Archive for February, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Weekend Road Trip: Birds Eye View Of San Jose, Ca.

The world looks different when seen from the rooftops. Here’s a view of San Jose, Ca. while standing on a downtown rooftop near the airport. Geez…the things I do for a photo…

Just for fun, here’s a little squirrel enjoying the ocean view in Santa Barbara.

PostHeaderIcon Prisoner Face Smashing: A New, Fun Sport For Guards?

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Sure, prison inmates have done wrong. They’ve chosen to break the law and to go against the grain of society. Many of them have done things that are simply too reprehensible for words. There’s no doubt that each of them should be punished. But there are men and women in prisons and jails throughout the country who, while serving their time (which is the prescribed punishment for their crimes), claim abuse at the hands of the officers who stand watch over them.

Prison is not a nice place, not by any means. It’s a dangerous place in a world all its own. That world behind the bars, the looping miles of razor wire, and thick concrete is reminiscent of the Mad Max  movies where society has been stripped of all things civil, leaving citizens to fend for themselves using whatever means is available. In fact, some prison life brings to mind the old film Escape From New York where an entire geographical section of New York (Manhattan) is walled off for use as a prison, the most dangerous prison in the world. There are no guards. Food is air dropped in every so often, and the prisoners there, too, exist through whatever means available. It’s all very primitive, and abuse is rampant. But could a place like that exist in our present-day culture?

Well, according to an article in the Omaha World Herald, prison guards at the Nebraska State Prison have been making a sport of beating up inmates and then posting details of their deeds on Facebook. Corrections Officer Caleb Bartels wrote on his FB page, “”When you work in a prison a good day is getting to smash an inmate’s face into the ground. … for me today was a VERY good day,” Derek Dickey, one of Bartels coworkers replied, “”very satisfying isnt it!!!”

While abusing people is definitely not the policy of any corrections facility or law enforcement agency anywhere, it’s obvious this type behavior does occur. The question is why? What do people get out of physically abusing and torturing another human being, even if that person is an inmate in a prison? Does that make it right?

Many of the inmates in jails and prisons are the same people who once lived in normal neighborhoods alongside normal, everyday people. They worked in the same jobs, their kids went to the same schools, and they went to the same meetings and shopped in the same stores as everyone else in the community. The difference between the arrested lawbreakers and many other people – they got caught cheating on their taxes, or smoking marijuana. Of course, I’m not speaking of violent criminals. They’re not the normal neighbors by any means. But what about the criminals who had a substance abuse or other mental health issue that totally clouded their judgment. Again, sure they did wrong, but does that give prison guards the right to beat them and abuse them for entertainment? And what does it say about the abusers who enjoy this behavior so much that they shout it to the world? What’s fun about beating people and slamming their faces into the ground?

What are your thoughts? Should the corrections officers involved in the Facebook posting be disciplined? Fired? Hailed as heroes for giving the lowlifes what they deserve?

The local paper reports that the three officers involved were suspended pending an investigations. However, prison officials caution the public about the possibility of counterfeit posting on sites such as Facebook. They’re sort of standing by the guards for now, it seems.

– Last year, a Nebraska State Trooper was dismissed after it was learned he was a member of the KKK and had shared his support for the group’s beliefs on the Ku Klux Klan website. The state Supreme Court upheld the trooper’s dismissal.

PostHeaderIcon How Many Cops Does It Take To Make You Safe?

The crime rate in Notsosafe County is up. Houses are broken into on a regular basis. Assaults are on the rise. There’ve been two murders already this year and it’s only February. Citizens flock to the next county government meeting. Frank Neverhappy stands up and shouts, “We never see a police car in our neighborhood. Why not? I’ll bet they’re all down at Billy Lee’s Donut Shop drinking coffee all night!” Mrs. Johannah, a lady from a neighborhood that’s suddenly experienced an increase in vandalism and gang activity chimes in, “Hire more cops. What’re you doing with my tax money, anyway? Use it to make us safe.”

