This year, the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) spread its wings a bit with the introduction of our first publication, an anthology titled AFTER MIDNIGHT: TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT.
The curtain rises on this collection of twisted tales, revealing the words of bestselling thriller author Lee Child. Child sets the stage for a series of mysterious and strange goings-on that occur between the hours of midnight and dawn … the graveyard shift.
Contributing authors in this first anthology produced by the Writers’ Police Academy, include bestselling mystery and crime authors, top television writers, true crime experts, and more.
In addition to the stellar lineup of top authors, the WPA announced an exciting contest, a chance for two talented writers to have their stories included in this “killer” book.
Once the contest closed the task of judging the entries began. To give you an idea of the process and superb quality of stories received, here’s a statement from the publisher, Level Best Books.
“A large number of very good stories were submitted for the two available spots. We certainly could have filled another whole anthology considering the quality of stories we received. All of the submissions were read blindly by a panel of three judges, who were anonymous to each other during the process.”
While all stories were exceedingly good, the judges selected two to include in the AFTER MIDNIGHT anthology.
And the winners are …
A Confluence in Stow
After Midnight Anthology Details
- Title: AFTER MIDNIGHT: TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT
- Publisher – Level Best Books
- ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-947915-11-4
- Publication Date: August 1, 2019
- Edited by Phoef Sutton
- Foreword by #1 Internationally best selling author Lee Child
About the Editor
Phoef Sutton is a New York Times Bestselling author and winner of two Emmy Awards for his work on the classic television comedy CHEERS. Phoef also won a Peabody Award for the popular legal drama BOSTON LEGAL starring James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen. Lately, he’s been writing television movies for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.
The Authors and Their Twisted Tales
Lucky Cop by RJ Beam (bloodstain pattern expert, WPA and police academy instructor, author)
The Brass Ring by Michael A. Black (author, retired law enforcement expert)
Sunshine Berkman by Joseph S Bonsall (singer with the Oak Ridge Boys – the voice on the hit song Elvira, and more – author, banjo picker, and longtime support of the WPA)
Ride Along by Allison Brennan (Bestselling author)
Neighborhood Watch by Ry Brooks (AFTER MIDNIGHT contest winner)
The Bookends Murder by Robin Burcell (retired law enforcement and bestselling author)
Gentrified Homicide by Marco Conelli (retired undercover detective, author, WPA instructor)
Prime Rib from Brahma by Les Edgerton (Bestselling author and writing teacher/coach)
The Devil in the Flesh by Heather Graham (international bestselling author and 2019 MurderCon Guest of Honor)
Justifiable Homicide by Lisa Klink (television writer – Star Trek Deep Space Nine)
Rookies by Howard Lewis (WPA staff, martial arts expert, author)
LeishMANIA by Denene Lofland (Bioterrorism and microbiology expert, author, founder and host of the WPA)
The Sheriff of Macabre County by Lee Lofland (retired law enforcement, author of Police Procedure and Investigation, founder and host of the WPA)
Code Murder by Linda Lovely (Author, editor, WPA staff)
Baddest Outlaws by Rick McMahan (retired ATF Special Agent, law enforcement instructor, WPA instructor)
A Confluence in Stow by Emilya Naymark (AFTER MIDNIGHT contest winner)
Shared Secrets by Carrie Stuart Parks (forensic artist, former WPA special guest presenter, author)
The Case of the Staring Man by Katherine Ramsland (author of over 1,000 books, professor of forensic psychology, TV consultant and on-air personality, longtime WPA presenter and expert)
Panther Bait by Mike Roche (Secret Serve Special Agent, author)
Disco Fries and Homicide by Shawn Reilly Simmons (publisher/editor Level Best Books, author)
3:45 in the Peacock Room of the Channel Grill on 6th Street
by Phoef Sutton (bestselling author, renowned and award-winning television writer, editor of AFTER MIDNIGHT anthology)
Hostage (A Love Story) by Cheryl Yeko (author, WPA staff)
With a Foreword by Lee Child (author of the internationally bestselling Jack Reacher series, longtime WPA supporter)
Book Launch Party and You’re Invited!
Please join Level Best Books and the Writers’ Police Academy to help celebrate the launch of this thrilling new book, AFTER MIDNIGHT.
The launch party takes place at the Friday night reception at MurderCon, and books will be available for purchase at the event and soon by preorder. This will be the first of the Writers’ Police Academy’s new series of books. Stay tuned for more!
BIG NEWS on the WAY!
Also, here’s an important BOLO. Be On the Lookout for an exciting announcement coming from the Writers’ Police Academy and Level Best Books. There’s something very extremely cool brewing behind the scenes!
It’s NEW. It’s UNIQUE. It’s SPECTACULAR.
And it’s never been done before, anywhere. Not in the U.S. Not anywhere else in the world, and, as far as we know, not in this galaxy.
You, my good friends, have the opportunity to attend an event that’s so special and so very rare that, well, it’s an event that many police homicide investigators would give their eyeteeth to experience—the chance to participate in world-class training at the 130 acre elite Sirchie training facility near Raleigh, N.C.
As a patrol officer and later as a detective, I used Sirchie products to help solve more crimes than I could possibly begin to count, from simple B&E’s to Murder and Murder for Hire
To give you an idea of just how impressive the Sirchie facilities truly are, please join me on my first in-person visit there, back when I was hoping to convince Sirchie officials to help writers “get it right.” It went something like this (from one of my blog posts from several years ago) …
“t was nearly seven years ago to the day when I first made the three-hour drive from our North Carolina home to the Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories compound. I could barely contain my excitement. After all, the folks at Sirchie are probably the best in the world at what they do and the mere thought of the many superstars of crime-fighting from around the world who’ve been trained at Sirchie is almost overwhelming. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of crimes that have been solved using Sirchie products—products that are made right there on the compound.
