Friday’s Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

New-Picture-22

chief-deputy-constable-clinton-greenwood

Assistant Chief Deputy Clinton Greenwood

Harris County Texas Constable’s Office, Precinct 3

April 3, 2017 – Assistant Chief Deputy Clint Greenwood was shot and killed by ambush as he arrived for work at the agency headquarters.

Read more
Writers’ Police Academy: 2017 Offers Thrills and Excitement … and Horses!!

67

The 2017 Writers’ Police Academy is a culmination of thrills, action, learning, and fun. Lots and lots of fun.

When it comes down to quality hands-on police, fire, forensics, and EMS instruction, the WPA stands alone, which is why writers, readers, and fans travel from all around the world to attend this unique event.

Now, for the big news of the day. We are extremely pleased to announce that we have additional space! Yes, you too can attend this one-of-a-kind event and train alongside your friends and/or favorite authors. You might even see a familiar face or two from TV.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

Here’s a list of just some of the action waiting for YOU at the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. Don’t forget to check out the exciting HIT classes!

Sign up today at Writers’ Police Academy. Space is limited, so hurry!

Also, you could qualify for a generous $150 discount courtesy of Sisters in Crime! For details, visit the WPA website at the address above.

And now, without further ado and to show that we’re not “horsing around” …

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 11.47.18 AM

2017 WPA WORKSHOP DESCRIPTIONS


Click titles to learn more

INSTRUCTOR: TROY JANDY
A show and tell of antique firearms and their modifications and functions.

INSTRUCTOR: ATF SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT RICK MCMAHAN
Special Agent Rick McMahan leads a detailed discussion on the historical events that have been impetus to the nation’s guns laws. Also, legal commerce of firearms, and dispelling the typical gun myths so often seen on TV and in books.

Yes, there will be fire and smoke, and firefighters!

INSTRUCTOR: MATT NINHAM & CHEE VANG
Gang culture, signs, symbols, and language

INSTRUCTOR: R.J. BEAM
The science behind bloodstain patterns and spatter. Hands-on session that includes time with SPATTER HEAD!

INSTRUCTOR: JUDGE KEVIN RATHBURN
Learn the inner workings of the courts and the roles of the key players—judges, clerks, prosecutors, defense attorney, expert witnesses, Grand Jury, and more. Class takes place in an actual courtroom setting!

INSTRUCTOR: MIKE BLACK
A combination of hands-on and discussion, this detailed workshop covers the reporting of the crime, the responsibilities of the first officers on the scene, preservation of evidence, evidence collection, the basic types of evidence – direct, eye witness testimony, circumstantial evidence, and physical evidence.

INSTRUCTOR: TBA
Walk through the scene to determine the type and manner of death and where the investigation goes from there. Hands-on investigation.

See and learn how these remarkable animals perform their duties.

INSTRUCTOR: DR. DENENE LOFLAND
Using insects as murder weapons.

INSTRUCTOR: BILL BONGLE
How drones are used in law enforcement. Legal and privacy issues. Features actual drone flights.

Observe and discuss various types of drugs and their impact when ingested.

INSTRUCTOR: COLLEEN BELONGEA
Experience the difficulty of multitasking while driving, observing, and communicating, and all while utilizing lights and siren.

INSTRUCTOR: HOLLIE BAUER
Interactive patient’s life depends on YOU! Actual medical training.

INSTRUCTOR: ATF SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT RICK MCMAHAN & SECRET SERVICE SPECIAL AGENT (RET) MIKE ROCHE
Two veteran federal law enforcement agents discuss the realities associated with working as a federal agent. Who has jurisdiction over which crimes? Who’s in charge? What the heck do federal agents do? Bring your questions!

INSTRUCTOR: R.J. BEAM
Dusting, fuming, and difficult to print surfaces are just a few of the fingerprinting techniques you’ll learn in this detailed hands-on session.

A heart-pounding, eye-opening, and extremely realistic session where you must decide, within a fraction of a second, whether or not to use deadly force.

