Small Town Police Departments

It’s a small red-brick building nestled between Betty Lou’s Cut ‘n Curl and Smilin’ Bob’s Hardware and Pawn Shop. The lone parking space in front is reserved. A sign reads “Chief’s Parking Only.”

Inside, the hallway to the right takes you to the water department and the office of the building inspector. There, you can also purchase dog tags and yard sale permits. A left turn leads to the town’s police department, a force comprised of five dedicated, hardworking police officers—one chief, one sergeant, two full-time officers, and one part-time guy who’s also the mayor of the next town over.

Complaints can be filed with the dispatcher at the window, or by dialing the local number. Calling 911 in Small Town works the same as calling 911 in New York City. Hmm…there is a tiny difference—when you call 911 in Small Town somebody always shows up to see what’s wrong. Not so in Big City.

Small Town dispatchers also work the computer terminals and NCIC. They know CPR and they know everyone in town and the quickest route to their houses.

Officers in Small Town attend the police academy and they receive the same training and certifications as the officers over in Big City. No, Small Town PD doesn’t have all the latest fancy equipment with the shiny, spinning dials and winking, blinking lights. They don’t have special detectives who only work homicides or white collar crime. And they don’t have divisions dedicated for traffic, vice, narcotics, and internal affairs. Budgets simply don’t allow it.

Officers in Small Town are cross-trained. They each know how to run radar, direct traffic, dust for fingerprints, interview suspects and witnesses, and they know how to investigate a murder. They work burglaries and assaults. They also arrest drunk drivers, drug dealers, people who abuse their spouses, rapists, pedophiles, and robbers. They break up fights, help kids cross the street safely, and they locate lost pets. And, if one of their officers  steps out of line they’ll straighten his butt out, too.

Of course, Small Town is totally fictional, but there are many actual small towns with small police departments. And those small departments work the same type cases as the departments in larger cities. No, not all departments are large enough to have officers who serve as detectives. But they all employ police officers who are fully capable of investigating any type of crime. And they do, from traffic offenses to murder. Sure, they do the same work as a detective. But they do it while wearing a uniform instead of some fancy-smancy suit they really couldn’t afford.

Yep, most small departments operate the same way as the large ones, just on a smaller scale.

For example:

The Yellow Springs, Ohio Police Department serves a village of slightly less than 4,000 residents. Therefore, the department is small. However, there’s a college in town and the village is located near Dayton and Springfield, which translates into the potential for a higher crime rate than would normally be found in a town that size. And, the potential for more crime means more proactive police work for the small number of officers.

The YSPD doesn’t have plainclothes detectives to investigate major crimes. Instead, as is the case with many small departments, uniformed officers investigate all crimes. So, when an officer receives a call from the dispatcher they see it all the way through—from the 911 call through court, including evidence collection, interviewing witnesses, etc.

If the officers need additional help, or resources, they call on the sheriff’s office.

Remember, not all departments operate in the same manner. Some smaller departments DO have detectives, and those investigators may or may not wear a uniform. They could dress in a coat and tie, and they could have the title of detective, or investigator. If they’re a detective who wears a uniform their rank would normally remain the same. There is no standard rule. It’s entirely up to the individual department.

One other thing to remember—a police department and a sheriff’s office are not the same. Deputy sheriffs work for sheriffs, not police chiefs. But that’s a topic for another day.

YSPD dispatcher

NCIC equipment

Felony traffic stop

Issuing a traffic summons

An arrest

Small departments may not have LiveScan fingerprint terminals. Instead, they still use the old ink and ten-print cards

Ten-print fingerprinting station

Small departments collect and preserve evidence using the same methods and materials as do larger departments

Evidence storage is on a smaller scale in smaller departments

YSPD evidence room

Evidence safe in a small department (for narcotics, etc.)

YSPD officer’s workstation/office

Small departments follow the same procedures as any other department

Interior of a YSPD patrol car

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Writers and Cops: A Great Combination!

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Registration for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy is now open. You do not want to miss this one of a kind event!

Writers’ Police Academy

Guilford Technical Community College and Public Safety Training Academy

Jamestown, N.C.