Well, Mrs. Johannah, it’s not quite that easy, especially for sheriff’s offices. Notsosafe County, like all counties across the country operate on a budget, and that budget is dictated by the local community and their tax base. In most areas, nearly 50% of that budget is for fire and safety, which translates to about 2.5 officers per 1,000 citizens. Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s one police officer per 500 people. No, that figure normally includes non-sworn personnel, such as dispatchers and other necessary support staff.

Even if the numbers allowed one officer per 500 citizens, that’s still quite a one-sided deal – advantage toward the citizen. Of course, not all of those 500 people are law-breakers, but these figures do not include out-of-towners who ride in after dark to create havoc in the normally sleepy communities of NotSoSafe County. Each time a little town holds an event like the annual Left Shoe Festival, thousands of people flock to the town to partake in the festivities, all wearing left shoes and sappy grins on their faces. But, the moment they start drinking and partying, the resulting problems belong to the 2.5 officer per 1,000 citizen police department. Now the odds are really stacked against the officers. In addition to keeping the Johannahs and Neverhappys safe, the officers must now devote much of their time corralling a bunch of drunks, who often do unmentionable things to good folks and their property.

So, with ShoeFest in town, the numbers rise to a figure more like 2.5 officers per four or five thousand shoe-crazed people. And, the number of law-breakers per thousand has also greatly increased.

Police administrators have had to become a little more creative in these tough economic times. Budgets have remained stagnate for 10 years, or more, in many places, yet costs and crime steadily rise. Some departments, in an effort to save on fuel costs, are requiring their patrol officers to park their cars for 30 minutes each shift. Others are cutting police positions. I just heard from a chief of police who is facing the difficult decision of cutting several police officers from his payroll. The sheriff in the same county has already dismissed 60 deputies within the past six months.

So, Mrs. Johannah and Mr. Neverhappy, unless you can dig into your bank accounts to help out, I’m afraid you’re stuck with half a cop to patrol your section of of the county. I suggest you buy a dog. I also suggest you be a little more lenient in your criticism of local law enforcement. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got, which ain’t much…

To give some idea of the number of police officers per population in Florida (2008 numbers):

South Daytona – Population 13,690……..Police officers 25

Daytona Beach – Population 63,642….Police Officers 241

Lake Helen – Population 2,742…..Police Officers 8

Volusia Sheriff – Population 498,036…..Police Officers 450

Remember, the number of officers must be divided by at least four to cover all shifts. This does not take into account the number of officers assigned to specialized divisions, such as detective, narcotics, SWAT, training, etc. The number of patrol officers on the street is actually much smaller per population than these figures reflect.

*     *     *

Writers Police Academy

* FYI – If you have chance , please stop by Murderati. Cornelia Read invited me over there to grill me about the Writers’ Police Academy.

* Important Notice – We are very, very close to reaching capacity for the FATS training. So close, I can actually see the last seat in the class. Please register now to reserve your spot!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Writing Contest is now open!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Contest Award winner will receive The Silver Bullet Award, free Writers’ Police Academy registration ($235 value), and have the opportunity to submit their entire manuscript to one of the judges (to be determined later based upon the genre and work itself). Additional prizes forthcoming. Here’s your chance to get your work in front of top agents and publishers! The contest is open to the general public and writers from all genres, not just academy registrants and mystery writers!

Please visit the Writers’ Police Academy website for details. www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Contest judges are:

Annette Rogers, Acquisitions Editor of the Poisoned Pen Press, searches for new, unpublished mystery writers. Recent successes include Carolyn Wall SWEEPING UP GLASS, Jeffrey Siger MURDER ON MYKONOS, and Edward Ifkovic LONE STAR. In addition she evaluates and edits manuscripts, corresponds with writers and agents, and fends off Facebook friend requests. Rogers published a bestselling travel book on EGYPT-translated into six languages, wrote for O, The Oprah Magazine, and covered court hearings on the Mormon Bomber case for Time/Life. She has a Masters Degree in History and English. www.poisonedpenpress.com

Benjamin LeRoy is a founder of Tyrus Books-a publisher specializing in crime and dark literary fiction. Before starting Tyrus in July of 2009, he founded and ran Bleak House Books. He lives in Madison, WI where he works on his own writing and is endlessly fascinated with the history of baseball. www.tyrusbooks.com