After traveling for what seemed like an eternity, while answering emails and phone calls regarding the Writers’ Police Academy, the sprawling Sirchie property appeared on my right. The first thing that caught my attention was the golf-course-like green grass that stretched as far as the eye could see. And it was surrounded by what appeared to be an endless, gleaming, white 3-rail fence. A large gate, complete with a coded-entry system, was the only break in the fence. Very impressive.
I made the right turn off the winding country road I’d been traveling since I left the bustle of interstate traffic around Raleigh and headed through the opening in the metal gates. The long driveway leading to the facility was split by a row shade trees. A nice touch.
Two or three huge white buildings sat at the end of the drive. There was a beautifully-landscaped pond in front (I later learned the pond was even stocked with fish).
There were no signs or identifying markers—nothing—to let anyone know that this was indeed one of, if not THE premier crime-fighting operation in the world. But, I soon saw a personalized license plate on a vehicle that let me know I was in the right place. The lettering referenced crime scene investigation. Bingo.
Anyway, the purpose of my trip was to meet with the folks who run the massive Sirchie operation to discuss their potential involvement with the Writers’ Police Academy. I can’t begin to tell you how lucky the attendees of the WPA are to have the opportunity to learn from Sirchie instructors. They’re the best-of-the-best and they teach the best-of-the-best. Needless to say, this is a rare opportunity and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.”
And here’s where things get even better. We, the Writers’ Police Academy, are taking you inside the Sirchie complex, a place where outsiders are generally not permitted. Sure, over the years, we’ve made it possible for a handful of writers to attend Sirchie’s weeklong Evidence Collection Course (another for-law-enforcement-eyes-only session), but this time we’re going beyond even what I’d hoped to achieve … MurderCon.
MurderCon, presented by the Writers’ Police Academy, in conjunction with Sirchie, is the ultimate training event for writers who desire to bring the realism in their writing to a level most could only dream of attaining.
Yes, you, a MurderCon attendee will walk the same hallways, enter the same classrooms and training areas, and sit in the same seats as some of the top crime-solving experts from around the entire world.
Our group of renowned instructors who’ll present to you material that you’ll likely absorb like dry sponges soak up spilled liquids, are the experts who, for example, developed and founded the FBI’s Evidence Response Team (ERT). They’ve trained top agents from the FBI and US State Department. They’re instructors at the National Fire Academy, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand.
MurderCon instructors are top, highly-skilled experts in the areas of Cold Cases, Clandestine Grave Recovery, Drowning Forensics, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Geology (using soil to find killers), Biological and Chemical Weapons (bioterrorism),Toxicology, Pathology, Latent Prints, Bloodstain Interpretation and Analysis, and so much more.
This is hands-down the most exclusive collection of experts ever assembled as a team of instructors for an event for writers. And to top it off, MurderCon offers its attendees the same hands-on training taught to top police homicide investigators.
Dyer Bennett, Sirchie’s Vice President of Product Development and Training, said it best, I think, when he answered the question …
Why Should You Attend the 2019 Writers’ Police Academy – MurderCon?
The all-new MurderCon website!
After scrapping the WPA’s old dinosaur-esque website, Shelly Haffly, Creative Director + Owner at Rusti Boot Creative, started building a new site, from the ground up. It was a massive task that took months of planning, tons of long hours, and lots of hard work. But the result was worth it. The website is super nice and the internal workings operate like a finely-crafted engine, or delicate clock. Lots of whirring gears and spinning gadgets, buttons, and knobs. I think she created a masterpiece. From where I sit, it’s a work of art.
Anyway, I am extremely pleased to announce that MurderCon’s Official Website is now LIVE!
We’re excited for you to see the all-new look in preparation for the opening of registration for this super-special, spectacular event. Registration is scheduled to open on February 24, 2019 at noon EST.
We’ve tried to accommodate as many attendees as possible but, of course, there is only so much space to go around. Therefore, slots for the event are limited. Extremely limited. As in first-come, first-served. So I encourage you to please, please, please be ready to signup the moment registration opens. After all, we’ve sold out on the first day, sometimes within the first hour, several times in the past. And the event this year, being such a rare opportunity, well, be ready. You will not want to miss the extremely special opportunity!
Also, hotel rooms at the Marriott Crabtree Valley in Raleigh, our event hotel, are already going fast so it’s my advice to you to book your rooms today. Right now, if you haven’t already done so. You may book your room by clicking the link below. Many of the event activities take place at the hotel.
*The MurderCon website is brand new so please bear with us if you see a minor error or two. Several sets of eyes have scanned every detail, but you, as writers, know how the editing process goes. Sometimes “it” stares you in the face for months before you see “it.” And, as those of you with websites know, it takes several hours for a new site to fully propagate throughout the web. If you don’t see the new page(s), or if things don’t seem quite right with what you so see, please check back at a later time. It should settle in as the evening and night goes on.
Do You Quality for a SinC $150 Grant?
Are you a member of Sisters in Crime? If so, you may quality for a new SinC program that offers members a $150 grant that can be used toward registration fees at approved educational events/conferences. The Writers‘ Police Academy‘s MurderCon is one of the approved options.
Next in the lineup of fabulous 2019 MurderCon instructors is a pair of experts whose backgrounds and bios bring to your writing tables a huge and vast wealth of information that you’ve not seen at another writers event anywhere within this universe.
Since MurderCon, a very special hands-on event presented by the Writers’ Police Academy, is all about the factual side of solving homicides, and its purpose is narrowly defined to solving the crime of murder, we’re delving deeply into numerous aspects of how murders are committed and how top law enforcement professionals solve those cases.
