I’ve seen a few oddities over the years, especially during Halloween, the night when both kids and adults dress up as their favorite characters. It’s also a night that a few ghoulish folks believe is the perfect time to commit the usual plethora of crimes ranging from petty theft to murder. But there’s one Halloween crime from my old case files that stands out a bit from the rest and, as always, I have to tell the story. I do so, as irritating and long-winded as it may be, to help you with details for your own writing. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up and believe me, I read a lot and I write a lot, and most of what I see in fiction doesn’t compare to, well, this …

It was late one Halloween night, after costumed trick-or-treaters were long back at home gorging themselves on sugary treats—M&Ms, Whoppers, mini candy bars, Lemonheads, Candy Corn, and Skittles—when I knocked on Miss Evelyn’s front door, a wide plank of weathered wood with rusty strap hinges.

Through the square glass near the top of the door I saw a small slice of yellow light that started in a backroom to my left and stretched across the narrow hallway floor where it disappeared into another room on the righthand side of the passageway.

At the sound of my door-rapping, a figure moved across the light, first one way and then back.

While waiting for the owner of the shadow to respond to my presence, I had a look around the porch. Nothing unusual … a one-gallon vegetable can (absent its label) filled with sand and topped with a handful of cigarette butts, a rickety old rocking chair, five plastic flower pots with each containing the remnants of some sort of unidentifiable plant—all dead, dried up, and crispy—, a well-worn green cloth sofa, and a portable radio that was missing a knob.

A foil-wrapped coat hanger poked up from a hole in the top of the radio’s plastic casing. It replaced the former antenna that, at some point, had broken off and was either lost or discarded as trash. Either way, the radio, in it’s present condition, had been there for as long as I could remember.

And, as always, smack-dab in the center of the front door were three fairly fresh chicken feet that were tied together at their bloody stumps with a piece of bright red twine. The collection of gnarly toes and bony knuckles dangled from a bent 4d finishing nail.

Chicken feet, according to Miss Evelyn, bring good luck and, as a bonus, they also prevented evil spirts from crossing the threshold. Nope, nothing odd at all … for Miss Evelyn. The porch “decor” hadn’t changed in all the years I’d gone there. Not a thing.

I knocked again. She yelled from the back of the house. “Just a minute!”

I’d met Miss Evelyn after arresting a man for burglary and, while searching his pockets for weapons and other illegal items, I discovered a small flannel pouch tucked inside his wallet. I figured the contents could possibly be drugs, probably marijuana or hash, or something of that nature, so I asked the kid to level with me so I’d know what to expect.

I was surprised to hear him say that what I held in my hand was not was I’d suspected. Instead, he said, it was his “medicine bag,” a ground up mixture of chicken bones, tobacco, human hair, and herbs. Its purpose was to keep him safe. This was my first contact with a medicine bag. However, it was far from the last.

Root doctors make medicine bags containing plant and animal matter, such as human or animal bone, sage, garlic, and even dirt from a grave. The purpose of the bag is, for example, to provide safety, heal and prevent illness, and to help ignite or halt romances, etc. Another practically endless list.

This young burglar purchased his bag from Miss Evelyn, a local root doctor. Since this was a totally new experience for me, I decided to pay this so-called root doctor a visit. And, long story shortened a bit, Miss Evelyn “knew all and saw all” and she soon became one of my most reliable informants.

Her customer base was massive and many were criminals, so I basically kept her on speed dial. I also dropped off the occasional gift—a turkey or ham at Christmas, or a turkey in liquid form (Wild Turkey bourbon), her preference, as a sign of my appreciation.

This particular Halloween night a young man, Miss Evelyn’s nephew, answered the door and led me to the kitchen where his aunt stood at the head of six-chair red formica-topped table, hard at work assembling her latest batch of medicine bags and other concoctions. Behind her, a large black kettle was at full boil on the wood stove. A foul-smelling steam wafted my way. I didn’t ask.

If I had to guess I’d say Miss Evelyn weighed at a pound or two over a hundred pounds. She was so thin that the blood vessels on her arms and hands were visible and looked like someone had draped a squirming knot of skinny earthworms there, much like hanging tinsel on a Christmas tree.

As always when “working” tiny pearls of sweat peppered her forehead. Her fingernails were bitten to the quick. She wore a simple and faded housedress that was three sizes too big, a Winnie the Pooh apron, age-yellowed white socks, and pink Flip-Flops with the rubber thong jamming a wad of white sock material between the first and second toes of each foot.

When she smiled it became instantly obvious that dentists were not a part of her clientele, nor had she ever, not once, crossed the threshold of any tooth doctor’s office. Her breath smelled like a rotting animal carcass, an even worse scent than the pungent odor emanating from the pot on the stove.

Miss Evelyn was quirky, to say the least, and she was one of the nicest people I’d ever met.

I’d gone there that particular night to see if Evelyn could offer any insight about two bodies that had been dug up in a local cemetery. The vaults had been damaged and the caskets broken open. The grave-robbers took the same thing from each coffin—bones from the lower right arms and hands.