INSTRUCTOR: MIKE BLACK
Patrol officers, the backbone of all police departments, are often neglected or poorly portrayed in works of fiction. Learn how and why these first responders handle life and death situations, including shoot-don’t shoot situations. Also included are an examination of how cases are scrutinized by the media, Stop and Frisk, review boards, use of deadly force to stop fleeing felons, and more.

Learn the fundamentals of a Glock pistol. Become familiar with sight picture, sight alignment, stance, grip, and trigger control. Fire live ammunition on the academy pistol range.

INSTRUCTOR: STAFF
Hit List – the list of HIT workshops

INSTRUCTOR: SHARON HENSEN
Investigations of illegal dog-fighting and cockfighting. Search warrants, warrantless entry, officer safety and more. An inside look at this horrifying and dangerous underground activity.

INSTRUCTOR: DET. MARCO CONELLI
Incognito! Explore the undercover experience, from locked door drug deals to never trusting informants. Listen and learn about this heart-pounding, dangerous assignment from a retired undercover NYPD detective, whose vast experience will help you develop your stories and characters.

INSTRUCTOR: ATF SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT RICK MCMAHAN
This class provides an understanding of modern firearms, how they work and how to better use/describe them in your writing.

Legal requirements for K-9 searches of vehicles. Alerts, kinds of drugs recognized, training, and more.

INSTRUCTOR: LES EDGERTON
How to write effective “bad guys” in fiction, including why you should eliminate morality from the equation. New ways of viewing characterization and how to open up ways in which to create truly compelling stories.

INSTRUCTOR: LES EDGERTON
In this eye-opening session, renowned writing teacher, author, and … former prison “resident,” Les Edgerton, lays it all on the table – how “we” outlaws actually commit a crime. This from the man whose “specialty” was second-degree burglary, and armed and strong-armed robbery. This is learning at it’s finest from one of the best instructors around. Be ready, too, to have your funny bone tickled.

INSTRUCTOR: NWTC STAFF/RANGE INSTRUCTORS
Learn the basics of the .223 patrol rifle, nomenclature, field stripping, fundamentals, and live fire on the rifle range.

INSTRUCTOR: DR. KATHERINE RAMSLAND
When suicide is … murder. Learn how suicide notes help investigators find their true authors.

INSTRUCTOR: ESOMA KUNG FU MASTER INSTRUCTOR HOWARD LEWIS
What is it that writers do that drives martial artists nuts?

INSTRUCTOR: BARB GERARDIN, GREEN BAY POLICE DEPARTMENT CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM (CIT)
Learn how police departments handle mental health issues involving both officers and citizens.

INSTRUCTOR: SPECIAL AGENT MIKE ROCHE, U.S. SECRET SERVICE
Romance, the Ferguson effect, how cops view the world, and more. Agent Roche spills all the beans!!

INSTRUCTOR: GREEN BAY POLICE, MOUNTED PATROL
First it’s time in the classroom to learn details and information about mounted patrols, how and why they’re used, and about the stars of the show, the magnificent horses. Next, participants will head outside to see the horses and officers in action.

INSTRUCTOR: BRIAN KOSTELIC, WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
See, hear, and experience the tools, tactics, and strategies utilized during an “officer-down” situation. Intensive, spine-chilling session.

INSTRUCTOR: ONEIDA NATION POLICE CHIEF RICH VAN BOXTEL
Experience the unique culture of the Oneida Tribe as well as the history of the Oneida Tribal Police and American Policing—not always cooperative.

INSTRUCTOR: ONEIDA NATION
Opening Ceremonies by Oneida Tribal Police, Oneida Nation Tribal Leaders, color guard, and dancers. The blessing of the WPA!

INSTRUCTOR: WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS – GANG UNIT
Details TBA

INSTRUCTOR: TBA
The effects and consequences on the officer, department, career and family.

INSTRUCTOR: COLLEEN BELONGEA
High Speed Pursuit! You will drive the pursuit vehicle!

INSTRUCTOR: SPECIAL AGENT MIKE ROCHE, U.S. SECRET SERVICE
Behind the scenes peek at the inner workings of the Secret Service.

INSTRUCTOR: TBA
Learn how to conduct actual filled sobriety tests, and then implement them on actual drunk drivers. Yes, volunteers will be consuming alcohol (in a controlled, safe environment).