MurderCon is an intense program designed specifically to teach writers how to think like homicide investigators, and this is so because MurderCon attendees will receive the exact same instruction that’s offered to, and attended by, top homicide detectives and investigators from around the world. This detailed course of instruction takes place at the elite headquarters and training and manufacturing facility of Sirchie, the “Global Leader in Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science Solutions.”
In addition to the murders caused by the guns and knives and poisons that are so commonplace in many of today’s novels, you’ll explore other means used by criminals who kill and sometimes wish to cover their tracks by whatever means necessary. In fact, one of our extremely HOT sessions titled Burn Baby, Burn!!! Arson Investigation, is a workshop that explores how perpetrators of murder use flames to kill and then to conceal their devious activities.
Taught by a world-renowned ATF arson and explosives expert, Burn Baby, Burn is an outdoor session with demonstrations of “live” burns to highlight the effects of burning various pieces of evidence. MurderCon attendees will learn the fundamentals of fire science, recognition of fire behavior including burn patterns and aftermath, and how fire is utilized by perpetrators during the commission of violent crimes and murder to attempt to destroy evidence.
So wait no longer. I’m pleased to introduce you to …
Ken Andrews, CFI-IAAI, ATF retired
Ken Andrews has over 30 years of fire investigation experience, including 28 years as an agent with the ATF and as a private consultant. He is an International Association of Arson Investigator’s (IAAI) Certified Fire Investigator and Certified Fire Investigation Instructor.
Ken was a member of ATF’s elite National Response Team (NRT) and an ATF Certified Explosives Specialist for 18 years. He has conducted investigations related to fire and explosions involving vehicles and residences as well as large industrial and commercial scenes. Ken has also instructed fire and explosion investigators nationally and internationally. During his career with ATF, he was a regular instructor at the National Fire Academy, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand.
In a roundabout way …
Many of you have come into contact with this next esteemed presenter, Jim Gocke, and you never had a clue that he’s been involved in your writing research. In fact, he’s probably helped many of you add a bit of realism to your fiction.
Jim’s vast knowledge of the technical and educational side of Sirchie, and how much it means to Sirchie that writers have the opportunity to properly learn about crime-solving tools and equipment, is how you’ve met him, sort of. Jim’s expertise was introduced to you by way of my book on police procedure and investigation. I’ll explain in a moment.
I’ve used Sirchie products throughout my law enforcement career, and beyond. In the trunks of my various police vehicles, I carried fingerprinting kits that contained Sirchie products—powders, tapes, lifters, etc. In addition, as a police detective I used numerous Sirchie tools and equipment, from those same powders and lifters to casting materials and much more.
When it comes to crime-solving pros, there’s Sherlock, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot, of course. And then there’s Sirchie. Their products and training for law enforcement professional have served to help solve more crimes than novels written by Patterson, King, and Agatha Christie combined.
Therefore, when the time came for me to write the chapter in my book about fingerprinting, well, it was a no-brainer. I called on Sirchie and it was Jim Gocke who answered that call for assistance. It was he who provided those intricate details and it was he who was responsible for those super-cool photos in Chapter 8 of the book and, of course, throughout the years on this website.
Jim was more than happy to help out, telling me that he’d love it if writers of all genres were exposed to the facts about police procedure and equipment, and how the tools they developed and manufactured play such a vital role in crime-solving. Additionally, we both agreed that the CSI stuff often portrayed on television is factually incorrect. Anyway, Chapter 8 of my book is how the bond between Sirchie, me, and the Writers’ Police Academy came to be.
Soon, Sirchie instructors began teaching classes and workshops at the Writers’ Police Academy. They sent experts David Pauly and Robert Skiff to the event, along with a boatload of equipment and materials to enhance those presentations. They gave away prizes for the raffles, and they even developed a course especially for writers, a class that many WPA attendees traveled to the Sirchie compound in N.C. to attend.
Now, Jim and I have come full circle and we meet again , this time hat the most unique hands-on training event for writers that’s ever taken place, anywhere … MurderCon.
It is both a pleasure and an honor to introduce you to Jim Gocke, another of the fabulous 2019 MurderCon instructors.
Jim Gocke a graduate of West Virginia University and West Virginia College of Law. In addition, he completed a Fellowship in Forensic Medicine at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and earned a Master of Science in Forensic Sciences from The George Washington University.
He was employed by Sirchie Finger Print Laboratories, Inc as Vice President/General Counsel and Director of Education and Training from January 1979 until March 2008. He was then employed by Sirchie Acquisition Company, LLC as Director of Education and Training from March 2008 until his retirement in July 2015. Jim is currently an Independent Contractor to Sirchie, providing his expertise in Education and Training, product development, and evaluation and technical assistance.
MurderCon is a highly-unique event for writers!
The difference from prior WPA events and MurderCon is that this year’s special event features the current science and forensic technology, and analysis used to solve homicide cases. Writers will participate in hands-on training using modern testing and evidence collection tools and equipment, in workshops taught by some of the world’s leading experts. To sweeten the pot, many of MurderCon’s sessions are taught at the facility where the science and technology were developed and then transformed into the actual products used by today’s homicide detectives and other law enforcement professionals.
“When writers graduate from MurderCon, they’ll have the knowledge to describe what really happens—and doesn’t happen—in a homicide investigation.” ~ Dyer Bennett, Vice President of Sirchie’s Product Development and Training
This is a rare opportunity for writers, a unique juncture of fiction and fact at the source of modern crime scene investigation technology. It’s the chance to bring your writing to a level you never thought you could achieve. This type of incredibly detailed and cutting edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere.
Yes, MurderCon is indeed a “Killer Event” and you’re invited to attend!