September 23-25, 2011

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War On Cops

Imagine going to work today, wondering if this is the day when somebody—the man in line behind you at the bank, a junior high kid, or maybe that kid’s mom—will pull a gun from their pocket and shoot you dead simply because you chose to be a police officer.

How would it feel to know that the mere clothing you wore and the fact that your life’s calling—your life-long dream to help others—was enough to spark enough rage in another human being that he’d walk into your place of business and murder everyone in sight? Unfortunately, that’s what officers across the country are learning to deal with in addition to the already high-stress nature of their work.

Recently, there’s been an alarming increase in the amount violence toward police officers. So far this year, as of January 27, 2011, fifteen police officers in the U.S. have been killed in the line of duty, ten were shot to death. Murdered. And that’s not including the large number of attempted murders and assaults on officers. What’s the cause? Why do some people feel the need to kill cops? And why are they acting on those feelings? What causes a man to look a young officer in the eye and then, without remorse, kill her as nonchalantly as they would swat a fly?

How do police officers protect themselves against an enemy who hides in plain sight? How do officers guard against future attacks?

Are there too many guns on the street? Not enough gun laws? Too many gun laws? Are we not putting enough people in prison? Do we need more alternatives to prison? Death penalty or no death penalty? Does it work?

And I’ll ask this one out loud. I’m not shy. Have police department budget cuts contributed to the murder of our police officers? Have municipalities cut police training, manpower, and equipment so drastically that the very lives of the men and women who protect us are in jeopardy?

Well, I asked three law enforcement officials for their take on the recent increase in violence against police officers. And here’s what they had to say.

ATF Special Agent Richard McMahan

“What can law enforcement do to stop more of our ranks from falling?

The best way we can honor our fallen comrades is to make sure they didn’t lose their lives in vain. We need to make sure we not only remember they died Holding the Blue Line, but we also remember how they died.

I am not faulting any of the officers who died. For all I know, they did everything right and fate was against them. But, I do know cops are humans. We fall into routines. And ruts. Some become lax in routine. We do think of a traffic stop as “routine.” (THERE ARE NO ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOPS!). We do think of taking a complaint as something we’ve done a thousand times before and nothings happened, so it’s no big deal. We’ve served warrants on people and arrested them and they’ve complied with our commands.

The way we stop this tide of line of duty deaths is to remember—

I want the next patrol officer who does a traffic stop to have the memory of the Indianapolis cop in his mind. When he flips that lightbar on and pulls that car over, I want him or her to think of that Indianapolis cop who did the same thing and took two bullets in the face last Sunday. Now, that officer will pause and maybe they’ll remember to hug the car close and stay out of the driver’s line of sight. Maybe they’ll make extra sure to see the occupants’ hands at all times. With that dead cop’s spirit on their shoulder and in their mind, they’ll stay extra sharp.

Maybe the next time an arrest team goes to pick up someone they’ve arrested before, they’ll not think, “He’s going to comply because he has in the past.”

Maybe the next time a group of cops are taking coffee together they’ll keep an extra vigilant look on the door, so that when some Sierra Hotel pulls a gun as he’s walking in that the cops will stop the assault.

As for me, I know that the next time we’re doing a warrant on a house, I’ll be paying extra close attention to the attic and crawl spaces. I’ll think of those 2 St Petersburg cops who were ambushed by a thug laying in wait.

Cops can’t ensure our budget or manning will improve. We can’t do anything about the state budget crises that are opening the door and kicking prisoners out the door of prison in floods. We can’t determine why a small segment of our society thinks it’s a badge of honor to hunt us.

But what we can do is be prepared. We make sure we’re thinking of the task at hand. We make sure we damn well know that there are people who want to kill us. And we make sure we do everything we can—we follow our training, we follow our instincts, and we go into a situation remembering our fallen brothers and sisters and saying, ‘No more.’”

Jerry Cooper, a law enforcement trainer who has been a continuously sworn law enforcement officer for more than 36 years.