Elizabeth Pomada worked at David McKay, Holt Rinehart & Winston, and the Dial Press in New York City before moving to San Francisco in 1970 with her partner and husband, Michael Larsen. Together, they started Michael Larsen – Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Since then, they have sold books from hundreds of authors to more than 100 publishers. Elizabeth is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives, The Author’s Guild, ASJA, WNBA and co-founder with Michael of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing for Change conference. www.larsen-pomada.com

Kimberley Cameron began her literary career as an agent trainee at the Marjel de Lauer Agency in association with Jay Garon in New York. She worked for several years at MGM developing books for motion pictures. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. Among its clients have been Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Henry Miller. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and Reece Halsey Paris in 2006. Her associate Elizabeth Evans opened Reece Halsey New York in 2008, and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. www.kimberleycameron.com

PostHeaderIcon Police News

Providence, Rhode Island – Detective Robert DeCarlo has been charged with assaulting a handcuffed suspect. A surveillance video shows the detective dragging the man from beneath a parked car and then kicking him and beating him in the head with a police flashlight.

New Orleans – A former New Orleans police lieutenant is preparing to enter a guilty plea for his involvement in a shooting death that occurred during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Scottsdale, Arizona – Officer James Peters recently shot a sixth person in his brief ten-year career, something most officers never face even once. Five out of the six were killed. They were: A man who reportedly attacked the officer with a pipe, a lawyer who was walking/pacing in a canal holding a shotgun, a gunman who held a hostage, and a man involved in a domestic dispute. The sixth shooting, last week, involved a man who Peters says tried to hit him with a moving car. Peters was cleared of any wrong doing in the first four shootings, but the police department reached an out of court settlement with the family of the fourth shooting victim. In that incident, Peters and other officers were preparing to enter a residence (a SWAT entry), so they cut the power to the house. When the homeowner came outside to investigate the trouble, he was carrying a weapon. Peters then shot him dead. The sixth shooting by Peters is still under investigation by the local police department.

Dallas, Texas – The family of Officer Victor Lozada-Tirado, the officer who was killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is now suing Clinton. At the time of the accident, Secretary of State Clinton was a presidential candidate and was traveling in a motorcade during her campaign. Officer Lozada-Tirado struck a curb with his motorcycle and died in the accident. The lawsuit claims Clinton did not give ample notice for motorcycle assistance.

Salem, Oregon – Zachary Leone has been arrested for blowing up an unwanted tree on his property. Neighbors complained about a loud explosion and called police to investigate. They found Leone in possession of an improvised explosive device made from illegal fireworks that he used to remove the tree from its spot in the earth. They also found a second device inside the man’s home.


*     *     *

Writers Police Academy

* FYI – If you have chance , please stop by Murderati. Cornelia Read invited me over there to grill me about the Writers’ Police Academy.

* Important Notice – We are very, very close to reaching capacity for the FATS training. So close, I can actually see the last seat in the class. Please register now to reserve your spot!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Writing Contest is now open!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Contest Award winner will receive The Silver Bullet Award, free Writers’ Police Academy registration ($235 value), and have the opportunity to submit their entire manuscript to one of the judges (to be determined later based upon the genre and work itself). Additional prizes forthcoming. Here’s your chance to get your work in front of top agents and publishers! The contest is open to the general public and writers from all genres, not just academy registrants and mystery writers!

Please visit the Writers’ Police Academy website for details. www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Contest judges are:

Annette Rogers, Acquisitions Editor of the Poisoned Pen Press, searches for new, unpublished mystery writers. Recent successes include Carolyn Wall SWEEPING UP GLASS, Jeffrey Siger MURDER ON MYKONOS, and Edward Ifkovic LONE STAR. In addition she evaluates and edits manuscripts, corresponds with writers and agents, and fends off Facebook friend requests. Rogers published a bestselling travel book on EGYPT-translated into six languages, wrote for O, The Oprah Magazine, and covered court hearings on the Mormon Bomber case for Time/Life. She has a Masters Degree in History and English. www.poisonedpenpress.com

Benjamin LeRoy is a founder of Tyrus Books-a publisher specializing in crime and dark literary fiction. Before starting Tyrus in July of 2009, he founded and ran Bleak House Books. He lives in Madison, WI where he works on his own writing and is endlessly fascinated with the history of baseball. www.tyrusbooks.com