Each year we incorporate surprise sessions that are designed to excite the senses of WPA attendees. The purpose is to allow you to experience “events” that unfold in real time, just as officers and other first responders experience in the real world.

Ready, Set … Blow Down Those Doors! KABOOM! Yes, you and your fellow SWAT team members will learn to use explosive charges to gain entry into “hard-to-reach” places. This is the real deal!

INSTRUCTOR: NATHAN RIEHL
This is a HOT one! An exciting hands-on FAVORITE session. Combat medical/officer down/lifesaving techniques – You are the EMS 1st responder!

INSTRUCTOR: DR. KATHERINE RAMSLAND
Learn how the experts elicit information from serial killers.

Tasers will be deployed. Class participation is encouraged…if you dare.

INSTRUCTOR: TROY JANDA
Learn how a projectile behaves when it hits its mark and then transfers its kinetic energy to the target.

INSTRUCTOR: NYPD DETECTIVE MARCO CONELLI & DR. KATHERINE RAMSLAND
A veteran detective and a renowned forensic psychologist come together to analyze real-life cases and crimes from competing and at times collaborating perspectives. See how these two professionals come together to dissect the criminal mind and uncover clues to ultimately solve major crimes.

You conduct the traffic stop, and yes, drinking is involved, but not by you!!

INSTRUCTOR: SHARON HENSEN
This workshop provides background, knowledge, and understanding relating to the interdisciplinary connection among animal abuse to child, elder. spousal abuse, and domestic violence.
~

Golden Donut Short-Story Contest 

2012-06-06_15-03-07_746-1024x577

The WPA also sponsors a unique short-story contest every year. The fun contest requires authors to write a story that’s EXACTLY 200 words, based on the photo posted on the WPA website. This year’s final judge will be Craig Johnson, author of the best-selling Walter Longmire mysteries and the 2017 WPA Guest of Honor. The winner of the Golden Donut Short-Story Contest earns a free registration to a 2018 Writers’ Police Academy event as well as a nifty trophy and bragging rights. You can enter the contest even if you aren’t planning to attend this year’s WPA.

For more information on the WPA and the Golden Donut Short Story Contest, visit the WPA website:

Golden Donut Short Story Contest

Read more
A Murder-Scene Checklist

You’re working patrol on the west side. Thirty minutes to go on your last graveyard shift of the month.

Just your luck. You catch the call.

Homicide. Male victim. Multiple gunshot wounds.

Your department’s small, with no crime scene unit and only two detectives. The senior detective is away for training and his partner is out sick. Doctors say she has a severe case of the measles and won’t be able to return to work for several days. So you’re stuck with the investigation. Do you even remember the basics? What do you do first? Maybe you’d better run down the mental checklist.

20170405_111755

1. Call for backup. Wouldn’t hurt to call for some additional help from a neighboring agency. The sheriff’s office might send someone over to help.

2. Avoid tunnel vision. Sometimes killers are caught as they leave the crime scene.

Tunnelvision sometimes prevents officers from seeing the obvious, such as …

20170405_103727

3. Secure the scene. Set up some sort of perimeter. The sheriff’s deputy could help with this duty.

4. Get the names and contact information for everyone in the area.

5. Separate the witnesses.

20170405_110235

No, not like that! Separate locations, dummy! One person in one room and another in a different room. Geez …

6. Render first aid, if necessary. Call for EMS and medical examiner (this is especially needed in the event witnesses are separated by the guy in the previous image).

7. Survey the scene. Develop a mental picture of what happened.

8. Examine the area for tracks. There may be an identifiable mark, brand, or logo. You may be surprised to see one of the looky-loos wearing that uniquely-shaped and/or marked shoe.

20170405_101602

9. Be sure all evidence is collected or protected before the medical examiner’s team enters the scene.

10. Make notes of everything, including the date, time, weather conditions, etc.

11. Document statements made by the M.E.. Record the M.E.’s time of arrival and the time the body is removed. Notes. Notes. And more notes.