Registration opens very soon, within the next couple of weeks. Please watch for the announcement and then be ready at your keyboards the moment registration opens. Space at the Sirchie compound and training facility is extremely limited, therefore we expect spots to go quickly. Believe me, you’ll not want to miss this rare opportunity. It may be the only chance in a lifetime to attend such a special event.
LOCATION AND DATES:
August 1-4, 2019
Hotel Location / Training Location:
Marriott Crabtree Valley
4500 Marriott Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina 27612
SIRCHIE – Training Location:
100 Hunter Place, Youngsville, North Carolina 27615
We’ve already had to increase our room block size twice at the Marriott. Yes, response is fantastic.
Since many activities and workshops will also take place at the hotel, including a special party (details to be announced soon), the Saturday banquet, book signings, and more, we strongly urge you to book your hotel rooms today, without delay!
Here’s the link for room reservations.
One of the most dangerous aspects of working as a law enforcement officer is not the suspect who’s standing ready to fight, the armed robber who’s decided to stop running and turns square-off with the cop who’s been in pursuit for several blocks, or even heading to a shots-fired call. Instead, the most perilous, threatening, hazardous (you pick the synonym) situation officers face is the unknown—what they can’t see. It’s the what or who is waiting for them behind a doorway, a dark alley, or somewhere within a stairwell that sends the scary-meter off the charts.
The Fatal Funnel
The entrance to these areas of “the unknown” is often called the “fatal funnel.” For example, a murder suspect was seen entering a backyard garage at the end of dead-end street. The garage is a large building and the owner tells officers that it’s packed full of antique furniture, lots of boxes of all sizes, four old cars, a tractor, lawn care equipment, and an assortment of cabinets, shelving, and other typical garage bits and bobs.
There’s only one way in and that’s a side door made of solid metal. There are a few windows, of course, but unfortunately they’re blocked by stacks of cardboard boxes.
The door, then, is the point that separates the officers from access to the concealed killer. It’s the sole point of access to the interior of the garage. It is where the wide expanse of the outdoors narrows to a single point. The doorway and immediate area leading to it is the fatal funnel.
Unfortunately, for the officers, that doorway must be breached, and they must go inside to bring out the criminal. It’s their job. It’s their duty.
The Two “Cs”
“Cover” and “Concealment” are terms drilled into the minds of rookie officers during their academy training. They’re also stressed during briefings and training sessions for SWAT and High-Risk entry teams. All officers should keep those words and their meanings at the top of the “things I must do” each and every day” list.
A cover is an object or barrier that has the capability of likely and hopefully stopping projectiles such as bullets, rocks, bottles, etc.
Concealment is something that prevents officers from being seen. It’s any place where an officer could hide to prevent a suspect from knowing their precise position, and what he/she may be doing (reloading, calling for backup, moving into a more tactically advantageous position, etc.).
Doorways are the danger end of the fatal funnel. It’s the point where an officer can be easily seen. It’s where they’re the most vulnerable to attack, and it’s the place where it’s difficult to move out of the path of incoming projectiles. This is the place where an officer is most likely to die during a high-risk entry.
It’s why officers are taught to never stand in front of a doorway during a high-risk incident. After all, the advantage in these situations is definitely in the hands of the suspect. They know where the officers are positioned but it’s up to the officers to learn the bad guy’s location.
Prior to entering the home/room, the first officer to enter should take a quick peek inside using just a small portion of the head to penetrate the doorway. With firearm at ready, the shooting hand also penetrates the doorway simultaneously with the head. This action enables the officer to address an active and immediate threat. The officer should then have an idea of the layout of the room that’s immediately beyond the doorway. They may also learn the location of the suspect and other possible threats, such as animals, boobytraps, etc.
After the quick peek it’s time to pass through the fatal funnel. It’s the decision of the first officer whether he/she goes right or left. The second officer entering must go in the opposite direction. If the first officer goes right, the second officer enters to the left. Each officer then clears the corner nearest to them.
Room clearing instruction at the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy
The eyes should be in the direction of the muzzle of the gun. Where it goes the eyes should follow. Peripheral vision is a MUST to detect movement and activity in all directions. Again, though, the immediate focus of the eyes is where the weapon is pointed.
Each area of each room must be searched in the same slow and methodical process, and each doorway within a house is its own fatal funnel.
Two techniques used to safely enter a building or room are “Criss-Crossing” and “Buttonhook.”
It is the goal of the officers to safely locate and apprehend the suspect. However, that’s not always the outcome, such as the recent shootout in Houston, where five narcotics officers serving a search warrant immediately came under fire the moment they entered the fatal funnel of the home to be searched. After the first officer entered and was shot, it was up to the remaining officers to first go in to bring out the injured officer, and then to apprehend the shooter(s). As a result, four of the officers were shot (two in the face) and a fifth suffered a knee injury.
When the first officer entered the house, he was attacked by a large pit bull. Then one of the suspects, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle, opened fire, striking the officer in the shoulder. The officer fell and the second suspect, 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, tried to grab the officer’s service weapon. She was shot and killed by the officers who were on the way in to rescue their fellow officer. Tuttle was also killed during the shootout.
The officers obtained the search warrant because they knew black tar heroin was being soldfrom the house.
I’ve been the first officer through the fatal funnel, many times, and I can assure you that the feeling associated with doing so is practically indescribable. The adrenaline released when the decision to “go in” cannot be compared to any other. It’s a combination of fear and courage that, when teamed together, instantly forces your feet to move forward without hesitation. Your heart pounds and your vision and hearing become razor sharp. Your muscles are hard but fluid, and your mind is focused on nothing but the task at hand.