She said she’d heard about a couple who used human bones as part of their religious rituals. Before exhuming remains, though, they had sex atop the grave sites.

Coincidentally, the man and woman visited Miss Evelyn earlier in the night to ask if she knew where they could get heir hands on a fresh corpse because, in order to complete their ritual, they needed blood and they knew that to get it they’d need to reach a body prior to embalming. Well, Evelyn was having no parts of their nonsense and sent them on their way. And that was the purpose of my visit. Miss Evelyn called me the second the grave robbers left her house.

I finally caught up with the couple when I discovered their car parked near a funeral home. They’d planned to break in to steal someone’s dearly departed loved one. Fortunately, we stopped them before they committed the act.

So you see, folks, bizarre and morbid and spooky crime does not always come in the form of murder. Nor are the macabre criminals always the odd characters who reside at the spooky house at the end of the street.

This particular couple, the grave robbers, were as normal as your neighbors. Both were professionals with public jobs. They lived in a typical neighborhood and drove a normal car. However, the contents of their trunk was a bit different than most—shovels, picks, tools for prying open caskets, and a few human and animal bones scattered about. Other than that … as typical as you and I.

Well, perhaps we’re are not the best examples of normal, but you get the idea …

 


Bonus Section

Halloween Safety Tips For All – You, Your Kids, and Police Officers

 

Halloween Safety Tips For Kids and Grownups

  • – Avoid costumes that greatly reduce visibility or are too dark for motorists to see. Apply face paint instead. It’s safer than bulky masks.
  • Plan the route you and your children will take well in advance. Tell someone else about those plans and what time you’ll return home.
  • Stick to well-lit areas.
  • Attach reflective tape to costumes.
  • Use fire-resistant materials in costumes.
  • Carry a flashlight or glow stick, but not a lighted candle. Candles are burn hazards.
  • Trick-or-treat in groups, accompanied by at least one adult.
  • Attach kid’s names, address, and phone number to their clothes in case they become separated from adults.
  • Teach children to exit and enter vehicles from curbside, away from traffic.
  • Stay on sidewalks as much as possible, and cross at corners. Do not walk between parked cars. Always look both ways before crossing.
  • Children should not eat candy while out, until an adult examines it. Candy should not show signs of improper sealing, punctures, or holes.
  • Do not allow children into apartment buildings unless accompanied by an adult, and only visit homes with outside lighting.
  • Residents should remove obstacles and trip hazards, such as tools, ladders, and toys from their sidewalks, porches and front yards.
  • Keep lighted jack-o-lanterns away from porches or other areas where they could ignite a low-hanging costume.
  • Do NOT allow your kids to carry any toy gun as part of their costume, especially those toys that look like the real thing, even if the tips of the barrels are painted orange. The orange color doesn’t show well at night, if at all.

Halloween Safety Tips For Officers

Working as a police officer on Halloween poses special challenges. Think about it. In a world where someone wearing a mask is normally thought to be up to no good, you’re suddenly faced with scores of masked citizens. Kids are out and about darting in and out of traffic. They’re excited and and may not listen as well as they normally would, or should. And practical jokes often go horribly wrong. Needless to say, it can be a wild and trying night for cops.

Here’s a short list of tips for officers working the streets on one of their busiest nights of the year.

1. Stay alert. If it looks wrong, then it probably is.

2. Carry copies of outstanding warrants in your patrol vehicle—the people you’ve been unable to locate. This is the one night when the dummies will probably answer the door thinking you’re a trick-or-treater.

3. Carry candy in your patrol car. It’s the perfect time to show kids that you’re really one of the good guys.

4. Watch out for lone costumed adults, or those walking in groups. They’re probably up to no good.

5. Watch out for people tossing things from overpasses. For some reason, Halloween seems to be THE night to bomb police cars with bricks, rocks, eggs, and pumpkins.

6. Be alert for kids and adults who wear actual guns as part of their costumes.

7. Park your patrol car and walk for a while. Mingle with the trick-or-treaters. Keep them safe. It also keeps the bad guys guessing your next move. Besides, it’s a good idea to mix things up. Patrol your areas in a different order. Never allow yourself to fall into a set routine (this goes for the rest of the year, too).

8. Drive slower than normal and keep your eyes on the roadways. Watch for kids!

9. Keep an eye on the registered sex offenders in your area. They aren’t allowed to pass out candy nor should they open the door for children. And they shouldn’t have Halloween decorations displayed in their yard or on the house. Pay them a pre-Halloween visit to remind them of their court-ordered restrictions, if needed. No need to harass, but it’s often best to be proactive.

10. I preferred to patrol with my car window down, even in the winter time. Halloween is the only night of the year when I didn’t. Too many flying objects!

11. If possible, have extra officers working the streets on foot, in plain clothes.

12. Bring plenty of extra handcuffs. You’ll probably need them before the night is over.

13. Please, please, please wear your vest!

And, to you and yours …

Happy Halloween!

