cops would have pounced on that guy. He’d have been cuffed and stuffed before you could say, “The medical examiner character is awful.”

– A mentally ill suspect (the man who jumped Castle) is in a holding cell. The M.E. walks out of the cell area and offers a diagnosis of the man’s condition – his mental condition! So, not only is she the M.E. and psychic forensic evidence dreamer-upper, now she’s a shrink.

– But wait, it gets better. She treats Castle’s wounds (he was bitten during the scuffle with the mentally ill guy) with an antibacterial something or other. In real life he’d have been transported to a hospital. Bite wounds are pretty dangerous. Besides, how many pathologists do you see treating live patients?

– Was I seeing things, or was the psychologist on the show played by the Jack, the UPS driver from Mad TV?

– The M.E. examines the dead werewolf guy. She says he was killed by a round from a 9mm. Again, she couldn’t known this without firearms testing. She also said the wolfman’s hair was synthetic and had been glued to his body with spirit gum. More psychic babble.

– She pinpointed a victim’s death to within two hours of another victim’s murder that had happened a few days before. She made her determination based on lividity, which becomes fixed after a while, deterioration of the body, and the smell of spoiled Thai food in the room. She figured all this out before any testing, while still at the crime scene. She also said the victim had been killed during the day. To verify her diagnosis, the victim’s watch had stopped at 4:00 on Oct. 27. I’ve investigated many homicides in my day, and not once has the victim’s watch ever stopped at the exact time of death.

– Beckett questions, no, she interrogates a murder suspect with his attorney sitting beside him. This would never happen. No attorney worth his retainer fee would ever allow his client to speak with the police unless some sort of deal/protection was in place.

– Castle walks the female killer through a section of holding cells that contains male prisoners. No way.

Finally, the best part of the show appeared on screen, the end.

Oh, Beckett’s costume was funny – the little puppet that popped out when she opened her coat.

ABC photos

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