Once, when entering a house, I was attacked from the rear by man holding a steak knife in his hand. He’d been concealed behind a large piece of furniture to my right (I’d chosen to left after a quick peek). The second officer entering the room quickly stopped the attack and the third officer took the second man’s place and continued going to the right while the attacker was pulled from the room. We located the main suspect hiding in a room at the back of the house. After clearing all the rooms and cuffing everyone inside, we located a fairly substantial supply of crack cocaine.
Looking back, I think about all the times I could’ve been shot, like the officers in Houston. Would I do it again, if in that position? Absolutely.
It’s what cops do. It’s part of the job.
Fatal funnel and all.
Sadly, on the same day I posted this article about the extreme danger associated with the fatal funnel, the Virginia State Police announced this sad news. I trained at the same academy as did this brave young trooper:
Trooper Lucas B. Dowell was a member of the Virginia State Police Tactical Team that was assisting the Piedmont Regional Drug and Gang Task Force with executing a search warrant at a residence in the 1500 block of Cumberland Road/Route 45, just north of the town limits of Farmville. The Tactical Team had made entry into the residence shortly before 10 p.m. Monday when an adult male inside the residence began shooting at them. The Tactical Team members returned fire, fatally wounding the male suspect.
Trooper Dowell was transported to Southside Community Hospital in Farmville where he succumbed to his injuries.
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, for everyone to see, 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. Pitiful is what he was, I’m here to tell you.
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 the Writers’ Police Academy is teaming up with Sirchie to host a special event called MurderCon Why don’t you do us, and your readers, a favor and sign up the second registration opens? Then you’ll see first-hand all the things you’ve been writing WRONG all these years. All the other writers will be there.
Reacher has been to the WPA. So has Bosch, D.D. Warren, Dance, Rhyme, Jordan, Longmire, Brennan, and, well, the whole gang has been. It’s where all the cool kids go to learn how to “get it right.”
So I’m going. How about you?
It’s Black Friday, so to help out, here are a few recommendations.
By the way, someone asked why I post all Amazon links for the books I recommend. The answer is that they work well for and with this site, but by all means feel free to purchase books anywhere you like. But why not here by simply clicking the links I provide?
The job was fantastic. Everything you wanted and more. Excitement, fulfillment, serving mankind, and action that produces an adrenaline rush like no other. But, along with following your dreams sometimes comes a price. And sometimes that price is quite steep.
Yes, becoming a cop was everything you’d always wanted out of life. And, you’d lucked out when you married the perfect partner, had two beautiful children, purchased a nice home with a not-so-bad mortgage and two fairly new vehicles—a mini-van for hauling the kids to ballgames, scouting events, and family vacations, and a sporty little convertible for weekend fun.
Adding to the perfect lifestyle was an always-by-your-side speckled dog named Jake who the kids forced you to rescue from a local shelter. Work was going great, too, and you’d finally reached the five-year, unofficial, no-longer-a-rookie status. Along with that milestone came a permanent dayshift assignment.
No more graveyards. No more of the Sandman tugging at your eyelids while patrolling dark side streets and alleys. No more trying to sleep with bright sunlight burning its way into your bedroom.
Yes! More awake time at home with the family. Normal meals and meal times. No more Denny’s Lumberjack Slams with a side of hash browns at 4 a.m., or the cold, not-quite-finshed-because-of-the-shooting, three piece, once-extra crispy meals from the Colonel.
Things were definitely looking good.
Better still, you felt good. Well-rested. You’d finally watched your favorite TV show at its actual air time, not as a recording after everyone else has seen and talked about it for days.
You felt so good, actually, that you’d volunteered for extra-duty. Running a little radar on your off time would be an easy assignment, and the extra money would come in handy during the holidays. Besides, little Sally Sue needed braces and Jimmie Joe had already been dropping hints about attending a Boy Scout summer camp.
A few hours each week. How bad could it be?
Your supervisor liked what she saw. You’re a hard-worker. A real go-getter. She wrote a glowing letter recommending you for the Emergency Response Team (ERT). You interviewed and before you knew it you’re on the team. Training was only twice a week, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, your days off. Well, there’s the bi-monthly night training exercises, and the team competitions.
You didn’t get called out all that often—two, three times a month at the most? The last time, though, you were gone for two days, but that really wan’t too bad. Well, maybe you could’ve cut back on the radar assignment. But, the money was nice. After the holidays. Yes, that’s it. You’d promised to cut back after the holidays.
The hostage situation was a tense one. Took 14 hours before the sniper finally popped one in the guy’s T-Zone. That piece of crap never had a chance to think about pulling the trigger before his lights went out. At least his victim came out okay. She’d probably be scarred for life, but she’d live. Might spend a few days with a shrink, but she’d live.
Man, that sniper was good, huh? Blew that guy’s brains all over the wall. Sat him down in a hurry, too. Now that’s what a bloodstain pattern is supposed to look like. TV directors should see this stuff.
To celebrate a job well done the team went to a bar for a few drinks and to unwind. You made it home at 3 a.m., drunk. Your wife and kids were fast asleep. There’s a piece of cake on the counter. The chocolate frosting had dried and hardened just a bit around the edges.
Damn, you forgot your kid’s birthday party.
You couldn”t sleep. Brains and blood. That’s all you saw when you closed your eyes.
Brains and blood.
You knew she was awake and could smell the cheap whiskey, cigarette smoke, and drugstore perfume.
Hadn’t smoked in ten years. When had you started, again?
Brains and blood … that’s what was on your mind.
You’d stared at the ceiling, knowing that in two hours the clock would ring. Would the Jack odor be gone by then?
Brains and blood, that’s what kept your eyes open and your mind spinning.
The buzzer sounded and you showered and dressed. Skipped breakfast because your gut felt sour and no matter how many times you brushed your teeth, you felt as if your breath reeked of dirty ashtrays and stale booze.