Sure, your brand new TV was expensive. So was your kid’s Xbox and your husband’s collection of solid gold and diamond-studded Three Stooges bobble-heads. I know, you locked all your doors and every window latch was tightly secured before you and your family drove down to Sally’s Slippery Seal Sanctuary to see the animals perform their rendition of Flipper, The Musical.

Yes, it does seem as if the crooks knew exactly what they wanted and where the items were located.

You feel violated, vulnerable, and extremely and undeniably vincible.

So what could you have done to help could prevent the  burglary?

Well …

First of all, and this is an FYI in case one of your writer friends asks, when someone breaks into your home and then steals something that’s a burglary, not a robbery.

Robbery occurs when a crook uses physical force, threat, or intimidation to steal someone’s property. If the robber uses a weapon the crime becomes armed robbery, or aggravated robbery, depending on local law. There is always a victim present during a robbery.

For example, you are walking down the street and a guy brandishes a handgun and demands that you hand over the copy of After Midnight: Tales From the Graveyard Shift you are clutching in both hands. That’s robbery. Why? Because the bad guy used threat and intimidation to force you to give up your beloved possession.

Burglary is an unlawful entry into any building with the intent to commit a crime. Typically, there is no one inside the building when a burglary occurs. No physical breaking and entering is required to commit a burglary. A simple trespass through an open door or window, and the theft of an item or items, is all that’s necessary to meet the requirements to be charged with burglary.

For example, you’re out for the night and Paul Piglet and his girlfriend Porcinia Devine climbed a ladder and entered your home through an unlocked upstairs window. While inside they stole the copy of After Midnight: Tales From the Graveyard Shift from your nightstand.

The crime committed was burglary because the couple didn’t take the book from an actual person. Instead, they removed it from your residence while no one was at home. There was no immediate threat to you.

Okay, let’s run down my checklist to be sure you’re doing all you can to prevent future burglaries.

1. Burglars used YOUR ladder to get inside. Be sure to move it out of the yard and store it inside the garage, or maybe in the basement or storage building. Out of sight, out of mind.

2. When you’re finished moving the ladder take a few extra minutes to trim the bushes, shrubs, etc. around the house. You don’t want the overgrown nandina providing a hiding place for the bad guys.

3. Motion-detector lights are a great addition, but are not perfect, not by any means. Savvy burglars often test this tactic by getting close enough to activate the lighting and then hide, watching and waiting to see if the homeowner checks to see what made the lights switch on. No response to the sudden illumination can be a green light for the criminal to proceed.

4. I know you’re as proud as a peacock about that gorgeous mirror hanging in the foyer, and you should be. It’s really nice. However, the reflection seen from the window at the front door is that of your security system panel, into your living room, and down the hallway. A quick peek through the glass and a burglar can see if your alarm system is activated, or not, how many people are in the living room, if any, and where the TV and other valuables are positioned in the room. Not to mention that it’s creepy to expose so much of your personal space.

5. Social media. Do I need to say anything about how foolish it is to post your whereabouts every second of the day? Announcing to the world that you and your family are on vacation for two weeks is not a good idea. Nor is it a good idea to post photos of every single room in your house. Doing so is like posting blueprints and an inventory list of your things.

Bad guys troll these sites to pick and choose where they want to go based on what YOU’VE told and shown them.

“Here’s my new 200 inch flat screen and, by the way, we’re going to be away for a week. I hope Killer, our guard dog enjoys his time at the kennel while we’re gone. The house will be totally vacant for a week but cousin Mary Lou will stop by to feed the fish every day at 10 a.m., so we’ve left a key hidden beneath the large rock that’s one foot to the left side of the front stoop. What fun we’re going to have! See you when we get back next Sunday around 4 p.m. Thanks, Mary Lou!”

New Picture (1)

You are aware that geotagging features on cellphones, when activated, contain the latitude and longitude of exactly where a phone was when photos were taken, right? That means, for example, your kid takes a selfie inside her bedroom and then posts it to Facebook. The location of that bedroom/house and your precious DAUGHTER is now online and available to every pervert in the world.

New Picture (2)

6. Advertising sale items on online sites is popular, but you should not invite “buyers” to your home. Doing so is practically an open invitation for burglars to check out you and your things, or even worse. For example, the man who advertised a motorcycle on the popular site, Craigslist. When a potential buyer called and expressed interest in the bike, the owner invited the caller to come over and have a look. In short, the buyer showed up, shot and killed the owner, and then stole the motorcycle. How safe do you think the family and neighbors felt in the days, weeks, and months afterward?

Have buyers meet you in public places, such as the parking lot of your local police department.

7. Remember the day you bought that big TV, and when you removed it from the carton you placed the box at the curb for recycle pick-up? Well, you just told everyone who passes by, including burglars who’re cruising neighborhoods, that you are the proud owner of a brand new, giant TV that cost more than the cars driven by many people. Shred the cardboard. Smash the carton. Do whatever it takes to break it down in a way that makes it impossible to know what was once inside.