12. Chain of custody has begun. Document all evidence collected and who took possession of it, including the body. Was the body bag sealed? Did the medical examiner transport the body to the morgue, or was it transported by the ambulance service?

20170405_095839

12. Photograph everything.

13. Question as many witnesses as possible before calling it a night. It’s best to get statements before they’ve had  chance to talk to anyone, or perhaps get cold feet and not want to get involved. Besides, people tend to forget things in a hurry. They also tend to exaggerate, or embellish a story if given the time to do so.

14. Be sure the notes you jot down are things you won’t mind having read aloud in court. Defense attorneys may ask to see your notes, and it would be embarrassing to hear your grocery list read to the jury.

15. Use a written crime scene checklist. Then your testimony will be consistent in each and every case.

20170405_100215

16. Be careful not to contaminate or transfer DNA evidence. Even fingerprint brushes can transfer DNA, so you should use a fresh one for each crime scene, if possible. It would certainly ruin your credibility to have the DNA from the victim in your last case show up as the DNA of a suspected murderer in the new case. It would be extremely difficult to explain how a dead guy killed someone.

Fingerprint powder can also become contaminated by dusting a surface and then dipping the brush back into the container for more powder. And we all know what happens when evidence is contaminated, right?

These are reasons why dusting for prints is done AFTER the collection of DNA evidence. The same is so when using Luminol, because Luminol destroys DNA.

17. Collect everything that could be used as evidence. Who knows what you may need later. Keep in mind, it wasn’t that long ago when scientists began using DNA found in evidence from old cases.

18. The last item on the mental checklist … use common sense.

* This list is not an official, standard checklist. Such a list does not exist, in fact. Each agency has its own policy, and each investigator has his/her own method of solving crimes.

* Finally, no crudely hand-drawn characters were harmed during the assembly of this blog post. They’re all professional models and experts. 

Read more
Infidelity

Benson Trucant never liked the beach, with its roaring and roiling surf and constant sizzle of undulating sea foam.

The place was absolutely maddening.

And that salty air, thick with the disgusting odor of sun-baked, rotting kelp and decaying crustaceans, practically turned his sensitive stomach inside out.

White-capped breakers slapping the soft sand with the precision and timing of a metronome—a sound that never failed to send jolts of electricity dancing and darting across his hypersensitive nerve endings.

Pigeons, seagulls, and plovers pecked and plucked fiddler crabs from their hidey-holes, screeching and shrieking as they fought over the tasty bottom feeders. If he had his way each of those useless creatures would disappear from the earth.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.

Trucant, the owner of a small town hardware store, couldn’t imagine enduring another day of that unholy dissonance.

From his vantage point, he spied a small, wooden trawler chugging northward between the setting sun and a channel marker. He imagined the boat’s outriggers creaking and groaning against the weight of massive waterlogged nets laden with sea bass and perch.

More of those dang screeching gulls diving in the wake, searching for bait remnants tossed overboard by the ship’s crew.

Trucant wanted to wave his arms and yell. He wanted to catch the eye of the boat’s bearded captain and his crew. He wanted to holler and jump up and down. Fire a flare gun. Build a fire to send smoke signals. Throw a rock. Hell, anything to alert the crew to his presence.

But all the trying on earth wouldn’t help him, because rigor mortis had Benson Trucant’s arms pinned tightly to the wet sand beneath him.

A massive dose of oleander into his salad did the trick, and the next thing he knew his wife of eighteen years and her “lover-of-the-week” dumped him there among a hearty stand of sea oats.

Death wasn’t as he’d expected. Not at all. There were no bright lights or long tunnels. No joyous reunions with long lost loved ones.

Just rigor mortis and the overwhelming desire to blink.

His mouth seemed to be locked open, so he tried to scream … again.

Not a sound.

In fact, the only thing that came from his mouth was a tiny crab seeking a bit of sunshine after enjoying its evening meal.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.

 

Read more
10 Ways to Stop Embarrassing the Hero of Your Story

20140808_110954

Detective I. M. Manly here, and I’ve stopped by today to tell you about a serious situation concerning today’s protagonists.

