Archive for December, 2011

PostHeaderIcon 2011: A Real Knockout Punch!

2011 has been a year I’ll never forget. Lot’s of images, events, and memories that’ll stick with me forever. I truly wish I could say the year has been a good one. But I can’t, not at all. In fact it arrived with a knockout punch. Don’t believe me, well, see for yourself…

We’d barely turned the page on January when Denene took a nasty fall, breaking her leg in three places.

The injury was so severe that it required immediate surgery to install a heaping handful of hardware. Looks nasty, right? Well, it’s a bit worse than you’re imagining. Her foot is supposed to be pointing up instead of at a right angle. Yep, that’s her shin at the top. What a way to start our anniversary! So much for our big night out.

When Denene was finally able to return to work (in the wheelchair) I carried her from the front door to the car and drove her to the university, every day, where I stayed with her so I could roll her to her classroom so she could teach. I also played the part of errand boy until the day was over when we made the trip back to the RV (we still hadn’t sold our house in NC) where I carried her from the car, up the front steps, and to the couch. This went on for months.

After living in our RV for a year, we finally sold our house. Should have been a great day, huh? Oh, Nooooooo… We hired the “Movers From Hell,” who broke lots of things, had all new workers, neglected to tell us they only worked at night—all night—and, by the way, had never moved an entire house-load of furniture. Ours was their first packing job too, something else they failed to mention. Oh, and their truck broke down in front of our house at 4am, with the rear of the truck in our driveway and the nose of it on the other side of the street. The owner of the company decided to leave the large truck there until the next afternoon when he got off his day job as a hospital operating room technician—no sleep after working nearly 48 hours and this guy was going to work in an operating room. Not to mention no shower! Our neighbors were trapped until I finally called the police who made the guy call a tow truck to move the moving truck that, by the way, was loaded with our things.

Finally, I fired the clowns and hired another company (Mayflower), movers I highly recommend.

And the list goes on…

We’d been in Georgia for a couple of weeks and, during a thunderstorm, a large tree limb broke off and landed on my vehicle, crushing part of the passenger compartment.

I met my first thousand fire ants. Nope, not a single person bothered to warn me about these critters. One night I took our little dog outside so she could do her pre-bedtime business. It was dark, I couldn’t see very well (I was actually keeping an eye out for alligators and wild boars) and set her on top of a fire ant mound. Who knew? In a matter of seconds we were attacked and the only way we could get any relief was to jump in the shower. So, at midnight I’m taking a cold shower with our toy poodle.

And I absolutely must mention the night I took her outside and set her down beside a large rock. Well, after a couple of seconds the rock got up and walked away. No warning about armadillos either.

We finally bought a house on one of the coastal islands, and it’s a nice place. Really nice. But we’d only been in it for a few minutes when Hurricane Irene welcomed us to the neighborhood.

Then, just days after Irene moved up the coast, our beloved companion, Pebbles, left us. She’d been with us for nearly twenty years, so it was a tough goodbye.

And that brings us to the present. Should be smooth sailing from this point forward, right? I certainly hope so. Denene underwent surgery again last week, but this time it was to remove the plate and 15 screws from her leg. She’s healing nicely, and so are the other wounds we received from 2011.

But now we’re living in paradise. So what could possibly go wrong now?

After all, Sandra Bullock is almost our neighbor. And that’s a good thing, right?


PostHeaderIcon Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

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

Deputy Sheriff Matt Miller, 53

Seminole County Florida Sheriff’s Office

December 26, 2011 – Deputy Matt Miller was killed in a motorcycle crash while conducting a traffic stop. An oncoming vehicle turned in front of his motorcycle as he was catching up to a speeder. Deputy Miller is survived by his wife.

Officer Clifton Lewis, 41

Chicago Police Department

December 29, 2011 – Officer Clifton Lewis was working security inside a convenience store when two armed robbers entered the store and immediately shot Officer Lewis multiple times, killing him. The two killers then grabbed the officer’s badge and gun and fled the scene. Officer Lewis was working in the store due to recent robberies of the same business. He is survived by his fiance. The couple was recently engaged.

The scene outside M&M Quick Foods where Officer Lewis was gunned down – CBS Chicago image

*     *     *

2011 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities

(From the page of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund)

Preliminary 2011 Numbers

December 30, 2011

2011/2010 % Change

Total Fatalities 2011 = 173  2010 = 153 +13%

Firearms-related 2011 = 68  2010 = 59 +15%

Traffic-related 2011 = 64 2010 = 71


Other Causes 2011 = 41 2010 = 23


Please note: These numbers reflect total officer fatalities comparing December 30, 2011 to December 30, 2010. Stats do not reflect the recent death of Chicago Officer Clifton Lewis.