8. Security cameras are fantastic. They allow you to monitor movement anywhere in the area where you’ve installed the devices. When cameras detect movement they immediately send an alert to you, and you can view the activity in real time. If desired, the homeowner may also activate the built-in lights and voice feature. The voice control option allows the resident to shout at unwanted trespassers. “Get off my grass, you aggravating kids!”

We have cameras installed a strategic locations and we love having them. Well, the exception being at 4 a.m. when a raccoon ambles onto the rear covered porch. The animal makes it way, like clockwork, down the sidewalk, onto the porch, and then back to the sidewalk where it disappears into the night.  It’s almost as if it does it to activate the bright spotlights on the camera so it won’t have to walk in total darkness.

9. Yes, you do live in the safest neighborhood in the city. But that’s no reason to not lock your doors and windows. Someday it could happen to you …

10. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend adding a copy of After Midnight: Tales From the Graveyard Shift to the TBR pile your nightstand. The book is a fantastic collection of mysterious bedtime stories written by a superb group of authors including Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys, bestselling authors Robin Burcell, Allison Brennan, Phoef Sutton (Phoef also wrote the hit TV series Cheers and Boston Legal), Lisa Klink (Star Wars: Deep Space Nine), Dr. Katherine Ramsland, and Dr. Denene Lofland to name only a few. Well, one of the twisted stories is mine, The Sheriff of Macabre County, but the other authors are indeed superb … 🙂

The Sheriff of Macabre County

Police officers put themselves in harm’s way, repeatedly, over the entire length of their careers. It’s the nature of the job. A typical day can include serving and protecting the public, dealing with civil unrest, and even having to face man-made and natural disasters. Most police officers prefer to live in a city that minimizes their personal risk of injury in the line of duty, that pays a good wage, and where the typical officer’s workload is reasonable.

Analysts at Safety.com have studied nearly 300 cities and regions across the nation to find the top 20 cities for police officers in 2019.


Key Takeaways

The coast of the United States accounts for less than 10 percent of the country’s land mass, yet it is home to nearly 40 percent of the population, some 55.8 million people. [28] With a few exceptions, coastal or near-coastal regions offer police the best career opportunities. For those not interested in living near the coast, three regions offer favorable alternatives …

To continue reading Sam Carson’s full article, please visit him at …

2019’s Top Cities for Police Officers


Sam Carson handles community relations and content creation for Safety.com. Sam previously worked in the telecommunications industry and has over two years of experience. He’s now bringing his home services expertise to the home security industry with a goal of helping families secure what matters most.

Safety.com is a trusted hub of information about your home and family’s safety that provides a good customer experience through in-depth research, reviews and recommendations from industry experts to educate consumers on home safety products and give customers the power of choice when securing what matters most.”



Tickets are selling fast!

Please do hurry to reserve your place at this exciting one-of-a-kind opportunity for writers, readers, and fans. It’s never been done before and most likely will not occur again.

This is your chance to attend the actual hands-on classes taught to some of the best homicide investigators in the world, with all sessions taught by renowned instructors and experts.

This is not a citizens academy nor is it a collection the typically run-of-the-mill classes offered at so many writer events. In fact, even the Writers’ Police Academy, the premier law enforcement training event for writers, has not presented this extremely high level of intense and detailed instruction. Yes, MurderCon is that good.

This is as close as it gets to investigating an actual murder

This year we’ve gone over the top by carefully and painstakingly designing and offering a never-before-available opportunity for writers, readers, and fans. It’s the ultimate homicide investigation training event.

To sweeten the pot, immensely, we’ve arranged to host this event at the very source of much of the equipment, tools, and techniques utilized by homicide detectives …

SIRCHIE

You all know the importance of setting in your books, right?

For example, when your protagonists use Supergluing tactics to develop latent prints …

MurderCon attendees will work and train in the very setting where the fuming chambers were developed, brought to life, and then manufactured. Fingerprinting powders and brushes? Designed and made there too. Fingerprinting powders of all types, and there are many. Check. DNA testing? Check. Alternate light sources and RUVIS technology? Check. Evidence collection tools and kits and methods. Check. Buried body investigations. Check. Bloodstain patterns? Check, and some of the best investigators in the business teach those classes at the remote Sirchie compound just outside of Raleigh, N.C.

This seemingly endless list of top investigation education goes on and on and on. And you, non-law enforcement outsiders, have the rarest of rare opportunities to train there, at Sirchie, the global leader in crime scene investigation and forensic science solutions.

Imagine your senses being activated in ways they’ve not been in the past. That’s what’s going to happen at MurderCon, you know.

After MurderCon you’ll have the added knowledge of the very real odors associated with buried body and arson scenes.

Your eyes, ears, fingers and hands and noses and emotions will finally be able to join in with the writing of your next murder scene, because you’ll have had first-hand experience instead of relying on something you’ve read or heard someone say.