“One thing appears to be obvious: the bad guys do not fear the police. Most of the people shooting law enforcement officers have already been in the criminal justice and/or mental health systems. If I were to do any quick finger pointing, I would have to start with lenient judges, parole boards, probation & parole systems, and mental health system. We are living in a society that nurtures psychopathy. According to Dr. Robert Hare, who is probably the world’s leading authority on psychopathy, only about 20% of psychopaths are institutionalized (prison or in-patient mental health facilities).

Also, as a law enforcement use-of-force trainer, I have to ask the unpopular questions regarding how prepared are officers for these situations. There is certainly a lot of argument here in favor of scenario-based training.”

Lt. David Swords, a thirty year veteran of the Springfield, Ohio Police Department.

“In recent days, most of us have heard comments and news stories about an alarming rise in shootings and/or felonious deaths of police officers in the U.S. Today, I heard that yesterday’s death of an Indianapolis officer recently shot brought the nationwide number of officers killed this month to 15. Multiply that number by twelve and you’re looking at 2011 as being a year when 180 officers could be killed by felonious assault. That is a frightening number.

Is that what we have in store for the coming year? Hopefully, prayerfully, this month will prove to be a fluke, albeit a tragic and deadly one.

I’ve heard questions raised by news reporters asking if this is a sign of a “war of cops.” I don’t think so. At least it’s not an organized effort to kill officers. If anything, it is more of a symptom of a growing unrest in the country, a growing anger. An anger at what? An anger at them, those people, the other side.

That’s right, we’ve all noticed it. We’ve all seen in recent years the general decline of civility and a growing rudeness in the culture. I’m not going to spend any time laying it all out because we have all seen examples of it throughout the culture. And, please, let’s not turn this into a discussion of “Who’s at fault?” When it comes right down to it, we are all at fault. If you wish to point a finger, get in front of a mirror and point away.

Having said that, let us recognize the fact that, as always, the police are going to be the ones to bear the brunt of social anger. Remember the 1960’s? Well I do. I remember hearing things like “off the pigs” or “kill the pigs.” And while I was unable on short notice to find stats of officer killings in the 60’s and 70’s, I do remember an alarming number that seemed to correspond with the growing social discord of the time.

So what’s the answer? I can tell you what I think the answer is for the men and women on the street. It is the same that it has always been. In a simple phrase, “watch your ass and expect the worst.” It is a very simplistic answer to what seems to be a very complex problem, but that is what I would tell the young folks on the street. Let the “experts” try to figure it out. Let them spend their money and have their committees to come up with some report that will gather dust on a darkened storage shelf. You don’t have time to wait for the answer, so in the meantime, you do what you need to do to get home to your family tonight.

And may God bless those who don’t make it.”

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of these brave officers.

Corporal Charles Richard (Chuck) Nesbitt Jr., 39

Sumter South Carolina Police Department

January 21, 2011

Corporal Chuck Nesbitt, Jr. was killed in an automobile crash after transporting a prisoner to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice.

Officer Tom Hayes, 61

Columbus Ohio Division of Police

January 20, 2011

Officer Tom Hayes succumbed to a gunshot wound he sustained 31 years earlier while attempting to arrest two teens.

Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, 39

St. Petersburg Florida Police Department

January 24, 2011

Sergeant Tom Baitinger, 48

St. Petersburg Florida Police Department

January 24, 2011

Sergeant Tom Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant on a wanted suspect.

Sergeant Baitinger is survived by his wife.

Officer Yaslowitz is survived by his wife and three children.

Officer David S. Moore, 29

Indianapolis Indiana Metropolitan Police Department

January 26, 2011

On January 23, 2011, Officer David Moore was shot several times by the driver of a stolen vehicle. He succumbed to his wounds three days later. He is survived by his parents. Officer Moore’s mother is a sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and his father retired as a lieutenant with the department.

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Deputy Sheriffs: They’re Just Cops, Right?

Most of us had our first real look at a sheriff’s office back in 1960 when Andy Taylor and his fearless deputy, Barney Fife, patrolled the roads in and around Mayberry, N.C.

Television took us inside the Mayberry jail, the courthouse, and it even allowed us to ride in the county patrol car. And for many people, Andy Taylor’s Sheriff’s Office was the standard. The things Andy did, well, that’s what a sheriff was supposed to do—fight crime, run the jail, provide security for the court, and serve the people of the community.

