The Fast Way To Recreate A Crime Scene: No Measuring Required!

Finally, your protagonists can leave their tape measures, rulers, and graph paper in the trunks of their cars. Yes, thanks to a company called Leica Geosystems, law enforcement now has the capability to “scan” a crime scene in mere minutes, instead of the many hours they used to spend measuring and photographing.

Detectives set up a three dimensional laser scanner, switch it on, and the device does all the work, creating the scene in animated 3D. The re-creations and measurements are so accurate that they’re 100% approved for use in court testimony. In fact, the Kentucky State Police recently added one to their “toolbox.”

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself (click on the video to read the entire story).


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Searches: They Broke My Door – Is That Legal?

We’ve discussed the issue of probable cause (PC) many times, and we all know it’s one of the very few things that remains consistent in law enforcement. PC is a “gotta have it” sort of thing when making certain arrests and obtaining search warrants.

One more time – Probable Cause is the existence of facts (not mere suspicion) that will satisfy an officer of ordinary caution that a crime has been, or is being committed…and the item to be searched for is reasonably connected to the crime in question. Oh, and that evidence of the crime can be found at/in a certain place (PC for a search warrant).

Okay, with that reminder in place, let’s take a look at a few more rules regarding search and seizure.

1) Information used to obtain a search warrant absolutely must be current information. “Stale” information is not a valid basis for a search. The evidence could have been moved. Suspects might have moved on. Other people may now be inside the residence.

2) An informant’s name need not be revealed in the body of the search warrant or affidavit. That’s sort of why they call them “confidential” informants.

3) Search warrants must be served (executed) promptly. Not a week or two after the judge signs it. Actually, delays of three or four days have rendered searches unreasonable in the eyes of the courts.

4) Police officers must knock and announce their presence when serving a search warrant. However, there’s no written rule/law that states a required amount of wait time before using a battering ram to gain entry. But, a good rule of thumb is to wait a few seconds, long enough for a reasonable person to open the door. Any longer allows the suspect enough time to destroy evidence.

5) Officers may obtain “no knock” warrants if there’s a threat of danger to officers should they knock and announce their presence.

6) The law says that officers may damage private property while entering, as long as the damage was necessary under the circumstances (breaking doors and windows, etc.). And guess who’s stuck with the bill? Yep, the suspect. However, some jurisdictions have policies in place that require the municipality to cover the cost of repairs.

7) Some locales permit officers to submit/apply for search warrants by telephone. Normally, though, this is only done when it is impracticable or impossible for the officer to apply in person—emergency situations.

8) Members of the media are not allowed to accompany officers into a private home during the execution of a search warrant.

9) Officers do not need a search warrant when conducting a search of a suspect’s personal property during the booking process at the jail. This includes any closed container found in the suspect’s pockets.

10) Officers must limit their searches of electronic devices to only the files named on the search warrant.

11) Evidence seized during an improper search may not be used. However, if the officer relies on a warrant issued by the court that was later found to be accidentally inaccurate (at no fault of the officer), it is possible that a court would allow the evidence to be introduced.

12) Evidence seized in violation of the 4th Amendment (protection against illegal search and seizure) may not be used in criminal trials. However, that very same evidence may be, and is, used in other court proceedings, such as parole violations/revocations.

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Surveillance: When Is It Legal?

Surveillance is often the best means of obtaining the probable cause needed to arrest, or to obtain a search warrant. Of course, there are certain laws that must be followed before, and while playing peek-a-boo with the bad guys. Here are the basics:

1. People in public places (the mall, walking in the park, etc.) have no expectation of privacy. Therefore, it’s okay for officers to watch and record your every move. This can even be stretched to sounds, such as a suspect who’s inside a hotel room and is talking so loudly that his voice is easily heard in the public hallway outside his door. Yes, detectives can listen to that conversation, and they legally can use whatever they overhear. Also, police officers may look into windows, as long as their view through the glass is from a public place.

2. Remember the hotel room from above? Well, police do not have the right to listen through air-conditioning vents or other mechanical openings. The courts have said that’s a no-no—an invasion of privacy. Same thing for overhead vantage points in public restrooms. Besides, that’s a little creepy.

3. Trespassing onto private property to conduct surveillance is another NO. Officers cannot crawl across someone’s front yard and then peek into their windows to see what’s “going on.”

4. Trash that’s placed on the street for collection, or in other public places, is fair game. Officers may paw through to their little hearts’ content.

5. Officers cannot intercept wire communications (telephone, etc.) without a court order. In some states, however, as long as one party to the conversation consents to the tap, it is legal.

a) extension phones are not considered taps, so it’s okay to listen-in, as long as one party of the conversation consents.

b) electronic surveillance based on an order by a local or state judge is illegal under federal law, unless there is a specific state law that authorizes the judge to issue the order. Without that law on the books the local judge may not legally authorize the tap.

c) officers may “wire” informants because at least one party in the conversation (the informant) has knowledge of the “wire.” Again, this is state specific.

6. Scanning a home with heat-sensing, thermal imaging devices now requires a warrant.

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Joe Bonsall and The Oak Ridge Boys: Sacrifice For Me

“So I can live

In the Land Of Free

Raise my kids

Live my dreams

There’s a price

For liberty”

Here is a very special video presentation honoring the Sacrifice made by so many so that we can live in The LAND of FREE.

 This song written by Joe Bonsall is available on The OAK RIDGE BOYS “It’s Only Natural” Album on iTunes, amazon and Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores… God Bless America…

*As always, my thanks to Joe Bonsall for his unwavering, faithful support of our men and women in uniform. Joe’s love of our country is, and always will be, an inspiration.

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Paul Beecroft: New Zealand’s Animal Friends

A trek off the New Zealand’s tourist path reveals some truly interesting sights.

Wild chickens living at a picnic area.

Beside the campground.

Pukeko (water bird)

Found these little guys during a stop in Hawaii.

Another Hawaiian friend.

*     *     *

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

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

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

Probation-Parole Officer Jeffrey McCoy, 32

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

May 18, 2012 – Officer Jeffrey McCoy was making an unannounced visit to the home of one of his clients, when he was shot and killed. The man who shot him—the roommate of his client—answered the door and immediately attacked Officer McCoy. The attacker managed to take away the officer’s weapon, using it to shoot McCoy in the head. The suspect fired several shots into the air and then ran back inside the house. When the police arrived, the suspect began firing at them too. He was later arrested.

Officer McCoy is survived by his wife and two children.

Officer Justin Maples, 35

Cleveland Tennessee Police Department

May 20, 2012 – Officer Justin Maples was killed when his patrol left the highway and struck a telephone pole. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

*So far this year, 39 officers have died in the line of duty.

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