What you can expect upon graduating from MurderCon

A Fantastic Value!!!!

Browse Sirchie’s training schedule and you’ll see many of the sensational classes offered at MurderCon. Then peek at the cost of those sessions and you’ll quickly discover what a fantastic value it is to attend MurderCon.

MurderCon registration—the low fee of just $425—covers all classes, lunches, transportation to and from Sirchie, and more. Sirchie’s fee to attend, for example, just two classes—Clandestine Grave Search and Recovery and Arson Investigation for Law Enforcement—is just under $800. That’s the cost to attend only two of their outstanding classes (an extremely low fee for law enforcement, by the way).

MurderCon attendees have the opportunity to attend FIFTEEN different classes for nearly the same price as it would be to attend two at Sirchie.

What. A. Huge. Deal. For. YOU!

Sign up today at …

MurderCon Registration

Due to the fear caused by the news of home invasions, using hairspray as a chemical deterrent to ward off attackers has been a hot topic, especially among writers who’d love to incorporate the handy “weapon” into their tales.

The general idea is to keep a can handy on the nightstand beside the bed, or a smaller can inside a handbag. Then, as an unsuspecting attacker approaches, the would-be victim sprays the highly-flammable bouffont-molding hair-stiffener into the thug’s eyes, causing him to stop the attack and immediately run away while shedding a steady stream of gooey crocodile tears along the way.

Personally, I, as a former defensive tactics instructor and instructor-trainer, do not recommend the use of hairspray as a means of defense against attackers. It’s not totally adequate for the intended purpose. Nor is it reliable.

Unlike pepper spray that can be effective without direct contact to the eyes, the burst of hairspray mist must hit the eyes directly to do any good at all. And even then there’s a huge risk of doing nothing more than styling the attacker’s long eyelashes and bushy brows.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but carrying the stuff could give a person a false sense of security. And, like firearms and other weapons, unless you practice/train with with your handy-dandy hairspray bad-guy-stopper, chances are that using it in real-life would be totally ineffective. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there are any hairspray training academies in my area. Not sure about where you live, though.

The other premise is for the victim to use a cigarette lighter to ignite the hair goop as it leaves the nozzle, turning the misty chemical into a homemade hairspray flamethrower. Now, what halfway intelligent crook would dare continue his advances when faced with a scared and angry, fire-spurting homeowner?

Sure, the idea sound good—spray the attacker’s eyes which could render him incapable of continuing the assault. Or, set his hair on fire causing him to run outside looking like a human 4th of July fireworks display. But, there are a few things to keep in mind before lining your bedside tables with industrial size tubs of AquaNet.

  • For obvious reasons, if you insist upon going this route, remember to use the aerosol hairspray, not the pump type. The idea is to stop the attacker, not give him his recommended daily dose of laughter.
  • The actuators (push buttons) on aerosol cans are normally made of plastic and could melt when exposed to extreme heat/fire.
  • The flame generated using hairspray can extend only as far as the distance reached by the spray, which is basically a couple of feet. Therefore, an attacker could simply wait at a safe distance—four feet, or so—while your weapon slowly burns up/extinguishes. Or, he could stand at a safe distance and roast a marshmallow or two while waiting for the flame to subside.

Also, if the attacker is only two feet away when the victim begins the process of match-striking and spray-squirting, he could easily disarm the victim. They’re not going to stand around whistling a merry tune while waiting for the intended victim to first grab the can and a box of matches, strike a match or two (the first almost always breaks, especially when the match-striker is under pressure), hold down the button, release a stream of spray, hold the match to it, which could blow out the match, by the way, and finally ignite the hissing spray, and then aim it at the attacker, who, by now has puckered his lips and tweeted out the full ten-minute eight-second-long version of Free Bird. 

4. While standing in your bedroom striking matches and/or flicking Bics, an attacker could easily grab the blanket from your bed, toss it over you and your flamethrower, and then beat you senseless with your own fuzzy orangutan slippers .

5. If the spray fails to ignite you will have merely succeeded in helping your attacker keep his “Do” in fabulous shape for his appearance at your neighbors house … after blacking your eyes and stealing your stuff.

Of course, you could always switch to deodorant—aerosol, not roll-on—as a source of power for your flamethrower/chemical deterrent. At least then the attacker would smell nice while he pounded out a rhythmic Latin beat on your head.

A prime example of weaponized hairspray-fail was the fight between two Michigan women where one grabbed a can of hairspray, aimed it at her opponent, and set the stream on fire. Well, the flame never reached the other woman, who promptly grabbed a lamp and hit the fire-sprayer with it. When police arrived they found scratches on the faces of both women … and a broken lamp.

Wasp Spray as a Tool for Self-Defense

Using wasp and other bug sprays as a tool to ward off attacks earns an even bigger NO, Don’t Do It!

