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!

Blood Evidence

 Nichole Brown Simpson crime scene.Sometimes, the amount of blood in a murder scene can be quite overwhelming, but the savvy detective can read the reddish-brown liquid like a book. The stuff can even point to where the killer…
Lt. Dave Swords

Lt. Dave Swords on Search and Seizure - Part 2

The Graveyard Shift welcomes back special guest expert Lieutenant David Swords (ret.) of the Springfield, Ohio Police Department. Today, Lt. Swords continues his discussion on Search and Seizure. Vehicle searches Here is one exception to the…
Lt. Dave Swords

Lt. Dave Swords on Search and Seizure

Today's special guest expert is thirty-year police veteran, Lieutenant David Swords (ret.) of the Springfield, Ohio Police Department. Nearly half of Lt. Swords' police career was spent as an investigator, working on cases ranging from simple…
Sydney, Australia

Weekend Road Trip - Sydney, Australia

 This week our Weekend Road Trip takes us to Sydney, Australia. Catch up on your sleep because the journey is a fifteen hour plane ride from San Francisco. First stop, the Sydney Opera House.         *…
Ninhydrin, and Iodine-Fuming

Ninhydrin, and Iodine-Fuming

 Ninhydin is a chemical that reacts with the aminio acids found in fingerprints. When the chemical contacts the amino acids, the combination of the two turns a bright purple color. The coloring is known as Ruhemann's purple, named…
Police Department Fingerprint Lab

Police Department Fingerprint Lab

 When working in a laboratory setting, detectives dust for prints under an exhaust hood. Fingerprint powder is extremely messy, like charcoal.Detectives use light, brushing and swirling motions to apply print powders.Fingerprinting…
Fingerprinting

Cyanocrylate Fuming - Fingerprinting with Superglue

 The process of fingerprint fuming is relatively easy. All that’s needed to perform the technique is a fairly airtight tank, some heat, and a few drops of Superglue.Fingerprints leave behind traces of amino acids, fatty acids,…
Sgt. John Howsden on Body Armor

Sgt. John Howsden on Body Armor, Superman, and More

 They stink, chafe, and make you look fat, but they also stop bullets, and for cops, that's a good thing. Bullet-proof vests are made of a fabric called Kevlar, which is five times stronger than steel.Vests don't deflect bullets,…
Boston: Love that dirty water

Weekend Road Trip - Boston

 Our Weekend Road Trip this week takes us to my backyard, Boston. One of the best ways to see this wonderful old city is to pahk youse cah and catch a ride on one of the many duck boats. These crafts are able to maneuver on land and…
Fingerprinting

Fingerprinting

 Latent fingerprints are nearly invisble to the naked eye. They're left when someone touches an object, leaving behind sweat and oils. Detectives make the print images visible by using powder that clings to the oily ridges of the…
Crime Scenes: Where Do I Start And When Am I Done?

Crime Scene Investigation - Finding The Clues

 Detectives use a variety of means to collect crime scene evidence. When attempting to locate evidence, investigators must be methodical. One way to be certain they've combed every inch of a crime scene is to conduct structured,…
Crime Scene Investigation

Crime Scene Investigation - Who does What?

 Uniformed officers are normally the first police officers on the scene. It's up to these front-line cops to take charge, calm the chaos, and make things safe for the arriving investigators. Sometimes, crime scenes are large and complicated;…
Crime Scene Investigation 2

Crime Scene Investigation - Part 2

  Okay, our alert patrol officers have determined that they do indeed have a crime scene, and they've called in the detectives---us. Before we get started with our investigation, let's be sure we're all on the same page.Everyone…
CSI

Crime Scene Investigation - Part 1

 Most crime-scene investigations begin with a 911 call to police. A communcations officer, or dispatcher, receives the call and obtains as much information about the crime as possible, such as the caller's name and address, weapons…
South Africa

South Africa

Fire up the Land Rover, grab your pith helmet, and practice your best Tarzan yells because this week's Weekend Road Trip takes us to beautiful South Africa. Mystery/romance author Terry Odell was kind enough to lead the way through…
Laser Radar

Laser Radar

 Laser radar sends a quick burst of infrared light to a speeding car. The light is reflected back and the unit calculates, in nanoseconds, how long it took for the light to travel in each direction. Then, the unit transposes the information…
Radar Love

Doppler Radar

 Radar is an acronym for radio detection and ranging.  Doppler radar units, like the one pictured above, emit a continuous frequency that bounces off a moving object, such as a car or truck. The radar unit receives the reflected signal…
If the Shoe Fits

If The Shoe Fits - Impression Evidence

Detectives look pretty darn silly walking into court carrying a pair of plaster footprints. But, footprint and tire impressions can be extremely helpful to an investigator's case. They're especially helpful when the casts are a perfect…