So let’s take a look at a real-life, modern day sheriff and his office to see how things differ from the fictional Mayberry department. First, like Andy, a sheriff is only one person, which means they’ll need help to fulfill their duties. So deputies are appointed, not hired, to help with the workload. For example, the Clark County, Ohio sheriff’s office is comprised of the Sheriff (Gene Kelly – pictured above), one Chief Deputy, one Major, four Lieutenants, seventeen Sergeants, one-hundred-nine Deputies and thirty four civilian support staff.

When we see a sheriff’s car rolling along the highways and streets, most people assume the driver is a cop just like any other cop—an officer who wears a gun and answers calls doled out by a 911 dispatcher. Well, that’s partly true. They do answer calls. BUT, a deputy’s job is much more than just arresting people and putting them in jail.

Sure, we know that sheriff’s are in charge of the county jails. And we’re well aware that they serve civil process, such as jury summons, lien notices, foreclosures, and evictions. We also know that a sheriff assigns deputies to protect the courts, judges, and to supervise prisoners. But did you know that the duties of sheriffs and deputies may also include…

In the above photo, Sheriff Kelly is presiding over a sheriff’s sale. A sheriff’s sale is basically an auction to dispose of/liquidate property in which a mortgage owner has defaulted.

Operating mobile crime labs and investigative services.

Investigation of major crime scenes.

Community services, such as safety programs for citizens with special needs. One such program includes the ability to locate missing and/or lost persons through the use of tracking devices.

A person with special needs wears a wrist band with a built-in transmitter. Deputies equipped with specially designed receivers and antennas can then quickly track the person and return them to safety.

Housing prisoners from other jurisdictions whose facilities are overcrowded.

And, some locales may not have jail facilities at all and must rely on nearby sheriff’s offices for the safekeeping of their prisoners until trial.

Not all deputy sheriffs are police officers. Some are certified to work in the jail. Some are court security officers, and others have the sole duty of serving civil process.

Some deputies still unlock car doors for the unfortunate people who somehow manage to lock the keys inside their vehicles.

Deputies often organize and supervise search and rescue teams.

Some deputy sheriffs are cross-trained to work a variety of jobs within the department, such as patrol, jail, inmate transport, court security, etc.

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Join us for a weekend of training at a real police academy with real police academy instructors and equipment.

It’s a blast!

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Southland: Code Four – A Review

“Most of us go to work every day with a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. As Detective Bryant will be reminded of today, cops never do.”

I was a cop for a long time and I loved the job. In the early days, I, like rookie Ben Sherman, never really considered the consequences of my actions. After all, the job was exciting—a full-time adrenaline rush. Later, I served in the same capacity as Officer John Cooper, as a field training officer. So I’ve worn both sets of boots. I know what it’s like to see the world from each set of eyes. A rookie feels ten-feet-tall and bullet-proof. Invincible. A training officer feels the weight of the world resting on his shoulders. It’s his job to see to it that the rookie, or boot as they’re commonly called, stays safe while learning to do the same for others. It’s a tough life, and I agree, cops never know what’s going to happen. But they’d better be ready for anything. Because it’s coming. And somehow the actors in this series have seen it. They know, and it shows.

Code Four: Additional assistance is not needed, as indicated by the officer holding up four fingers. The signal that all is well.

– Officer John Cooper and rookie Ben Sherman began the show with a normal conversation between trainer and trainee. Much of the shift is spent (in real life) with the training officer quizzing the new officer about rules, regulations and what-if’s. Between questions, the teacher and student respond to calls, where the boot receives on the job, hands-on training. Such was the case in this episode when Ben let his, “she’s a woman, I must be gentle,” assumptions cause a near disaster.

During a domestic dispute a woman grabbed a hot pan off the stove and tossed its contents on her husband/boyfriend. Cooper had told Ben to turn off the stove, knowing what could happen. But Ben had already slipped into his chivalrous mode. When all was said and done, Ben received a proper butt chewing from his supervisor, again. Cooper said, “You gottta be sure of what you see. Really see. You’re gonna get someone killed. You understand?” Lesson #1. This scene took me back to my days as an FTO and the lessons I taught.