Pepper sprays and other such chemical deterrents are designed to irritate the eyes and respiratory systems of humans. As their bug-stopping compounds, wasp sprays, on the other hand, typically include pyrethrin or pyrethroids. Pyrethrin, a biodegradable compound, comes from a species of chrysanthemum plant, and its role is to disrupt a wasp’s nervous system. Actually,  pyrethrin is a low-toxicity pesticide.

Pepper sprays cause swelling of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, and discharge from nasal and sinus passages. Other effects are coughing, shortness of breath, involuntary eye closure ( a big plus when using for self defense), burning and redness of the skin, hyperventilation, and even  fear and panic.

Exposure to wasp sprays basically make you smell funny and your skin gets wet. However, when sprayed directly into the eyes of an attacker, well, it might make him a bit angry since the stuff could very well, but slightly, irritate the eyes.

Why go to all this trouble  and the risk of the thing not working when you could simply purchase a can of pepper spray instead? *Please check state and local laws before placing an order.






Blue Mountain School District Superintendent David Helsel said they’d placed buckets filled with river stones in all classrooms. Their purpose? To allow students a chance to defend themselves in the event of a school shooting.

The Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania official said the idea to arm kids with rocks came to him when he pictured river stones as a comfortable size for the hands of children. The theory was to have the rock bucket on standby in case an armed shooter burst in the classroom while firing a semi-automatic AR-15 or similar rifle. Or even a pistol or two (far more people are killed with handguns than long guns).

Shooter Seung-Hui Cho killed 25 students and five faculty members at Virginia Tech. Cho fired 174 rounds from two handguns.

So let’s picture this for a moment. The alarm sounds (this is not the actual message) … “Emergency! There is an active shooter inside the building. No time to evacuate. Lock all doors and shelter in place. The police are on the way!”

Teachers and children hustle to a rear section of the classroom and use whatever they can find to use as barricades. The gunfire is intense. People are screaming. The shooter is yelling. Police sirens are wailing outside in the distance. Some of the kids are crying and sobbing. Others are using cell phones to call their parents. The teacher is trembling, but trying to be brave. More gunfire and the sound of glass breaking.

Front and center of the group is a plastic bucket filled with lemon-size, smooth and pretty river stones. Everyone grabs three or four. They’re ready to clobber the guy who’s coming down the hallway. Then …

The classroom door bursts open and the barrel of an AR-15 pokes through the opening. Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets begin to spew from the muzzle at a speed of somewhere around at 3,350 fps, and they’re peppering the walls, desks, ceiling, windows, barricades, teachers, children, and the rock bucket, as fast as the killer can pull the trigger.

An AR-15 style rifle is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle.

During the blast of intense gunfire, there is simply no way on this earth that children would have the time to grab a rock and throw it with enough accuracy to stop a crazed killer who’s intent on carrying out the act. Typically, these guys are not afraid of dying and may kill themselves at the end of the shooting. So someone tossing river stones at a gun-toting madman? No way.

This would be more realistic …

Fortunately, officials came to their senses and are now stepping up school security by hiring security armed with guns. I think the rocks still remain, but …

Kevlar Blankets

By the way, why not equip classrooms with large “blankets” made of Kevlar? Kids and teachers could hide behind them and, who knows, the shields could give them the chance to survive an attack.

#neverbringarocktoagunfight

#kevlarblankets

#kevlarbuckets


I’d love to hear your thoughts on adding a bucket of rocks in classrooms as a means of defense against an armed shooter. Also, who knows what the “AR” in AR-15 stands for? Hint. It’s not Assault Rifle.

*As always, please, no comments about politics, gun control, race, religion, or any of the other hot button whatever-no-one-can-discuss-rationally topics. Thanks!

 

 

Motion sensitive devices have been around for quite awhile, and they sometimes go above and beyond what we want them to do. For example, they light our driveways when our friendly neighbor’s flag flutters. They set off our home alarm system after the burglar who broke a window to gain entry is already twenty feet inside the living room. And they turn off public restroom lights in mid stream (pun intended) if they no longer detect movement.

But, in spite of their quirks motion detectors are handy devices. It’s their sensitivity settings, or lack thereof, that can drive an owner to the point of grabbing a baseball bat to knock the thing from its mounting in order to club it into a million pieces. The nerve of it to flash on and off all night long causing us to think an army of creepy crooked criminals are crawling across our concrete walks. Yes, feral cats think it’s funny to disturb your evening by darting back and forth across your driveway simply to watch you come running outside in your pajamas holding an umbrella or spatula as a weapon to use against the intruder your winky-blinky light told you was there.

So, knowing the current issues and flaws associated with these flawed fixtures, scientists have developed a super-smart motion detector that not only works well and is extremely sensitive, it is 100% concealable. And speaking of its sensitivity, well, it can detect a movement as slight as someone moving the zipper on their jacket. You know, like when the bad guys in old films give their coat zippers a tiny tug upward before committing a dastardly deed. So yes, the new motion sensor, a sensor cable, will fit nicely in crime novels and other fictional settings. Here’s how it works…

The cable is fitted with ultra-sensitive magnetic sensors that detect changes in magnetic fields…even minute changes in those fields, such as the slight vibration caused by the movement of the aforementioned zipper. When the cable detects these changes in the nearby magnetic field it sends a message via Bluetooth to a controller that can activate outdoor lights, alarms, video recorders, call the police, alert a home or business owner, etc.

