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!

Evidence Collection: Paper, Plastic, or ... ?

There's more to evidence collection than merely bagging and tagging bloody clothing and spent bullet casings. Crime scene techs are highly trained, skilled members of police agencies and forensic laboratories who more often than not provide…
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A Tiny Bit of Carpet Fiber Led to the Capture a Serial Killer

Investigating a murder can be, and often is, a methodical and meticulous slow-grind of information gathering. It's knocking on many doors, speaking with countless numbers of people, digging in the dirt and leaves and mud, pawing through mounds…
Dead Guy

Blood, and It's Mine!: Page 447 Of My Spiral Notebooks

Busy night. Long night. Tired. Robbery. Domestic. Juveniles. Drunk driver. Break time. Coffee. Need coffee. Window down. Night air. Cool. Damp. Traffic light. Winking red. Right turn. Skinny…

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…

Stop and Frisk - A Legal Practice, Yes or No?

Stop and Frisk has once again worked its way into the news by way of politics, with a presidential candidate apologizing for the use of the practice in a city where he once served as mayor. Those stops, he once vehemently argued, were necessary…
Footprints in the snow
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Making a Good First Impression: Preserving Footprints In Snow and Mud

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The familiar phrase above is actually from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted…

Deputy Sheriffs: They're Just Cops Who Wear Different Uniforms, Right?

Many of us had our first real look at a sheriff's office back in 1960 when Andy Taylor and his fearless deputy, Barney Fife, patrolled the roads in and around Mayberry, N.C. Television took us inside the Mayberry jail, the courthouse, and…
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Is the Killer in Your Tale a Plotter or a Pantser?

Writers generally fall into one of two categories, panthers or plotters. Writers, you share these traits with killers, and this could be the reason your books are so devilishly delightful. The Plotter A plotter starts each writing project…
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2020 Writers' Police Academy/MurderCon: Mark Your Calendars!

2020 Writers' Police Academy/MurderCon. Mark Your Calendars! August 6-9, 2020. In response to a huge number of messages, yes, there will indeed be a 2020 Writers' Police Academy/MurderCon. In fact, the 2020 event marks a full dozen years…
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Veterans Day: A Tribute by The Oak Ridge Boys

"Sometimes she finds him weeping As he lay there in his bed The distant sounds of battle Still echo in his head" The Oak Ridge Boys ~ G.I. Joe and Lillie Thank you, Veterans. I am forever grateful. Thank you, too, Oaks, for your unyielding…
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The Johnson Vandyke Grigsbys of the World are Never Free

Depending upon which source is believed to be correct---Social Security or the census---Johnson Vandyke "Van" Grigsby was born in either February of 1888 or February of 1886, respectively. Grigsby, the son of freed slaves, however, said March…

Is Your Story One Round Short of a Full Brick: STOP Racking the Slide!

Like reading a really well-written novel, it's easy to step into the fictional worlds of crime TV shows. I mean, I'm there. I can hear the sounds of the police stations. I smell the gun oil. I hear the creaking of gun leather and the jingle…

Cops: To Do Or Not To Do ... and Common Sense

Common sense is a HUGE part of police work. You know, think before you act. Don't run with scissors. Don't talk with your mouth full. And ... And, of course ...  
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Human Soup: The Perfect Murder?

Okay, you're at your desks with hands poised above the keyboard. Thoughts of murder, chaos, and of your 100th six-figure book deal churn inside your head like the winds of an F-5 twister that's just touched down in a midwestern mobile home park.…
light 'em up jello

Cooking With Cops: Light 'Em Up Jello

Remember way back in the 70s when everyone's grandmother made her signature Jello dish? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, that odd wiggly-jiggly bowl of red stuff with pieces of fruit cocktail living in a state of suspended animation. In…
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Captain Jim: Open Mics and Sex in a Patrol Car

Police work is certainly filled with unknown and unseen perils. Without a doubt, it's a job that comes with a long list of hazards. Aside from the obvious dangers---fights, stabbings, car crashes, shootings, etc.---one of the most gut-wrenching…
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Chicken Feet, Grave Robbers, and Safety Tips for Kids and Grownups

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…
My Aching Back: Gun belt

My Aching Back and Bathroom Breaks: What's On Your Gun Belt?

Admit it. You've complained at least once in your life about having to carry, lift, push, or pull something heavy while at work, right? Well, try this on for size ... suppose your boss told you that from this day forward you'd be required to…