A domestic he-said-she-said, a lost kid, and an overnight B&E at a midtown mom and pop grocery store. Your head pounded. Pearl-size beads of sweat ran down your back, following your spine until they dipped below your waistband. You dreaded the overtime radar detail. Two more months. Only two more months and the holidays would be over.
A drug raid at 10 p.m. A good bust, too. Two kilos and some stolen guns. What’s a couple of beers to unwind? Sure, you’d go.
It was 3 a.m., again, a few hours after switching from beer to hard liquor, when you’d fumbled with your keys, trying to find the lock on the front door. This, after parking your car askew in the driveway with the driver’s side tire on the lawn and leaving the car door wide open, an act you’d very much regret when trying to start the car the next day.
Passed out on the couch. Late for work, again. Forty-minutes late, actually, due to a head-splitting hangover and a dead car battery. A written warning.
A week later you’re late again, but this time the sergeant smelled the alcohol on your breath. Suspended. Ten days.
Your wife went shopping with her friends. You stayed home with the kids. She came home late. Really late. The stores closed hours ago. No shopping bags and you could’ve sworn she’d been wearing panty hose when she left.
Back at work. Another shooting. This time you fired a few rounds at the guy. He ran. You chased. He turned and fired, so you popped off a couple of rounds in return. He dropped, bleeding and twitching on the pavement.
The kid died. He’d turned thirteen just four days before you killed him.
Suspended pending an investigation.
The department shrink prescribed a couple of meds to help you sleep.
The media hounded you relentlessly. Published your name and address along with a photo of your home.
Another paper published your department and academy records, including the one where your scores on the firing range were darn near perfect. You’d meant to kill him, they’d said. Your skills were that good. Sure, you knew better, but …
Brains and blood.
Pills helped, some.
And Jack Daniels.
She was out shopping, again. This time she wore her “going out” makeup and the tight skirt and top she once wore on the night of an anniversary. The one she called her “you can’t resist this” outfit. She was right, too, because those legs went on for days.
More Jack Daniels and a pill or two or three. Lost count.
She came home drunk at 3 a.m., smelling of Jack Daniels, cigarette smoke, and cheap aftershave.
You’re awake, staring at the ceiling, knowing the clock is set to go off in three hours. She’s snoring gently. You smelled the Jack with each tiny exhale. The aftershave burned your nostrils.
Two more pills. No, make it four.
Then a trip to the garage, in your pajamas. Barefoot.
The concrete felt cool on the soles of your feet.
An owl hooted outside, somewhere far in the distance.
A cricket chirped from behind the old, rusty furnace.
Boxes filled with old clothing meant for Goodwill sat against the block wall where they’d been for a couple of years.
Moonlight wormed its way through a narrow window next to the ceiling. It painted a milky line that reached from the center of the floor to a tall stool next to a dusty table saw.
You slid the stool next to the workbench where you’d mended countless toys, appliances, and fixed the heels on her favorite shoes. You stood still for moment, taking in the surroundings—your tools, the kids’ old bikes, a couple of rickety sawhorses your father used when he was young, the water softener equipment, and a trunk filled with years of memories.
Then you sat on the wooden stool top, resting the balls of your feet on the bottom rung, and glanced down at the off-duty weapon in your hand, your favorite pistol. Never missed a single target with it.
You couldn’t remember taking out of the dresser drawer, though.
Didn’t matter now.
It would be over in a second.
You opened your mouth and placed the barrel inside, tasting bitter gun oil.
The metal was cool against your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Familiar. Comforting in a peculiar sort of way.
A lone tear trickled down your cheek.
Brains and blood …
In 2016, 108 police officers died as a result of suicide. That’s more than the total officers killed by gunfire and traffic accidents combined in the same year.
- One officer completed suicide every 81 hours.
- For every one police suicide, almost 1,000 officers continue to work while suffering the painful symptoms of PTSD.
*Source – Officer.com
The blue line flag above was painted by author J.D. Allen and presented to me as a gift at the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. For those of you who don’t know, JD was one of the organizers of the first Writers’ Police Academy held in North Carolina. Thank you, JD. You’re a wonderful friend.
You can learn more about JD Allen and her books by visiting her web page at JDAllenbooks.com
To add to the thrills of the Writers’ Police Academy’s 10th anniversary celebration, we are extremely pleased to make available to you, by SEALED BID, several exiting opportunities of a lifetime. One of those absolutely fabulous and unique offerings is a spot in the private weeklong, “law enforcement only” Crime Scene Investigation course at the elite Sirchie compound near Raleigh, N.C. (Two spots are available. The top two bids win – one spot per bid). That’s right, you will train and learn alongside some of the top investigators in the country! This course is not available to the general public.
To be the lucky winner of one of these rare and exclusive spots available only from the Writers’ Police Academy, simply send your bid to 2018WPAAuction@gmail.com.If the link doesn’t take you to your email service, then please simply copy and paste the address.
Bidding is open to everyone and you do not have to present to win.
*Sirchie is the Global Leader in Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science Solutions; providing quality Products, Vehicles, and Training to the global law enforcement and forensic science communities.
Our Evidence Collection and Processing Training Program provides law enforcement professionals and crime scene investigators with hands on training using forensic tools that will help to execute the best crime scene investigation mission possible.
This class, commonly known as Crime Scene Technology, covers the scientific methods of collection, identification, evaluation, and preservation of physical evidence. It is the perfect Forensics training for any investigator from new detectives to police officers with more than 25 years on the force.
You need to attend this program if:
- You process crime scenes
- You want to learn more about the latest forensic and crime scene investigation tools and techniques used to process potential crime scenes
- You want to find as much evidence as possible at the crime scene
Crime Scene Management
The various types and categories of physical evidence are reviewed with the emphasis being placed on the proper procedures for securing the crime scene and preparing to collect evidence.