– Sammy is still having a difficult time dealing with his separation from Tammy. The two constantly bicker via cellphone, disrupting every single crime scene that he and Nate attempt to work. The troubles even spilled over to a homicide scene where Sammy let his problems stand in the way of common decency. He was so preoccupied that he’d forgotten to cover the body of a murder victim, resulting in the victim’s wife and brother seeing their loved one lying in the street. This was cruel, but realistic. Cops are human and sometimes their personal troubles find a way to affect the job. Doesn’t make it right, but it happens.

– Ben seems bored, and he’s grown tired of hearing Cooper’s constant instruction. So John lets him be top cop for a day, handling the task of telling a mother that her son has been killed in an accident. Thinking he knows it all, Ben delivers the notification to the wrong mother at the wrong house. Lesson #2, and a second butt chewing.

– Cooper spies a driver in front of their patrol car who’s acting a little “guilty.” That’s his “cop’s 6th sense” talking, which is almost always right. So he initiates a traffic stop. His PC for the stop? The guy’s tires “look” a little bald…Hey, it’s worked for many years. So, during the stop Ben cuffs the guy, leaves him standing beside and fence, and joins Cooper in searching the car. He finds a large bag of pot.

Cooper says, “So where’s your suspect?” knowing the guy has taken off running with his hands cuffed behind his back. Ben takes off on foot to catch the guy while Cooper drives. Lesson #3. Never leave a suspect unattended.

As they say, “been there done that.” Yep, and my favorite expression was, “Experience drives; rookies run.”

Cooper also made the comment that Ben never has a hair out of place. Man, I can’t tell you how much that rings true about some of the guys who’re fresh out of the academy. I remember when…Okay, I’ll stop. But this show is darn realistic!

– Before processing the runner, Ben and John are seen placing their weapons inside a box hanging on the wall. These boxes (lock boxes) are placed in areas where weapons are not permitted—jails, prisons, lockups, etc. Officers place their weapons inside, remove the key, and then conduct their business—processing, interviewing, etc. Once the business is complete, officers may then retrieve their firearms. Great detail.

– Sammy refers to identifying someone from a “six pack.” A six pack is a photo lineup where detectives arrange six mugshot-type images in a folder for viewing by a witness. Six packs are often comprised of actual mugshots.

– Lydia confronts a young man/killer at his home. She has no proof, but lets the kid know she’s watching him. Another great detail. Happens all the time, and often helps to cause the little slimeballs to slip up. You never know. By the way, I was really glad to see her without the new partner. She seemed to be back in control. Josie is an unnecessary distraction that may be doing the show more harm than good.

– John and Ben call it quits for the day and, while leaving the PD, Cooper teases Ben one last time about his rookie mistakes. Ben gets a little steamed and says he’s tired of the hazing. Mistake. Cooper dives in with both feet, bringing on a much-needed reality check.

“Cooper said, “You boots are all the same. Nine months in and you start to believe you know what you’re doing. ”

A pause.

He continues. “You think you were most dangerous when you first got out of the academy? No. No, it’s now. Right now is when you are most likely to get me or someone else killed.”

Another pause.

“So get your s**t tight. In ninety days I’m not going to be here to cover your ass. Whoever draws the short straw and ends up riding with you is going to count on you to keep them alive.”

There’s nothing I can add to that dialog. It’s true. That’s the point where rookies think they’ve learned it all, know it all, and have seen it all. But they’ve only scratched the surface. It’s been said that a cop remains a rookie for the first five years on the job.

And now we’ve gone full circle. It’s time for Sammy to find out why cops never know what’s going to happen when they go to work.

– Sammy and Nate spent the entire episode trying to nail a two-bit gangbanger for murdering a man in front of his kids.

Well, like all good cops, the pair is relentless and Sammy finally chases the guy and arrests him. Mission accomplished.

But, the two are confronted by an angry gang who’s members quickly surround them. Nate and Sammy decide to leave, waving off a police helicopter with the four finger “code four” signal that all is well. But Nate is attacked and badly injured.

