Police News

Oklahoma City – 87-year-old grandmother sues police for using a TASER on her while she was in bed hooked to oxygen. The elderly woman’s grandson had called the police because he feared his grandmother was trying to end her life. So, when officers approached the woman she pulled a knife from under her pillow and refused to cooperate. Responding to her actions, one of the officers blasted granny with his stun gun.

Chicago – Former police lieutenant Jon Burge has been convicted of lying about the torture of 100’s of suspects by officers under his command. Several victims of the brutal torture came forward to tell of their experiences that occurred from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. They accused officers of suffocating, shocking (with electrical current) and beating people until they said what the officers wanted to hear. The statute of limitations had run out on most of the crimes committed by the officers involved in the torture.

New York – Jan Fedarcyk has become the first female assistant director of one of the FBI’s three largest operational field offices. The New York field division is the largest (Los Angles and Washington D.C. are the other two) in the country, with 2,000 agents and other employees.

Washington D.C. – The FBI has arrested 10 deep cover Russian spies who are accused of attempting to penetrate government policy-making circles and then relaying information to Russia.

Cedar Rapids – The city had trouble with drivers running red lights. To improve safety at intersections the city installed traffic cameras. Well, the cameras worked just fine. It seems they captured images of 26 patrol cars speeding and running red lights. Disciplinary actions have been taken.

Alexandria – A former priest and anger-management counselor has been sentenced to a year in prison for pulling a handgun on two U.S. Marshals. The man said he brandished the weapon because he thought one of the officers had made an obscene hand gesture toward him. In addition to the prison sentence the anger management counselor has been ordered to attend anger management classes.

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LABRADOR: Man-Made Dog

You won’t see this dog curled up by the fire, or wagging its tail. But it will find a bone, lots of them. LABRADOR (Light-weight Analyzer for Buried Remains And Decomposition Odor Recognition) is a hand-held device developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) senior researcher and forensic expert Arpad A. Vass. The unit is capable of “sniffing” decomposing bodies buried in graves as deep as 3.5 feet below the surface, which is actually about a foot deeper than the average clandestine burial site.

LABRADOR can not only pick up the scent emitted from a dead body, it can analyze that odor and tell the operator how much of it is present, something its four-legged counterparts cannot do. This added information can aid the searcher in pinpointing the precise location of the remains.

Vass says his device can also be adapted for  in other aspects of law enforcement, such as locating methamphetamine labs, explosives, and accelerants used in arson cases.

LABRADOR also has potential for military applications.

Arpad A. Vass

Vass’ device is a steal at less then $1,500. Unfortunately, there’s only one available. But, as soon as the legalities are ironed out I’m sure there’ll be a LABRADOR in every forensic team’s kennel.

Since LABRADOR is man-made (from common items right off the shelf) it’s basically maintenance free. No feeding, no watering, no bathing, no walks, and no mess to clean up. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but can that bucket of bolts do this…

Now, which one would you rather have riding shotgun?

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Forensic Facts

Forensics – the use of scientific testing to investigate crimes.

Digital Cameras – Digital cameras leave a “fingerprint” buried within in the pixels.

Each digital picture is overlaid with a unique pattern (fingerprint), or noise. These patterns can be traced back to the camera that took the photo.

Forensic dentistry – Sure, we all know forensic dentistry is used to identify John Doe victims, right?

But did you know that dental forensics is also used in dental malpractice and dental personal injury suits?

Wet surface fingerprinting – Since oil (from human skin) and water don’t mix, it’s possible to lift usable fingerprints from a wet surface, such as a vehicle that’s been sitting out during a rain shower.

However, water spots can form after the surface dries, which can affect the quality of the prints.

Virtual autopsy – Multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) scanners have been used to examine both soft tissue and bone. Since radiation is not an issue for the dead, the machines can be utilized at the highest, most intrusive settings.

Pathologists use the scanners to study muscular-skeletal system, cranium, facial bones, spine, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, airway, pelvic organs, upper GI tract, foreignobjects, and even the victim’s personal effects without ever opening the body bag.

Digitally enhancing photographs – Iodine fuming and Adobe Photoshop are a great team!

Gizmos and Gadgets image

The top image is of a print that was developed using iodine fuming. The lower image is the same print enhanced with Photoshop.

Hairspray – When making impression casts in sandy or loose soil, spray the area first with hairspray to hold it in place.

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Weekend Road Trip: A Perfect Setting For Murder

Have you ever passed through a town and thought it would be the perfect place for your protagonist to set up shop? Well, during a recent visit to coastal Georgia my imagination began working overtime, churning out crime scenes faster than literary agents can send boilerplate rejection letters.

I took a walk, poking around back streets and along the marshes and waterfront.

My mind conjured up images of dead bodies bobbing and rolling softly in the knee deep murky water, like pieces of driftwood riding the tide.

Massive oaks draped with tendrils of Spanish Moss stood guard at the entrance to an imaginary police station.

A ship’s crew smuggled weapons and drugs inside a hold filled with freshly-caught shrimp, a pitiful attempt to confuse drug-sniffing canines.

Perhaps the undercover cop working onboard the shrimp boat was killed by smugglers. What better way to dispose of a body than to dump it among the reeds where hungry alligators lay patiently waiting for their next meal?

A father and son enjoy a summer day, fishing and crabbing. The sandy-haired freckle-faced boy snags “the big one,” and reels in his catch, only to discover he’s hooked a dead cop.

Or, a serial killer takes a new victim, one of the town’s elderly, each day at sundown.

My mind continued to wander as I made my way through town. But the place seemed far too quiet and lazy to be the setting for a thriller. I figured there’d be no way danger could ever find its way into such peaceful surroundings. And then I stumbled across this…

…and I knew for sure that I’d found the setting for the next book. Now all I need to do is finish the revisions on the current one and get it back to my agent. And I really need to hurry. There’s a killer on the loose in my mind, and he wants out, bad.

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