The sensor cable can be mounted along a fence line, hung in trees, and even buried underground.

This new device sounds wonderful and foolproof. However, it is still a cousin to the Internet of Things family, which means that no matter how seriously sensitive the sensor’s sensors are, its controller is susceptible to super-sorry hackers.

Still, imagine an entry team ready to serve a high-risk warrant at a home with one of these cables buried around the perimeter of the property when one of the team members discovers that he’d forgotten to zip his fly at the last bathroom break. Should he zip up, risking alerting those inside the target home to the team’s presence? Or, should he move in as planned, hoping there are no “escapes from custody.” Either way, the result would not be pretty.

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Cops absorb lots of information during the months they spend in the training academy. Then, when they finally do hit the streets they’re required to ride with a field training officer for a few months, a time when the FTO crams even more important stuff into their brains.

Over and over again, academy trainers and field training officers drill information and practical skills into the minds of recruits. Over and over and over again. And, among all the laws, facts, figures, running, pushups, sit-ups, shooting drills, defensive tactics, and on-the-job training, a common theme emerges—officer survival. And survival skills have never been more important than they are today.

Here are a few tips taught to police officers that can help keep them safe and bring them home at the end of the day.

1. Remember these three words. You will survive! Never give up no matter how many times you’ve been shot, stabbed, or battered.

2. Carry a good weapon. You can’t win a gun fight if your weapon won’t fire.

3. Carry plenty of ammunition. There’s no such thing as having too many bullets.

4. Treat every single situation as a potential ambush. This includes during meals, at movies, ball games, and church, etc. You never know when it could happen. This is why cops don’t like to sit with their backs to a door. Please don’t ask them to do so.

5. Practice your shooting skills in every possible situation—at night, lying down, with your weak hand, etc.

6, Wear your seat belt.

7. Wear your body armor.

8. Always expect the unexpected.

9. Suspect everyone until you’re absolutely sure they’re okay and pose no threat to you.

10. Trust no one until trust is earned. Even then, be cautious.

11. Everyone is a potential threat until it’s proven they’re not. Remember, bad people can have pretty faces and warm smiles and say nice things. But all that can change in the blink of an eye.

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12. Know when to retreat.

13. Stay in shape! Eat healthy. Exercise.

14. Train, train, and train.

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15. Take advantage of specialized training classes and workshops outside of the department police academy. For example, the blackbelt trainers at your local gym just might be police academy or military instructors who could address your concerns and weaknesses, and/or enhance your strengths. For example, some of the specialized training I’ve taught include standing, prone, and ground combat, knife and stick fighting, defending the sudden attack, and personal and executive bodyguard training.

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16. Use common sense and remember your training, because your family needs you safely at home at the end of your shift.

17. Family first. Job second.

18. Make no judgements based on a person’s lifestyle, personality, race, or religion. Treat everyone fairly and equally, from the homeless drug addict to the crooked Wall Street embezzler. However, remain on alert and cautious at all times.

19. Talk to people. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. After all, it’s often a bit tougher to hurt an officer they know and trust.

20. Find a release for your stress. Bike/exercise. Vacation. Talk to someone. Read. Write. Spiritual guidance. Hobbies.

Seek help the moment you notice a change/decrease in your work performance, increase in anxiety, excess use of alcohol and/or you consider drug use, change in sleep habits, you experience suicidal thoughts, or other drastic changes in your normal behavior.

5 to drive

 

Vehicle crashes, not guns, knives, overdose, or physical abuse, are the leading cause of death among 14-18-year-olds in the U.S. Did you know that nearly half of all teen drivers involved in car crashes die?

Have you taken the time to talk to your teen about the dangers of driving? How about the 5 to Drive rules?

1. No cell phones.

2. No extra passengers.

3. No speeding.

4. No alcohol.

5. Always buckle up.

You say you have not discussed the 5 to Drive Rules with your teen driver? Well it’s time you did…please. And here’s how to begin.

In 2013…

 

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There, see how easy it was to have the conversation?

* Above data and infographics from the National Sheriff’s Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/Traffic Safety Marketing.
Intimate partner homicide

 

Intimate partner homicide is the 7th leading cause of premature death for women in the United States. It’s the number one cause of premature death among African American women between the ages of 15-45. Are those numbers not scary enough? How about this: Of all the women murdered in this country each year, half of them are killed by their intimate partners. And those figures do not include ex-boyfriends.

Is there a means to prevent these deaths? Should a woman be able to see this coming? Are there indicators that her partner is approaching the point of no return? Well, possibly.