We, the heroes of your stories, have been meeting in secret, trying to figure out ways to put an end to the torture you force us to endure. For example, and this is indeed a sad, sad, case. I ran into Biff Steele a few days ago and within a matter of seconds I knew I’d caught him at a weak moment.

He’d barely spoken two sentences when his emotions came spilling out. Right there on the sidewalk in front of the Piggly Wiggly, where everyone, including Pastor Ben Theredunthat who went inside to purchase a tin of foot powder for his wife. On the way out he offered a quick blessing, an act Biff sorely needed at that moment. Pit T. Full is what he was, I’m here to tell you.

20170403_114745 copy

I. M. Manly looking especially tough on the set of his new film, “Attack of the Killer Typewriters,” a gripping thriller based on the book of the same title.

Biff is typically a tough-as-nails protagonist. He rolls with the punches and quite often delivers a few hay-makers of his own. But on this day, Biff was pretty down in the dumps. He was feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. Feeling blu… Well, you get the idea.

I asked him why he was sporting such a long face. His response was stunning.

He said he’d had about all he could take from his writer. She’d stopped conducting any real research and turned to the internet for every scrap of crappy information. Then he paused a second before delivering the really big bombshell. He said he was thinking about leaving, maybe even killing himself off in the final pages of the next book.

I couldn’t believe it. Not Biff Steele! I asked what, if anything, could be done to make things right again. That’s when he told me everything. Then he drove straight home to confront his writer. One of his co-characters was there, sitting on the typewriter, when Biff burst through the front door and started his rant.

This, she said, is what Biff told yelled at their writer.

1. Quit having me smell the odor of cordite at crime scenes. For goodness sake, I’m not that old. Actually, even my parents hadn’t been born when they stopped making that stuff. No. More. Cordite!

2. I love tense moments in stories as much as the next character, but having me kidnapped in every other book? Come on, you know me better than that. Having me abducted so often makes me look weak. And, quite frankly, a bit stupid.

3. Don’t you remember the discussion we had the last time you had me draw a chalk outline around a dead body? Oh, it’s coming back to you now … That’s right, they don’t do that anymore! Yep, doing so could destroy or alter evidence. Geez … pay attention.

4. For the last time, the FBI does not have the authority to take over my murder cases, my office, or my entire department. Stop sending them into my scenes!

5. Speaking of the FBI … NO, they don’t investigate all kidnapping incidents. So please let me solve my own cases. Your friends stopped writing that garbage years ago and their heroes are looking pretty sharp because of it.

6. So you insist upon writing me as a stupid, bumbling, idiotic clown who can barely find my way home at night, huh? Well, you’re showing a lack of knowledge there, Sunshine. You are aware that I had to pass a ton of tests and show an outstanding ability to solve crimes in order to land the promotion to detective, right? It’s not a job for dummies. Tell me, what are your qualifications that make you an expert on my career?

7. Let’s do this one more time. My sidearm is a Glock semi-automatic. It does NOT have any type of safety that I can “thumb-off.” No Way. No How.

8. Remember book three, back when I carried a revolver, a Chief’s Special? Think hard. Yes, that’s the one. Now think about the scene on page 87 where you MADE me say, “The sunlight reflected hotly from the brass casings as they automatically ejected from my revolver?” Remember that? Well, to this day I’ve never lived it down. Reacher and Bosch and the other guys bring it up all the time, and it’s embarrassing. Why, just the other day I overheard sweet little Kinsey Millhone cracking a joke about it. For the last time, revolvers do NOT automatically eject spent cartridges. I have to push them out manually, using the extractor rod.

9. While we’re on the subject of Kinsey, why can’t I have a steady girlfriend? You know, someone nice, like her? I’m pretty tired of living alone and drinking by myself in dark, dreary bars. I want to have some fun for a change. What don’t you ever let me go dancing, or to a movie? Anywhere where I don’t end up fighting or blasting someone’s brains all over the ceiling. That’s no way to live.

10. You never take me anywhere. I’m tired of living on dusty bookshelves. So I have an idea. I heard there are still a few spots available at the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. Why don’t you do us, and your readers, a favor and sign up today while there’s still time. Then you’ll see first-hand all the things you’ve been writing WRONG all these years.