2011 Fatalities by State

Florida 14

Texas 13

New York 11

California 10

Georgia 10

Tennessee 7

North Carolina 7

Missouri 6

Ohio 6

Arizona 5

Louisiana 5

New Jersey 5

Michigan 5

Virginia 5

Pennsylvania 4

South Carolina 4

Alabama 3

Oregon 3

South Dakota 3

Colorado 2

Illinois 2

Indiana 2

Iowa 2

Kansas 2

Kentucky 2

Maryland 2

Mississippi 2

North Dakota 2

Oklahoma 2

Washington 2

Arkansas 1

Delaware 1

District of Columbia 1

Hawaii 1

Maine 1

Massachusetts 1

Minnesota 1

Montana 1

Nebraska 1

Wisconsin 1

Wyoming 1

Federal Agencies: 10

U.S. Territories: 4

Note: All data are preliminary and are subject to change.

PostHeaderIcon Close-Contact Gunshot Wounds


Shots fired from close range leave tell-tale marks called stippling, or tattooing. These marks are discolorations of the skin caused by burning gunpowder.

Evidence of contact with hot gunpowder can be seen just above the “V” opening of the shirt (the blackened area) in the photograph above. The person who wore this shirt was the victim of a shooting at close range—less than a foot away—with a 9mm pistol. Notice there’s no hole in the back of the shirt. No hole, no exit wound. The bullet stayed in the body even from a shot at this short distance.

The next photograph (post autopsy) is of the wound the victim received in the upper image.


The wound in the image below is round and neat, and it’s approximately the diameter of an ink pen. It’s not like the wounds seen on television where half of the victim’s body is blown into oblivion, or beyond, by a couple of bullets from a bad guy’s gun. Sometimes exit wounds are nearly as small as the entrance wound.

The amount of damage and path of travel depends on the type ammunition used and what the bullet struck as it makes it way through the body. I’ve seen officers who easily mistook exit wounds for entrance wounds, at first glance. A closer examination reveals stark differences. Exit wounds normally present pieces of avulsed flesh angled slightly away from the wound. And, usually, there’s little or no trace of gunshot residue around the outside of the wound.


(Above) The hot bullet entered the flesh leaving a gray-black ring around the wound. The impact of the bullet, gunshot residue, and hot gases striking the tissue left behind a distinct bruising (ecchymosis) around the wound, as well as stippling/tattooing. The zig-zag pattern above the wound is the post-autopsy stitching of the Y-incision.

(Above) Stippling is clearly visible below the wound. Above the wound, hair prevented the hot gunshot residue from contacting the flesh.

(Above) Contact wounds/muzzle imprint may be present when the the barrel of a gun was in direct contact with the skin at the time the weapon was discharged.

Wounds sometimes show an abrasion ring (a dark circle around the wound) that’s caused as the hot gases from the weapon contacts and enters the flesh. The force of the gas blows the skin and tissue back against the gun’s muzzle, leaving the circular imprint. Other markings from the weapon are sometimes visible as well, such as the checkered pattern and barrel shape below.


PostHeaderIcon How To Cool Down The “HOT” Cop In Your Life

It’s common knowledge that ALL cops are a 10 on the hotness scale—perfect bodies, superb intelligence, extremely charming…well, there’s no end to just how hot cops are. Sometimes, though, to protect the innocent, that heat needs to be reduced to a simmer. So how do they do it? Cold showers? Ice baths? No, silly. They cool off by using the handy-dandy…

CoolCop Body Armor Air Conditioning System. CoolCop easily snaps to the air conditioning vent in any patrol car, and within seconds cool air is directed between the vest and the officer’s smoldering hot skin. That’s right, no more steaming pecs and blistering rock-hard abs.

CoolCop is also available for police canines.

*Top photo is of New Jersey’s finest. Yes, they’re actual police officers. Note: Not typical police officer physique.

Fortunately, CoolCop works for all body shapes and sizes. Available for less than $60.

PostHeaderIcon How To Survive The Streets

The job is dangerous, no doubt about it. Driving at high speeds. Guns. Bullets. Knives. Fights. Bombs. Well, you get the idea.

So what can officers do to stay safe in a world where bad guys have no problem with taking pot shots at anyone, anytime? Certainly there’s no guaranteed method of living to see tomorrow, but cops are trained survivors. They’re taught the things they need to do to make it home at the end of the day, and they’re definitely taught the things officers should NOT do.