Elizabeth Pomada worked at David McKay, Holt Rinehart & Winston, and the Dial Press in New York City before moving to San Francisco in 1970 with her partner and husband, Michael Larsen. Together, they started Michael Larsen – Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Since then, they have sold books from hundreds of authors to more than 100 publishers. Elizabeth is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives, The Author’s Guild, ASJA, WNBA and co-founder with Michael of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing for Change conference. www.larsen-pomada.com

Kimberley Cameron began her literary career as an agent trainee at the Marjel de Lauer Agency in association with Jay Garon in New York. She worked for several years at MGM developing books for motion pictures. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. Among its clients have been Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Henry Miller. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and Reece Halsey Paris in 2006. Her associate Elizabeth Evans opened Reece Halsey New York in 2008, and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. www.kimberleycameron.com

PostHeaderIcon Castle: One Man’s Treasure: A Review (of the police procedure)

One Man’s Treasure was written by Elizabeth Davis who also wrote last season’s Little Girl Lost. I recall that I wasn’t a fan of that particular episode. In fact, I described it as a snore-fest. This week, Davis’ second effort at placing words into the mouths of two of TV’s most beloved characters, Castle and Beckett, fell miserably short once again. I could barely stay awake and focused even after consuming mass quantities of hot green tea.

Thankfully, Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, and the rest of the crew (minus the medical examiner, who was absolutely horrid as usual) held the show above water with their chemistry. There were lots of looks, eye contact, and body language this week. And that’s a good thing because the writing was lacking what we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in the past few episodes. Overall, the show last night was extremely boring and very predictable. For me, and probably because the M.E. was back, this episode was very disappointing.

Now, for the procedure (This one was easy. There wasn’t much to it).

* This episode was a repeat. Since it first aired, the M.E. character, Lanie Parrish, has improved by leaps and bounds, and so have my critiques of her. But in this episode? Geez…

– Lanie Parrish. Need I say more? Bless her heart (That’s a southern catch-all expression that’s used when someone is really sub par. For example, to the mother of an ugly baby, “Bless his little heart, I bet he’s really smart.” Tamala Jones is simply the wrong person for this part. She’s just not believable. I was so, so tempted to fast forward through her scene, but I sucked it up and took it for the team. However, her information wasn’t all that bad this time. For example:

Parrish stated the victim’s bruises were probably caused by the fall down the garbage chute.  Hmm…could be, but that could only be an accurate statement if the victim hadn’t been dead for very long, which was true in this case.  But the only way she’d know for sure would be to examine the tissue under a microscope. A bruise inflicted after death contains only the normal amount of white cells. Bruises inflicted during life contain an abnormally high number of white blood cells (white blood cells rush to an injury site to help begin the healing process).

– Beckett examines the victim’s Connecticut driver’s license. The date of birth (DOB to cops) was 12-13-78, which would have made the guy 31-years-old in a few weeks. Well, in a later scene Esposito reports, “Sam Parker, age 38, lives in Connecticut with his wife. The detective was off by 7 years.

– The “fiance” was left alone in the morgue with the dead guy. No way, no way, and no way! People are not left alone, in morgues, with dead bodies. They could do anything in there, such as destroying or tampering with evidence. Besides, this is their dearly departed loved one. Passing out, heart attack, and becoming very ill are common reactions to seeing dear old Uncle Billy’s cold body for the first time.

– Beckett’s property room tutorial to Alexis was good information, but it seemed like a forced info dump. Thankfully, it was Beckett who delivered those lines. She’s so good she’d probably make a Brittany Spears song sound good.

Alexis is left-handed, by the way.

…..By now I’m bored to tears and praying for a power failure. No such luck. The show kept moving like it was searching for the final credits, but didn’t quite know where to find them.

– Beckett says, “It’s not uncommon for a witnesses’ memory to become confused after experiencing a traumatic event.” Good information.

– Beckett and Castle question the CEO. He’s all smiles and too cooperative. Okay, was it just me, or had anyone else figured out the murderer’s ID at this point? DUH. And the fiance? Yep, she was definitely guilty of something other than bad acting.

