The Graveyard Shift Blog

Since 2008, Lee Lofland has written over 2000 articles on his blog, The Graveyard Shift. Topics such as police procedure, forensics, criminal behavior, and what it’s like to be a cop has helped countless numbers of popular and aspiring writers.

His life’s mission – to remind writers that cordite is dead and gone. Just say no to cordite in your books!

Heading to the Laboratory: Toxicology, DUID, and Kay Scarpetta

As a police detective in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I investigated a vast assortment of criminal cases ranging from forged checks to robbery to B&E, major narcotics cases, murder for hire, occult crimes, and murder, to name a few. Solving…

Cop Details That'll Help Your Stories Zing with Realism: What's in Your Underwear?

It's often the tiniest of details that'll pique a reader's interest in your work. Those elements, by design, just might make a lasting fan out of someone who recognizes that you've done your homework and that you know how to subtly weave fact…

You Have the Right to Know: Why Are There So Many Sheriffs In Your County?

Here are answers to a few of the most often asked questions I receive regarding police and the work they do.1. How do I become a local FBI homicide investigator?Easy answer to this one. You can't. The FBI doesn't work local homicide…

Friday's Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

Sergeant Ron HelusVentura County California Sheriff's OfficeNovember 8, 2018 - Sergeant Ron Helus was shot and killed after confronting an active shooter inside a bar in Thousand Oaks. He is survived by his wife and son.   Corporal…

So You Think You Know Everything About Cops: A Quiz

I've been writing this blog for nearly eleven years and I have to say, it's sometimes tough to come up with a new topic each and every day. However, as long as writers continue to write stories about cops and crime, I suppose there'll always…

How to Write Killer Tales, and Music

Writing a realistic murder scene can and should be a bit difficult for most authors since they haven't killed anyone, I hope. So, if realism is the goal, as it should be at times, then research is of the utmost importance.To help achieve…
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A Dirty Dozen of Dos and Don'ts For Your CSI Characters

Detective Pete Gitterdone had a spotless attendance record, never missing a day for sickness during his entire thirty-three years with the department. He was so proud of his achievement, in fact, that he refused to stay at home on this particular…

Solving Murders Using Human Nature: Are Detectives Plotters or Pantsers

As a police detective whose job was to solve murders, I found it especially helpful to immerse myself into the lives of the victims rather than merely going through the motions of filling in the blanks of police reports. I had to make it personal.…
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The Rookie - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Good Cop/Bad Cop Review

This week, The Rookie failed to dazzle me. Parts of it amused me, sure. But I didn’t love the episode like I did the first two. I’m sure Lee will point out the plethora of procedural mistakes—if he has the time or space, because there…

Friday's Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

Officer Antwan Toney, 30Gwinnett County Georgia Police DepartmentOctober 20, 2018 - Officer Antwan Toney was shot and killed as he and another officer approached a reported suspicious vehicle. As the officers walked up to investigate,…
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Forever Haunted: The Day I Handcuffed a Dead Man

Many of you have heard me tell the story of the day I shot and killed a bank robber during a pretty intense shootout. If you haven't heard the story in person you may have read about it here on this site in one form or another.But there's…
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Chicken Feet and Grave Robbers: A Cop's Halloween

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…

When a Pet Iguana Could Help Police Search Without a Warrant: Search Incident to Arrest

How could feeding a pet lead to police searching your home, without a warrant? Well, let's look at the case of Greg Imakiller, a serial murderer who'd eluded capture for a long time until a sharp police detective figured out an end-around way…

Recipe for a Macabre Soup: Grave Wax, Autolysis, and Putrefaction

Death is an entirely new chapter for our bodies. The final one, actually. And when it happens, either by natural causes, suicide, by accident, or at the hand of a murderer, the end result is always the same---our human forms immediately begin…

The Rookie: Crash Course - A Good Cop/Bad Cop Review

Episode Two is now in the books and Melanie Atkins and I are polar opposites this week regarding our opinions of the show. Here, see for yourselves, starting with Melanie's portion of the review ...The second episode of The Rookie zoomed…
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Wormhole Thursday: Policing Back in the Day

It's Wormhole Thursday, a time to journey back to a time before TASERS and prior to the CSI Effect.It's memories of what it was like to be a cop way "back in the day" and I share this with you for two reasons. One: The information contained…

No Sweat: Solving Crimes and a Sweaty James Brown

I've played in a number of bands over the years and each had it's own particular flavor, or style of music. I played trumpet in a jazz band, guitar in several rock bands, drums in both rock and church groups, and I played bass in rock, raggae,…

The Party Crashers: Demise and the Mortis Triplets - Algor, Livor, and Rigor

You're in the prime of your life and you love to throw those crazy parties, the kind guests rave about for months afterward. They love that your backyard is a giant Slip-n-Slide hosed down by a fountain of beer. That you hire the best DJs with…