Unfortunately, with time, complacency often wins over safety. And let’s face it, complacency and law enforcement do not play well together.

So, what can officers do to rid themselves of the monkey on their backs, called complacency?

1. Search. Search. Search. And search again! Always search suspects thoroughly before placing them inside your patrol car. Never assume your partner searched the guy. And search them before cuffing, if possible.

2. Handcuff, handcuff, handcuff. Always handcuff suspects, and always handcuff to the rear. Never, ever cuff anyone with their hands in front.

3. Hands...always watch the hands. That’s what he’ll use to kill you. Always make the bad guy show his hands, and once you see them never take your eyes off them.

4. Relaxing is for home, the beach, and at ball games. Never relax when answering any call. Each and every suspect has the potential of killing you. And, speaking of relaxing, get plenty of rest during your off time. There’s nothing worse than being partnered with someone who’s sleepy, not alert, and not functioning at the top of their game.

5. Upper hand – Officers always maintain control of the situation. Not the bad guys. Assume an advantageous position and keep it. Do NOT let the suspect move into a better position than yours.

6. The Cop’s Sixth Sense is rarely ever wrong. If something doesn’t feel right to you then it’s probably not. Regroup. Back out. Wait for backup. And that brings us to #7.

7. A dead hero will always be dead. There’s no shame in waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Wait for backup! Do not enter into a dangerous situation alone, if possible. Sure, we all know there are times when you have to do some things that civilian folks would never do, but don’t be stupid.

8. Good equipment. Be sure all your equipment is in top-notch shape—radios working, handcuffs free of anything that’ll prevent them from locking in place, weapons are super clean, oiled, and ready to fire, OC spray is not out of date (be sure to shake the can once in a while to keep the ingredients well-mixed), ammunition is not dirty, magazine springs are in superb condition, etc.

9. Drive safely. Use the tips you were taught in the academy. Two hands on the wheel (let your partner man the radio, if you have a partner), never follow the suspect’s tail lights unless you intend to follow him off the cliff, BACK OFF the pursuit if you’re uncomfortable with the speed you’re traveling. Remember, the bad guy can’t outrun your radio. You already have the license number and description of the car, right? One dumb bad guy getting away is not worth your life. Never.

Finally, always wear your Kevlar, wear reflective gear when directing traffic or at accident scenes, use flares when needed, get plenty of exercise, and train, train, and train!

~ Please, let’s see a safer 2012. I’d love to write something fun on Fridays instead of listing the names of police officers who were killed in the line of duty that week.

PostHeaderIcon After The Trigger Is Pulled: What Happens To The Bullets?


Experts are often asked about the kind and size of entrance and exit wounds produced by various ammunition. The rounds (bullets) in the photograph below are .45 caliber hollow-point bullets similar to the rounds fired from the Thompson sub-machine gun I’m holding.

The diameter of the .45 rounds is slightly larger than the diameter of the slim Sharpie pens many authors use to sign books. That’s pretty close to the size of most entrance wounds—the size of the bullet(s) that struck the victim.


.45 caliber rounds and magazine

The picture below is of one of the .45 caliber rounds after it was fired from the Thompson machine gun. The round passed through the self-healing wall tiles in the firing range, striking the concrete and steel wall on the the other side. Hitting the solid surface head-on caused the bullet to expand and fracture which creates the exit wound we see in shooting victims.

Many times, those bullet slivers break off inside the body causing further internal damage. The size of an exit wound depends on what the bullet hits inside the body. If the bullet only hits soft tissue the wound will be less traumatic. If it hits bone, expect much more damage. Easy rule of thumb—the larger the caliber (bullet size), the bigger the hole.


.45 caliber round after it struck concrete and steel head-on. Note the expansion and separation of the round

Bullets that hit something other than their intended target, such as a brick wall or a metal lamp post, can break apart sending pieces of flying copper and lead fragments, called shrapnel, into crowds of innocent bystanders. Those flying fragments are just as lethal as any intact, full-sized bullet.

FYI – Bullets don’t always stop people. I’ve seen shooting victims get up and run after they’ve been shot several times. And for goodness sake, people don’t fly twenty feet backward after they’ve been struck by a bullet. They just fall down and bleed. Well, they may moan, wriggle, and curse a lot too. And they might get back up and start shooting again.

*This is a repeat article. I decided to re-post it after attempting to read a book that clearly showed an author’s obvious lack of knowledge and research regarding shooting situations. Needless to say, I did not turn another page after reading the goofy scene.

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