– Beckett is called to a crime scene in Connecticut, yet her jurisdictional boundaries stop in NYC. No big deal, cops go outside their jurisdictions all the time to question people, etc. However, Beckett takes over the scene, offering a deal between the two lawbreakers. Nope, nope, and nope. That wouldn’t have been her decision. Instead, the Ct. cops would have the final say.

The call came in as a trespassing committed by one suspect and an assault by the other. The woman who broke into the house committed a breaking and entering, a felony. When she took the pen she then committed another crime. Sure, she was trespassing (a misdemeanor) when she committed the crimes, but that’s a lesser included offense for which she probably would not have been charged.

– Castle says killers have “crazy killer eyes.” This is very often true. Once you’ve seen that look you’ll never forget it.

The final scene was great.  Castle says Alexis is a chip off the old block. Beckett’s eye roll in response to his statement was priceless.

Again, Castle and Beckett were fantastic. What the show lacked in writing they made up for in body language and chemistry, thankfully.

*ABC photos

*     *     *

Writers Police Academy

* FYI – If you have chance , please stop by Murderati. Cornelia Read invited me over there to grill me about the Writers’ Police Academy.

* Important Notice – We are very, very close to reaching capacity for the FATS training. So close, I can actually see the last seat in the class. Please register now to reserve your spot!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Writing Contest is now open!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Contest Award winner will receive The Silver Bullet Award, free Writers’ Police Academy registration ($235 value), and have the opportunity to submit their entire manuscript to one of the judges (to be determined later based upon the genre and work itself). Additional prizes forthcoming. Here’s your chance to get your work in front of top agents and publishers! The contest is open to the general public and writers from all genres, not just academy registrants and mystery writers!

Please visit the Writers’ Police Academy website for details. www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Contest judges are:

Annette Rogers, Acquisitions Editor of the Poisoned Pen Press, searches for new, unpublished mystery writers. Recent successes include Carolyn Wall SWEEPING UP GLASS, Jeffrey Siger MURDER ON MYKONOS, and Edward Ifkovic LONE STAR. In addition she evaluates and edits manuscripts, corresponds with writers and agents, and fends off Facebook friend requests. Rogers published a bestselling travel book on EGYPT-translated into six languages, wrote for O, The Oprah Magazine, and covered court hearings on the Mormon Bomber case for Time/Life. She has a Masters Degree in History and English. www.poisonedpenpress.com

Benjamin LeRoy is a founder of Tyrus Books-a publisher specializing in crime and dark literary fiction. Before starting Tyrus in July of 2009, he founded and ran Bleak House Books. He lives in Madison, WI where he works on his own writing and is endlessly fascinated with the history of baseball. www.tyrusbooks.com

Elizabeth Pomada worked at David McKay, Holt Rinehart & Winston, and the Dial Press in New York City before moving to San Francisco in 1970 with her partner and husband, Michael Larsen. Together, they started Michael Larsen – Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Since then, they have sold books from hundreds of authors to more than 100 publishers. Elizabeth is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives, The Author’s Guild, ASJA, WNBA and co-founder with Michael of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing for Change conference. www.larsen-pomada.com

Kimberley Cameron began her literary career as an agent trainee at the Marjel de Lauer Agency in association with Jay Garon in New York. She worked for several years at MGM developing books for motion pictures. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. Among its clients have been Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Henry Miller. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and Reece Halsey Paris in 2006. Her associate Elizabeth Evans opened Reece Halsey New York in 2008, and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. www.kimberleycameron.com

PostHeaderIcon Stop, Or I’ll Release The Attack Bunny!

Police dogs are fearless animals, and so are their handlers – fearless, that is. So are patrol officers, investigators, motorcycle cops, bike officers, SWAT team members, hostage negotiators, corrections officers, and everyone else who wears a badge and swears to uphold the law and protect people and their property.

Everybody who raises their right hand to take that oath knows there’s a certain amount of danger involved with the job. They know there’s a chance that they just may get a little boo-boo every now and then – a scraped knee, or even a loose tooth or two. I, like many officers, have been cut, punched, and slapped silly. In fact, I still have a few boxes of band-aides that look like crime scene tape. It’s just a part of the job.