Several risk factors have been associated with the murders of  battered women. However, many of the women who were killed by their domestic partner never realized the severity of the abuse. Sure, they knew they’d been beaten, had bones broken, etc., but they never actually thought they’d be killed. They suffered from the, “He’d never really do it because I know he loves me…” syndrome. And that’s not a bad thing, wanting to believe the best in your partner. But denying a problem is harmful, especially when it comes to abuse.

So what are some of the indicators that a partner’s violence may be escalating to the point of no return?

Studies have found a direct correlation between gun ownership and intimate partner homicide. In fact, women who are threatened with a gun are more likely than other women to be murdered—20 times more likely. Just the mere presence of a gun in the house causes an abused woman’s chance of being murdered to be 6 times higher than a woman living in a gun-free home.

Other risk factors include:

– Serious alcohol and drug abuse, where the abuser is high or drunk on a daily basis.

– Threats to kill

– Choking

– Jealousy

– Forced sex

– Partner controls all activity (when to leave the house, etc.)

– Woman is beaten while pregnant

– Partner beats the children

– Partner is violent outside the home as well

– Partner has threatened suicide

– Abused victim has thoughts that her partner will attempt to kill her at some point during their relationship

– Abused victim has thoughts of suicide to escape the violence

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Photo credit – FBI

Has your partner ever done or caused any of these things? If so, you are at risk. Please seek help immediately.

– Slapping, pushing—no injuries and/or lasting pain

– Punching, kicking—bruises, cuts, and/or continuing pain

– “Beating up”—severe contusions, burns, broken bones

– Threat to use weapon—head injury, internal injury, permanent injury

– Use of weapon—wounds from weapon

Ask yourself the following questions. If your answer to any of the questions is yes, you are at risk. Please seek help immediately. Do not wait!

– Has the physical violence increased in frequency over the past year?

– Does he ever try to choke you?

– Does he keep a gun in the house? In his vehicle?

– Has he ever forced you to have sex?

– Does he use drugs? Any drugs?

– Does he threaten to kill you?

– Is he drunk every every day?

– Does he control most or all of your daily activities, like who you can be friends with, how much money you can have, or when you can take the car, when can use the phone, etc.) Does he always have to be with you when you visit family, or go shopping? Does he tell what clothing you can and cannot wear?

– Have you ever been beaten by him while you were pregnant?

– Is he extremely jealous?

– Have you ever threatened or tried to commit suicide?

– Has he ever threatened or tried to commit suicide?

– Is he violent toward your children?

– Is he violent outside of the home? Does he fight with others?

Laci Peterson – murdered by her husband, Scott.

In 2008, 14% of all homicides were committed by intimate partners (70% of the victims were female).

Scott Peterson is currently awaiting his appointment with San Quentin’s executioner. He was sentenced to death for murdering his wife and unborn child, and tossing them in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve of 2002. It is believed that Peterson fabricated homemade anchors from blocks of concrete and them fastened them to Laci’s body, hoping she’d remain on the bottom of the sea, forever.

Now, Peterson spends his days playing basketball and cards with other murderers. Oh, perhaps I should mention all the letters and money he receives from female admirers from all over the world. He deposits the cash into his inmate account, spending up to $180 per month on frilly things, like soda, cookies, and deodorant.

*NIJ statistics

Tips to avoid scams

 

Saving money these days is often far easier said than done. So when we do manage to set aside a few pennies it’s extremely important to protect ourselves against the predators who’d like nothing better than to get their sticky fingers on the contents of our piggy banks. Here are a few tips from the National Sheriff’s Association to help us safeguard against scammers and thieves.

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Identity theft is such a big problem during tax season because it’s when people gather all of their sensitive information into one place, making it easiest for criminals to steal information and tax refunds.

Some ways identity theft criminals can find your personal information are:

  • From their friends or acquaintances
  • By posing through a phone call or an email as someone who needs your information
  • By looking through your trash for personal information
  • By accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site or via a public Wi-Fi service

To avoid giving your personal information to identity theft criminals, follow the Indiana Department of Revenue’s four identity protection tips:

  1. Don’t share your Social Security number (SSN) unless you have to. And never give it to a person when you did not make the initial contact.
  2. Don’t leave your W-2s lying around. This gives visitors going in and out of your home access to them. Instead, keep your tax documents in a safe, locked box.
  3. After you electronically file your tax return, save the file to a CD, USB drive, or external drive and then delete the return from your computer. Store the device in a safe, locked place. This ensures hackers can’t steal your information
  4. File your taxes electronically. It is significantly more secure than paper filing. Individual taxpayers may qualify to file their taxes online for free at www.freefile.dor.in.gov.

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Tips to Avoid Email Scams:

Don’t believe what you see. Scammers easily duplicate a real business’ logo and/or email address.

Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear.

Do not click on links or open the files in emails from people you don’t know.

Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they’ve originated from your computer. If you see one that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.

Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos.

Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.

 *Lee Lofland and The Writers’ Police Academy are proud supporters/members of the National Sheriff’s Association.