Sammy tries to fend off the mob and rescue his partner and friend by drawing his weapon and firing shots into the air and at the attackers.

Back up arrives and takes care of the business at hand while a patrol car rushes Nate to the hospital.

A few moments later Sammy hears a scream from Nate’s wife, and that’s a sound that no cop wants to hear. It’s a signal that a fellow officer has died. Nate’s watch had ended.

This was truly an emotional scene—very realistic—one that’s worthy of an award. It also comes at a particularly tough time for cops and their families. In January of 2011, 14 officers have already been killed in the line of duty. In fact, eleven officers have been shot within the past 24 hours. And that’s the real world, not TV.

So my hat’s off to the actors and writers of Southland for portraying such a gut-wrenching tragedy in a very realistic, yet dignified manner. Also, our thoughts and prayers remain with the officers and their families who’ve experienced the real-life horrors that unfortunately remain part of the job.

Great job, guys. Another excellent episode.

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Registration for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy is officially open. Register early to reserve your spot. You don’t want to miss this one!

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Castle: Knockdown – A Review

Thank you, Will Beall. Thank you for doing your part to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Yep, in a single stroke of your pen, sir, you heated millions of households across this great land of ours. And I’m not talking just a little warm air drifting across our living rooms. Nope. “The Kiss” generated enough raw heat to…WAIT A MINUTE! Al Gore, were you watching Castle tonight? There’s your global warming!

Seriously, the joining of lips between Castle and Beckett has die-hard Castle fans squealing with delight. And it’s about time something happened between these two. After all, they’re only human. Besides, how much longer could they have lasted with that much sexual tension between them? Teenage boys have exploded under far less pressure.

I do, however, wonder where this will lead us. There’s no doubt that the relationship between Castle and Beckett has entered a place from where they can never return. Sure, people say they can remain as “just friends” after joining taste buds, but the friendship can never be the same as it once was. And, of course, there’s the difficulty that comes with a pair of lip-locking law enforcement folks. Personal emotions are very hard to keep in check when some slimeball is spitting in your loved-one’s pretty little face (in this case I’m sure everyone would agree that the “pretty little face” phrase could apply to both Fillion and Stana Katic). And this stuck out like a sore thumb throughout this episode. Castle definitely played the protective lover role several times during interviews of bad guys. And that’s exactly the sort of thing that could make for some pretty fun future episodes. We’ll see.

Some other noteworthy, non-police-related scenes:

1. Beckett called Castle by his first name, Rick. And she was all goo-goo-eyed when she did.

2. Castle’s “Always” comment when Beckett was tenderly bandaging his hand.

3. Castle’s “Plucky Little Sidekick” comment.

4. Castle saying that he’s Beckett’s partner. Was there a hidden meaning there? What kind of partner did he mean? Hmm…

5. Castle’s reference to his chocolate badge. The goofy stuff, I like. It adds to Castle’s personality.

6. Castle’s hilarious, but very realistic reaction to the kiss.

Okay, enough of the fun stuff. Let’s get on with what’s realistic, or not, with the police procedure used in the show. Please remember that I do know the show is fiction and is not intended to be a study guide for a police department hiring exam. I merely point out this stuff so you, the reader/viewer/writer/fan will know right from wrong. And the first right thing I want to point out is that there was no appearance by the M.E. in this episode. Good move. The distractions brought on by that character was not needed and would have taken away from what turned out to be a very nice show.

– The shot fired by the sniper. Nope. Couldn’t have happened the way it was shown in this episode. Sure, the writers chose the perfect weapon, a .338 magnum, which is capable of firing a dead-on straight, laser-like shot at over 1,000 yards. Certainly, a skilled marksman could have easily shot the hair off a fly’s butt from that 4th story window. But, they overlooked a simple detail—the trajectory. As I said, the shot could have been fairly easy (it’s possible)—a big man-size target shot with a powerful rifle—but you first have to be able to see that target. And, in this case, that would have been impossible because the shooter was on the 4th floor looking down toward the window in the restaurant. The sun was shining brightly. Good so far. But, the blinds were open with the slats clearly and perfectly horizontal (parallel to the floor). Therefore, the shooter would not have been able to see inside the building through the window.