Officers are going to get injured. If they don’t, then they’re not pulling their weight on the street. But the point is, every cop knows the risks, and should not expect pristine, accident-free working conditions. A cop’s job is simply not the same as that of a concert pianist, or the guy who tests feather pillows for a living.

You know, the moment when your new boss hands you a gun, a handful of bullets, and a bullet-proof vest, is the moment, if there’s a doubt, when the average person should ask the new supervisor if there’s any danger involved in his newly chosen career. I do believe most people would pick up on those subtle clues without having to ask. Still, someone for the “Here’s your sign” club always seems to slip through the cracks.

“…I learned to drive an 18 wheeler in my days of adventure. Wouldn’t ya know I misjudged the height of a bridge. The truck got stuck and I couldn’t get it out no matter how I tried. I radioed in for help and eventually a local cop shows up to take the report. He went through his basic questioning. No problem. I thought for sure he was clear of needing a sign… until he says “So..is your truck stuck?” I couldn’t help myself! I looked at him, looked back at the rig, then back to him and said, “No I’m delivering a bridge …Here’s your sign!”

I’ve said all this to tell you a little story about Officer George Gabaldon, an Albuquerque, New Mexico police officer. In 2006, Officer Gabaldon was working patrol, a job he was hired to do (he’d already received his gun, bullets, and vest), when he and another officer stopped a truck that was traveling in the wrong lane of travel. In fact, the truck almost hit Officer Gabaldon’s patrol vehicle head on. See, there’s one of the dangers of the job right there. Hey, Gabaldon, this was a clue. Danger was approaching!

As it turns out, the truck was stolen. Danger clue number two. Bad guys who drive stolen cars are normally pretty desperate to get away, therefore they do crazy things like riding on flat tires, or even riding on just the metal rims when they run out of rubber (For some reason, these dummies always seem to have flat tires). Well, lo and behold, that’s exactly what Gabaldon and his partners were faced with on that particular November night – dangerous crooks riding on metal rims. Any cop’ll tell you that’s a bad combination.

Officer Gabaldon correctly called for backup. After all, a dead hero is exactly that…dead. Cops come out of the woodwork like frenzied roaches when one of the fellow Boys in Blue calls for assistance, and things were no different in this case. Even one of the city’s canine units rolled up to lend a hand and four paws. Those desperadoes weren’t getting away from Gabaldon and crew. No, sir! Besides, there’s safety in numbers. That’s why you see forty or fifty dozen police cars on the side of the road parked behind a VW Beetle while displaying enough spinning, flashing, and blinking candlepower to serve as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon light show. No one wants to get hurt. Everyone wants to go home safe and sound at the end of the shift.

Okay, so here’s how we stand – stolen car, desperate criminals, Gabaldon and crew are ordering the men out of the car at gunpoint. Nothing out of the ordinary. A typical felony traffic stop. Cops make stops like this one all the time, nearly every single night of their lives.

Well, here’s where things started to go a little south for Officer Gabaldon. He was approaching the passenger’s side of the car when the sound of a police canine barking and running approached from the rear. That’s a good thing, right? I mean, a police dog can single-pawedly take down a man and hold him until its handler arrives to cuff and stuff the crook (We haven’t quite figured out how to train canines to handcuff bad guys. Something about a lack of fingers for cuffing, and no pockets to hold the keys). The cavalry was on the way, right?

Unfortunately, the highly-trained dog had set it’s sights on Gabaldon, not the car thief. So the animal did what he knew best. It bit Officer Gabaldon on the leg, and then refused to let go, which is what it was trained to do – hang on until given the command to release. It was a mess to say the least. Gabaldon sat bleeding on the pavement until he could be treated by medical personnel.

Granted, being bitten by a dog is a very unpleasant ordeal, especially when that animal is a police dog that will not let go, no matter what. And the more you struggle, the harder it bites. The animals know they’re supposed to keep the bad guys in that spot until their boss shows up to tell them how truly wonderful they are. After all, that’s what the dogs live for, to please their handlers. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, Gabaldon decides to sue (the suit is nearing its end this year). After all, he claims the city wouldn’t even pay to have his torn pants repaired. He says the pain he suffered as a result of the dog bite was unbearable, and I’ll have to agree with him on the pain part of his complaint. I know when I went through the state police academy with my dog I was bitten several times by several dogs during the 2,141,920 week training class (I know, but it seemed as if it lasted that long!).