Yes, they’ll let you shoot, drive, handcuff, investigate, participate in a police pursuit, interrogate and, well, have a ton of fun while learning how this stuff really works. Yes, it’s totally a hands-on event. Yep, lots of bangs, booms, and excitement. All the other writers will be there.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_d8b

Yes, that’s Tami Hoag!

Reacher has been to the WPA. So has Bosch, D.D. Warren, Dance, Rhyme, Jordan, Brennan, and, well, the whole gang has been. It’s where all the cool kids go to learn how to “get it right.” Oh, guess who’s going this year?. Yep, Sheriff Longmire is on his way to Green Bay.

So I’m going. How about you? And you? And you?

20170403_113834

Read more
Behind the Scenes: What Happens After The Cuffs Go On?

capture-prisoner.jpg

“He’s running!” A bag of cocaine is tossed to the ground along with a small handgun. The bad guy takes off. He’s prepared for the sprint—tennis shoes, loose clothing, and he has a small head start … and he’s younger. The runners are always much younger than the pursuing officer. I think this detail is listed somewhere between the covers of the official Bad Guy/Good Guy Handbook.

It’s difficult to chase someone while wearing a suit and dress shoes, but that’s the nature of the beast. So detectives don’t complain, they just do it. Sure, they’ll hear the teasing from the uniforms, later … “Who taught you how to run, your grandma?” “Slowest chase I’ve ever seen.” “Looked like a sack race minus the sack.” “You got weights tied to your ankles?” “You put your feet on backward this morning?” “You do know the purpose of a foot pursuit is to catch the bad guy, right?”

Yeah, that’s really funny, guys. Ha, ha …

In spite of the awkward, wingtip-clad feet, the investigator almost always catches the thug, wrestles to get the cuffs on the crook’s sweaty wrists, and stands him upright for the walk back to the unmarked police car. That’s me in the news photo above, after chasing and catching a guy who’d recently escaped from state prison. And no, I did not have a mullet. I’d started growing my hair out for an upcoming undercover assignment and, since it was a brutally hot day I’d shoved some sweaty hair behind my ears. Hey, you chase a guy in August, in southern humidity, while wearing a coat and tie.

Anyway, then it’s back to the police station for processing (aka booking), which includes mugshot photos, fingerprinting, and normally the prisoner’s phone call to his wife, mother, attorney, or bail bondsman. Sometimes, there’s a list of local bail/bond folks beside the jail/lockup phone. I’ve even seen a bondsman’s name and number scrawled or scratched on the wall beside “the phone.”

Signs like the one above are reminders for the officers who sometimes have a tendency to forget the details, or those who’re inclined to skip a step because it’s 3 a.m. and they’re working overtime and are due in court in six hours.

Officers must lock their weapons inside a lockbox before entering the booking area.

lockbox.JPG

This is to prevent prisoners from gaining control of a firearm.

DSC00955

The officer locks the box and takes the key with him/her.

Arrestees are often seated and handcuffed to benches while waiting for processing. Notice the handcuffs attached to the second rail from the left.

Prisoners are fingerprinted for both in-house records and for the FBI national database, AFIS. Most departments now use automated fingerprinting devices, such as this LiveScan terminal.

Capturing a suspect’s fingerprints on a LiveScan terminal

Fingerprints are transferred to a computer terminal where the suspect’s personal information is entered.

Digital images replace ten-print cards (cards used for capturing inked fingerprints).

booking111.jpg

Some departments still use the old ink and ten-print card method of fingerprinting (LiveScan terminals are expensive).

Then, with the processing complete, prisoners are placed into a holding cell until they post bond, or until they are transferred to the county jail to await their first court appearance, usually an arraignment.

Police department holding cellThose of you who attended the first Writers’ Police Academy  may remember seeing this cell as part of your police department tour.

Steel plates mounted on the walls serve as beds (mattresses are issued when the prisoners arrive).

Combination sink, drinking fountain, and toilet.

In-cell telephone. Collect calls only.

After processing, the cycle begins again, and again, and again …

Read more