Instead, he would have seen a solid wall of blinds. In order to see through the window from his angle the blinds would have to have been tilted upward, not horizontally.

– Obviously, Beckett would not have been permitted to work a homicide case where her own mother was the victim. And, Castle (Nancy Drew according to the captain) would never be allowed to become involved in the actual investigation—any investigation, actually. I’ve allowed reporters and even some civilians to tag along with me during an investigation or two. But I’d never permit them to question suspects, etc. But this show is all about Castle doing just that. And that’s what makes it fun and funny.

– Castle’s mother played a good part in this episode, and her comment, “You can’t charm your way out of a bullet,” was a good one. All too often, even real cops forget just how dangerous their jobs really are. And it sometimes takes a “bullet” to bring them back to reality.

A good example of just how dangerous the job has become is the recent increase in the number of shootings of police officers. For example:

Two Washington officers were shot last weekend.

Yesterday, four Detroit police officers were shot inside their own police department.

An Indianapolis police officer was shot in the face last Sunday morning.

Two Florida police officers were shot and killed yesterday.

A U.S. Marshal was shot yesterday.

And it’s only Tuesday.

– Fuming a live person’s skin for prints. HmmEven if it worked…well, they use Superglue, you know.

But the worst part of the whole fingerprint thing was that they instantly received a copy of the guy’s driver’s license, his address, credit card information, shoe size, his favorite breakfast cereal, and the date he lost his virginity. Sure, some information would be available, but ONLY if the suspect’s information had been entered into the system. And why is a suspect’s information entered into the fingerprint database? Because they’d committed a crime at some point in their life. In this case, detectives said the guy had a spotless record, not even a traffic ticket. Therefore, his information would not have been on file. Even if it had, the system doesn’t work like we saw  in this episode. Not even close. Good for TV, but bad for reality.

– Beckett is a good detective (at least she’s supposed to be), and she’s been going over the details of her mother’s murder every day for years. She’s examined the evidence over and over and over and over again. So why hadn’t she looked at the negatives? Why did it take Castle, a non-police person, to figure out that negatives just might be a clue… duh! Same problem with Castle finding information and files within the police department. What, does the NYPD just leave all their files laying around the floors, in hallways, on windowsills, in the break room, etc.? Of course not! There are actual people who maintain those records, the files, and the COMPUTERS where the information is stored. Castle would have to go through a ton of people to get to the paperwork.

Esposito watches Ryan take an ice water bath courtesy of a mob killer. This was an entertaining scene that was a little out of place. I really didn’t see it’s purpose. But even more importantly, I didn’t understand how the bad guy got “the drop” on the two detectives. I mean, all he did was drop a distraction device down an open stairway. Both officers have probably seen and heard dozens of those things go off in their day. So no big surprise, right?

So what was the big deal, and why did the little boom render both of them helpless to the point where they lost their cell phones and weapons. Hell, I’ve tossed those things into houses where the people barely stopped watching Married With Children long enough to see what had just happened.

– Beckett and Castle interview an ex-cop with mob ties. Probably an extremely high-profile, difficult case. Sure, I’d want my non-cop, top mystery writer conducting that interview. Same problem when Beckett arrives to take down the mob-connected professional hit man. Her back up? An unarmed, untrained, mystery writer. Now that’s realistic. Funny, yes, but please don’t think it’s like that in real life. Surprisingly, police officers tend to be a little more cautious when it comes to protecting their own rear ends!

– So, we’re supposed to believe that a professional hit man would hesitate before popping a hole in Beckett’s head? Nah, even a gansta-wanna-be would have dropped her. And, oh my goodness…the scene where Castle beats the mobster senseless…sure, that was possible, right?

And now we’re back to “The Kiss.” Castle said it was amazing. I, too, think it was an amazing moment for the show.

So where do we go from here? Oh, I know…to the Writers’ Police Academy so we can learn how this stuff is really done!

Registration for the 2011 WPA opens today. So please visit our all new website and reserve your spot today. It’s Disneyland for writers!

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Don’t forget to watch Southland tonight!

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