Now, here’s where stupid just gets stupid…

I’m not sure how much monetary compensation Officer Gabaldon is seeking, but I do know that he’s asking the courts to change the way police canines are trained. He wants them to stop biting. Instead, he’s asking that the animals be completely muzzled and be trained to locate dangerous murders and rapists and then merely stand there barking at them – no holding with their teeth. He says law enforcement absolutely does not need biting dogs – they’re just too dangerous to have around. No place for them in the business. The fact that he got bitten should come as no surprise, Gabaldon said, since the intent is for the dog to bite after being unleashed, without a muzzle. Duh.

Okay, to clear up a point for you writers. Police canines (the ones trained to bite, not explosive or cadaver dogs) are trained to focus on a specific target that’s pointed out to them by their handlers (there’s a little secret code that’s shared between the dog and handler). If you attended the Writers’ Police Academy last year, you saw an excellent demonstration of this by one of Hamilton PD’s canines (below).


That dog locked on his target and never once once took its eyes off the man (Officer Dave Crawford who kindly volunteered to wear the bite sleeve). I have to say, in the case of Gabaldon’s bite, I believe there may have been a bit of handler error. BUT, I cannot say this for sure because I was not there. But I can say this for sure, a dog that’s only allowed to bark at a gun-wielding murderer will be about as effective as sending in the…

Attack Bunny!

I’m just saying…

*     *     *

Writers Police Academy

* FYI – If you have chance , please stop by Murderati. Cornelia Read invited me over there to grill me about the Writers’ Police Academy.

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Writing Contest is now open!

The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Contest Award winner will receive The Silver Bullet Award, free Writers’ Police Academy registration ($235 value), and have the opportunity to submit their entire manuscript to one of the judges (to be determined later based upon the genre and work itself). Additional prizes forthcoming. Here’s your chance to get your work in front of top agents and publishers! The contest is open to the general public and writers from all genres, not just academy registrants and mystery writers!

Please visit the Writers’ Police Academy website for details. www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Contest judges are:

Annette Rogers, Acquisitions Editor of the Poisoned Pen Press, searches for new, unpublished mystery writers. Recent successes include Carolyn Wall SWEEPING UP GLASS, Jeffrey Siger MURDER ON MYKONOS, and Edward Ifkovic LONE STAR. In addition she evaluates and edits manuscripts, corresponds with writers and agents, and fends off Facebook friend requests. Rogers published a bestselling travel book on EGYPT-translated into six languages, wrote for O, The Oprah Magazine, and covered court hearings on the Mormon Bomber case for Time/Life. She has a Masters Degree in History and English. www.poisonedpenpress.com

Benjamin LeRoy is a founder of Tyrus Books-a publisher specializing in crime and dark literary fiction. Before starting Tyrus in July of 2009, he founded and ran Bleak House Books. He lives in Madison, WI where he works on his own writing and is endlessly fascinated with the history of baseball. www.tyrusbooks.com

Elizabeth Pomada worked at David McKay, Holt Rinehart & Winston, and the Dial Press in New York City before moving to San Francisco in 1970 with her partner and husband, Michael Larsen. Together, they started Michael Larsen – Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents in 1972. Since then, they have sold books from hundreds of authors to more than 100 publishers. Elizabeth is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives, The Author’s Guild, ASJA, WNBA and co-founder with Michael of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Writing for Change conference. www.larsen-pomada.com

Kimberley Cameron began her literary career as an agent trainee at the Marjel de Lauer Agency in association with Jay Garon in New York. She worked for several years at MGM developing books for motion pictures. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. Among its clients have been Aldous Huxley, William Faulkner, Upton Sinclair, and Henry Miller. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and Reece Halsey Paris in 2006. Her associate Elizabeth Evans opened Reece Halsey New York in 2008, and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. www.kimberleycameron.com

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