Fingerprint Theory and Classification
The fundamental principles of fingerprints are examined, including the basic concepts of ridge pattern development, identification characteristics and classification methods. Students will review latent print comparison methods with emphasis on understanding AFIS and modern latent print identification techniques.
Latent Print Processing —Powders
The proper use of oxide, metallic, magnetic, and fluorescent powders is discussed. Students will develop latent prints on a variety of surfaces including paper, glass, plastic, and even textured surfaces. Students will experience lifting powder developed latent prints using tape, hinge lifters, gel lifters, and Accutrans. Utilizing photography and light source for proper documentation is reviewed.
Latent Print Processing – Chemicals
During this segment, students will develop latent prints on porous surfaces, including paper and cardboard, utilizing iodine fuming, ninhydrin and silver nitrate. Students will review proper process sequencing for the maximum retrieval of latent prints and review the chemical principles of how they work. Cyanoacrylate (superglue) techniques for non-porous surfaces will be demonstrated also.
Crime Scene and Evidence Photography
Procedures and techniques are discussed and demonstrated for properly documenting a crime scene through photography. Also reviewed and demonstrated are key camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, as well as proper accessories and equipment for properly capturing evidence quality photos.
Controlled Substances Identification
Students will work with presumptive field test kits that offer screening of the most commonly abused drugs and narcotics.
Serial Number Restoration
Working with various metallic and plastic surfaces, students will restore obliterated serial numbers. Liquid and gel reagents are used in conjunction with the electron accelerator.
Firearms, Ballistics, and Gun Shot Residue
Identification of firearms and the fundamentals of ammunition and its manufacture, behavior, and destructive effects is discussed. Fundamentals of gunshot residue, including determining proximity and presumptive testing for GSR are reviewed and demonstrated. Students will also be exposed to basic shooting reconstruction and proper documentation of shooting incidents.
Alternate Lights and RUVIS
The use of alternate light sources to identify evidence at the scene as well as enhance contrast with fingerprint powders and chemicals is reviewed. RUVIS, using the SIRCHIE Krimesite Imager, will be used to demonstrate a non-intrusive technique for discovering latent prints at the crime scene without powders or chemicals.
Biological Evidence – Blood, Fluids, and DNA
Students learn proper methods to locate, identify, and collect physiological fluid stains. Proper search methods including alternate light sources and chemical search methods including luminol and Bluestar are demonstrated. Students will also learn how to presumptively identify the type of stain using chemical reagents. Collection and preservation methods will be reviewed based on the latest best practices for DNA.
Digital Device Forensics Intro
Proper collection of digital devices, including computers and cell phones, will be reviewed. Students will learn the fundamentals, including data that can be extracted from these devices, the legal aspects of data, and ways to preserve data through proper packaging and Faraday techniques.
Footprint, Tire, and Toolmark Impression Evidence
Impression evidence types and their value in criminal investigation will be reviewed. Students will learn and experience methods for capturing footwear tread impressions, including magnetic powder development, electrostatic dust print lifting, and dental stone casting. Principles of footwear and tire comparison will be shown, including proper documentation for the lab and court.
* Students also investigate a mock crime scene as teams and present their findings over lunch on the last day.
Other sealed SEALED BID offerings are unbelievably exciting, and they include:
– Lunch with Lee Child in New York City
– A character name in Craig Johnson’s next book
– A guitar signed by the Grammy Award-winning singing group, the Oak Ridge Boys
– A Murder She Wrote script signed by head writer Tom Sawyer
– A character name in Stuart Woods’ next book
Please send you bids to 2018WPAAuction@gmail.com
*Photos and course descriptions ~ Sirchie
I am extremely pleased to announce that we, the Writers’ Police Academy, have once again teamed up with Sirchie (formerly Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories – name change since the company offers so much more) to offer three unbelievably exciting sessions.
So why and how is this good news for you, you ask?
Well, Sirchie is sending instructors to the WPA to teach three over-the-moon fantastic classes. The super-cool aspect to this is that the information they’ll provide to you is not taught to the general public. This is typically for law enforcement eyes only!
Wow, think of the exciting details you’ll be able to add to your tales. It simply does not get any better than this. Please take advantage of this opportunity, if any way possible.
For those of you who don’t know about Sirchie, and every crime writer should …
Sirchie is the Global Leader in Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science Solutions; providing quality Products, Vehicles, and Training to the global law enforcement and forensic science communities.
Exciting sessions to be taught by Sirchie at the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy (writerspoliceacademy.com):
“Murder, Death, and Mayhem”
3-hour presentation on medico-legal death investigation covering the following main topics:
A. Manner, Mechanism, and Cause of Death
B. Various types of wounds
C. Homicide statistics and other relevant numbers pertaining to various causes and manners of death
D. A unique murder case study
E. The realities and competencies of CSI and homicide detectives/teams/agents/CSI’s
“Taking Photos of a Ghost – Learning How to Photograph What Your Eye Can’t See”
3- hour hands-on presentation regarding photography in the visible and InfraRed spectrums. The presentation will explore the ability to take photos in total darkness while creating “ghost” images of participants as well as how to visualize a laser.
*FRIDAY EVENING SPECIAL PRESENTATION*
“The Wonderful World of Crime Scene Evidence – Blood, Impression Evidence, and the Little Things That Matter”
Sirchie will conduct presentations followed by hands-on practical exercises on the following topics:
· Find, identify, and Enhance blood patterns and prints
· Basic Crime Scene Processing Procedures/Sketching
· Identifying and collecting 2 and 3-Dimensional impression Evidence
· Macro Photography of Small Evidence
*Slots are available to the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. Hurry before they’re gone. This is the 10th anniversary and it’s a blowout! See you there!
By the way, Sirchie is my go-to source for many aspects of crime scene investigations. In fact, they provided information and photos for my book about police procedure and investigation.
Especially for you, an O-R guide to fingerprinting … and more.
Oil Gland– Unlike eccrine and apocrine glands, which are sweat glands, the sebaceous gland is considered an oil gland.
Oligodactyly– Having less than the ordinary number of fingers or toes.
Orthodactyly– Fingers and toes cannot be flexed.
Ortho-Tolidine– A dual-purpose chemical that works both as a presumptive test for blood and has also been used to develop fingerprint detail on human skin.
Osborn Grid Method– Superimposing a grid on photographic enlargements of latent prints found at a crime scene as well as the inked fingerprints of a suspect(s). Scientist then painstakingly examine both, square by square looking for matching individualities.
Os calcis– A bone in the foot.
Osmium Tetroxide (Osmic Acid Fuming)– A fuming technique used to process items for latent fingerprints. Due to excessive costs and dangers associated with the product, it is now rarely used, if ever.
PBFE– Probability Based Fingerprint Evidence.
Papillary Ridges– Rows of eccrine glands situated along the trail of fingerprint
Patent Print– Fingerprints that are visible without development. (Latent prints are typically invisible to the naked eye).
Pathology– The study of causes, nature, and effects of diseases, trauma, and other abnormalities, and the changes to the body created by them.
Pattern Formations– Details of fingerprints created as early as the third month of gestation.
Pelmatoscopy– The scientific studies of the friction ridges of the soles of feet.
Pen Pack/Penitentiary Packet– A pen pack is the comprehensive imprisonment record of an inmate that’s supplied by the Department of Corrections. When fingerprints are included in the pen pack, and they are indeed typically found there, they’re used for comparison purposes. Other information found in pen packs are terms of confinement, background intelligence, and other similar details.
Perceptual Set – The tendency to see what we expect to see.
Phalange– Any bone in the fingers or toes.
Phalangeal– Of the bones in the fingers and toes.
Physical Developer– Chemical processing technique to develop latent prints on porous items. The technique was developed in the 1970s to develop fingerprints on porous items.
Pincushion Method– AKA the Constellation Method. This outdated technique was used in the first half of the 20th century to compare prints and to confirm an identification. Investigators pushed pins through each of the ridge characteristics of both latent (prints discovered at a crime scene) and known prints (prints of a known suspect). They then compared the holes (from the reverse sides). If the holes on the latent print matched those of the suspect’s print, well, they had their man, or woman.
If you happen to have a copy of the April 1956 edition of Fingerprint and Identification Magazine, you could read more on the topic since it was featured in the issue.
Plastic Print– Fingerprint left in a malleable substance, such as clay or wax.
Points/ Points of Identification– Fingerprint ridge characteristics.
RAM– Combination of Rhodamine 6G, Ardrox and MBD dyes. The mixture fluoresces when exposed to a special alternate light source, which in turn makes it possible to see prints developed using cyanoacrylate (Superglue) fumes.
RUVIS– Reflective Ultra-Violet imaging system that allows visualization of fingerprint detail in an ultraviolet spectrum. (see below for details and a video)
Redwop ™– A fluorescent fingerprint powder.
Rubber Lifter– A sheet of flexible rubber with adhesive on one side. Rubber lifters are used to “lift” latent prints.
Ruthenium Tetroxide (RTX)– Chemical used to enhance/see fingerprint detail on fabrics and other porous material such as some stones, leather, glass, tape, wood, plastics, and even human skin and wet surfaces.
RUVIS (Reflective Ultraviolet Imaging System), a system of locating latent (invisible) fingerprints) without the use of powders, fumes, or chemicals, was developed by Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories and the U.S. Army. The system focuses on one specific section of shortwave ultraviolet light, the germicidal spectrum of light, which cannot be seen by the naked eye.
A particularly unique feature of RUVIS technology is that it works in both total darkness and in bright sunshine, a must for use by police investigators.
The Krimesite Imager uses RUVIS technology to detect invisible residues from fingerprints. Those residues reflect UV light projected from the device, which immediately captures the reflections with a 60mm UV lens. A built-in scanner then converts the images to visible light, allowing the investigator to see the fingerprint. All this is done instantly, in real time. And, the detective is able to see images from up to fifteen feet away.
Once the print is located, the investigator uses the Imager to photograph it and, with the use of a micro-printer, print a copy of the desired evidence. All this without the messy powders that never seem to wash away. The KS Imager can also be used to greatly enhance prints developed using cyanoacrylate fuming (Super Glue).
Note – I doubt many of you will be picking up one of these devices for your home CSI kit. The price tag is between $9,000 and $22,000, depending the style of devise selected.
Here’s a video shot at the Sirchie compound near Raleigh, N.C. It shows the Krimesite Imager in action.
Those of you attending the Writers’ Police Academy, take note, because you are in for a surprise! Yes, space is available! By the way, the event is open to all (writers, readers, fans, and anyone else who’s interested in participating in a thrilling, hands-on training event) And, it is FUN!.
In the meantime …
Countdown to the WPA
The Writers’ Police Academy
Get to Know Lee Lofland
Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedure and crime-scene investigation, and is a popular conference, workshop, and motivational speaker.
Lee has consulted for many bestselling authors, television and film writers, and for online magazines. Lee has appeared as an expert on national television, BBC Television, and radio shows.
Lee is the host and founder of the Writers’ Police Academy, an exciting, one-of-a-kind, hands-on event where writers, readers, and fans learn and train at an actual police academy.
To schedule Lee for your event, contact him at email@example.com.